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Best Reference Site For Each Programming Language?

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the spread-the-word dept.

Programming 538

Howling writes "I've been a PHP programmer for a few years and after taking a trip through many sites Ive learned that is probably the most complete source when looking for information/documentation. I have been trying to find similar sites for every other language (Java, perl or ASP, for instance) without equal success, though. I ask: what is the best documentation/reference site for your preferred programming language?"

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Scheme (5, Interesting)

klutometis (1123525) | about 6 years ago | (#25047839)

If it's scheme [] you're looking for, there's R5RS [] and the SRFIs [] ; also, don't forget the world's possibly best-written programming book: SICP [] .

Re:Scheme (2, Informative)

fracai (796392) | about 6 years ago | (#25048627)

SICP looks interesting, but is it not available in some format more portable than html? No PDF?

Perl and Python (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | about 6 years ago | (#25047853) and

Re:Perl and Python (5, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 6 years ago | (#25048061)

Agreed. I'd also add [] ; it's not documentation per se but it's damn useful.

For java, you have to master the API [] ...Even modules that other people write are often documented with javadoc, and look just the same. Once you use it for a while it becomes familiar.

Re:Perl and Python (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | about 6 years ago | (#25048307)

The funny thing is that for some 20 years, before I started using Python, my favorite and almost only language was C, and I don't know of any really good site for C.

However, I do know of a really good author, that is a "dead tree" author, for C: Herbert Schildt. I would recommend these [] . Any of them. Well, just kidding, I haven't read them all, I doubt anyone has, but I bet they are all good.

My favorite is his book on artificial intelligence [] . It's out of print now, but it was one of the reasons why C was my favorite language for about 20 years, and it still would be if Python hadn't come out.

Re:Perl and Python (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048391)

C was my favorite language for about 20 years, and it still would be if Python hadn't come out.

You know this of course, but I thought I'd mention that your C experience isn't wasted as a Python programmer. The cycle: design in Python => profile => redo bottlenecks in C, is the basis of industrial strength Python application.

Re:Perl and Python (5, Interesting)

Praedon (707326) | about 6 years ago | (#25048257)

Yep, those are good too.. but I'd also add something that was basically born from Slashdot, it's Rosetta Code [] For common solutions with multiple code for different programming environments.

Re:Perl and Python (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#25048313) []

use Perl; [] comes high on the list, along with PerlMonks [] and PerlBuzz [] . [] in general gets points for being where you can find Use, perldoc, and more.

Re:Perl and Python (2, Informative)

rossjp (688204) | about 6 years ago | (#25048355)

Being that cpan is part of, I'd say start at

Official website? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047867)

I've come to realize that every modern language's website has a lot of useful resources for learning.
I mean, why wouldn't they? They want to get the language accross. (5, Informative)

acon1modm (1009947) | about 6 years ago | (#25047893)

just google: java X class where X is whatever you want. Top results will be sun java docs which are complete and have links to parent and descendent classes, implemented interfaces, etc. (3, Informative)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 6 years ago | (#25048283) []

Samples, API, Docs, Tutorials, etc.
(redudndant, but people usually like links) (4, Informative)

B4D BE4T (879239) | about 6 years ago | (#25048327)

I agree. I have been using Java for a while now and have always found the information I needed at [] . Just about anything you could want to know about Java can be found in the reference section [] . The API section [] has all of the classes listed alphabetically for the more recent versions of Java with a fairly detailed description of each class and its methods. (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 6 years ago | (#25048403)

You don't even have to go that far most of the time. If you want to know about the String class, you will need to google "Java String" or "java.lang.String".

But for classes with less common names, just the classname will often do. If it's not the top result, it will be close. This works for HttpServletRequest, NumberFormat, and many others. It's so great while programming to be able to just alt-tab over to a browser, type in a class name, and get the official JavaDoc on it easily. Adding a method name you want to know about (i.e. "HttpServletRequest getSession") often works even better. You still get the JavaDoc for it, but you can see little bits in the summary, as well as getting more discussions on using that method from other sites.

