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I'm trying to amass a list of programming books that are freely available on the Internet. The books can be about a particular programming language or about computers in general.

What are some freely available programming books on the Internet?

Answered By: George Stocker ( 2487)


Graphics Programming

Language Agnostic




Assembly Language


C / C++


  • See .NET below





Delphi / Pascal














JavaScript (Node.js specific)









  • See .NET below

.NET (C# / VB / Nemerle / Visual Studio)





Oracle Server

Oracle PL/SQL

Parrot / Perl 6









Ruby on Rails






SQL (implementation agnostic)




Windows Phone


This question attempts to collect the few pearls among the dozens of bad C++ books that are released every year.

Unlike many other programming languages, which are often picked up on the go from tutorials found on the Internet, few are able to quickly pick up C++ without studying a good C++ book. It is way too big and complex for doing this. In fact, it is so big and complex, that there are very many very bad C++ books out there. And we are not talking about bad style, but things like sporting glaringly obvious factual errors and promoting abysmally bad programming styles. And it's even worse with online tutorials. (There is a reason nobody bothered to setup a similar question for online tutorials.)

Please provide quality books and an approximate skill level — preferably after discussing your addition in the C++ chat room. (The regulars might mercilessly undo your work if they disagree with a recommendation.) Add a short blurb/description about each book that you have personally read/benefited from. Feel free to debate quality, headings, etc. Books that meet the criteria will be added to the list. Books that have reviews by the Association of C and C++ Users (ACCU) have links to the review.

To spell it out bluntly: There is no need to add a 75th answer to this question. If you feel like a book should be added, suggest it to the community and let's discuss it.

Note: FAQs and other resources can be found in the C++ tag info and under . There is also a similar post for C: The Definitive C Book Guide and List

Reference Style - All Levels

  1. The C++ Programming Language (Bjarne Stroustrup) (soon to be updated for C++11) The classic introduction to C++ by its creator. Written to parallel the classic K&R, this indeed reads very much alike it and covers just about everything from the core language to the standard library, to programming paradigms to the language's philosophy. (Thereby making the latest editions break the 1k page barrier.) [Review] The fourth edition (to be released in 2013) will cover C++11.

  2. C++ Standard Library Tutorial and Reference (Nicolai Josuttis) (updated for C++11) The introduction and reference for the C++ Standard Library. The second edition (released on April 9, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  3. The C++ IO Streams and Locales (Angelika Langer and Klaus Kreft) There's very little to say about this book except that, if you want to know anything about streams and locales, then this is the one place to find definitive answers. [Review]

C++ 11 References:

  1. The C++ Standard (INCITS/ISO/IEC 14882-2011) This, of course, is the final arbiter of all that is or isn't C++. Be aware, however, that it is intended purely as a reference for experienced users willing to devote considerable time and effort to its understanding. As usual, the first release was quite expensive ($300+ US), but it has now been released in electronic form for $30US -- probably the least expensive of the reference books listed here.

  2. Overview of the New C++ (C++11) By Scott Meyers, who's a highly respected author on C++. Even though the list of items is short, the quality is high.



If you are new to programming or if you have experience in other languages and are new to C++, these books are highly recommended.

  1. C++ Primer† (Stanley Lippman, Josée Lajoie, and Barbara E. Moo) (updated for C++11) Coming at 1k pages, this is a very thorough introduction into C++ that covers just about everything in the language in a very accessible format and in great detail. The fifth edition (released August 16, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  2. Accelerated C++ (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) This basically covers the same ground as the C++ Primer, but does so on a fourth of its space. This is largely because it does not attempt to be an introduction to programming, but an introduction to C++ for people who've previously programmed in some other language. It has a steeper learning curve, but, for those who can cope with this, it is a very compact introduction into the language. (Historically, it broke new ground by being the first beginner's book using a modern approach at teaching the language.) [Review]

  3. Thinking in C++ (Bruce Eckel) Two volumes; second is more about standard library, but still very good

  4. Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) An introduction to programming using C++ by the creator of the language. A good read, that assumes no previous programming experience, but is not only for beginners.

† Not to be confused with C++ Primer Plus (Stephen Prata), with a significantly less favorable review.

Best practices

  1. Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) This was written with the aim of being the best second book C++ programmers should read, and it succeeded. Earlier editions were aimed at programmers coming from C, the third edition changes this and targets programmers coming from languages like Java. It presents ~50 easy-to-remember rules of thumb along with their rationale in a very accessible (and enjoyable) style. [Review]

  2. Effective STL (Scott Meyers) This aims to do the same to the part of the standard library coming from the STL what Effective C++ did to the language as a whole: It presents rules of thumb along with their rationale. [Review]


  1. More Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) Even more rules of thumb than Effective C++. Not as important as the ones in the first book, but still good to know.

