Learn To Program

    • Release: March 2009
    • Pages: 200 pages (est.)
    • Print ISBN: 978-1-934-35636-4 | ISBN 10: 1-934-35636-1
  • For this new edition of the best-selling Learn to Program, Chris Pine has taken a good thing and made it even better. First, he used the feedback from hundreds of reader e-mails to update the content and make it even clearer. Second, he updated the examples in the book to use the latest stable version of Ruby, and also to use code that looks more like real-world Ruby code, so that people who have just learned to program will be more familiar with common Ruby techniques.

    Not only does the Second Edition now include answers to all of the exercises, it includes them twice. First you'll find the “how you could do it” answers, using the techniques you've learned up to that point in the book. Next you'll see “how Chris Pine would do it”: answers using more advanced Ruby techniques, to whet your appetite as well as providing sort of a “Rosetta Stone” for more elegant solutions.

O'Reilly Book Reviews

by Will

  • Summary: Good
    • * * * _ _
    • “Learn To Program (with Ruby)” is a sound book for the learner programmer. A key benefit for “Learn To Program” is the use of a user friendly language – Ruby is a helpful vehical for an introductory course or book because difficult things like error processing and such can be explained later when the beginner has more confidence and background.
  • whytheluckystiff is an iconic Ruby community member, and in the introduction to his Shoes manual, “Know Body Knows Shoes” he reminds us all:
    • You can do anything. I really believe in you!
    • … When it comes to programming, that's actually more true than
  • “Learn To Program” is suitable for beginners new to programming, and intermediate programmers new to Ruby. Intermediate and experienced Ruby programmers can always cherry-pick useful tips too – So browse the book first before giving it to your niece or nephew *lol*
  • Overview
    • For a long time, I've considered that learning programming is like learning to paint or draw. Mind you I can't draw very artistically, and my impression may be off-target. With that in mind, I think we learn to program by writing programs and reading good programs.
    • A book like “Learn To Program” can show you how to hold a pencil and show us basics things like form and composition for the artistic.
    • For programmers, “Learn To Program” describes the basic data types, program structure used by Ruby and most programming languages and moves on to how to build your own data and programs.
    • Once you make it past the basic building blocks there are simple examples that show you how things work and gives you and idea of potential.
    • The exercises are appropriate with some sample answers at the end. One thing to note here is that the sample answer is not the ONLY answer, if your solution is working and gives the right results – You are right too!!
  • Evaluation / Opinion
    • Didn't like …
      • I would recommend that a person new to programming and computers skip the first few chapters and look back at them alter – Except that there is also a lot of basic stuff covered there too. So persevere. The good news for a true-beginner is that you will find it all new (I hope).
      • It is hard to make interesting non-trivial examples and exercises. I did like the virtual dragon example in ch.13, that's something different.
      • I'd have liked to see more about what makes programs good, in a book called “Learn to Program”. Over all, this is a learn basic Ruby programming book not basic programming with Ruby.
      • Ruby is a 101% object oriented language and the book only really talks about objects as things that got methods and make classes rather than saying Ruby simulates objects and objects are things that have values and behaviours (perhaps). That's not unusual, I just think that in the 21st century we can explain things a little better than we did 100+ years ago (yes there was programming before digital computers).
      • I am may be not a beginner enough to say this for sure. I get the feeling that the author draws on some assumed knowledge that a total beginner might find a little obscure to begin with. I'm reminded of an old AT&T C++ manual from the 1990-s that said something like: “… if you didn't understand the last three prargraphs, re-read them again and again until you do because understanding the information above is important before progressing in this chapter”. In other words be ready to read slow sometimes ;-) And Stick With It!!
      • Some stuff is what I call clerver and clever Ruby, not especailly useful for beginners. My best comment is for readers to ask, “what would I use this feature to do?”
    • Like …
      • Ch.15 points to further Ruby learning resources
      • Sample answers are a good touch – I hope readers will want to write their own version first before looking in the back of the book.
      • I like the “A Few Things To Try” sections in each chapeter. They create self-directed learning opportunities!
  • Overally a useful introduction. Any one past age 10 and under 88, ought to be able to deal with the whole book and younger people will need a bit of support on cognitive issues not the reading. Teh drago example is a good touch and it would be well to see more fun examples like that one. Perhaps when there's more visual oriented tools available we will see annimations and other fun stuff.

(12-Jul-2009) O'Reilly Book Reviews

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O'Reilly Book Reviews

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