Kathy Sierra

Adrian Kosmaczewski:

In spite of such an illustrious predecessor, it was Kathy Sierra who triggered a major, deeper change in the way programming was taught. To be honest, the books by themselves would already have been a major triumph. Her work happened at a time where the dot-com boom opened the door for new ideas, right in the middle of the Web 2.0 craze, and right before the rise of the smartphone and social media.

Through the use of comic images, unusual text layout, and a fantastic sense of humor, Kathy Sierra argues, readers can learn the concepts easier; tricking the brain into the proper levels of dopamine. The level of self-derision is such that the cover image on the introduction chapter of “Head First Design Patterns” features a 1950s couple saying “I can’t believe they put that in a design patterns book!”

Riding on top of the Head First success, O’Reilly started new series, most notably the “Beautiful” series, featuring books with interviews; comes to mind the fantastic “Masterminds of Programming,” which we will cover separately in a future edition. Many more Head First books came out, some of which, in the cover photo, sit proudly in my bookshelf.

The Head First books are a hallmark, reaching a perfect equilibrium between accessibility and relevance; something that both the “For Dummies” series and most Addison Wesley books overshot, in absolutely and completely opposite directions. Funny without being quirky; memorable without being childish; and correct, without being pedantic.