Heck, often you'll get a top result (Java 1.5 or 1.4.2), another result or two from Sun (some other version of Java, maybe 1.3), then some copies of the JavaDocs on other sites, and discussions of the class or people asking for help with it.

I know many people don't like parts of Java or some of it's design philosophies, but they really did a very good job with the idea of JavaDoc.

FYI (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048547)

If you use Eclipse you can configure the javadoc URL in your JDK configuration and pull up the pages from within the IDE. VERY handy.

Re:FYI (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048569)

I do use Eclipse. I didn't know that. How useful! (1)

Deanalator (806515) | about 6 years ago | (#25048575)

Hell, even the class name itself is usually enough, even for common words like class, object, system, string, etc, the java documentation is the top hit.

Sometimes I search for "java 6 " to make sure I get the recent docs. (1)

postmortem (906676) | about 6 years ago | (#25048623)

"google it" isn't most savvy solution. A developer should be able to use documentation provided with development kit or IDE. And he/she should do that first before relying on information provided by unknown peer found on some site online.

It would be much more productive to install java docs on local machine, and then if your Java IDE will be able to provide the documentation information on spot. You don't have to leave IDE. Microsoft has been doing this for years ... just highlight your keyword and press F1.

ASP (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047895)

for asp: has very good tutorials. for reference use msdn library.

Re:ASP (1, Redundant)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#25047993)

the msdn library covers pretty much all microsoft languages

Re:ASP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048235)

the MSDN library is TERRIBLE

Re:ASP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048505)

only if you are new to it. I remember hating it. It is only good for techs developed by MS which ASP[X] conveniently falls under.

Here's what I do (5, Informative)

shellster_dude (1261444) | about 6 years ago | (#25047905)

html, css, javascript, sql:

Anything else: my brilliant co-worker.

Re:Here's what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048131)

A quick glance at shows no C/C++ at all.

Re:Here's what I do (1, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#25048295)

A quick glance at shows no C/C++ at all.

Hmmm... []

Re:Here's what I do (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048413)

From OP: " the best documentation/reference site"

A forum is not a reference.

Re:Here's what I do (0, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 6 years ago | (#25048159)

nice list but where's VB? That's what most small companies use cuz they want apps done FAST! So yeah, I've had good luck with And if you're like "vb isn't a real language" um neither is php. Scripting isn't even programming in my opinion. When you can make a variable on the fly and never specify it's type or size, it's not a real language.

Re:Here's what I do (4, Informative)

MrMunkey (1039894) | about 6 years ago | (#25048359)

For JavaScript I head over to

It's pretty clear, but unfortunately you still have to watch out for browser incompatibilities. They sometimes will have a note about it though.

Re:Here's what I do (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048523) is a great reintroduction to javascript

Re:Here's what I do (0, Redundant)

rtconner (544309) | about 6 years ago | (#25048377)

I never liked w3schools or Unfortunately they are the best, wich sucks.

Re:Here's what I do (1)

zxaos (910908) | about 6 years ago | (#25048389)

Also, if you're looking for a question and answer style reference, you can ask specific questions at []

Java 6 API Reference (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047907)

The Java 6 API reference [] .

Hey Samzenpus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047911)

[...] Ive learned that is probably the most complete source [...]

Just a typo. Although you'd better correct it before the grammar/spelling Nazis get to your house with pitch forks and torches.

Tcl -- use the Wikibook (4, Informative)

Xcott Craver (615642) | about 6 years ago | (#25047921)

One of the best tutorials and references for Tcl is the Wikibook [] on Tcl programming.

Indeed, it's one of the best programming texts I've seen in any language.

Re:Tcl -- use the Wikibook (2, Informative)

DrugCheese (266151) | about 6 years ago | (#25048335)

I've alwaysd found [] manuals all I needed but that Wikibook looks like a great place to start.

c/posix: man pages (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047937)

c/posix: man pages

C# (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047941) and might I add, one of the best languages ever!