  2. Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Presented as a set of puzzles, this has one of the best and thorough discussions of the proper resource management and exception safety in C++ through Resource Acquisition is Initialization (RAII) in addition to in-depth coverage of a variety of other topics including the pimpl idiom, name lookup, good class design, and the C++ memory model. [Review]

  3. More Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Covers additional exception safety topics not covered in Exceptional C++, in addition to discussion of effective object oriented programming in C++ and correct use of the STL. [Review]

  4. Exceptional C++ Style (Herb Sutter) Discusses generic programming, optimization, and resource management; this book also has an excellent exposition of how to write modular code in C++ by using nonmember functions and the single responsibility principle. [Review]

  5. C++ Coding Standards (Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu) "Coding standards" here doesn't mean "how many spaces should I indent my code?" This book contains 101 best practices, idioms, and common pitfalls that can help you to write correct, understandable, and efficient C++ code. [Review]

  6. C++ Templates: The Complete Guide (David Vandevoorde and Nicolai M. Josuttis) This is the book about C++ templates. It covers everything from the very basics to some of the most advanced template metaprogramming and explains every detail of how templates work (both conceptually and at how they are implemented) and discusses many common pitfalls. Has excellent summaries of the One Definition Rule (ODR) and overload resolution in the appendices. [Review]

Above Intermediate

  1. Modern C++ Design (Andrei Alexandrescu) A groundbreaking book on advanced generic programming techniques. Introduces policy-based design, type lists, and fundamental generic programming idioms then explains how many useful design patterns (including small object allocators, functors, factories, visitors, and multimethods) can be implemented efficiently, modularly, and cleanly using generic programming. [Review]

  2. C++ Template Metaprogramming (David Abrahams and Aleksey Gurtovoy)

  3. C++ Concurrency In Action (Anthony Williams) A book covering C++11 concurrency support including the thread library, the atomics library, the C++ memory model, locks and mutexes, as well as issues of designing and debugging multithreaded applications.

  4. Advanced C++ Metaprogramming (Davide Di Gennaro) A pre-C++11 manual of TMP techniques, focused more on practice than theory. There are a ton of snippets in this book, some of which are made obsolete by typetraits, but the techniques, are nonetheless, useful to know. If you can put up with the quirky formatting/editing, it is easier to read than Alexandrescu, and arguably, more rewarding. For more experienced developers, there is a good chance that you may pick up something about a dark corner of C++ (a quirk) that usually only comes about through extensive experience.

Classics / Older

Note: Some information contained within these books may not be up to date or no longer considered best practice.

  1. The Design and Evolution of C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) If you want to know why the language is the way it is, this book is where you find answers. This covers everything before the standardization of C++.

  2. Ruminations on C++ - (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) [Review]

  3. Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms (James Coplien) A predecessor of the pattern movement, it describes many C++-specific "idioms". It's certainly a very good book and still worth a read if you can spare the time, but quite old and not up-to-date with current C++.

  4. Large Scale C++ Software Design (John Lakos) Lakos explains techniques to manage very big C++ software projects. Certainly a good read, if it only was up to date. It was written long before C++98, and misses on many features (e.g. namespaces) important for large scale projects. If you need to work in a big C++ software project, you might want to read it, although you need to take more than a grain of salt with it. There's been the rumor that Lakos is writing an up-to-date edition of the book for years.

  5. Inside the C++ Object Model (Stanley Lippman) If you want to know how virtual member functions are commonly implemented and how base objects are commonly laid out in memory in a multi-inheritance scenario, and how all this affects performance, this is where you will find thorough discussions of such topics.

This question has historical significance, but is not a good example of an appropriate question. Read and learn from this post, but please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions.

See the FAQ for more info.

Answered By: Johannes Schaub - litb ( 379)

About C++ Templates The Complete Guide

I can only say good things about it. Written by two top experts. And you really notice that. The examples are well written, explained and placed.

They start by teaching you the basics on a few pages. Then they talk about all the pitfalls and hidden danger there is in template programming and the cool stuff that can be done with them. At the end, they explain in detail the overload resolution and the one definition rule in Appendix A and B.

Strongly recommended :)


If you could go back in time and tell yourself to read a specific book at the beginning of your career as a developer, which book would it be?

I expect this list to be varied and to cover a wide range of things.

