I read a lot of technical books.Â The last one I read was called âDesign Patterns in C#ââit was good, but didnât carry much new away from it.Â Iâve read books on WCF, Silverlight, Ruby on Rails, and Java too â although Iâve never worked with these technologies in a professional capacity.Â My hard drive is filled with demo projects.
I know professional software developers who have never read a tech book all the way through.Â They survive on Google searches.Â When they run into a problem or need to do something new, they Google, get the answer and move on.Â This works, but you often donât get all the of the information that would be helpful to you.
When you just search for the information you need, you only find the subjects that are interesting to you.Â It would be like picking up a computer book and only reading the chapters that sound good.Â You would look at the construction of the GUI, database code, etc.Â This is how things like Code comments, html standards, testing habits, etc. get ignored so frequently in this industry.
When I conduct interviews for developers, I like to ask âWhat is the last technology book youâve read?âÂ Sometimes, the interviewee will try to impress me by telling me how long he has been in the industry, but thatâs not the answer I was looking for.Â I also ask which websites or blogs they go to for new informationâsince books are slow to publish, but technology changes everyday.
You have to Google for solutions, donât get me wrong.Â But if youâve read a book (or e-book or whatever) you have a more holistic view of a technology.Â Google is fantastic because we donât need to be so concerned with exact programming syntax as we do with what a technology is capable of.Â Back in my early days as a software developer (VB5), I used to pride myself on my ability to write code on paperâI knew the exact syntax without intellisence.Â Now, thatâs just stupidâI can look up anything I need in a few seconds (because I know what I am looking for).
There is a fear that if you are carrying a book around about your specialist subject, you are somehow showing people that you donât know enough about it.Â I have a friend who gave me a hard time about reading a book on Advanced CSS a few years ago. He told me he had never read a programming book because they are too dry.Â Iâll agree with that, but thatâs like a professional athlete saying he doesnât like to train because it is too boring.Â By stepping away from the practice and into the theory of what we do, we become more self-critical and improve at what we do.
I listened to a Brian Tracy audio book years ago.Â He is always talks about the importance of reading.Â He says (and Iâm paraphrasing):
If you went to see a doctor about a problem you were having, you wouldnât want to see one that doesnât read anything.Â You wouldnât want someone who had learned everything on the job.Â Someone who is only really good at stuff he has done before and looked it up at the time.Â You want someone who knows what is going on in the medical industry.Â You want someone who reads the latest books and periodicals in his field.Â The same is true for lawyers or any other knowledge profession.
And the same is true for software developers.