The questions and answers that follow are in sequence
by the frequency with which they get asked. If you have
a question that isn't here, please contact
me. Then, if your question is one that gets asked
more than once or twice a year, I'll add it to this
Why don't you publish more books?
Perhaps the #1 request that I get from our customers is for books on other subjects. Sometimes, these customers also ask why we don't publish more books.
The short answer is that we develop all our books with a small staff of trained writers and editors. As I see it, that's the only way we can make sure that each book we publish is the best one on its subject.
The trouble with our approach is that it limits the number of books that we can publish to just a few each year. With that in mind, our goal right now is to maintain books for developing just three types of business applications:
- .NET Windows and web applications
with Visual Basic, C#, ADO.NET, ASP.NET, and SQL Server
- Java applications with Java, servlets, and JSP
- IBM mainframe applications with COBOL, CICS, DB2, and JCL
If we staff up in the future, we may be able to expand upon this list. But otherwise, that's what you can expect from us. And I apologize in advance for not publishing more books on more subjects.
How many training days does a specific course require? Or, what can I cover in a specific number of training days?
Frequently, trainers ask me for pacing guidelines or recommendations on how much they can cover in a given number of training days for a specific course. Because that varies so much based on the experience of the trainees, I can only give the general guidelines that follow:
First, remember that all our books start with one or two sections that present a valuable subset of all the skills that the book presents. Once you've taught that subset, you can skip to any of the remaining sections. This means that you can easily adjust your course to the experience and training requirements of your students.
If, for example, your trainees have no experience, you can cover the subset and then introduce some of the skills in the sections that follow. But if your trainees have some experience, you can go through the subset more quickly so you can spend more time on the advanced skills.
One way to determine how much experience your trainees
have is to administer a pretest that consists of test
questions for the subset chapters. Often, though, a
more practical approach is to use our PowerPoint slides
to review the subset material in class. Then, when your
trainees are nodding that they understand, you can speed
up. And when they aren't, you can slow down. With this
approach, you can quickly get to the material that your
trainees need to learn.
Remember too that you can use our instructional materials to make up for varying experience levels. If, for example, a couple of trainees are slowing up a class, you can ask them to do some reading and exercises on their own so they catch up with the others. Or, for an advanced class, you can ask that the trainees master the subset on their own before starting the class. Once you become familiar with our books and instructional materials, you'll realize how much flexibility they give you.
Using these guidelines, you can usually develop a 3- to 5-day course
without much trouble or a series of 3- to 5-day courses
that present everything in the book. And if you make
sure that all trainees get copies of our book when they
return to their jobs, you can be sure that their performance
on the job will improve.
I hope this general answer helps. But if it doesn't, please contact me for more information. If you tell me more about what you're trying to do, I should be able to give you a more precise answer.
What formats can I get your tests in?
For most of our books, our test banks are in ExamView,
Blackboard, and RTF formats. However, for some of our
.NET 2.0 books, the test banks are in ExamView and RTF
formats only. And for our mainframe books, the tests
are in Word format. If you would like to get our
tests in other formats, though, we can usually accommodate
you. Just contact us and let us know what format you
If you aren't familiar with the ExamView Assessment
Suite, it is an inexpensive but powerful product that
makes it easy to create, edit, and administer printed
or web tests. You can use it to set up self-scoring
practice tests that run on an intranet or the Internet,
and you can use it to export ExamView tests to formats
like WebCT or Blackboard. So if you want to get the
most from our ExamView test banks, we recommend that
you get a copy of the ExamView Assessment Suite, available
Do you provide errata lists for your books?
Yes, but we call them "book corrections." To find the list for a specific
title, just go to our Books
section, click on the title to go to the book's
home page, then click on the "Book corrections" link
at the bottom of the lefthand set of links.
What's the best way to teach Java to COBOL programmers?
It seems to me that some trainers and most trainees wish that there were some clear analogies between COBOL (or other procedural languages) and Java (or other object-oriented languages). That's why I get requests like this one: "Please relate classes, objects, and methods to COBOL constructs." The trouble is that there aren't any meaningful relationships that will make learning Java easier.
Our approach to Java programming, then, is to teach it as a new set of skills, with a straightforward presentation, and without trying to draw strained analogies to COBOL constructs. Above all, we try to teach Java in the context of business applications rather than the "toy" applications that are common in competing books and courses, because business applications are something that the COBOL programmer does relate to.
The good news is that many COBOL skills can be transferred to Java and object-oriented programming. To a large extent, in fact, learning Java is just learning a new syntax and a new perspective on programming. So that's the perspective that our Java books give, and many of our mainframe customers have written to tell us how well our Java books have worked for them.
If your question hasn't been answered...
Please contact us. In most
cases, we'll get back to you within one work day.