To search: Use the search box in the upper-right corner. To search the answers of the current question, use inquestion:this. For example:

inquestion:this "Code Complete"
Answered By: Justin Standard ( 1753)
  • Code Complete (2nd edition) by Steve McConnell
  • The Pragmatic Programmer
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie
  • Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest & Stein
  • Design Patterns by the Gang of Four
  • Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
  • The Mythical Man Month
  • The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth
  • Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools by Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi and Jeffrey D. Ullman
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
  • Effective C++
  • More Effective C++
  • CODE by Charles Petzold
  • Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael C. Feathers
  • Peopleware by Demarco and Lister
  • Coders at Work by Peter Seibel
  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
  • Effective Java 2nd edition
  • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler
  • The Little Schemer
  • The Seasoned Schemer
  • Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby
  • The Inmates Are Running The Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
  • The Art of Unix Programming
  • Test-Driven Development: By Example by Kent Beck
  • Practices of an Agile Developer
  • Don't Make Me Think
  • Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices by Robert C. Martin
  • Domain Driven Designs by Eric Evans
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
  • Modern C++ Design by Andrei Alexandrescu
  • Best Software Writing I by Joel Spolsky
  • The Practice of Programming by Kernighan and Pike
  • Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andy Hunt
  • Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art by Steve McConnel
  • The Passionate Programmer (My Job Went To India) by Chad Fowler
  • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
  • Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs
  • Writing Solid Code
  • JavaScript - The Good Parts
  • Getting Real by 37 Signals
  • Foundations of Programming by Karl Seguin
  • Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice in C (2nd Edition)
  • Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel
  • The Elements of Computing Systems
  • Refactoring to Patterns by Joshua Kerievsky
  • Modern Operating Systems by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
  • The Annotated Turing
  • Things That Make Us Smart by Donald Norman
  • The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
  • The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management by Tom DeMarco
  • The C++ Programming Language (3rd edition) by Stroustrup
  • Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture
  • Computer Systems - A Programmer's Perspective
  • Agile Principles, Patterns, and Practices in C# by Robert C. Martin
  • Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests
  • Framework Design Guidelines by Brad Abrams
  • Object Thinking by Dr. David West
  • Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment by W. Richard Stevens
  • Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
  • CLR via C# by Jeffrey Richter
  • The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
  • Design Patterns in C# by Steve Metsker
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  • About Face - The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky
  • The Tao of Programming
  • Computational Beauty of Nature
  • Writing Solid Code by Steve Maguire
  • Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing
  • Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications by Grady Booch
  • Effective Java by Joshua Bloch
  • Computability by N. J. Cutland
  • Masterminds of Programming
  • The Tao Te Ching
  • The Productive Programmer
  • The Art of Deception by Kevin Mitnick
  • The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World by Christopher Duncan
  • Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case studies in Common Lisp
  • Masters of Doom
  • Pragmatic Unit Testing in C# with NUnit by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas with Matt Hargett
  • How To Solve It by George Polya
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Smalltalk-80: The Language and its Implementation
  • Writing Secure Code (2nd Edition) by Michael Howard
  • Introduction to Functional Programming by Philip Wadler and Richard Bird
  • No Bugs! by David Thielen
  • Rework by Jason Freid and DHH
  • JUnit in Action

Preferred Languages : C/C++, Java, and Ruby

I am looking for some helpful books/tutorials on how to write your own compiler simply for educational purposes. I am most familiar with C/C++, Java, and Ruby, so I prefer resources that involve one of those three, but any good resource is acceptable.

Answered By: Michael Stum ( 574)

Big List of Resources:

¶ Link to a PDF
$ Link to a printed book

Charles Roper

This is a poll asking the Stackoverflow community what non-programming books they would recommend to fellow programmers.

Please read the following before posting:

  • Please post only ONE BOOK PER ANSWER.

  • Please search for your recommendation on this page before posting (there are over NINE PAGES so it is advisable to check them all). Many books have already been suggested and we want to avoid duplicates. If you find your recommendation is already present, vote it up or add some commentary.

  • Please elaborate on why you think a given book is worth reading from a programmer's perspective.

Note: this article is similar and contains other useful suggestions.

Answered By: JonnyGold ( 480)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

alt text

Life, the universe, and everything

"See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that." -- Wonko the Sane

It wasn't that long ago that I was a beginning coder, trying to find good books/tutorials on languages I wanted to learn. Even still, there are times I need to pick up a language relatively quickly for a new project I am working on. The point of this post is to document some of the best tutorials and books for these languages. I will start the list with the best I can find, but hope you guys out there can help with better suggestions/new languages. Here is what I found:

Since this is now wiki editable, I am giving control up to the community. If you have a suggestion, please put it in this section. I decided to also add a section for general be a better programmer books and online references as well. Once again, all recommendations are welcome.

