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  1. #1
    Bronze Lounger
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    Build / modify .exe programs

    Hi,
    I come accross on a daily basis many .exe programs that I have little understanding of. I'd like to gain some knowledge about how these programs work and are built. Where would be a good place to start? Are there any books / resources that loungers can recommend? What are the basic starting requirements?

    I'm not sure that I am posting this in the correct area, so please feel free to move.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Golly! You are asking how to learn Windows API programming, probably in one of the variants of the C language.

    How many years do you want to spend on it?
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

  3. #3
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Batcher,
    I'm kind of at a carreer crossroads, bored if you like, and seeking new direction. I've been considering returning to college / uni and doing further education, in the world of IT, probably along the programming route. It's a minefield out there, I don't know where to start, and courses can be both long and expensive. I'm looking to dabble first, get my toes wet and ensure that I am doing the right thing! At thirty [cough], I need to start making the correct decisions, time I suppose is an issue, but I need to invest in my future!!

    Any and all advice greatfully received!

    Cheers.

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    To create stand-alone applications, you need to use a development environment. This usually consists of several parts:
    - An editor to write the program code in. This could be a plain text editor such as Notepad, but most program editors have additional features such as automatic formatting of the code, autocompletion and built-in help.
    - A compiler to convert the code you wrote to a .exe (or .dll or whatever your goal is).

    There are many programming languages, each with their own development environments and their own strengths and weaknesses. Examples are:
    - Visual Basic (you already know some Visual Basic for Office applications, but there is also a Visual Basic compiler)
    - C and its variants
    - Java
    - Pascal / Delphi

    You can try the "Express" editions of several Microsoft development environments for free, see Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions.

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    If you want to "restrict" your initial learning investment to the WINDOWS environment, I would recommend this "scripting" language: AutoIt v3 - Automate and Script Windows Tasks - For Free!

    AutoIt scripts CAN be compiled to EXE files, allowing you to distribute your effort to others who don't have to do anything but run your program. Most anything that can be done with Windows can be "programmed" with AutoIt and it's a good place to start for a dabbler.

  6. #6
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Well at forty [cough+10] I bit the bullet and went back to do an IT Masters at university... so it's never too late <img src=/S/gramps.gif border=0 alt=gramps width=20 height=20>.
    But I'd second the suggestions made by Hans and Al. Both the suggested packages have good help and explanations, although VS is probably more "instructional" while AI is more "utilitarian". There might be some confusion learning both at once - in some areas, each might use quite different means to achieve the same end. Then again, you might view this as valuable learning rather than confusion. Also, there's a ton(ne) of instructional material for VS on the net.

    For a first taste, you could also delve into the MS Office help files for VBA. Or have a look through the VB/VBA forum right here.

    Alan

  7. #7
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Batcher,
    I find myself endlessly searching, and often getting nowhere fast. Using the correct search can help enormously! A google for Learn Windows API programming threw up many hours of reading. Many Thanks, I have a long way to go!! <img src=/S/snail.gif border=0 alt=snail width=21 height=17>

    <img src=/S/time.gif border=0 alt=time width=32 height=48> Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years <img src=/S/yikes.gif border=0 alt=yikes width=15 height=15> - Now that is a frightening thought!!

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger ibe98765's Avatar
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Here's a resource that might be helpful in your quest:

    http://www.thefreecountry.com/

  9. #9
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    Nathan

    Your last reference is very interesting, and well-argued!

    I have a thick and hefty book somewhere dating from the '80s which gave a short account of each of the computer programming languages which had existed - and well over 90% of them were extinct! I used to be quite good at FORTRAN and Algol-W, and given long enough could write stuff in Cobol (probably one of the most prolix languages known) - but I don't think I'd be employable with only a knowledge of these. Even my great love, BATch (or ComManD) files, are probably not too long for this world - but I'm hoping they will see me out...
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

  10. #10
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    I just wanted to post a quick note of thanks for all of your input's. I am currently working my way through Visual Studio. The Beginner Deveolper Learning Center has some excellent video's and tutorials that are assisting me in getting started. I'm supprised how similar the set-up is to working with VBA. I've a long way to go, but this seems a great place to start.

    Thanks again.

  11. #11
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    Re: Build / modify .exe programs

    For anybody wanting to get an good underlying understanding of the API, I recommend theForger's Win32 API Tutorial. Even if you don't want to enter the daunting world of C/C++, just the section on building A Simple Window gives a great deal of insight into what sorts of things go on "under the covers".

    Alan

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