On documentation-driven development: Or, why it’s time to revive the technical bookshelf

Unlike the “summer of Java,” when the software developer and the publisher worked together, these were not books I wanted to add to my library, in physical or electronic form.Inside the technical book sausage factory: 2004-Search for Android on oreilly.com and you’ll notice that 51 of the 147 books listed are published not by O’Reilly but instead by a British company named Packt (one of the many publishers that O’Reilly distributes)..Packt has probably perfected the machine gun approach to technical publishing..When a new open-source library or framework arrives, Packt quickly recruits an author to write a short hands-on introduction..The example code sometimes includes bugs..The explanations aren’t always clear or well crafted..And yet there they are, on shelves in Fry’s Electronics and available online as e-books, right when I’m most curious to learn about a new technical topic.I recently* served as a technical reviewer of a Packt title, and the experience confirmed many of my impressions..While their authors and editors care about quality and accuracy, it’s speed that matters most..These are not ___: The Definitive Guide, or even Learning ____ titles..These are throw-away books (which I do not mean in a derogatory way)..They’re more like magazines than books: accessible, timely, and worth a single read..I question their pedagogical value (just as I questioned the first-to-market junk from New Riders, an earlier machine-gun technical publisher), and yet it’s hard to argue with a book when it’s the only one in the store or on the website about a new topic..The only way to argue with it is to give up on technical books entirely.Back to the basics of documentation: 2010-Despite O’Reilly’s turquoise blue “rat” books about Perl and Addison Wesley’s Java series, it wasn’t in either of those programming languages that I got that far.. More details

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