We need Primers of Programming Literature

Just in general, I wish we had better books for learning all manner of programming topics: languages, libraries, etc. There’s almost nothing out there on any subject that teaches you how fluent speakers of the language actually speak. I’ve referred to this before as the “idioms” of a language. Even more advanced than that is learning the literature. To really learn a language, it’s not nearly enough to learn just the syntax and grammar. Sure you need to know that. But you also need to know common idioms and other matters of “usage”. And to really be an advanced speaker, you need to know the customs. The customs arise out of and build upon the literature.

The “literature” of a programming language means the libraries—collections of code that many people have read, passed around, studied, thought about. Some literature is obscure. Some is hugely famous. The popular literature in a language almost certainly represents the common idioms of that language. But let me be clear. When I say “programming literature” I do not mean books written about programming. Programming literature means code.

So here’s what I’m suggesting. We need more books that are like primers on the literature of programming languages. In a literature class, you would study various bits of literature from different authors. We need books like that for programming. Looking at Angular, for example, as a piece of literature does not mean studying the docs and studying examples of it being used by other people. It means studying Angular itself. Docs are always horribly inadequate. Angular is the piece of great literature here. Same with React, Vue, jQuery, and dozens more I could list and plenty more I don’t even know.

Maybe I’ll start thinking about writing one such book. But seriously, guys, there is enough room within this narrow description to keep dozens of writers busy all the time if they want the work.

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