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Learn enough developer tools to be dangerous command line, text editor, and Git version control essentials

Michael Hartl
Review published as
CR147535 (2303-0028)
Edited by

The command-line interface (CLI) scares many newcomers to the computing field. It is, however, a most powerful way to interact with the computer, allowing the user a command composition richness that cannot be matched via graphical interfaces. As a long-time power user, I have often been asked how one should go about learning to use it–and have often been at a loss answering that question. I learned long ago that I cannot really give pointers, and this is what first got me interested in reading this book.

This book should be seen as a collection of three works, not as a single item; they are even regarded as separate tutorials in several illustrations over the book. It teaches three related but different skills: the aforementioned CLI, the text editor, and the Git version control system. At the same time, this book is part of a collection of several Learn enough … to be dangerous tutorial books, for which the large-scale aim is to teach newcomer developers enough tools to become web application developers.

The book achieves a lighthearted style, and is easy to read either lineally or by opening at any given point (this is, using it as a reference book, reading only a specific topic). The author complements the material with thorough examples–and some memes, to keep spirits high. I did find the screen shots to be too abundant, sometimes repeatedly illustrating the same concept, and not uniform enough in style (that is, terminal screen shots with different font sizes, sometimes much larger than the surrounding text, sometimes barely readable).

The three tutorials are quite basic in scope. The target audience is not seasoned developers interested in switching their toolset, but rather newcomers to each of the topics covered. After reading the book, they will have the basic knowledge to understand the terminology and to dig into the topics. The main takeaway, for me, is how the author did a very good job of presenting this information in an easy-to-read, approachable way.