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Who likes (or dislikes) technical "cookbooks"?

Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Do you guys like and/or use tech. cookbooks? Like the "Java Cookbook" or "iOS Developers cookbook"?

How do you use them? I see them primarily as reference vs. learning, but of course you can learn from them.

Does it bother you that you'll only ever use a portion of the recipes in the book?

Other thoughts?

(Can you gather that I'm thinking about writing a cookbook? )


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(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61202
    
  66

I like a good cookbook. But those are few and far between.

What is a "good" cookbook?

One that doesn't waste 99% of its space on things everyone already knows are are easy to find on the Web.

One that contains examples of how to do things that aren't that easy to figure out on your own, or to find on the web.

One that makes me say "Wow! I didn't even know you could do that! Cool!"


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Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 562
    
    7

the cookbooks i like are the ones that have the photos of the food from beginning to end.


now if you are talking about the code 'cookbooks' i hate them, as my students actually think these books contain usable info.

Now for me for java (or other code) i love them, as they give me fodder to feed my students of what shouldn't be used.

-steve
Sumit Bisht
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2008
Posts: 329

I like them if they are clear and concise. As they target a problem instead of teaching a topic (and enhancing an example from start to finish), I can learn from it even in short intervals.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14146
    
  18

In my opinion, a good book must have a good balance between theory and practice.

There are some "cookbooks" that show you quickly how to build something with some technology without explaining the background very well. I don't like that, because when I learn a new techology I don't just want to follow steps, I want to get an overview as well. I don't just want to learn the how, I also want to learn the why.

There are also other books that go into the details very much but don't explain very well how to use a technology in practice. I also don't like that - with such I book I do get a good overview, but I still can't easily use it because I have to find out all the details of how to set up a project and start working myself.

I have a few of Manning's "... in Action" books. Some of those are more in the first category, for example "Hibernate in Action". The first few chapters consist mainly of instructions for building an example application, but it doesn't explain in sufficient detail what the steps mean exactly, so if you're new to Hibernate you don't really know what you're doing if you're just following the steps.

I'm currently reading "OSGi in Action" which is much better. It's not just "do this, do that", it explains the background in a very good and structured way, along with good examples. Unfortunately setting up a build environment for OSGi projects isn't described in detail, there's only a brief overview of different ways to do this in an appendix. It would have been better if there had been a more in-depth chapter in the book about that.

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Akhilesh Trivedi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 22, 2005
Posts: 1526
Not sure about cookbook, but the subject says Bert you are too much into Facebook. LOL


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