Programmers don't read books-but you should

Source: Internet
Author: User

Repost an article about programmer reading.


One of the central themes of is that software developers no longer learn programming from books, as Joel mentioned:

Programmers seem to have stopped reading books. The market for books on programming topics is miniscule compared to the number of working programmers.

Joel expressed similar Sentients in 2004's the shlemiel way of software:

But the majority of people still don't read. or write. the majority of developers don't read books about software development, they don't read Web sites about software development, they don't even read Slashdot.

If programmers don't learn from books today, how do they learn to program? They do it the old-fashioned way: by rolling up their sleeves andWriting code-While harnessing the collective wisdom of the Internet in a second window. The Internet has
Rendered programming books obsolete. It's faster, more efficient, and just plainSmarterTo get your programming information online. I believe Doug McCune's experience, which he aptly describes as why
I don't read books, is fairly typical.

I lay part of the blame squarely at the feet of the technical book publishing industry:

  1. Most programming books suck.The barrier to being a book author, as near as I can tell, is virtually nonexistent. the signal to noise of book publishing is arguably not a heck of a lot better than what you'll find on the wilds of the Internet.
    Of the hundreds of programming books released every year, perhaps two are three are truly worth the time investigation.
  2. Programming books sold by weight, not by volume. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the size of a programming book and its quality. The bigger the book, somehow, the less useful information it will contain. What is the point
    Of these giant wanna-be reference Tomes? How do youFindAnything in it, much less lift the damn things?
  3. Quick-fix programming books oriented towards novices. I have nothing against novices entering the programming field. But I continue to believe the "learn [insert language here] in 24 hours! "Variety of books are doing
    Our authentication sion a disservice. The monomaniacal focus onRight nowAnd the fastest, easiest possible way to do things leads beginners down the wrong path-or as I like to call it, "php". I kid! I kid!
  4. Programming book pornography. The idea that having a pile of thick, important-looking programming books sitting on your shelf, largely unread, will somehow make you a better programmer. As David
    Poole once related to me in email, "I 'd never get to do that in real life" seems to be the theme of the programming book porn pile. this is why I considered, and rejected, buying knuth's Art
    Of computer programming. Try to purchase practical books you'll actually read, and more importantly, put into action.

As an author, I'm guilty, too. I co-wrote a programming book, and IStillDon't think you shoshould buy it. I don't mean that in
Ironic-trucker-hat, reverse-psychology way. I mean it quite literally. It's not a bad book by any means. I have the utmost respect for myesteemed co-authors.
But the same information wocould be far more accessible on the Web. trapping it inside a dead tree book is ultimately a waste of effort.

The Internet has certainly accelerated the demise of programming books, but there is some eviise that, even pre-Internet, programmers didn't read all that extends programming books. I was quite surprised to encounter the following passage in code

Pat yourself on the back for reading this book. You're already learning more than most people in the software industry becauseOne book is more than most programmers read each year(DeMarco and Lister 1999). A little reading goes a long way
Toward professional advancement. if you read even one good programming book every two months, roughly 35 pages a week, you'll soon have a firm grasp on the industry and distinguish yourself from nearly everyone around you.

I believe the same text is present in the original 1993 edition of code complete, but I no longer have a copy to verify that. A little searching uncovered the passage Steve McConnell is referencing in DeMarco and Lister's eagleware:

The statistics about reading are special discouraging:The average software developer, for example, doesn't own a single book on the subject of his or her work, and hasn't ever read one. That fact is horrifying for anyone concerned about
The quality of work in the field; for folks like us who write books, it is positively tragic.

It pains me greatly to read the Reddit comments and learn that people are interpreting the mission statement as a repudiation of Programming
Books. As ambivalent as I am about the current programming book market,I love programming books!This very blog was founded on the concept of my recommended
Developer reading list. Summary of my blog posts are myfeeble attempts to explain key concepts outlined
Long ago in classic programming books.

How to reconcile this seemingly contradic1_statement, the love and hate dynamic? You see, there are programming books, and there areProgramming

The best programming books are timeless. They transcend choice of language, IDE, or platform. They do not explain how,Why. If you feel compelled to clean house on your bookshelf every five years, trust me on this,You're buying the wrong
Programming books

I wouldn't trade my programming bookshelf for anything. I refer to it all the time. In fact, I referred to itTwiceWhile composing this very post.

I won't belabor my recommended reading list, as I 've kept it proudly the same for years.

(Update: tim spalding kindly set up a librarything account on my behalf-and members have already enabled ented and entered
Every book pictured on these shelves. Impressive, and quite cool !)

But I do have this call to arms:My top five programming books every working programmer shoshould own-andRead. These seminal books are richly practical reads, year after year, no matter what kind of programming I'm doing. They reward
Repeated readings, offering deeper and more penetrating insights into software engineering every time I return to them, armed with a few more years of experience under my belt. if you haven't read these books, what are you waiting?

Code complete 2 Don't make me think Leleware Pragmatic programmer Facts and fallacies

It is my greatest intention to make highlyComplementaryTo these sorts of timeless, classic programming books. It is in no way, shape,
Or form meant as a replacement for them.

On the other hand, if you're the unfortunate author of Perl for Dummies, then watch your back, because we're definitely gunning for you.

Posted by Jeff Atwood

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