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This interview was conducted by SSAPCS in April 1999 and this is the result of that interview.
 


Name:  Michael A. Prestwood
Age: 34 (in 1999)
Occupation: Author, President & CEO
Company: Prestwood IT Solutions
City: Citrus Heights
Country: USA
 

Favorite programming book:

Grady Booch's OO books are exceptional. I'll read anything from him on OO (articles whatever). I also like Steve McConnell's Code Complete. Although Code Complete doesn't cover object oriented techniques, it does cover good routine level techniques that you can integrate with object oriented techniques.
 

Q: What schools did you go to?
A: Actually, I have a music degree and only took one basic and one pascal
class in school. I found them to be too slow and pursued computer
programming and computer science outside of the public school system. I have taken dozens of seminar and short 2 to 5 day classes on computer topics including Oracle, networking, and others. I've also taught quite a few classes.
 
Q: What was the first computer you ever used?
A: The Commodore 64. For it's time, it was a great computer. I wrote
several  hundred programs for it using their built-in basic language. From the Commodore 64 I moved to the Commodore 128, then the Amiga, then the Macintosh. At the time, I thought Windows was a poor excuse for an operating system, but I eventually gave in because Windows is where the money is.
I currently only use Windows machines (98 and NT) and now believe Windows is a good operating system (Bill Gates has almost caught up to the operating systems from the mid 80's).
 
Q: Why did you decide you liked computers?
A: I got into computers because of my music. A friend told me that the
Commodore 64 had good sound (3 channels) and was the best for music at the time. That was also the reason I switched to the Amiga then the Macintosh.
 
Q: You've mentioned music several times in this interview, are you a musician? Do you still play?
A: I play drums and percussion. I'm just finishing up building a sound
proof music studio in 1/3 of my garage. I plan to make recordings in my own music studio which I plan on posting up on prestwood.com.
 
Q: Why did you decide to learn computer programming?
A: Primarily because of my brother, who is also a programmer. He showed
me the following two line program in basic.

10: print "Hello world!"
20: goto 10

I was very intrigued about how easy it was to program a computer and saw it's powerful potential as a tool I could use throughout my life.
 

Q: What was the first computer language you used?
A: Basic on the Commodore 64 followed by assembly language and Pascal.
I've also used rexx on the OS/2, Borland's old ObjectVision product, etc.
 
Q: Did you ever use Pascal, if so what versions?
A: Yes, several versions. On the PC platform I used Pascal With Objects 7.0.
I went through several generic Pascal programming books with it, but
never really created anything good in Pascal. That is, until Delphi came out.
 
Q: What version of Delphi did you use first?
A: I first started using Delphi back when I worked for Borland and had to
support it. That was the beta for 1.0. I've used it ever since.
 
Q: What is it you like about Delphi the most?
A: That it is truly Object Oriented. I realize many programmers use and
program Delphi as if it were a super Paradox or super Access. It isn't.
It is a true compiled development environment which fully utilizes OO concepts.

To become good at Delphi (or to use Delphi in the way it was intended), you must become an OO programmer. When you do this, you realize the tool becomes less important and the design and architecture of your application becomes the focal point. I also appreciate the sleek sophisticated development environment.
 

Q: What do you dislike about Delphi the most?
A: That it isn't available on other platforms. As a software developer, I
wish I could port my applications to other platforms (Unix and Mac for
example) and I haven't done so yet because my Windows development tool of choice is only available for Windows.
 
Q: Do you have any advice to new users of Delphi?
A: Yes, learn object oriented programming. This include concepts,
techniques, and system architecture. Especially focus in on class creation, inheritance, business objects, and patterns. Usually new programmers focus in on syntax and specific tasks. These are important, but are only the beginning to learning how to program well.
 
Q: Have you ever programmed with C/C++, if you have what do you think of it as a programming language?
A: C sucks because it is a procedural language. It isn't OO. C++ is great
because it is truly OO. In fact, it is more OO then Object PASCAL
supporting such features as multiple inheritance. Programmers complain about the terse nature of C++, but I don't see it that way. Yes you can make your code in C++ very terse, but you don't have to. The only time terse C++ code is called for is when you are trying to show off. Really good C++ programmers write very easy to read code. At this point, I'm not a C++ programmer but can follow the code and do simple stuff.
 
Q: Have you ever programmed with Visual Basic,  if you have what do you think of it as a programming language?
A: Yes a little. My brother Brian Prestwood is an extremely talented VB
consultant and we sometimes swap an hour of Delphi training for an hour of VB training. As for the VB language, it was intended to give basic
programmers a way to develop full fledged applications. It has done that very well. In fact, so well that many companies use it. As a Paradox and Delphi programmer, VB has many problems and short comings. It's a good tool, but I think it is NOT particularly strong as a database product (component binding issues) and it isn't particularly strong as a development tool (not OO).
 
Q: How many years have you spent using Paradox?
A: Since the beta for Paradox for Windows. I never used Paradox for DOS
extensively (just simple stuff).
 
Q: You are the author of five Paradox for Windows books, please tell us about them?
A: My next book due out in May is titled "Corel Paradox 9 Power
Programming: The Official Guide". 
I'm very excited about it. Corel has prepurchased 30,000 copies to distribute with the developer's version of Paradox 9 and
Osborne/McGraw-Hill (the publisher) is distributing 55,000 flyers (most
of which will go in the English version of Paradox). This represents a
wonderful opportunity for my company. You can't pay for advertising like that. This book is a little different than my other books. It is shorter
(600 pages) and does not come with a CD. It does cover new information
including charts, graphs, application framework, runtime, distribution expert, and the internet.

