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  1. #1
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    Does anybody write "Great Books" anymore? - Why the books I've read are killing me!

    Show me any "static" (Static meaning sites that are not dynamic or contained server side coding) website and I can design and develop it.

    What I have never been able to learn is server side scripting. PHP, ASP.NET and so on. Maybe dynamic websites are not my cup of tea.

    However, I don't think the problem is all mine.

    Every book I have purchased teaches you nothing but "Hello World"
    So the only Dynamic page I can create is "Hello World."

    I find it very strange that all these books don't teach you project.

    That's how I'm use to learning.
    When I open a book, I don't need explanation. Don't spend 6 chapters telling me why website uses security, Duh! Don't you think I know that?

    I mean you waste your money, buy a book and no projects.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful buying a book that's titled "How to build a website with ASP.NET or PHP and then dive right into "How to create a website from the first page?"

    Hey reader, we are going to build a fully functioning website using ASP.NET.

    We will learn how to build a page.
    Adding text, images and links.
    Style a page using CSS, adding a dynamic form.
    Adding current date and time.
    Creating a database for our page and populating that data base.
    Creating user authentication so that when they log in they can post comments and the page will display their name and city of residence.
    Shopping cart.

    And so on.

    Is there such a book?

    All the books I have bought tells you, Hello world, Hello world, Hello world, Hello world. Oops! Did I say Hello world already?

    I mean, I am agitated because you buy books that are advertised "Learn ASP.NET in 24 Hours, yeah! Learn to write Hello World in 24 Hours.

    Why are people not teaching projects?

    I'm am no expert but the world of scripting languages are very complex.
    Massive pages and chapters of explanations only makes things disappointing for a starter.

    I get excited and driven when I can build something.
    Show me how to insert a date and time and then, you can explain how the script was written, the language and why it works.

    Show me the projects, then explain how it was done and why it worked.

    To be honest, some of the people in this forum will do far better writing a book then some of the books I have read.

    Sorry for the Rant!

    I'm contemplating on just focusing on "web design" css/html Photoshop/Fireworks and maybe I can rely on someone to do the scripting side.
    Or hey! I can be a plumber, like Joe!

    Helllllllllo! World.

    IC

  2. #2
    Design Your Site Team bronze trophy Erik J's Avatar
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    Word!

    Start write one now!

    Vol.1 - Your first static site.
    Vol.2 - Your first dynamic site.
    Vol.3 - Your first shopping site.
    Happy ADD/ADHD with Asperger's

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by erik.j View Post
    Word!

    Start write one now!
    After you Erik!
    I'll join you for the 2nd Edition of Hello World!

    I even have a title in mind.

    "Hello World In an Egg Shell"

    IC

  4. #4
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    There are a couple of titles that you may be interested in:

    1. Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP and MySQL

    Sitepoint's own. It's a good starting point.

    2. Practical Web 2.0 Applications With PHP by Quentin Zervaas

    I can't vouch for this one, since I've not read it yet, but it takes the reader through a complete Web 2.0 project, if I understand correctly.

    3. Building Dynamic Web 2.0 Websites with Ruby on Rails by A.P. Rajshekhar

    If you want to learn Ruby On Rails.

  5. #5
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    I actually don't remember the last time I saw a tech book that stopped with "hello world." Maybe you're spending too much time in the "web development for dummies" section of the bookshelf.

    Almost any OReilley book, almost any Sitepoint book, almost any APress book will cover the construction of at least one project (some do 2-3). Now, some of them start with "Hello World"-esque pages, just to give you something easy right up front and prove how easy it is to write them (DHH's book on Rails, and also "Ajax on Rails" come to mind as examples, right away) but they don't stop there. (Sitepoint's book on AJAX Web Applications, for example, builds a chess application.) So don't put a book down just because you see "hello world" in the first chapter or two of a book. Keep looking through the rest of the book.

    More to the point, if you don't want a basic book, then I'd suggest you stop looking at basic books ("learn x in 24 hours," "yy for dummies," etc.) and start looking at the serious books. There are hundreds of them out there, already written. Go on down to your local B&N or Borders, or pop into Amazon, and pick one up.

    (I'd give specific titles in your area, but I can't tell from your rant what, precisely, you're looking for.)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arlen View Post
    I actually don't remember the last time I saw a tech book that stopped with "hello world." Maybe you're spending too much time in the "web development for dummies" section of the bookshelf.

