Learning code from books. An obsolete practice?

2016-08-10 08:57:04 admin Perl Interests 1 comment

Coding is something so unique as a process and as a practice that it takes a certain way of thinking to be able to understand and do it properly and also a certain way of learning. It’s not like you can just read a book, follow the right steps and then do it. Or is it?

When it comes to learning resources, coding is all around blessed, there are so many tutorials and online courses that not only give you the theoretical elements that you need to master, but are also very inclusive when it comes to putting them in practice properly.  For Perl, there’s another great advantage through the community. You can get into all sorts of groups and get answers to your (more complicated) questions, having senior developers act as benevolent teachers.

But, should you include books in your repertoire of learning resources?  They’re the most basic form of learning, objects that represent a basis of information destined to be taught. You’re surrounded by books since the first days of kindergarten (albein, some of them might be coloring books) up until the last day of college, they represent the basis of your education. But are they the basis for a future programmer?

Perl has quite a few cornerstone books like Beginning Perl, Learning Perl, Programming Perl, Higher Order Perl, Perl One-liners and many more. But as Perl 5 is getting regular updates and Perl 6 is finally coming out, some books might lose relevance. Writing a book is an arduous and long process and although new editions are published it’s not enough to keep up. Reading and learning from a good book, remember that - good book, can be very helpful, but the book can be good, and not completely accurate to the current standard and just drive confusion.

The rhythm of change that we have today is too fast and too dynamic for a book to keep up with. By the time you’re done writing it and by the time it gets published you could already have an obsolete material on your hands. And if you want to reissues it you have to go through the same process again and again. The same goes for the reader.  It’s like you’re always running behind, limping after a fast car. Perl’s getting regular updates and it’s not the only language in continuous improvement mode.

Articles, tutorials, online courses, these are the new norm on learning coding, as they’re always current and always up to date with the best and latest practices. Books as a concept, are as valid as ever when it comes to learning tools, but not particularly in the case of coding. If you want to learn german (I heard that’s harder than coding) a book is fine, the language won’t change much while you’re learning it (it does depends if you take several decades to master it), but if you want to learn a new language you might run into some issues.

Do you know of any books that stayed relevant throughout the years and the changes that followed in Perl or programming in general?

Leave a comment


    Nice article Im not an educationalist but I think we should distinguish at least two types of computer languageacquisition behaviours theres the behaviour where you just want to pick something up to solve a problem or simply add to your tool box and theres the behaviour where you want to wallow in a subject and let it seep into your pores and make it a part of you because it offers more than a solution to your immediate problems and more than a checkbox for your resume Web tutorials and online courses are fine for the first but give me a really good book for the second Would love to see a Camel Book for Perl 6 Disclosure Im a librarian by profession but love to program in Perl

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