My other books have all sold out and will not be reprinted. They are
"Paradox 7 Programming Unleashed", "What Every Paradox 5 for Windows Programmer Should Know" (co-author), "Paradox 5 for Windows Developer's Guide", and my first book "What Every Paradox for Windows Programmer Should Know".
  

Q: What would be the main reason you think a person would want to purchase these books?
A: Anytime a book can save you a few hours of your time, then it is worth
purchasing. I can guarantee all of my books will save programmers of all levels many, many hours of time.
 
Q: Why did you decide to put your latest book on internet for people to read and download?
A: The main reasons are to allow programmers to search it and to promote
Paradox. Since, it can be hard to find information in any programming
book larger than 200 pages. I think it will be nice for Paradox programmers to have the search page book marked and when they get stuck programming in Paradox, go and search the book. I really don't think this will decrease sales, in fact, I think it will increase sales. There is something nice about flipping through a real book. Besides, a book is easier to take to the park than the internet.
 
Q: You give programming support  for  Paradox,  Delphi,  VB and C++, please tell us about it?
A: The consulting we do falls into two categories: support and
application development. Our support is unique in that you or your company are assigned a talented working programmer. That programmer gets to know you, your business, and your application. He is also available to farm out pieces of work to when you get too busy. Our application development is just like anybody else's.

Because we hire only the best programmers and use PCC (our coding
convention) and PSDM (our software development methodology), the software we develop has a good architecture and is well documented.
 

Q: Do you think Borlands BDE needs improvements, if so what improvements?
A: I like the path they've taken with the BDE. Where there is improvement
needed is in not using the BDE. I wish Delphi and C++Builder would come out with an easy to use database that doesn't require the BDE. Just like the FlashFiler product, but from Borland and built into the product. This would help with the development of commercial database applications.
 
Q: Since you know Paradox and Delphi very well, which do you recommend
for new programmers?
A: Both development environments are powerful and make creating business database applications easy. If the new programmer is or wants to be an OO developer, then the clear choice is Delphi. Paradox is object-based and does not support most of the OO features. If the new programmer knows nothing about OO and simply wants to create applications for their business, then I recommend Paradox. If Paradox compiled to an EXE, supported visual inheritance and the creation of classes with full inheritance support, then Paradox would be a good competitor of Delphi even to OO developers.
 
Q: How can people contact you?
A: Anybody can contact me by sending email to me. My email address is
Mike Prestwood..
 
Q: Do you have a web site? (Please tell us about it)
A: My personal site is http://www.prestwood.com/mike/. In addition to that
personal site, my company has several sites.
 
Q: Do you have programming code or examples on your web site?
A: Yes lots, for example we have PCC (our coding convention) and PSDM (our software development methodology). These are free programming documents made available to programmers.
 
Q: You have a Programmer Survey on your site at:
http://prestwood.com/forums/programming/survey/
What is the purpose of this survey? What do you hope to learn form this survey?
A: The main purpose started out as a way to collect information for my
next book. It turned out that the new book doesn't have room for it, so I
decided to post the information on prestwood.com (with no names of course). We plan to post summary data primarily in the form of charts. For example, a chart showing how many Paradox programmers went on to use Delphi or Visual Basic.

What percentage of programmers that have ever used Paradox still use it. Questions like that.
 

Q: What predictions do you have about the future of computer programming?
A: Many programming forecasters predict that some day programmers will be a thing of the past. When Cobol first came out, many said Cobol was the end of programmers. They believed that Cobol was so easy that any businessman could simply write in english what they wanted the computer to do. That line of thought seems so naive now. I definitely think programming will become easier and easier, but I think it will eventually parallel the electronics industry.

In electronics, you put systems together by buying various components and figuring out how they interface and work together. I believe the future of programming will go down that path. You already see that a bit with DLLs, OCX/ActiveX components, Delphi components, etc., but it is still in it's infancy. For example, you can't use a Windows DLL on a Macintosh. Corba looks promising in this respect.
 

Q: What projects are you currently involved with?
A: I have two major software development projects going on right now. My
main client is Empire Telecommunications based in New York. I'm developing a Paradox 8 application using Paradox's Application Framework. That is going very well. Also, I'm developing a new software product for Prestwood IT Solutions using Delphi 4. It's current name is HealthTracker although that may change depending on if the name is available. Basically, this software will help you keep track of nutrition (what you eat), supplements (the pills you take), exercise (aerobic and resistance), and mental exercises (for those of us that like to keep learning). This product will be available 3rd quarter of 1999.
 
Q: Many rumours are going around about Delphi or Inprise/Borland not surviving the next few years, what do you think about these comments?
A: I'm not too worried about it. Let's assume the worst case scenario of
Inprise having to call it quits. What do you think will happen to the
core products? They will be sold of course. Delphi is a core product like no other. Even if Microsoft purchased Inprise, they wouldn't kill Delphi.
They might kill C++Builder and resurface as part of Visual C++, but they
wouldn't kill Delphi. That's the worst case scenario I can imagine. Even if Delphi does die, I'm an OO programmer and, to me, the tool is less important then the design and architecture. Yes, it would be a big task to learn the specific syntax of a new development environment, but let's face it. A "while" loop is a "while" loop in any language.  Public and private interface is the same in all truly OO development products. With all that said, the bottom line is that Delphi is a great product and great products don't die. They do sometimes get sold however.
 

Sandbrook Software NZ
Tokoroa
North Island
New Zealand
Email: jms@xtra.co.nz

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