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The Best Way to Learn

By Steve Jones,

I constantly see people asking the question about how they should learn more about some aspect of SQL Server. We have lots of articles here on SQLServerCentral, and there are any number of other sources on the Internet, but I've typically recommended that people buy a book. I've been an author, and I like to support authors, but that isn't why I recommend books. 

When you try to learn some new topic, say Reporting Services, there is so much information you can find on Google, but it's all unorganized. It can be hard to learn without a plan, and books are usually organized in a way to walk you through a technology. That along can be valuable, and you can supplement chapters with articles you find around the web. This was the inspiration for our Stairway Series of topics, which we'll eventually compile into books at some point. The Stairway on Reporting Services, by Jessica Moss, is excellent, and if you read through it, you'll see what I mean.

The book market is evolving, and e-books are exploding. I see more and more Kindles and other e-readers everywhere I go and it seems there's a resurgence of reading, at least for some people. I know that technical books haven't necessarily been popular on e-readers, but I'm sure that will change over time. I still think books are one of the best ways to tackle some new technology, but I think the static way we present information in most books could be improved. This week, I wanted to get some ideas from you.

What would you like to see in an e-book that would help you learn?

Would you like to see video included, or demos/screencasts of some feature being used? Should reference implementations of functions be linked from the book, or perhaps you'd like to see more interactive questions, puzzles, and evaluations of your knowledge as you proceed. One thing I thought might be interesting would be a pre-chapter quiz that could let you know if it's even worth reading that section.

I suspect that we'll start to see more integration of platforms, perhaps even allowing you to sync your e-reader with an application on your desktop that allows you to cut/paste code from the book into SSMS while you have your e-reader on the desk. Give us your ideas today for ways that might make is easier for you to learn.

Steve Jones


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