Charles Petzold’s book Programming Windows is a classical masterpiece. Through his work a whole generation learned how to write programs for that new strange graphical operating system called Windows. As that grew in size over the years the new editions of the book got thicker. A copy of the fifth edition book is still a cornerstone under my daily work
Being used to MS-DOS the Windows API was pretty complex. I have grown up with Delphi, whose VCL (Visual Component Library) is a framework which hides the Windows api itself. The VCL came with source code. In your programs you would use the components from the framework and in Petzold’s book you would read what the code actually did. In the .NET framework the (presentation part of the) windows api is encapsulated in the System.Windows.Forms namespace. The .NET framework does not come with sourcecode. Petzold’s book is still close at hand but these days mainly has a physical support task.
The Window Presentation Framework (WPF) is the new presentation layer of the upcoming Vista OS. The best news is that Charles Petzold is writing a book on WPF and has a beautifull blog on that. Petzold’s writings are very much into the heart of the matter. New projects in Visual Studio always contain an amount of generated code; Charles starts with an empty project and adds functionality line by line. Step by step you will understand how the technology really works. This is going to be the way to learn WPF.
Just like me, CP has a weak spot for the tablet PC. There are not many books about the tablet, actually there is only one which matters when writing tablet code. But that book is not complete as it does not cover the real time stylus (RTS) api, which is going to be quite important in Vista. Quite recently CP has published a great article on the RTS for MSDN magazine.
Besides being a great writer he is also a great presenter. Last year I’ve seen at WIndows anywhere feb 2005 his presentation Ink as a graphical medium, where he dances around with a tablet on his arm.
Lovely show. Now I just have to see his mini-keynote Programming for Windows 1.0, Once.