Keeping Computer Books Up-to-Date

Charles Wright in the Sydney Morning Herald:

With the number of blogs increasing at a phenomenal rate, more people than ever will find themselves dealing with the market-leading Movable Type. The Movable Type 3 Bible, from Wiley, gives you a thorough grounding in the complexities of a blogging platform that, on the surface, looks relatively easy to master but repays the effort required to learn about its more powerful features. Increasingly, these books are rendered somewhat out of date with the release of new versions, which this book promises to solve with an update site. Frankly, there's not much there, but there is a link to the author's site.

A truism of computer book writing is that a new software release will be announced the day after your book goes to press on the same subject. I need to write more on Workbench about Movable Type's PHP publishing features in advance of the book's next edition, but otherwise it keeps current with version 3.

I've always thought that computer books should be paired with active web sites, which is why there are more than 5,000 pages on this server supporting my books. I occasionally get a nice email from someone who picks up an eight-year old copy of Teach Yourself Java 1.1 Programming in 24 Hours and is pleasantly surprised to find the support site online.

As I told Wright in email, with the dot-com bust and the abundance of free technical information on the web, the economics of supporting a book after publication have never been uglier.

I should not have been so quick in college to choose journalism and computer science over a career in interpretive dance.


It's a funny trait of computer-book readers, though...I prefer to have the book in-hand. Of all the computer books I own, I have never used the electronic documentation included, or the online sites that some of them are linked with. I even tried an electronic computer book service (can't remember the name) but it was useless to me because I couldn't print the content.

ColdFusion, my primary language, has extensive online documentation in the server software, but I always buy Ben Forta's two books (basic and advanced web app construction kit) whenever I install the latest version.

Creature of habit, maybe? Or possibly its easier to absorb the info when you can completely disconnect from the environment.

That said, Google and Google Groups are still the preferred method for quick problem resolution.

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