Photo of Reference Books for Programming

Building A Reference Library Expands Your Understanding

With the internet at our fingertips and more and more ways to access it, it becomes easy to feel like we can know anything in an instant. A new technique or a quick check to see the syntax of a function on demand is powerful. No doubt of that. However, this type of knowledge is like listening to soundbites from a news story and thinking you actually know the story. You know facts about the story, but it is not the same as being there. Reference books give deeper insights.

 

MYTH: I do not need books if I have Google

As stated, that is definitely true to a point. Google is a tremendous resource and you absolutely should use it. For business critical issues, though, you need something deeper than endless surface skimming, particularly if you work with code.

If you find a good reference / learning book, you will take your knowledge to the next level. While you could find likely any of the ideas found in a book online, what you miss out on is the continuum. These ideas are meant to be strung together and the result is a more robust product. Through the web, you often just learn the one piece in a vacuum. An author worth their salt will string ideas together to help you see how your one piece works within the whole language, and how you might extend the thoughts in a more cohesive manner.

Knowledge is Power

When it comes to these tomes, I have always been a fan of physical. I think that is just a personal preference. Spending my day creating things to live in the ether, a tangible object is quite nice. But try to take it with you, right? Sure a single book is no problem but your whole library is not getting into your satchel. Due to this, I have been sliding into digital. Some clever publishers are including a digital copy when you buy physical, or offer a discounted digital copy. I try to go that way.

TIP: Being fair, digital copies are often updated for free which is not the case with physical

The biggest challenge is finding a publisher, or even a specific author, who speaks to you. Everyone learns differently. Be sure to find the right book for your style. It likely exists, whether you prefer more conversational or just the facts. Somewhere out there is a book with your name on it.

Keep Google and your list of links handy because they can be wonderful in a pinch. Keep your reference books handy so you can go deeper into the subject. You owe it to yourself to take your skills and services as far as possible for both you and your client. A solid reference library will help take you there.

What do you think? Are you building a library or are you fine with the Just In Time approach to your projects? What publishers are you reading? Drop us a line and let us know!

IMAGE: Wiki Programing Languages