    Almost any OReilley book, almost any Sitepoint book, almost any APress book will cover the construction of at least one project (some do 2-3). Now, some of them start with "Hello World"-esque pages, just to give you something easy right up front and prove how easy it is to write them (DHH's book on Rails, and also "Ajax on Rails" come to mind as examples, right away) but they don't stop there. (Sitepoint's book on AJAX Web Applications, for example, builds a chess application.) So don't put a book down just because you see "hello world" in the first chapter or two of a book. Keep looking through the rest of the book.

    More to the point, if you don't want a basic book, then I'd suggest you stop looking at basic books ("learn x in 24 hours," "yy for dummies," etc.) and start looking at the serious books. There are hundreds of them out there, already written. Go on down to your local B&N or Borders, or pop into Amazon, and pick one up.

    (I'd give specific titles in your area, but I can't tell from your rant what, precisely, you're looking for.)
    Thanks very much for your help but I think we are not on the same page here. I have the following books.

    1. Build Your Own ASP.NET3.5 Websites - Using C# or VB, by Christian Darie. (SitePoint This book does not discuss building anything unlti Mid chapter five. Goes all over the place and will start talking about a topic, then jump to another topic without finishing what they started to talk about.

    2. Beginning ASP.NET3.5 By Imar Spaanjaars (Wrox)
    My problem with this book: Too slow - makes me sleepy. Crawls crawls and crawls. Like it was written for someone with learning disorder.

    ASP.NET3.5 C# - By Anne Boehm (Murach)

    Too much detail, more of a reference which is very great when you already know what you are doing and need to refresh or crash coarse.

    I can tell you that the people who are writing these books are very good. However there is a night and day difference between knowing a subject and presenting a subject.

    I need a book the starts with projects, If I want to know who started PHP I'll Google it or go to their website. Don't spent an entire Chapter talking about the guy at IBM who started Relational Database.
    I did not buy a PHP book to learn who started PHP, put all "PUT ALL THAT IN THE APPENDIX"

    I need a book that gets down and dirty.

    1. How to design a form using PHP
    2. How to use PHP to validate form.
    3. How to build a Database using PHP and MYSQL
    4. How to make user log in and allow visitor to post comments.


    Most web developer out there wants to write a book, that's the problem.
    Are they lacking knowledge? No, Do they know how to present the subject? AAHA! That's the problem I find.

    I'm not a Dummy - I don't buy Dummy books. I personally think they are misleading and a marketing plow.

    I became so frustrated that I gave up on PHP, at least for now.

    I'm at a crossroad and I just get fed up reading books that will spent five chapters talking about classes and Strings, how is someone who knows nothing about strings know what strings are? Will it not make perfect sense to give a project, show an example and then explain to the readers what they just did is a string or an array?

    Do you have a suggestion or solution?

    IC

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iconic_creator View Post
    1. How to design a form using PHP
    2. How to use PHP to validate form.
    3. How to build a Database using PHP and MYSQL
    4. How to make user log in and allow visitor to post comments.
    First off, no ASP book will give you any of that, so you can drop those off your table right now.

    As for some details:
    1) Forms are an HTML thing. No PHP book will tell you that, though they will tell you how to echo HTML code to the browser. But the form itself is HTML.

    2) "Validate a form" is too general. There are literally thousands of possibilities here. Understanding the language (those chapters on classes and strings you dismiss so readily) is the only way you'll be able to write code that can validate a form.

    3/4) OK, this one is easier. I'm fond of Web Database Applications (Williams and Lane) or MySQL/PHP Database Applications (Greenspan and Bulger). The latter book builds, among other things, a guest book and a shopping cart, so that might also help you with point 4 as well.

    As for a book to learn PHP, try Learning PHP, Programming PHP and/or PHP Cookbook, all from O'Reilly. I liked the second, my daughter favors the first. When you understand the language, you will understand how to write code that outputs and validates a form.

    As for why no one writes a book along the lines you're demanding? Easy. It wouldn't make money. Few technical books do, anyway, but your approach wouldn't sell to 75% of the people out there, from what you're describing to me. For example. I want to know the theory before I get to the practice. (But then, I read the whole K&R before even writing my first byte of C.) And any sample web page will only use a fragment of the language, so a book that limits itself to a single web project will leave holes in the reader's knowledge of the language.

