This has been on the cards for months, but I wasn’t able to talk about it until the book was actually out. Consummate software writers the Dietels have just released a new edition of C++ How To Program, published by Prentice Hall, and this time one of the additions is a sizeable chapter on using OGRE and CaseyB’s OgreAL to make a simple game. The C++ How To Program series is very popular, selling over a quarter of a million copies, which is reflected in the fact that this is the sixth edition of the book. I understand that it is often used to teach C++ programming in educational establishments, which is reflected in the pedagogical way it is written and the fact that it has lots of exercises. It’s a monster too, clocking in at a desk-straining 1200 pages.
The publishers approached me quite a few months ago asking if I would be a reviewer on the book, which I agreed to, so I’ve already read the chapter a couple of times. Whilst it by no means displays the power of OGRE, being as it is a relatively small introduction to making a Pong game, it is very good at introducing the basics and is aligned well for the target audience. I must admit when they said they were going to take the user through to a complete game using OGRE and OgreAL in a single chapter, I was skeptical. Even though it’s a very simple game, and quite a large chapter, I was still impressed by how much they managed to cover, and this is down to the Dietel’s writing style - they’re clearly very experienced at this and they managed to get a lot of information across very quickly without it becoming an unmanageable flood.
I know that if I ever come to write a technical book (one of my ‘someday/maybe’ projects in GTD-speak :)), I can learn a lot from how professional writers like this go about it. My other ‘gold standard’ writer reference is Scott Meyers, who is targetting a more advanced audience and somehow manages to make deep technical issues very enjoyable to read - I often wish that he’d written Modern C++ Design, because whilst it’s a great book subject-wise, I can’t help thinking Meyers would have made it much more fun. Some day 😀In many ways I treat writing on this blog regularly as training of a sort - a place where I can keep my writing skills at least semi-polished, and if people find the blog interesting / useful then perhaps a book might work sometime too.
I got my complimentary copy through the post today anyway, thanks guys! It was fun being involved - this is the second time I’ve been involved (as reviewer) in the process of getting a book to print and I enjoy doing it. It was also interesting to see how each publisher operates slightly differently in terms of the process - and although the projects are always really pressed for time, my experiences with both Apress (Pro Ogre 3D Programming) and Prentice Hall have been very positive. If you ever get approached to do a technical review for a book, I strongly recommend doing it. It doesn’t pay very well compared to the amount of time you need to put in, but I wouldn’t judge it from that point of view, as a ‘job’; but just as a good bit of experience to get.