- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: O′Reilly; 1 edition (8 January 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449372651
- ISBN-13: 978-1449372651
- Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 3 x 23.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,29,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Head First Ruby Paperback – 8 Jan 2016
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Description for Head First Ruby
About the Author
Jay McGavren was doing automation for a hotel services company when a colleague introduced him to Programming Perl (a.k.a. the Camel Book). It made him an instant Perl convert, as he liked actually writing code instead of waiting for a 10-person development team to configure a build system. It also gave him the crazy idea to write a technical book someday.
In 2007, with Perl sputtering, Jay was looking for a new interpreted language. With its strong object-orientation, excellent library support, and incredible flexibility, Ruby immediately won him over. He's since used Ruby for two game libraries, a generative art project, in support of a Java development job, and as a Ruby on Railsfreelancer. He's been using Rails in the online developer education space since 2011.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I'll give you both the good and the bad.
First, the good. It's written clearly and engagingly, and the "Head First" series' graphical and stylistic elements do work to help pound in potentially confusing concepts. The examples are very simple and easy to type in. The book really holds you by the hand, repeating key points frequently. It introduces most of the key programming concepts (I wish it had a chapter on regular expressions and something about processes/threading), and it does so simply, clearly and fairly enjoyably. Thus the four stars.
Now the bad. This is longer only because it requires more words to describe specific problems than it does to praise a book for what it does right.
The book follows a narrative device over and over again, which is novel and interesting in the first chapters but by the end became annoying to me. The author gives himself a problem to solve, and proceeds to solve it in a wrong way, or only partially. Then he iterates his solution several times, each time introducing a new concept, until by the end of the chapter the problem is solved correctly and several key points are introduced. Now, this seems pedagogically OK, but in the end I decided I didn't really like this approach very much for a couple of reasons. First, I sometimes struggled to understand why someone would fail to see why a solution was boneheaded, i.e., an initial solution was really obviously boneheaded. Yet in one chapter—chapter 6, easily the most complicated in the book, about hash return values—the technique was strained to the breaking point, because it was actually harder to understand why the fictional beginning coder thought a certain piece of code would do a certain thing than is was to understand why the correct code works. Second, by the end of the book I just wanted the author to just give it to me correctly and concisely from the start. It really seemed like a lot of time was wasted explaining what was wrong with some code, when it would be more efficient just to give it to the reader right the first time. Mind you, sometimes this solve-the-problem narrative technique actually works rather well. But on balance, I'd have preferred a more standard approach.
Another problem was that, in an effort to keep code snippets short and clear, sometimes they were rather boring and unrealistic, and I wondered if I was learning something that would have real-world application. I didn't worry too much about it, but it was also a bit annoying.
There was one thing that I found to be seriously lacking overall, and that is exercises and problems to solve. If this is meant to be a teaching manual, and not just a reference—and it definitely is a teaching manual—then it desperately needs interesting problems the reader can tackle to practice the things he's learned. Some books that have examples of such problems include *Think Java* by Downey and Mayfield, and *Elements of Programming with Perl* by Johnson (probably out of print). There are a few more example exercises on the Head First Ruby website, but, though the author is to be thanked for putting these up, they really don't do the trick because they are too easy and enable the reader to follow a recipe without building more substantial understanding.
Finally, because the book includes a rather large amount of repetition, graphics, white space, etc., it simply doesn't cover as much as I would have expected in a 513 page book. What it does cover, it covers extremely thoroughly. I don't mean it covers topics in *detail*; in fact, it leaves out a lot of details. I mean it covers the topics at great length and with a huge effort to be clear, which usually succeeds.
The language is clear and concise, and the author has articulated the concepts very well. The code samples are simple and easy to understand and surprisingly have no mistakes at all (head first usually has a few that are errata'd later)
The reason I am giving 4 stars is because the book I received was in Black and White. I agree that the posting (look inside) does show it as black and white, however the book that you get from O'Reilly is in color. And the price difference is literally 5 bucks. Of late, I have found a lot of books on Amazon being in Black and White (my last 3 book orders to be precise), while the same book from the publishers (O'Reilly, Sitepoint, etc) is in color.
I know this looks like nitpicking, but I really do prefer the books in color, especially when they are web design kinda books.