books are not references anymore

I recently had to dust off the programming skills for a small project at work. The type of thing I was doing was really well suited to the new GridView and other productivity stuff in ASP.NET 2.0, so that’s where I turned.

After a too long interval where I browsed the various quickstart sites and not really getting anywhere on my project, I went to brick and mortar Barnes & Nobles and bought the 1253 page behemoth Professional edition from Wrox.

The interesting thing here is my project falls in the “simple” category of web development yet this book wasn’t enough to get the job done. The section on working with ADO and databases was so rudimentary that it didn’t even cover the basic stuff I was trying to do, specifically reading from and updating a table that had one or more relationships to lookup tables.

I’m not faulting the writers or editors here, my point is that it is remarkable that a technology book featuring 1253 pages and professional in the title wasn’t enough to get a simple job done. Naturally I fell back on Google and all the really good community sites and found the additional information I needed. (The key one for me: GridView Examples for ASP.NET 2.0: Editing the Underlying Data in a GridView)

There seems to be something to the idea that for something as big as ASP.NET, a paper book is just not going to cut it anymore. Yet, in order to know what to search for, you need a starting point and that’s what a book does for you. Gets you just enough information to ask the right questions/search the right searches. Are books as references dead? Won’t you always be able to get more indepth current information online in the future?


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