Books do make a difference

book book pages bookcase browse

Fotografie de Pixabay pe

You can start coding with any programming language or on top of any framework either with or without reading tech books on those topics. But depending on the selection, your dev experience might vary so much:

  • Go directly hands on with the technology and it will be very fun, but you’ll soon run into miscellaneous, yet possibly very big problems; you’ll then need to stop and read at least the relevant docs, and you might end up with refactoring everything or restarting from scratch (possibly even more than once!)

I did so in my early years as a programmer. By learning just a few of the Basic keywords I was able to do a lot of things. But of course, without knowing about AND and OR I ended up writing subsequent IFs and other ugly code to fulfill even the minimal requirements. (But I must admit, I was just a kid and hadn’t even seen a programming reference book by then.)

  • Read a Get started guide or follow a tutorial first and while it’s going to be boring now and then or here and there, you’ll eventually use less time refactoring and finish your work sooner, overall; sometimes big issues will still arise anyway, being caused by the fundamental differences between the way you thought things work and the way they actually do, forcing you to find ugly workarounds or refactor your code big time again; if you’re lucky enough, however, or if your application is not too complex itself, you might get away with this approach, though.

I used to follow this path since Pascal, up to Windows Forms and even tried it with WPF. It goes well, as long as the framework isn’t tricky enough to either decrease performance if you’re using it in a wrong way (like I did first with WPF) or if it’s simply not intuitive enough (at least in some of its parts).

  • Read an advanced, detailed book on the topic (after going through Get started reference too) and although this would indeed take some precious start-up time, it will serve you the best on the long term: knowing more about the core of your platform will lead you through complex development tasks without pushing you into unexpected performance issues, and knowing some about all the available APIs that it offers will get you very good overall awareness; you’ll know where and what to search for whenever you need something done, you’ll know what wheels to avoid reinventing, and you’ll know many important things about the approaches and components that you can use or reuse in your project.

After more than 25 years since my first line of code, I highly recommend this way, myself. For macOS and iOS development I followed this route directly (I’m actually still on the road with it), and I am sure it was the best decision I could make for the times ahead. It’s so important to know what to use and when, or at least where and what to search for when you need it! Especially since often the underlying software is just not working the way one intuitively believes it should. (And this is true for all platforms in some of their areas or in certain conditions.)

Moreover, I must note that during the years I’ve found that although I absolutely love coding and that I couldn’t live without computers, reading a good tech book can also bring a lot of joy and happiness too. 🙂

(By the way, I prefer paperback books now, despite Kindle’s advantages: I just feel like and don’t regret it; and apparently, other people are on the same track too.)

About Sorin Dolha

My passion is software development, but I also like physics.
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