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Help! I Need A Book- A Guide to Finding Programming Resources

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This is a very common question across the forums, and one that I'd like to address for the askers. Before you post this question on the forums, try to narrow it down so you can get better help and recommendations. Start with the following:
  • Search on a book store's website. Have you searched on Barnes & Noble or Borders websites? Chances are, if it's a common topic like "Java Beginner" or "First C++" you'll get a ton of matches.
  • Go onto a nearby college's website, and look at the textbooks recommended for their computer science classes. If you are looking for an introductory book, the introductory courses (also commonly referred to as Object-Oriented Programming I) are a great place to start.
  • Browse the documentation for the technology in question. If you are looking for something specific, often times it can be found on the documentation, language tutorials, Google, and of course DIC. In fact, many of the standard languages, and even some of the more obscure languages, have a long list of FAQ's if you do a forum search. If you want a book that covers a broader range of subjects, we have a ton of request a book threads that you will find by doing a forum search as well. Don't forget to check out our long and ever-growing list of tutorials and snippets. :)

Ok, I've found a couple books, but I'm unsure of which to get.
So hopefully at this point you've done the preliminary research, read the reviews, etc., but you can't make a judgement about which to get, so feel free to open a thread at this point. Make sure you provide us links to the books, as well as an overview of what you are looking for. So for example, Java for Dummies: 9-Books-In-1 may not be the best resource if you are looking to hit hard on data structures, while Core Java II may not be the best book to get if you are taking an Intro class. These kinds of things help us make better recommendations.

I searched, and searched, and searched, but came up empty handed. Help!
This is probably a rare instance, and happens in one of two cases:
  • The language is dead. There is no use buying a book on Visual Basic 3, J++, or PASCAL, as nobody does any serious development in them anymore. Pick a more modern language. There is a reason they are no longer supported (well).
  • The technology is so new, hasn't caught on, or there isn't enough enough information to write a book on it. In this case, the best starting point is the technology's documentation. Most technologies or APIs have some level of documentation; otherwise, we as programmers would have a hard time figuring out how to use them, and you should probably consider an alternative.

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