General Programming

Online Tutorials
Foundations of Programming By Karl Seguin - From Codebetter, its C# based but the ideas ring true across the board, can't believe no-one's posted this yet actually.
How to Write Unmaintainable Code - An anti manual that teaches you how to write code in the most unmaintable way possible. It would be funny if a lot of these suggestions didn't ring so true.
The Programming Section of Wiki Books - suggested by Jim Robert as having a large amount of books/tutorials on multiple languages in various stages of completion
Just the Basics To get a feel for a language.

Code Complete - This book goes without saying, it is truely brilliant in too many ways to mention.
The Pragmatic Programmer - The next best thing to working with a master coder, teaching you everything they know.
Mastering Regular Expressions - Regular Expressions are an essential tool in every programmer's toolbox. This book, recommended by Patrick Lozzi is a great way to learn what they are capable of.
Algorithms in C, C++, and Java - A great way to learn all the classic algorithms if you find Knuth's books a bit too in depth.


Online Tutorials
This tutorial seems to pretty consise and thourough, looked over the material and seems to be pretty good. Not sure how friendly it would be to new programmers though.
K&R C - a classic for sure. It might be argued that all programmers should read it.
C Primer Plus - Suggested by Imran as being the ultimate C book for beginning programmers.
C: A Reference Manual - A great reference recommended by Patrick Lozzi.


Online Tutorials
The tutorial on seems to be the most complete. I found another tutorial here but it doesn't include topics like polymorphism, which I believe is essential. If you are coming from C, this tutorial might be the best for you.

Another useful tutorial, C++ Annotation. In Ubuntu family you can get the ebook on multiple format(pdf, txt, Postscript, and LaTex) by installing c++-annotation package from Synaptic(installed package can be found in /usr/share/doc/c++-annotation/.

The C++ Programming Language - crucial for any C++ programmer.
C++ Primer Plus - Orginally added as a typo, but the amazon reviews are so good, I am going to keep it here until someone says it is a dud.
Effective C++ - Ways to improve your C++ programs.
More Effective C++ - Continuation of Effective C++.
Effective STL - Ways to improve your use of the STL.
Thinking in C++ - Great book, both volumes. Written by Bruce Eckel and Chuck Ellison.
Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ - Stroustrup's introduction to C++.
Accelerated C++ - Andy Koenig and Barbara Moo - An excellent introduction to C++ that doesn't treat C++ as "C with extra bits bolted on", in fact you dive straight in and start using STL early on.


FORTH, a text and reference. Mahlon G. Kelly and Nicholas Spies. ISBN 0-13-326349-5 / ISBN 0-13-326331-2. 1986 Prentice-Hall. Leo Brodie's books are good but this book is even better. For instance it covers defining words and the interpreter in depth.


Online Tutorials
Sun's Java Tutorials - An official tutorial that seems thourough, but I am not a java expert. You guys know of any better ones?
Head First Java - Recommended as a great introductory text by Patrick Lozzi.
Effective Java - Recommended by pek as a great intermediate text.
Core Java Volume 1 and Core Java Volume 2 - Suggested by FreeMemory as some of the best java references available.
Java Concurrency in Practice - Recommended by MDC as great resource for concurrent programming in Java.

The Java Programing Language


Online Tutorials - The online documentation for this language is pretty good. If you know of any better let me know.
Dive Into Python - Suggested by Nickola. Seems to be a python book online.


Online Tutorials
perldoc perl - This is how I personally got started with the language, and I don't think you will be able to beat it.
Learning Perl - a great way to introduce yourself to the language.
Programming Perl - greatly referred to as the Perl Bible. Essential reference for any serious perl programmer.
Perl Cookbook - A great book that has solutions to many common problems.
Modern Perl Programming - newly released, contains the latest wisdom on modern techniques and tools, including Moose and DBIx::Class.


Online Tutorials
Adam Mika suggested Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby but after taking a look at it, I don't know if it is for everyone. Found this site which seems to offer several tutorials for Ruby on Rails.
Programming Ruby - suggested as a great reference for all things ruby.

Visual Basic

Online Tutorials
Found this site which seems to devote itself to visual basic tutorials. Not sure how good they are though.


Online Tutorials
The main PHP site - A simple tutorial that allows user comments for each page, which I really like. PHPFreaks Tutorials - Various tutorials of different difficulty lengths.
Quakenet/PHP tutorials - PHP tutorial that will guide you from ground up.