Re:C# (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 6 years ago | (#25048145)

I don't dislike C#; it's basically just Java, so if you like one, you'll probably like the other.

The documentation on the other hand...Just go buy a book, because the online docs are slow sadistic torture.

I used to think Java was a bit mean for just throwing out the big API and letting you fend for yourself, but C# throws out part of an API and examples that only cover part of what you need to know. It is extremely frustrating, and the fact that they clearly think it's better than Java's spartan lists of packages, classes, and their properties...That just makes it worse.

Re:C# (1, Flamebait)

oldhack (1037484) | about 6 years ago | (#25048261)

C# info is horrendous, and the reason is because it is hooked up so tightly to Windows. One day, maybe, we can write quality app with C#/.NET, but until then, you'd need to hook up with all the legacy Windows API - Win32, COM, etc.

Java started out as a clean platform. C#/.NET never was. .Net interop is whole lot easier to deal with than Java JNI, but that's because it NEEDS to be.

google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047945)

I hate to say it but I have yet to find one site that gives me everything im looking for. If the site does have loads of information it tends to be a pain to navigate. So for C++, C#, VB,, Bash, Batch, Java, Javascript, etc. google or comparable search engine really is the best source

Suggestions for perl (4, Informative)

howlinmonkey (548055) | about 6 years ago | (#25047951)

Articles: (O'Reilly site)

I have found the perl community to be the most open, supportive and cohesive group of all the languages I work with. Right now I am working with PHP, perl and C#, and perl is by far the easiest language to get help and correct information. I can find tons of info on the other languages, but the information isn't always the best quality.

Good luck with your search.

Re:Suggestions for perl (2, Informative)

Lisandro (799651) | about 6 years ago | (#25048473)

Seconded. You can say whatever you want about Perl, but the online documentation at [] is second to none. Manuals, tutorials and references are very well written and organized.

Cookbook site (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | about 6 years ago | (#25047961)

This sorta piece posted on slashdot, no less, makes me realize that a good chunk of the US IT sector *deserves* to get offshored.

Yeah, this is a troll. But I think it's a necessary one.

Re:Cookbook site (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048267)

Yeah, this is a troll. But I think it's a necessary one.

It's a pathetic one. You've made no outrageous link from "this sorta piece" to "deserves to get offshored". You just stuck them in the same sentence. You should have written something to draw people along to agreeing or violently disagreeing with your assertion. You've given people nothing to bite on. It's a hook with no bait. Pathetic.

Perl/Python/Ruby and now Each (3, Funny)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 6 years ago | (#25047971)

So is Each the next great scripting language? I've never tried it...

Any Language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25047979)


You'll dig up so many gosh darn half completed scripts on any type of program for any language that you'll go crazy.

Best information is the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048035)

For my forte, ActionScript, the best reference by far is flash itself.

To Wit:

The best reference I have ever found is any well made editing program with an excellent help file, preferably one with a syntax hotkey.

For all languages (5, Funny)

Korbeau (913903) | about 6 years ago | (#25048075)


Re:For all languages (4, Funny)

nog_lorp (896553) | about 6 years ago | (#25048189)


Re:For all languages (4, Funny)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#25048325)


Re:For all languages (1)

SlashdotTroll (581611) | about 6 years ago | (#25048615)


Re:For all languages (2, Insightful)

Bluecobra (906623) | about 6 years ago | (#25048387)


My Fave (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 6 years ago | (#25048077)

is found among the usenet FAQa: []

Sure, it's funny to the Ivory Soap Parameter (99 and 44/100ths of a percent) of people, but I still keep a copy for my use. What *I* find funny is that the first Macs had an Applesoft emulator available, and it had a subset of the Apple II reference called "Green Book" in its instructions.

C/C++ (5, Informative)

Kuraitou (1366125) | about 6 years ago | (#25048081) [] - best site for beginners in my opinion.

