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#1 masteryee  Icon User is offline

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Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:29 PM

When I took my first Computer Science class in college, I had no clue what the hell I was doing, so of course I used books and learned through my class work. Never really utilized the web to better my programming skills.

At one point in my current workplace, I was promoted from doing scripting work to becoming a Delphi developer. I didn't know much about Delphi, and even though I was given a book, I only scanned a few pages here and there and tossed it aside. Looking at my coworkers' code was double-edged: sometimes it was crisp and clear, and other times it was sloppy spaghetti code. In the end, the bulk of my ever-growing knowledge came from articles and forums on the web. A lot of my knowledge also comes from the vast number of my coding mistakes that I've learned from...

Along the way, I also had to do some ASP .NET, of which I knew absolutely nothing. I gained some insight through my boss' sample code, but I gained most of my knowledge from online forums/articles. Just recently we were given the go to begin converting our Delphi desktop applications to C#. Even though my coworkers were gung ho about it and bought the same book as each other a while back, they don't really know C#, so I can't use them as a source for help. I had a little bit of background in C#, and in the end, the internet has become my only resource now to learning C#, and it's helped me a ton. I just have a low attention span when trying to learn from books.

How do you guys prefer to teach yourself how to program? Was there a time where you found a solution in a book that you couldn't find in online articles/forums? I'm wondering if there are other full time programmers out there who utilize the internet as their #1 resource, excluding downloadable copies of of retail books. I'm always looking to enhance my coding skills; for example, I would ultimately like to become certified in WCF just because I think it's cool, so if you guys feel that certain areas of coding are better learned through books, let me know.

And yes, google is my friend.

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Replies To: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:40 PM

I use both the web and books extensively. While the net is very helpful from time to time, I find it a bit hard to find answers for specific problems. Books are awesome in that they typically cover an entire topic thoroughly like a giant web article. I also find them a bit more researched and correct than a lot of web pages. After all, anyone can create a web page that shows bad habits that they learned from someone who learned bad habits from someone else.

Anyone learning programming should mix all sorts of different sources. Web pages, books, forums, and even specialized industry specific magazines.

Expose yourself to as many different sources as you can because of the content and different points of view will help you see problems from all sorts of different angles.

:)
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#3 searockruz  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:45 PM

i prefer books for learning basic things
and then tutorials on web for advance things
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#4 Core  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 18 May 2009 - 10:37 PM

I started with books. At the time I was only discovering software development (back in 1998) there weren't too many development communities and even eBooks, so basically the paper books were the only source to learn about a programming language. This baecame a habit of mine and when I am trying to find a solution for a problem, I always take a look in the book first, to see if a similar problem is covered there. I would agree at this point with Martyr2 - books are a verified resource that can show you the good habits of software development as well as effective solutions for some problems.

However, with the fast-growing number of web documentation (for example, take a look at Microsoft with MSDN, WindowsClient, IIS.NET and ASP.NET) as well as with an intense flow of users in online communities, web learning becomes sometimes more effective, as the interaction between people will generate a wide variety of solutions. When online, you will have to analyze the source by yourself to see if it is professional enough and credible to provide the best learning experience.

I am using both web and books for my tasks. Sometimes something is not covered in a book - then I go online and do a research. If I don't find anything, I will just ask the question on the forums.

I would recommend using books when you are at a strating level (just learning a technology or programming language). In this way you will set the correct fundamentals. Then, you can expand your knowledge online and use books for reference.
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#5 arthurakay  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 20 May 2009 - 08:48 AM

When I first started programming, I was about 10 years old doing BASIC on an Apple IIc. Old school, right? I found a programming book on my parents' desk and started on my way.

Fast forward a few years and I started learning HTML by reading tutorials on the web. Same story with Javascript.

When I got to college, I was reading books on C and Java development.

Now that I'm out and working in the real world, I've taught myself .NET, Python and PHP through online resources.

Long story short, I think books are great for learning something when you are totally new to the concept. Once you have the basics down, jumping into online tutorials is really the best bet for learning more advanced techniques. In my experience, books don't really do a good job of sparking curiosity in the programmer whereas the online community absolutely does.

I still read books - but they're more geared towards architectural practices and theory than syntax.
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#6 Tribly  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 21 May 2009 - 06:41 PM

From my experience -- though I am no professional -- books are great places to start when I didn't have a clue or was completely new. (Usually) a book would be a concise and easily scanned for information: especially when I had no place to start to ask a question that a tutorial might answer.

In the same right, I've read out-dated books that are too old to give me samples that can be trusted with a newer compiler, etc.(I do have a 15 year old C book still lying around) With powerful search engines of today an article can be easily picked out from the masses if you know what is needed.

I'm with searockruz on this one.

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#7 janotte  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 22 May 2009 - 03:31 AM

I'll just join in with one more "both books and web" comment.

Good books tend to be great for getting basics down so web resources mean more.

From intermediate to advanced the web resources hold the crown because they are searchable, less (bio)memory dependent, and increase the chance of finding an exact example of what you want.

Then once you have the sytax etc down pat books come back into their own as ways to read up on ideas of style, big concepts etc etc (even re-reading textbooks can be beneficial when you find things and go 'oh gee whiz' i forgot about that great feature / hack / facility.

Have a look at "Code Complete 2" as a great book to read on mastering code writing rather than writing a given language.
http://cc2e.com/
Highly recommended to people at any stage of learning to write code.
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#8 jeff666  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 29 May 2009 - 05:58 AM

View Postsearockruz, on 18 May, 2009 - 08:45 PM, said:

i prefer books for learning basic things
and then tutorials on web for advance things


It's the reverse !
Tutorials are never written by professionals (mainly by ~15 years old kids !) and cover only beginners things
For advanced things, there are books, BBS and Usenet
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#9 grume  Icon User is offline

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Re: Methods of learning how to program: Internet vs Books

Posted 01 June 2009 - 02:04 AM

Fast forward a few years and I started learning HTML by reading tutorials on the web. Same story with Javascript.

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