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  1. #1
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    Should I buy books to learn programming?

    I want to get into the field of programming - should I buy books to learn a good amount of the languages? I am asking because there are a lot of free resources on the web and should I bother spending my money? By the way this is something I will be taking very seriously and I plan to pay above 600$ if I go with the books. I have learned html and css though trial, error, and common sense - can I take the same approach with other languages?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    I've got a bookshelf full of outdated programming/computer books but at the time they all served a purpose.

    I'd say, yep, buy a book or two and you can't go wrong. You'll probably learn quicker from quality books than bits and pieces from various sites. That's not to say ignore those bit and pieces, it's those bit and pieces that may cement the knowledge.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard rozner's Avatar
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    I won't say not to use books, but with the resources available online I'd say you can learn to program without books. I think everything I know about computers was learned by trial and error. I read some books along the way too and got a cs degree in there too, but I pretty much learned to program on my own. Also I'd say stick with one language for now. Once you get good at one language, learning others becomes much easier. They all share similar concepts.

  4. #4
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    I found the best method is to get started with online tutorials and work yourself up to an advanced level.

    Then when you come to a block of 'oh, what's next?' buy a book on the subject - you'll almost definitely learn something new.

    For example, most people learn PHP through tutorials etc, learn OOP and PDO and think they're done. But when they pick up Sitepoint's own 'The PHP Anthology', there's LOTS of stuff to learn (and a beginner wouldn't have a hope of learning).

    There are two kinds of tutorial books - the starter and the reference. The starter books will be read once, maybe twice - because once you know it, you know it.

    The reference books will be referred to again and again - and that is a wise investment.

    So get yourself to the stage where you know beyond the basics, then get yourself a book or two.

    Besides, it'd suck if you spend money on a load of books if it turned out you didn't enjoy the subject that much, wouldn't it.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  5. #5
    Pragmatic Programmer halfasleeps's Avatar
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    I def recommend books, I have learned a lot from forums, tutorials, trial and error, but I have learned the most from books. Checkout the book "code complete" I plan on reading it next, I hear its one of the best.
    Altoona Design
    Freelance Flex developer for hire.
    ActionScript Programmer with 8 Years Experience.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I like to learn from books and not through google. Let's just say the authors have conviniently gathered all info into 1 book and also have taken good amount of time on "how you should learn it". Of course, if you want to do the leg work then Google is your friend for all knowledge but...it is a lot of leg work. I rather spend $50 then search for hours on Google.

  7. #7
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    I have been able to learn alot from online tutorials but I find most books are not very helpful.

  8. #8
    Pragmatic Programmer halfasleeps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsite View Post
    I have been able to learn alot from online tutorials but I find most books are not very helpful.
    Then you must be reading the wrong books.
    Altoona Design
    Freelance Flex developer for hire.
    ActionScript Programmer with 8 Years Experience.

  9. #9
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    It's usually the other way round, in all honesty.

    If you're actually trying to learn something without just copying code, books are generally better. Fortunately, however, there are tutorials on the web that do teach rather than just give code, and it's easier to find too.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsite View Post
    I have been able to learn alot from online tutorials but I find most books are not very helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by halfasleeps View Post
    Then you must be reading the wrong books.
    Ditto. I find that books are more structured in their approach, it's just a matter of selecting the right ones (novice, intermediate or advanced). I would half assume if you're looking for intermediate to advanced topics then you would clearly know what books to buy (and avoid).

  11. #11
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    It's also good to note that if you read a book to learn, you're going to learn everything you should in a certain topic, and in the right order.

    I know by experience that learning by tutorials does make your knowledge very patchy at the beginning, because it's not just a case of where to find it, but what to learn!
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast WickedGoddess's Avatar
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    Of course buying books would be helpful, no questions asked. After reading, try to apply again and again the things you've learned.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast bizcare's Avatar
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    With the different Free tutorials and resources you can find on the Internet - why not go free? I'd say, give it a few weeks... read as many tutorials as you can, of course practice makes perfect.

    But if you are really itching to buy a book - go ahead a buy one.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot superjacent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizcare View Post
    With the different Free tutorials and resources you can find on the Internet - why not go free? I'd say, give it a few weeks... read as many tutorials as you can, of course practice makes perfect.

    But if you are really itching to buy a book - go ahead a buy one.
    A little off-topic, sorry, how about practice makes permanent. It is possible to continually be making the same mistake.

    Back to books. Yes, buy books.

  15. #15
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    I don't like e-books. I like to take a paper in my arms) And my eyes perceive ordinary book better than e-book.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot riderbabygurl's Avatar
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    If you are really dedicated to learn programming better to read some books that provides a good quality. As what they mentioned above you should try to apply it plus tutorials online will also a big help.Additional if you have some close friend who knows programming better to get some idea with them or try to find some seminar related about programming its more effective when learning it in actual method.

  17. #17
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    Well, if you really want to learn programming that much, then I guess you should buy it then. I know that there are lots of ebooks over here but then again its incomplete sometimes. A published book is way better and yes its true, it is more structured.

  18. #18
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    I alike the above also recommend the use of books. While it is possible to learn a programming language online you may find it easier to have all the information you require in one location and has been formatted specifically for the purpose. But it really is down to personal choice.

  19. #19
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    Try to vary from what sources you learn programming. Sometimes im not personally calm while on the internet, then a book might be better.

    Try to read through tutorials online while coding and learning it step by step.


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