    Learn the language, then you can read the code of someone who's already done it (any PHP blogging system, for example) and understand what the code is saying and how to build something similar, maybe even better, yourself.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arlen View Post
    First off, no ASP book will give you any of that, so you can drop those off your table right now.

    As for some details:
    1) Forms are an HTML thing. No PHP book will tell you that, though they will tell you how to echo HTML code to the browser. But the form itself is HTML.

    2) "Validate a form" is too general. There are literally thousands of possibilities here. Understanding the language (those chapters on classes and strings you dismiss so readily) is the only way you'll be able to write code that can validate a form.

    3/4) OK, this one is easier. I'm fond of Web Database Applications (Williams and Lane) or MySQL/PHP Database Applications (Greenspan and Bulger). The latter book builds, among other things, a guest book and a shopping cart, so that might also help you with point 4 as well.

    As for a book to learn PHP, try Learning PHP, Programming PHP and/or PHP Cookbook, all from O'Reilly. I liked the second, my daughter favors the first. When you understand the language, you will understand how to write code that outputs and validates a form.

    As for why no one writes a book along the lines you're demanding? Easy. It wouldn't make money. Few technical books do, anyway, but your approach wouldn't sell to 75% of the people out there, from what you're describing to me. For example. I want to know the theory before I get to the practice. (But then, I read the whole K&R before even writing my first byte of C.) And any sample web page will only use a fragment of the language, so a book that limits itself to a single web project will leave holes in the reader's knowledge of the language.

    Learn the language, then you can read the code of someone who's already done it (any PHP blogging system, for example) and understand what the code is saying and how to build something similar, maybe even better, yourself.
    When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an Electronics Engineer.
    So when I grew up I dived right in, even as a teenager, I was already tearing apart electronic appliances/devices.

    Even though I did not know what a capacitor, transistor or diode was, I was already repairing/breaking things and building my own "funny circuit." Like my eye glasses with a windshield wiper. Or removing the generator that powers a bicycle light when the tire turns, I hook up the generator to a fan propeller and mounted it on the roof for a wind turbine. I use this to power my radio.

    Why all this? Because I'm a person who learns from practicality. When I entered college, it was very easy to understand why a diode behaved the way it did and why a resistor had colors on it's body.

    I appreciate your help and input but I stand by my point.

    Spending 1000 pages learning what is "PHP" makes no sense. When you talk about cooking, and you never set foot in the kitchen, it's a waste.

    Maybe it's just me, but I find reading a book that is going to explain and talk about subjects and no projects are a waste.

    I used a Zener Diode, and realized it regulates electric current. I experimented by attaching a meter to it's output and using a variable resistor to cause variation to the electric current I applied to it's input.

    Well, then I can go back to the books and say, hey! Why did that happen?

    I know you don't use "PHP" to write forms, I know forms are HTML with a post method that allows the form to be processed by a php script.


    If people really love what they do, then it will not be about money but rather passing on the greatest value "KNOWLEDGE" to other people.

    IC
    Last edited by Iconic_creator; Nov 20, 2008 at 11:24.

  9. #9
    ALT.NET - because we need it silver trophybronze trophy dhtmlgod's Avatar
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    I've never been a huge fan on language specific books. I would highly recommend the Robert C Martin Series especially:

    Clean Code
    Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C#
    Working Effectively with Legacy Code

    Another must have book is Eric Evans Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software and most of the books under the Addison-Wesley Signature Series

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict chestertondevelopment's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhtmlgod View Post
    I've never been a huge fan on language specific books. I would highly recommend the Robert C Martin Series especially:

    Clean Code
    Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C#
    Working Effectively with Legacy Code

    Another must have book is Eric Evans Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software and most of the books under the Addison-Wesley Signature Series
    Sure, these are good books but the original poster wants to learn how to develop in a server-side language, these are advanced topics which will just scare anyone without extensive previous experience off.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iconic_creator View Post
    If people really love what they do, then it will not be about money but rather passing on the greatest value "KNOWLEDGE" to other people.
    Nice sentiment. Only it's off-target; it's not the writer, no matter how passionate, that decides what books get printed. It's the publishers, and they need a book to pay for the trouble of publishing. While few publishers end up rolling in money, publishing is *not* a non-profit enterprise.

