|★ LITTÉRATURE ★ ENGLISH ★ Amstrad Advanced Users Guide|Amstrad Action) ★|
|Amstrad Advanced Users-Guide||Littérature English|
Once again we have a technical volume which hails from abroad - France in this case - but there's a marked difference of emphasis on this one. I can't find fault with the translation quality here, but then the book is largely a collection of tables and diagrams anyway. There's very little straight text to it, and no form of commentary to take you from one piece of data to the next.
The first problem with the book is its scope: it's a jack of all trades and master of none. After two pages on the CPC's internal architecture, the author launches into a chapter on Basic. If you own a 464 you'll have most of this - a keyword summary, character-set breakdown, Ascii table etc - in your manual.
If you're a 664 or 6128 owner, on the other hand, you could reasonably wonder where FILL, COPYCHR$ and similar Basic 1.1 keywords have got to. The chapter and indeed the whole book are, it turns out, 464-specific with extra 664/6128 information relegated to the appendices. It's a bit of a shame then that the author fails to point this out either in the keywords section, any other place where the CPCs differ or indeed anywhere at all. It's even more of a shame that Glentop didn't collate the book in the obvious way.
It doesn't really matter, because there's no startling new keyword information here. Where the CPC manuals are desperately short on explanations, so is this book. You want to know how CALL parameters are passed to machine-code subroutines? That's just too bad, because the book doesn't tell you.
Moving on to the book's meatier chapters we get a whirlwind tour of Z80 code and the operating system. The section on machine code is a brief set of notes and a whole load of tables. The flags table is quite handy and the disassembly charts are very well presented, but serious programmers will want timing details and these are sadly missing. Overall it could be handy for reference if you're well up on Z80, but it certainly won't teach you anything if you aren't.
The operating-system details are probably what most people will buy the book for, and they are detailed enough to be usable - but only just. Entry and exit conditions are given along with some indication of each routine's function. This will be more than sufficient for TXT OUTPUT, but most people will need a lot more before they can use something like KL INIT EVENT. Once again, if you know it already the book could be a useful reference work. Otherwise you can forget it.
The rest of the book is in much the same vein, consisting in roughly equal parts of stuff that you already had in your manual and stuff that you didn't want to know in the first place. If you want all the tables and charts from your user manual together with a handy (but rather lightweight) precis of the Firmware Guide then this book could be for you, but don't expect it to replace either of them. Personally I would only use it for quick reference, and it's only just thorough enough for that.