Head First Ruby: A Brain-Friendly Guide 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
About 'Head First' Books
We think of a Head First Reader as a Learner
Learning isn't something that just happens to you. It's something you do. You can't learn without pumping some neurons. Learning means building more mental pathways, bridging connections between new and pre-existing knowledge, recognizing patterns, and turning facts and information into knowledge (and ultimately, wisdom). Based on the latest research in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology, Head First books get your brain into learning mode.
Here's how we help you do that:
We tell stories using casual language, instead of lecturing. We don't take ourselves too seriously. Which would you pay more attention to: a stimulating dinner party companion, or a lecture?
We make it visual. Images are far more memorable than words alone, and make learning much more effective. They also make things more fun.
We use attention-grabbing tactics. Learning a new, tough, technical topic doesn't have to be boring. The graphics are often surprising, oversized, humorous, sarcastic, or edgy. The page layout is dynamic: no two pages are the same, and each one has a mix of text and images.
Metacognition: thinking about thinking
If you really want to learn, and you want to learn more quickly and more deeply, pay attention to how you pay attention. Think about how you think. The trick is to get your brain to see the new material you're learning as Really Important. Crucial to your well-being. Otherwise, you're in for a constant battle, with your brain doing its best to keep the new content from sticking.
Here's what we do:
We use pictures, because your brain is tuned for visuals, not text. As far as your brain's concerned, a picture really is worth a thousand words. And when text and pictures work together, we embedded the text in the pictures because your brain works more effectively when the text is within the thing the text refers to, as opposed to in a caption or buried in the text somewhere.
We use redundancy, saying the same thing in different ways and with different media types, and multiple senses, to increase the chance that the content gets coded into more than one area of your brain.
We use concepts and pictures in unexpected ways because your brain is tuned for novelty, and we use pictures and ideas with at least some emotional content, because your brain is more likely to remember when you feel something.
We use a personalized, conversational style, because your brain is tuned to pay more attention when it believes you're in a conversation than if it thinks you're passively listening to a presentation.
We include many activities, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember more when you do things than when you read about things. And we make the exercises challenging-yet-do-able, because that's what most people prefer.
We use multiple learning styles, because you might prefer step-by-step procedures, while someone else wants to understand the big picture first, and someone else just wants to see an example. But regardless of your own learning preference, everyone benefits from seeing the same content represented in multiple ways.
We include content for both sides of your brain, because the more of your brain you engage, the more likely you are to learn and remember, and the longer you can stay focused. Since working one side of the brain often means giving the other side a chance to rest, you can be more productive at learning for a longer period of time.
We include challenges by asking questions that don't always have a straight answer, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember when it has to work at something.
Finally, we use people in our stories, examples, and pictures, because, well, you're a person. Your brain pays more attention to people than to things.
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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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.
Top international reviews
Los primeros 13 temas explican Ruby desde cero, como lenguaje de programación de carácter general. Lo hace con bastante detalle sin resultar tedioso. Con esto ya puedes escribir tus programas y utilizarlos en tu máquina.
Los temas 14 y 15 enseñan a utilizar lo aprendido, junto con el framework Sinatra. Con esto puedes crear una aplicación web sencilla, que otros pueden usar. En mi opinión, es una forma interensante de iniciarse en el desarrollo de aplicaciones web. Es mucho más sencillo que intentar empezar directamente con Rails.
Recomiendo "Head First RUBY" a cualquiera que quiera iniciarse en la programación y/o descubrir este lenguaje y sus posibilidades.
# La aplicación creada en el libro no utiliza Base de Datos sino que almacena la información en un documento persistente. La integración con una BD no se trata, probablemente porque este es un texto básico y hay infinidad de BDs que se pueden utilizar con Ruby.
Neanmoins bien ecrit, amusant, de nombreux exemples, mais pas ce que je cherchais