Online Tutorials
Found a decent tutorial here geared toward non-programmers. Found another more advanced one here. Nickolay suggested A reintroduction to javascript as a good read here.

Head first JavaScript
JavaScript: The Good Parts (with a Google Tech Talk video by the author)


Online Tutorials
C# Station Tutorial - Seems to be a decent tutorial that I dug up, but I am not a C# guy.
C# Language Specification - Suggested by tamberg. Not really a tutorial, but a great reference on all the elements of C#
C# to the point - suggested by tamberg as a short text that explains the language in amazing depth


nlucaroni suggested the following:
OCaml for Scientists Introduction to ocaml
Using Understand and unraveling ocaml: practice to theory and vice versa
Developing Applications using Ocaml - O'Reilly
The Objective Caml System - Official Manua


Online Tutorials
nlucaroni suggested the following:
Explore functional programming with Haskell
Real World Haskell
Total Functional Programming


wfarr suggested the following:
The Little Schemer - Introduction to Scheme and functional programming in general
The Seasoned Schemer - Followup to Little Schemer.
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - The definitive book on Lisp (also available online).
Practical Common Lisp - A good introduction to Lisp with several examples of practical use.
On Lisp - Advanced Topics in Lisp
How to Design Programs - An Introduction to Computing and Programming
Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp - an approach to high quality Lisp programming

What about you guys? Am I totally off on some of there? Did I leave out your favorite language? I will take the best comments and modify the question with the suggestions.

Answered By: Kristopher Johnson ( 33)

I know this is going to seem old-fashioned, but I don't think much of using online tutorials to learn programming languages or platforms. These generally give you no more than a little taste of the language. To really learn a language, you need the equivalent of a "book", and in many cases, this means a real dead-tree book.

If you want to learn C, read K&R. If you want to learn C++, read Stroustrup. If you want to learn Lisp/Scheme, read SICP. Etc.

If you're not willing to spend more than $30 and a few hours to learn a language, you probably aren't going to learn it.

Ethan Gunderson

As it stands now, I'm a Java and C# developer. The more and more I look at Ruby on Rails, the more I really want to learn it.

What have you found to be the best route to learn RoR? Would it be easier to develop on Windows, or should I just run a virtual machine with Linux?

Is there an IDE that can match the robustness of Visual Studio? Any programs to develop that give a good overhead of what to do? Any good books?

Seriously, any tips/tricks/rants would be awesome.

Answered By: Jason Navarrete ( 205)

I've been moving from C# in my professional career to looking at Ruby and RoR in my personal life, and I've found linux to be slightly more appealing personally for development. Particularly now that I've started using git, the implementation is cleaner on linux.

Currently I'm dual booting and getting closer to running Ubuntu full time. I'm using gedit with various plugins for the development environment. And as of late 2010, I'm making the push to use Vim for development, even over Textmate on OS X.

A large amount of the Rails developers are using (gasp) Macs, which has actually got me thinking in that direction.

Although I haven't tried it, Ruby in Steel gives you a Ruby IDE inside the Visual Studio world, and IronRuby is the .NET flavor of Ruby, if you're interested.

As far as books are concerned, the Programming Ruby (also known as the Pickaxe) book from the Pragmatic Programmers is the de-facto for learning Ruby. I bit the bullet and purchased that book and Agile Web Development with Rails; both books have been excellent.

Peepcode screencasts and PDF books have also been great for getting started; at $9 per screencast it's hard to go wrong. I actually bought a 5-pack.

Also check out the following:

I've burned through the backlog of Rails and Rails Envy podcasts in the past month and they have provided wonderful insight into lots of topics, even regarding software development in general.


Which Java book do you think is the must-have one for all Java developers?

Keep in mind:

  • One book per answer
  • Check for duplicates before adding new answers
Answered By: Frank Pape ( 304)

Effective Java, Second Edition by Joshua Bloch. No question.

If every Java developer read this book, there would be a lot less broken code in the world.

After that, I'd read Java Concurrency in Practice (see separate answer), and maybe Java Generics and Collections (see separate answer). Anyone that reads and puts into practice the information in these three books has come a long way toward mastering Java.

Comments from duplicate "Effective Java" answers:

"I sure wish I had had this book ten years ago. Some might think that I don't need any Java books, but I need this one."
- James Gosling, Fellow and Vice President, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

sammyo: It's a thin(!!) volume that focuses on real issues and how to think about the right approach to java problems. (as opposed to a listing of API methods)

Hans Doggen: First edition of Effective Java and then the second edition, to see some of the ideas that changed over time.