General Question

archaeopteryx's avatar

The war between the book and the keyboard..(in learning a programming skill)..?

Asked by archaeopteryx (870 points ) January 25th, 2009

As the question implies, when I come to learn or practice a certain programming skill/language, especially when learning from a book, I find my concentration split between the book and the keyboard, and then I might end up achieving almost nothing.

So, what’s the best way to practice a certain programming skill? Is there any tips I can try in order to obtain the most benefit possible out of my programming session?

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10 Answers

DrBill's avatar

Of course practice.

Look at code others have written, and see how they got the computer to do the functions they wanted.

What lauguage are you wanting to study?

lefteh's avatar

I can’t learn language from books. I just can’t do it.
I learn exclusively through what others have written as DrBill recommended, and online tutorials.

archaeopteryx's avatar

I’m learning Python and Django.

And yeah, looking at other people’s work is an ultimate way of learning, but some books offer a great reference for some major tools in the language. O’reily’s book about SQLAlchemy for example is a great reference for the SQLAlchemy module.

But where do I find previously written code?

jrpowell's avatar

I use books. I copy and paste from tutorials. Typing in what I see in a book makes my brain ask “why?”

I learn more from books, but I am old.

introv's avatar

Well if books aren’t working I would probably suggest a dual monitor setup and use websites / tutorials / code examples from one and copy paste straight into your IDE or development tool on the other screen. That will help keep your concentration on the task at hand and also allow you to get instant results from any examples without ever having to look away from the screen.

From my own way of doing things I really only learn from experimentation I can’t be taught things in any traditional sense its just not how my brain works. I’ve learnt quite a few languages and have never read a book on them once (although plenty of the people I work with have extensive libraries and love them)

archaeopteryx's avatar

@introv

It’s almost the same with me. I prefer experiments more than books.
But, sometimes referring to a book helps understand the tool I’m trying to use, in that is explains to me how it works, how it can be used.. etc.

But yeah, my brain tends to be more attracted to experiments, imagination, and practicing more than simply reading out of a book.

Thanks for the help everyone. :)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Would it be helpful to hear it, rather than read it?

archaeopteryx's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock

Actually, watching is much better than hearing. ;-)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@archaeopteryx Cool site! Thanks for posting.

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