Well, I reckon it took me almost two years to actually get through this monstrosity and I don’t think I know any more about web programming than I did when I started. Well, okay, that’s a lie, I know quite a lot more, especially since when I started I claimed that being able to use the HTML tags in Goodreads counted as having a basic understanding of web programming. It turns out not to be the case, and in fact the HTML tags that Goodreads uses are woefully out to date. In fact the amount of HTML that you can use on your posts is minimal (though it is somewhat more than some other sites that I have visited). As for Booklikes, there is so much more scope in their posts that it actually leaves Goodreads for dead.
The question that I raise though is whether this book is actually useful. The problem with the development of software is that it is always on the move you may discover that a version that he uses in the book is no longer available – this was what happened when I tried to play around with MySQL and with AJAX – his versions are out of date which means that if you try to type his programs out then they don’t actually work. Mind you, I ended up getting MySQL to eventually work and even through together a basic PHP website (though it is pretty basic).
Interestingly ,I have noticed that there are a number of people claiming that if we go and learn the latest programming languages we can all go off and make heaps of money. Some dude on Youtube made this claim with PHP (and reckons that he even dropped out of university) while I get all of these spam emails trying to get me to part with my money so that I can learn Python or Agile. The catch is that even though you may know how to program those languages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suddenly going to make lots of money – if a stranger walked in off the road and made a claim that they were this hot shot computer programmer and had absolutely no references whatsoever, would you hire him? The thing with making your way in this world is to be able to sell yourself, and to get practical experience.
This is where I believe this book falls down. Sure, he has lots and lots of examples, but that is basically where it ends. Sure, it may work as a reference book but the problem is that pretty much everything is available on line these days. Further, while one may be able to show you how to do something that doesn’t necessarily make you a programmer – to be a good programmer you need to be able to solve problems, to be able to work on projects, and to be able to work as a part of a team. That last one is important because while one could program alone (you can tell be age since I still use the term programmer, which is an Eighties term), the scale of some of the programs out there, and the needs of businesses these days, generally means that the small scale projects are few and far between – everybody has a website these days, and if they don’t Wordpress and others are just a click away.
The other thing is that there are so many websites out there that offer tutorials that I am wondering whether actually purchasing this book was actually worth it. In fact, it has now been put back into my garage (where I store stuff that I don’t need ready access to) and I doubt I am going to be pulling it out again. The thing is that there are videos on Youtube, and the aforementioned tutorial sites such as CodeAcademy and W3Schools (among others). The other thing that I think this book lacked, which would have been something that would have gone a long way to actually helping me at least to learn, is the lack of exercises to do and problems to solve. Reading about something is all well and good, but the best way to learn is to actually get out there and do it.