Technical Books read in 2018

Books on Progressive Web Apps, JavaScript frameworks, Doom, a 20 year old classic and a developer life manual. Here are the technical books I read this year. 

Building Progressive Web Apps

Following my attendance at NDC 2018 I wanted to find out more about Progressive Web Apps (PWA) so I started with this book.

It became apparent quite quickly that I didn’t have the vanilla JavaScript knowledge to really understand the examples and that I needed to go on a detour to improve my JavaScript knowledge and return here once I had.

The four chapters of the book that I did get through were well written.  

JavaScript & JQuery

This book has been in my library since 2015 it is one of my favourite books on learning a programming language.  I still return to it when I need to understand a JavaScript or JQuery “thing”.

Don’t let the page count of 600+ put you off. This is not a dense literature -esque book. The text is clear and concise and is complemented by  illustrations in colour.

So after starting on the PWA book above I knew I had relearn JavaScript fundamentals so I had an enjoyable time getting back up to speed. An updated second edition of this book is eagerly awaited.


Once my JavaSript knowledge had improved I should have returned to PWA. However the podcasts I was listening to around this time had been talking about the various JavaScript frameworks used to build Single Page Applications (SPA). In the past I had ignored these because they were appearing almost one a week and stability appeared to be an issue. Now they were starting to mature, the breaking change version of Angular from JS to IO was already “old” by framework standards so I took a detour to SPA land starting with Angular.

The ng-book 

I had I have already talked about this book here. Suffice to say I am not a fan.  

I became so fed up with wrestling with this book, especially the chapter “How Angular Works”  it put me off Angular for a while and made me switch to another SPA framework, React.

The Road to Learn React

At the time of buying this book, it had only good reviews on However I have now seen there is a 2 star review which although a little harsh mirrors some of my own thoughts.

Another buying signal was the 180 page count so it was not going to be another behemoth learning “X” programming language door stop. Unfortunately I didn’t get on with the format, it is A4 which means it takes a lot of desk space when the book is open and you are working through the examples and trying to see where you went wrong. There is plenty of white space on each page and I can’t see a reason why it was published at this size.

Format aside I did enjoy the authors writing style and easily got over half way through the book with little effort. React however wasn’t appealing to me and I have since returned to continue my SPA education using Angular coupled with a Udemy course.

Masters of Doom

This superb book tells the story of John’s Carmack and Romero who created id Software which after some excellent releases developed Doom which took them and their company into the stratosphere.  

Although new to me, this book was originally published back in 2003 and having been a fan of First Person Shooters (FPS) since playing the shareware version of Doom on a friends 486 this book was almost as additive and I struggled to put it down and it became one of my favourite reads of any genre this year. 

Software Project Survival Guide

I was reminded that I should read this book after I had listened to an episode of Seth Godin’s excellent podcast where he made reference to it.

Second hand copies are available for a bargain on Amazon and although now over 20 years old it is should be no surprise coming from the author of Code Complete that it still stands up well today. It is jam packed with sage advice that will help make running your software project a better experience for everyone involved. Some of stand out parts were the coverage of Team Dynamics, Estimating, Staged Delivery (i.e. sprints. This is in 1997!) and finally how developers should address the most difficult part of the application first.

A superb book. 

Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual

This was the last book that I managed to get in before the end of the year. I was made aware of it whilst listening to an episode of Dave Rael’s podcast Developer on Fire.

It is a difficult book to describe so I will let the rear cover do that job:
…is a unique guide, offering techniques and practices for a more satisfying life as a professional software developer

With forewords by Scott Hanselman and Uncle Bob, it has high standards to keep up and it doesn’t disappoint. The book is split into seven sections covering a disparity of topics such as career, marketing yourself, learning, financial matters and physical fitness. The chapters are small which encourages you to dip in and out instead of reading the book cover to cover. The writing is engaging, in a warm friendly style that is never condescending or patronising. It is like having the mentor you always wanted by your side.

The book has been a joy to read and some of the chapters that have helped me the most were on don’t be afraid to look like an idiot and learning. In fact I am using John’s tips as I learn Angular and I am seeing results already.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first or 20th year as a developer, you will get something out of this book.


All the books I have read this year have enriched me in one way or another, yes even the ng book.

Good technical books remain a screaming bargain and one that many developers today overlook.

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