Computer Books: How Do You Learn Software In-Depth?

O'reilly Report - Categories In the analysis of computer book sales, two things seem to be clear:

  • People want to learn how to write programs on the Mac
  • People don’t want to learn how to use programs on the Mac (or PC, for that matter)

The latter is especially interesting to me. Though my time in support taught me well about RTFM syndrome, there were always certain people interested in learning to use software to its fullest. This group understood that reviewing documentation was likely the best way to do that.

But expectations have changed. Usage should now be obvious or a lot of people won’t bother. I don’t mind the expectation that a manual shouldn’t be required to start using software right away. In fact, I like that attitude because developers must now give more care to their user interfaces. However, even in the best interfaces there are limits.

For my own usage, I bought an iWork 08 book to get a better feel for that suite of programs. Additionally, I downloaded a lengthy third-party Aperture guide to understand the various tools better.

I’m curious, at what point have you crossed the threshold, and either studied the full documentation or bought a supplemental book to learn a program in more depth?

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