I enjoyed Tim O'Reilly's post the other day about a Microsoft advert (popup image - via O'Reilly Radar) that ran in PC Magazine. The ad showed a developer sitting in front of a bookcase, which included an O'Reilly book that had been visibly cropped by the Microsoft ad agency. Apart from the humor value, it also got me thinking about what are actually the favorite books of web developers and those of us who work in the web business. I'll start by listing some of my favorite Web dev/design books. I'd love to know what are the favorite books of ZDNet readers too - it'd be interesting to see how many of you share favorite texts.
My favorite Web books:
Taking your talent to the Web - Jeffrey Zeldman
This book was released in 2001 and influenced me a lot at that time. It's still my favorite Zeldman book, because in it he showed how to make a living on the Web by following your passion. It gives both a high-level and conceptual overview of the Web -- and practical instructions and code. Although purportedly aimed at print designers wanting to transition into web design, in fact it's a must-read for any aspiring web professional - designer or not.
XML in a Nutshell - Elliotte Rusty Harold, W. Scott Means
This book has been an invaluable reference for me over the years. First published in January 2001, it explains the theory behind XML as well as being a comprehensive reference book. I have yellow stickies pasted all over my copy of the book, which illustrates how much value it holds for me. What a pity I've always been such a poor programmer ;-) I'm sure those developers who actually can program their way out of a paper bag, will find many more uses for it.
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web - David Weinberger
Published in 2003, this is probably the seminal book for understanding the transformative impact of the Web on our lives and work. It's a delight to read and does a great job of explaining the concepts behind the Web -- and what it means for ordinary people. It's also a personal book infused with Weinberger's wit. Some techies may think the book is a bit New Age for their taste, but if you're at all interested in exploring the high level philosophy of the Web - then I highly recommend this book.
I've read this book several times. How can one resist a book about the Web by the very person who invented it. The best part of the book for me is when Berners-Lee explained how the Web was meant to be read/write. His original web browser, aptly named WorldWideWeb, was in fact a browser/editor. It was one of the turning points of the Web when browser makers such as Mosaic and Netscape turned the web browser into a read-only instrument. Perhaps that also illustrated the time when Berners-Lee began to lose whatever early control he had over the Web's development, when others forked his vision. In any case, this is a must-read book - for anyone even remotely involved in the Internet.
So what are your favorite Web development, design or conceptual books?