File APIs for Java Developers
Manipulate DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF and many others from your application.
The moose likes Meaningless Drivel and the fly likes Who likes (or dislikes) technical Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Other » Meaningless Drivel
Bookmark "Who likes (or dislikes) technical "cookbooks"?" Watch "Who likes (or dislikes) technical "cookbooks"?" New topic

Who likes (or dislikes) technical "cookbooks"?

Bert Bates

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8898
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? )

Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 63852

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!"

[Asking smart questions] [About Bear] [Books by Bear]
Steve Fahlbusch

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 601

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.

Sumit Bisht
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2008
Posts: 331

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: 15083

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.

Java Beginners FAQ - JavaRanch SCJP FAQ - The Java Tutorial - Java SE 8 API documentation
Akhilesh Trivedi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 22, 2005
Posts: 1599
Not sure about cookbook, but the subject says Bert you are too much into Facebook. LOL

Keep Smiling Always — My life is smoother when running silent. -paul
[FAQs] [Certification Guides] [The Linux Documentation Project]
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Who likes (or dislikes) technical "cookbooks"?
It's not a secret anymore!