Power to the People: Free (as in Beer) O'Reilly Books and More

February 25, 2006

This is where it's at folks: free programming and web design books. Make your computer do impossible feats of inhuman strength with this collection of languages and techniques, from old-school Fortran to Web 2.0 hipster-standards AJAX or Ruby.

I'm loving this collection and (hopefully by mid spring) I'm going to gather all of my favorite tutorials for use as a singe "Intro to web design" document. (Round of applause for the Creative Commons license, please.) So far I have been using Google's wonderful new "Search by license type" feature on their advance search page, but this yields mostly just very specific tutorials. This page just turned me on to a whole lot of their helpful resource, even if I can't redistribute materials from the big publishers.

Most of the books here are just distributed online for free because they are older editions. They aren't using an Open license, except in the case of the many online tutorials that are linked here (which are typically carefully chosen, I found).

regexThis collection contains a lot of really great books (many from O'Reilly) that just happen to be a little out of date. I tend to get real excited when I find these things in the basement of my local thrift store, so this is real exciting. I'm noodling around this afternoon with a 2002 edition of "Mastering Regular Expressions," which is the perfect book to find used becuase you don't want to memorize all of it and it just doesn't change very fast. In general I find that computer books are still really useful until about 6 years (or, for web design books, pre-IE6).

A couple of golden links for the basics:

The 2000 (O'Reilly) Definitive Guide to CSS (I use this one at home. Totally comprehensive, excellent in spite of the age, and written by the CSS demigod Eric Meyer. It never has been — and never will be — a great reference for browser support, which adds it's timelessness.)

The Definitive Guide to HTML and XHTML (I use a hard copy of this one too. Great for looking up all those form and table tags you forget about. Written shortly after the standardization of XHTML 1.0, there's no reason I can see to use a later version for now.)

Didn't think I would find these for less than the $0.50 I paid for mine at the thrift store.