    As for the point: These books pass on knowledge. You've ranted a lot, I've suggested books, you apparently haven't even looked at them. I guess that tells me off.

    Good luck in your quest to make people do things your way.

  12. #12
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    To me the head first series of books have been very good to get in to.
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  13. #13
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    I kind of agree with your original sentiment, to me a lot of books start you off and then leave you with very little actual knowledge other than the absolute basics. At the other end of the scale there are books that assume you've been coding for years, but there doesn't seem to be much out there in-between. Not everyone who is learning this stuff is working in the field any most will have other jobs and lives that demand their attention, away from learning to code.

    Personally I've bought two books on PHP: Wrox PHP & MySQL - Create, Modify, reuse, which after doing a few PHP primer tutorials online looked pretty good because it covered things I wanted to do in my project, such as an event calendar, but in the end I found was over my head for my skill level at the time.

    So then I bought SAMS teach yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache in 24 hours, which is more of the 'Hello World' variety but between that and some online stuff I wrote a PHP/MySQL call logging system which works pretty well. My knowledge is pretty patchy but that's partly because instead of reading the thing cover to cover, I tend to skip to chapters that deal with things I'm working on, stuck on or am otherwise interested in. At some point I'll go through the whole book and do the excercises and then go on to the Wrox book which is more intermediate to advanced (although I am tempted to get the Sitepoint book mentioned by others here as well!).

    I've had similar problems with Javascript too - I bought a SAMS Javascript book which was ok to start with, but didn't get very far - I wrote an image swapper that faded the images in and out and gave them unique links and alt tags and got some advice from a guy on another forum only to have never heard of some of the things he suggested, (even try-catch was new to me, having not been mentioned in the book,) so then bought Javascript: The good parts at his recommendation only to find it was a bit over my head talking about object literals and the like, which I'd never come across. After reading the sample chapters from The Javascript anthology, I might invest in that too.

    I do think someone should do a proper Beginner-intermediate-advanced range though so you could build your skills as you go.

  14. #14
    We're from teh basements.
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    Most IT books do rehash too much beginner stuff. I suppose they have to do it that way because it's not safe to assume every reader has prior knowledge of the subject matter. There are a couple of things they could change if they really wanted to though.

    (1) The page margins are usually so wide that the book is more than 50% whitespace. Half the price of that $75 book is spent on blank paper! Why? Because some study or another suggested that a page must be 50% whitespace to be readable. Funny how I was able to read books with much smaller margins just fine before, eh?

    (2) They often re-publish material, such as the PHP Manual or MySQL documentation, that can be found for free and more up-to-date online. This sometimes accounts for half of the printed information in the book. Replace the filler with original instructive material and link me to the online docs instead!

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict BransonPro's Avatar
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    I was in the same boat unitl I found a book titled "The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver with CSS, Ajax, and PHP". It focuses primarily on CS3. I know CS3 is the "old" version now. But it really had a lt of good information about PHP, MySQL, and the Spry framework. "Apress" is the publisher, by the way.

  16. #16
    We're from teh basements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narshada View Post
    At the other end of the scale there are books that assume you've been coding for years
    You want to know what the absolute worst programming book I ever attempted to read was? Practical C++ by Mark Terribile. All of the variable and function names in the code examples are obscure references to Shakespeare plays or some such literature that have nothing whatsoever to do with creating "practical" classes and objects. Hell, the cliched Dog and Car classes in most C++ books are better than that gibberish.

  17. #17
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    There are learn by doers, and learn by readers.

    Books tend to cater to the learn by readers, and web examples tend to cater to the learn by doers. For a learn by doer, a PHP book is nothing more than an ocassional resource.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast graphical_force's Avatar
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    If that is the kinds of books you want then it sounds like you should take a look at any of the "Hacks" series that O'Reilly has put out.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict antirem's Avatar
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    I highly suggest moving from books to lynda.com they have very good tutorials.. good enough for me at least.

  20. #20
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    Instead of paying to access javascript programming videos, there are some very good resources available at no cost.

    For example, there is the Yahoo YUI Library. Peteris Krumins' blog post of learning javascript programming through video lectures links to many of the available videos and provides his thoughts about them in an insightful manner.

    Now the only question that remains for me is a philosophical one. Do you value what someone has given to you freely, or do you have to be charged money before you consider it to have any value.
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