Re:C/C++ (5, Informative)

nog_lorp (896553) | about 6 years ago | (#25048265)

Beats the hell out of man pages for the POSIX C libraries.

PHP (-1, Redundant)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#25048091)

Re:PHP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048617)

Congratulations on reading the summary.

stack overflow question (5, Informative)

fragbait (209346) | about 6 years ago | (#25048137)

Perhaps this a question for Stack Overflow [] ?


No (0)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 6 years ago | (#25048155)

The best programming languages don't have good online reference sites. You use these things printing on a special material called paper.

The Internet is not the answer, it's the question. (or problem, depending on how cynical you are) is great. (4, Insightful)

nog_lorp (896553) | about 6 years ago | (#25048171)

PHP has probably the best documentation of an language thanks to It is really wonderful, everyone should follow their lead. is great. (5, Insightful)

Maian (887886) | about 6 years ago | (#25048471)

I don't know. I've recently had to use PHP for something, and I've been struggling to find out the performance of each function. For example, the articles on count()/sizeof() functions on an array tell me nothing of whether it's O(1) or O(n). PHP really strikes me as a programming language for non-CS majors.

Ruby (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048187)

Use the ri command

C: K&R. (5, Informative)

proidiot (747008) | about 6 years ago | (#25048211)

For C, use the most holy book:
(aka "The C Programming Language" by Kernighan and Ritchie, [] )

Re:C: K&R. (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#25048345)

Make sure to use the second edition, which covers ANSI C (which is practically ISO C89).

Re:C: K&R. (2, Insightful)

Shaterri (253660) | about 6 years ago | (#25048401)

20 years ago this was a great idea, and Kernighan&Ritchie stands up as a fine example of technical writing (IMHO at least), but the coding guidelines there (short variable names, some of the control structure idioms, and even arguably the brace conventions) were written for an age when you had a reasonable shot at out-optimizing your compiler, there was a good chance you were developing on an 80x24 terminal, and it was critical to write for speed over clarity. In the modern world of IDEs and optimizing compilers a lot of K&R is just painful.

Your language is too bloated (3, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 years ago | (#25048241)

... if the complete reference can't be included inline in a /. post. Here's all you need to know:

    > increment the pointer (to point to the next cell to the right).

    < decrement the pointer (to point to the next cell to the left).

    + increment (increase by one) the byte at the pointer.

    - decrement (decrease by one) the byte at the pointer.

    . output the value of the byte at the pointer.

    , accept one byte of input, storing its value in the byte at the pointer.

    [ jump forward to the command after the corresponding ] if the byte at the pointer is zero.

    ] jump back to the command after the corresponding [ if the byte at the pointer is nonzero.

JavaScript and ASP (2, Informative)

theverylastperson (1208224) | about 6 years ago | (#25048245)

For years I have fallen back on [] for their wonderful Javascript F.A.Q.s

For asp I have fallen on the habit of going to google, typing the object name and 'asp', from there I find [] and [] to have the best code samples and descriptions of use. However, I hate navigating both of them so Google has become my default doorway into them.

I'm not ashamed to admit I hit [] as a last resort. (5, Informative)

YutakaFrog (1074731) | about 6 years ago | (#25048247) [] It's got all the good reference sites in one. You click the reference site, it adds a tab to the gotAPI webpage. It has a really good search box. No signup required. Best all-in-one reference ever.

It's so simple (-1, Redundant)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | about 6 years ago | (#25048253)

The best reference site for all programming languages is... []

Universal Resource (1, Redundant)

h4rdc0d3 (724980) | about 6 years ago | (#25048279)

gotAPI [] is an excellent resource for just about any/every programming language, including many frameworks.

Visual Basic.Net? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048305)

I noticed a lack of threads talking about good reference sites for VB.Net. Perhaps I should reconsider my language of choice?

Re:Visual Basic.Net? (2, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#25048449)

Because its so well documented internally you don't need an external reference guide.

so yes, if you are needing more answers then Microsoft provides with their shipped MSDN, you should be looking elsewhere for another simpler language.

