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coding for the proletariat since 1977

Electronic Text Books

My employer has a Safari Books online account, and I am using that to access Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, Third Edition, to jump start my understanding of Mac programming in general and Cocoa in particular.

I have a love/hate relationship with online books. For reading novels the format is great. I have several hundred fiction titles in my electronic collection and make good use of an aging Palm m515 to read them. Reading non-fiction, particularly text books is a less enjoyable experience. With the book open (either in a PDF reader or the browser or eBook reader) ¬†you have to continually “flip” back and forth between the text and your working example in the IDE of your choice. Often times you’ll find yourself positioning the text as far to one side of the screen so that you can position the editor as far as possible to the other side of the screen so you can transcribe the example code.

The ideal situation is multiple monitors, which I have at work. Put the IDE on one screen and the tutorial or book on another screen and have a ball. My personal machine is a laptop and I don’t have an external monitor, so no multiple screen goodness to the rescue. However, I have more than one laptop, so I have on occasion emulated multiple monitors with multiple computers.

Safari Book Shelf is nice enough, especially since I’m not paying for it. I think, at least for books, I prefer buying the actual hardcopy and having it as a reference. Pragmatic Programmers publish most (if not all) of their titles as either PDF or paper book. I usually buy both; that way I have the book for reference and a PDF copy on my machine for times when the book is where I’m not.

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Filed under: eBooks, Pragmatic Bookshelf, Safari Books

Pragmatic Bookshelf

Several years ago I discovered the seminal volume from Andrew Hunt and Dave Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master, and it immediately became one of my favorite books about programming. In the last couple of years I have started to collect more and more “Pragmatic” books and each subsequent volume has been a delight. The topics, the coverage, the style, everything about Pragmatic Bookshelf is dead on target.

Over the weekend I picked up Ship It! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects, and just last week I purchased a beta copy of Pragmatic Ajax: A Web 2.0 Primer. The Ajax volume is excellent, even for a beta book, and I am enjoying learning a new UI skill. The description of Ship It! is what caught my eye, “This isn’t a book about a methodology. It’s better than that. It’s the stuff culled from a range of methodologies that together just works.”

I cannot recommend these books and this publisher enough. Quite simply some of the best technical volumes available today.

Filed under: Ajax, Pragmatic Bookshelf, Project Management