What's so special about the Hitchhiker's Guide series? Well, perhaps a bit more history will help clear this up. In the late 1980s, I worked for Microsoft University (MSU) writing and delivering courseware on any number of now-obsolete technical subjects like OS/2 and Quick Basic. When Microsoft established a partnership with Sybase to co-market and develop an OS/2 version of SQL Server, MSU and I were recruited to build courses to teach developers relational database design, TSQL programming, DBLibrary programming, and other related subjects. I managed and contributed courseware to the group of trainers who wrote and delivered this courseware for almost five yearsoften three to five days a week, three weeks a month. Along the way, we all learned a great deal about SQL Server and best practices.
When MSU folded, I wrote my first Hitchhiker's Guide: Hitchhiker's Guide to VBSQL. No, the title had nothing to do with Douglas Adam's bookit was to be a "tour guide" like Europe on $5 a Day for SQL Server front-end Visual Basic developers. The book's manuscript helped me get a writer's slot on the Visual Basic documentation team. The first edition was a folksy tongue-in-cheek treatment of Visual Basic (1.0), DBLibrary, and SQL Server, and how they could interconnectthe tips and techniques were drawn from the courseware I had written and my interaction with SQL Server developers and MSU students. Using some pretty silly and irreverent examples and prose, I was able to make a fairly dry topic humorous and very readable, while still getting the heavy technical content across. I took the first edition to Microsoft Press for publication, but (strangely enough) they wanted a Power Builder book, not one on a (then) obscure DBMS like SQL Server. As a result, I published the first three editions myself and eventually sold several thousand copies out of my homethese first three editions made their way to customers and bookstores all over the world. I even sold a single copy to a fella in Hong Kong who made it very popular in Chinatoo bad I didn't get anything back from these copies.
Each subsequent edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide leveraged the previous as I expanded my understanding of Visual Basic and SQL Server and as these products evolved and matured. Each edition focused on the latest Visual Basic and SQL Server interfaces and features, and each became the definitive source for information on ODBC, DAO, ODBC Direct, ADO, and the Visual Basic tools used to access these data access interfaces. I like to think that the book itself helped focus Microsoft and the data access teams on addressing many real-world issues that my students, customers, and readers constantly relayed to me. As I created new solutions to common problems, I would fold these into the next edition. Over the years, I've spent considerable time interacting with the developer communityat conferences, via newsgroups, and in training sessions. If you've met me and made a good suggestion for a better way to handle a data access issue, it has probably ended up in the book somewhere.
Eventually, Hitchhiker's Guide's popularity encouraged Microsoft Press to ask to publish the fourth edition. After we came to an understandingI would maintain full editorial control (the jokes and Microsoft barbs had to stay)I relented and the soylent-green fourth edition was published. Microsoft Press subsequently published the updated fifth and sixth editions over the next few years; it was subsequently translated into at least eight languages, including Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, and Chinese.