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Books in Your Library

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A question in another thread got me thinking about books. What is in your library? What are the essentials? What would you recommend to anyone from beginner all the way up to the advanced Labview Architect? What's in your Amazon wish list?

I'll start with a few I can think of off the top of my head

Of course Labview For Everyone and The Labview Style books are a must for everyone when first starting out and intermediate level programmers

I have read Headfirst Design Patterns

The Object Oriented Thought Process is one that I just began reading

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In alphabetical order (all of these are non fiction):

Closer To The Machine by Ellen Ullman [out of print; may be able to find used]

Computer Ethics by Deborah G. Johnson

Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter [Pulitzer prize winner]

The Programmer's Stone (only available online HERE ) by Alan Carter

None of these mentions LabVIEW. None of these includes any algorithms or code snippets. All of them address the deeper rules of the game for software engineering, from why we do what we do, to how to interact with non-engineers, to how to get your mind to think like a computer without losing your humanity. I also recommend that all programmers read Alice in Wonderland and Through The Lookingglass because whether your like the stories or not, there are a LOT of allusions to those texts in computer science literature; those books provide some useful terms and settings that can be used for analogies from time to time (i.e. "the red queen's race", to describe spending large amounts of energy just to maintain the status quo).

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Difficult to say, if I'd follow AQ, a must have is the hitchhickers guide.

On the practical side, I found it difficult to get a book with the reason that I'd like a library on my workspace. The promise to get a new worker addicted to LV gives me a free wish-list on LV-books, and let them do their own selection some more. But actually, there aren't many books on LV, and I don't use any of the other exept the two you mentioned.

Look at the projects you like, get some domain information.

I've got a cool set of EE books. My bedtime lecture at the moment is (rough translation from german) 'electrical equipement of machines and machine-like installation' from VDE explaining the DIN EN 60204-1 (VDE 0113-1). Stuff you need to know when you wire machines instead of SW. :rolleyes:

And, I don't think books are too important. I've tons of sientific papers I could download from the net on the subjects I had to deal with, and even greater: you can find some stupid videos on youtube. Stuff with less than 1k clicks that demonstrates you a electrical control cabinet and the like. Would have been propably cheaper to invite me to their fabs instead of producing the video. :frusty: (no, I don't link it, after it's has more than that 170 clicks!).

Please note that I was working over the weekend (you can guess what I had to design from the text above), so I'm a bit dim in my brain.:beer_mug:


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AQ's answer covers very well what I would consider to be the philosophy of computer science. Without an understanding of this philosophy, you will spend a LOT of time rediscovering things that are already known.

However, there are other types of books. Some of these can be more important from a strictly practical standpoint. Even if you don't read the actual book, you should have an understanding (and experience with) the material.

(Note: many of these are covered in typical computer science and electrical engineering courses, as well. You may just look up the course syllabi at your local/prestigious university.)

Fundamentals of computer science:

Fundamentals of electrical engineering & construction: At this point, I admit that I'm a comp sci kinda guy, so I'm shallow here, but...

  • A book about the fundamentals of computer hardware. Code by Charles Petzold seems to fill the gap pretty painlessly... not necessarily rigorously, but painlessly.
  • The electrical engineers I work with swear that Practical Electronics for Inventors is absolute gold. It does things "the right way, finally!".
  • Unlike traditional programmers, we often need to actually make non-product level stuff in the physical world. I always recommend Building Scientific Apparatus, and a mentor to help out through the rough spots.
  • ni.com is no slouch in this department... their white papers are occasionally (obviously, irritatingly) marketing tracts, but more often contain a lot of good, fundamental measurement information.

Software construction:

  • stackoverflow.com has pretty exhaustive lists of this type of book, but there are a couple of standouts.
  • Code Complete by Steve McConnell. Yes, you should read this. Once a year.
  • The Pragmatic Programmer by Hunt and Thomas. Not my favorite writing style, but, when you start putting it into practice, you realize how useful it really is.

Business of software: There's been a lot of software navel-gazing over the years. That said, a lot of it is just useful navel-gazing. And all of us do work in software, or want to... right?

  • Joel on Software. Joel can be irritatingly smug, on occasion. That said, his writings have an amazing amount of insight into how the software world should be, and sometimes isn't. And hey, he has a book list, too. That looks familiar...
  • Peopleware. Once a year. Twice if you're a manager. Not kidding.
  • I really like randsinrepose.com. I suspect it's just a personal taste, but there it is.

Probably the most important thing is... READ! Something, anything! Most programmers (and test engineers) don't. And it gives you a huge advantage when you do.

Joe Z.

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There's a fairly key resource maintained on ni.com:


Lots of good info on that page, but the real gem for me is the link "Read technical series". Anyone writing any significant VI hierarchy should have at least browsed this encyclopedia, just so you know that it exists when you have a specific question.

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