How to spot a bad programing book

Look for one of the folowing words in the title

If the book has one of these words in the title, there’s a big chance that the book is bad. :imp:

I would suggest that bad is relative in this context. These may be indicators of a book that is “bad” for someone as technically experienced as you or me, but they may be great for someone who only wants to understand what happens under the hood.

Personally I like the “bad” programming books. They have lots of examples that can be used to explain things to mangers who have little real tech experience.

Yes “bad” is the wrong word here. “Low quality” is perhaps better. And I mean “quality” in Pirsig’s sense. I have nothing about simple books. For instance "C Programming Language, by Kernaghan and Ritchie", is a simple book that is full of quality. Here are some other books that have “quality”.

None of these books use words like 24 hours, 21 days, Cool, Definitive, Instant, or Dummies.

Take a book like “Cocoa Programming for Dummies, by Tejkowski”. The title implies that the author explains a difficult subject so even a dummy would understand it. But that is not true. There is no ‘royal road’ to a complex subject, as Aristotle told Alexander the Great. There is no road in 24 hours and no road in 21 days. No cool road, no definitive road, and no instant road. A complex subject takes time and effort to master and no wishing will make it different. IMHO, the best advice was given by Abel who said “Study the masters, not their pupils”. :wink:

The thing I look for is if the descriptions and the example code agrees :slight_smile:

(Unfortunately this makes some of Apple’s documentation fall in the “bad” category!)

There are lot of matters to declare a book bad. I don’t have such type of experience that I will read a book to just declare a book bad. We can consider that if you are not getting it properly and no pratice session then you can but becarefull to declare a bad

What I usually do is pick a hairy problem that I know the answer to already and then see if the book covers it and how. If I’m totally new to the language technology and don’t know the answer, I’m usually there because I have a specific question, and can approximate the same. The book’s title and claims are then immaterial when looked at with this knowledge in hand.

I’d add “Head First” to that list too.