RE: Learning to code on the cheap

Subject: RE: Learning to code on the cheap
From: janzenc -at- who -dot- int
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:39:48 +0200

Hi, Karen,
It depends on where you want to go. If you want to be able to work with the
code in a very directed way, getting an intro to programming book in your
language of choice is fine. If you want to understand the concepts behind
the code as well (as a technical technical writer, I find this really
necessary), start with the basics and add the language-specific books as you

One of the original tomes of programming is *The C Programming Language,*
which was written by two of the gods if you will of programming: Brian
Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie. Yes, it's about C, not C++ or C# or Java or
whathaveyou, but C is where it pretty much started and many of the
constructs in other languages started there. It's pretty dense, although by
programming book standards relatively short.

I'd also suggest going to your local college bookstore and perusing their
intro to programming course books. Find something that speaks to you and
inspires you (don't laugh, it's possible!). Don't go to the commercial trade
books section; actually go to where you would if you were buying books for
your classes. You'll get a good overview of the things that today's faculty
think are important. Make sure, of course, that the college you select has a
decent comp sci dept first!

If you are doing OO programming, get a general reference book on OO
programming as well. Anything from O'Reilly is great. Wrox and Que are also
good. CMP Media has good stuff, as well (disclaimer: I also edit for CMP
Media). CMP is also the publisher of Dr. Dobb's Journal.

I asked a colleague here who was a comp sci professor at a college in
Massachusetts (just quit to come here). He also suggested the "Thinking in
C++" or "Thinking in Java books" by Bruce Eckel.

Also, books by Bjarne Stroustrup are handy. He writes on C++.

Hope that helps!

Catherine Janzen
janzenc -at- who -dot- int

World Health Organization
20, Avenue Appia
1211 Genève 27

-----Original Message-----
From: Karen Casemier [mailto:karen -dot- casemier -at- provia -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, 16 July 2003 7:19 PM
Subject: Learning to code on the cheap

To make a long story short, I'm getting involved with more under-the-hood
type of documentation at my company (software). I'm currently working on a
System Architecture guide, and now realize there are several other manuals
that could use some more technical detail as well. Some of these documents
are for internal use only, so they are specifically geared to a developer
audience, while others are geared at a system admin-type user audience.



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