( yes, this was sarcasm for the mod-nazis )

Essential Reference while you are coding in C++ (1)

MarkKnopfler (472229) | about 6 years ago | (#25048309)

The STL reference [] . Please keep this page open when you are writing your C++....

LPC: (1)

Cratylus_DS (1318681) | about 6 years ago | (#25048329)

LPC: [] Granted, it's just for writing games, but it's a fun language.

Other languages (4, Informative)

poopie (35416) | about 6 years ago | (#25048371)

Missing Cowboy Neal option (3, Funny)

Drishmung (458368) | about 6 years ago | (#25048383)

you insensitive clod!!

Stupid question (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#25048423)

Ever think about going to the main site for the language and looking at their data sources?

don't forget dzone (1)

dmayle (200765) | about 6 years ago | (#25048425)

And don't forget Ithe the best general development resource out there, linking to blog posts and articles of alltypes, language specific, algortihms, etc...

Isn't this a question for (1, Redundant)

fyrie (604735) | about 6 years ago | (#25048429) [] ?


Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048443)

For ASP, ASP.NET and C# (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048481)


google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048495)

The reference sites don't have all the really useful stuff. When I have a problem, I google for that specific problem. Over the years I've found all kinds of stuff that I have made part of my regular programming practice. If I had gone to the 'best' reference sites, I would never have found that stuff.

Perl has by far the best docs (2, Informative)

Christianfreak (100697) | about 6 years ago | (#25048497)

The most annoying thing is having to go on the web to find a doc. PHP is horrifying enough and then you read the docs and find all the exceptions to whatever rule (and the bugs) in the comments.

For Perl:
perldoc -f [function name]

Or perldoc [Module::Name] (also man Module::Name works on most Linux distros)

Also on Linux, 'man perl' gives a list of a whole ton of man pages that give you specific information on regexes, objects, references, syntax, variables, etc.

And if you have to have it in a pretty web interface it is indeed all online []
(module docs [] are as well)

Say what you want about Perl but it has tons of useful modules and it is very well documented.

.NET Languages (2, Informative)

Collegeguy (1103663) | about 6 years ago | (#25048501)

For the .NET languages, such as XAML, C#, and VB.NET, I'd have to say that for general data on how to use the function, MSDN is a great resource, between their forums and MSDN online library. Google's also a great resource.

Oh yeah this is required! (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | about 6 years ago | (#25048509)

Having learned most of my programming languages before there was an internet I'm not sure of any web available references. I use books.
Quaint and old fashioned I know but what the heck. Oh and when I don't use books I use Google. Saves having to remember where I put those pesky links to all those programming language web sites.

ASP (1)

eqteam (322882) | about 6 years ago | (#25048513)

ASPFAQ ( has helped me more than a few times.

Google (1)

RPGonAS400 (956583) | about 6 years ago | (#25048517)

I use Google for most searches. I program in the newer versions of IBM's RPG (I hear the snickers - STOP IT!).

I use IBM manuals quite a bit that I have saved in .pdf format. But for quick questions about RPG or SQL I find Google has the best answer on the first page if I am even remotely specific.

Common Lisp (2, Informative)

quickbasicguru (886035) | about 6 years ago | (#25048535)

For Common Lisp, the Common Lisp HyperSpec [] is hard to beat, though at times a book like Practical Common Lisp [] can be a little more useful.

google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25048553)

google and

jQuery (2, Informative)

CaptSaltyJack (1275472) | about 6 years ago | (#25048557)

Kinda obvious (no more obvious than being the best reference for php I suppose), but: []

Ansi C syntax (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | about 6 years ago | (#25048581)

If you are looking for Ansi C syntax,check this [] out. I know it's, but the guy has one heck of a reference page. It's all on one page (print it if you like) and EVERYTHING is referenced with hyperlinks. You can find by name, function, "similar to", library, etc.

There are no examples, but the documentation is top-notch.
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