1. Code
  2. Roundups

50 Must-read Books on Web Development

Read Time:10 minsLanguages:

As web developers, it only makes sense that we find learning resources on our preferred medium, the Internet. However, there are definite pluses to the Old School method of learning; the print book. They've been through rigorous editing cycles, and you can trust solid publishers like O'Reilly. Also, you can trust the user ratings and comments that are on sites like Amazon. You can make an informed purchase with the help of these comments, and you don't have to worry that these highly-rated titles are going to be accurate or poorly written. Publishing contracts are generally only given to industry and thought leaders who are worth listening to and learning from.

Here are 50 of the highest-rated, most respected print publications on many different web development topics.

Post thumbnail by Guillermo Esteves.


  • 1. CSS: The Missing Manual

    David McFarland's CSS: The Missing Manual is over 500 pages of CSS expertise, with over 100 of those pages of tutorials. It's a best place to get started for learning CSS.

  • 2. CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions

    If you're looking for a guide with more advanced examples of CSS usage, CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards is an excellent read. The authors Andy Budd, Cameron Moll and Simon Collison are extremely well-respected web developers and designers.

  • 3. CSS: The Definitive Guide

    Part of the highly-respected O'Reilly line of books, CSS: The Definitive Guide is just what the title implies: a comprehensive resource of excellent tutorials and guidelines to use when programming with CSS.

  • Frameworks

    8. Agile Web Development with Rails

    Ever since Rails took the development world by storm a few years back, there has been plenty written about the Ruby framework. But you can't find a much better resource than one written by Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson.

  • 9. Python Web Development with Django

    Django is an excellent python framework, and one that is highly respected in the development community. Python Web Development with Django is 400 pages of excellent techniques and tutorials for learning django development.

  • 10. Professional CodeIgniter

    CodeIgnitor is a PHP-based framework that has shown excellent promise amongst other frameworks. Professional CodeIgnitor gives an overview of MVC programming, and outlines how to build excellent web applications with CodeIgnitor.

  • 11. Beginning CakePHP: From Novice to Professional

    Beginning CakePHP: From Novice to Professional is a handy paperback for beginners trying to learn the MVC-based framework, but also, as the name implies, is highly useful for an intermediate or advanced CakePHP programmer. The book claims it's geared for... audience of developers already familiar with PHP but who may not be PHP experts. This book is tailored for those new to CakePHP and who want a thorough tutorial.

  • PHP

  • 12. Programming PHP

    Programming PHP is an excellent book from O'Reilly that features writing from PHP's creator himself, Rasmus Lerdorf. Lerdorf outlines some of the basics of PHP programming as well as topics like PHP and MySQL, XML and generating PDF's. Perfect for the PHP beginner.

  • 13. PHP Cookbook

    Another stellar resource from O'Reilly, PHP Cookbook makes quick work of providing simple "recipies" of PHP that range from beginner to advanced. It's an excellent reference to help you quickly find how to do a multitude of things in PHP. .NET writes that...

    This book is absolutely packed with quick solutions to common obstacles or ideas in PHP. The chapters on security are worth their weight in gold, as you'll learn how to properly protect your site against unauthorised use.

  • 14. PHP and MySQL Web Development

    When it comes to developing web apps, PHP and MySQL go together like peanut butter and jelly for making dynamic websites. PHP and MySQL Web Development tries to help with many aspects of learning how to program with the two subjects.

  • 15. Wicked Cool PHP: Real-World Scripts That Solve Difficult Problems

    The title alone should be reason enough to buy this PHP resource guide. You'll learn how to do many things with PHP like: send and receive email notifications, track your visitors' behavior with cookies and sessions, override PHP's default settings, manipulate dates, images, and text on the fly, harness SOAP and other web services, create an online poll, ecard delivery system, and blog.

  • 16. PHP for the World Wide Web, Second Edition

    PHP for the World Wide Web is a very highly-rated book on learning the basics of PHP. In the 5th edition a section has been added on the new Zend engine, updated XML supported, and many more topics. 480 pages of classic PHP literature.

  • Python

    17. Learning Python

    Learning Python is in it's 3rd edition, and for good reason. The book has become an excellent resource because of it's excellent step-by-step approach of the fundamentals of the Python language. The systematic approach to learning is ideal for programmers wanting to get to know the language better, as well as experts needing a handy reference.

  • 18. Python Essential Reference

    Along with Learning Python, Python Essential Reference lives up to it's name. 230 of the 648 pages are strictly technical appendices, and the book crams thousands of online information into a handy little paperback book.

  • 19. Expert Python Programming

    Expert Python Programming is a brand-new reference released only last September. While it may not be as old or established as some other books, the book is geared towards Python developers who are wanting to optimize their programming and perfect their development techniques.

  • Ruby

    20. The Ruby Programming Language

    The Ruby Programming Language is one of the only books on the list to receive a perfect 5/5 stars from Amazon. The O'Reilly resource on Ruby is an excellent guide for those wanting to learn the language from the bottom-up. The text is centered largely around theory and thoroughly explains the API and syntax around the language.

  • 21. Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional

    Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional explains a little bit about everything surrounding the language. It gives a tutorial on the principles behind object-oriented programming, explains key aspects of Ruby like database access, and eventually gives an overview of Ruby on Rails.

  • 22. Ruby Cookbook

    The Ruby Cookbook is exactly what the title implies: a problem solving guide to developing in the Ruby language. It gives hundreds of real-world solutions, complete with thousands of lines of code to reuse in your own projects.

  • Linux

    23. A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming

    This book is an indispensable resource for the Linux user. It's a whopping 1,008 pages, so it's the size of at least two books on the subject of Linux. It is incredibly in-depth, and best of all the examples used in the book can be used for years to come, as the book is 100 percent distribution and release agnostic.

  • 24. Linux Pocket Guide

    If you're looking for something a little smaller, the Linux Pocket Guide this tiny book of only 224 pages packs a wallop in terms of only including the best information and avoiding bloat within the book. It's all killer, with no filler.

  • 25. Linux Bible, 2008 Edition: Boot up to Ubuntu, Fedora, KNOPPIX, Debian, openSUSE, and 11 Other Distributions

    There are tons of different "flavors" of Linux, and this book explains everything a new or migrating user might need to know before making the jump and picking a distribution of Linux. This book will help the beginner pick which distribution is best for them, and shows real-world accounts on how people are using Linux.

  • 26. Linux in a Nutshell

    Ellen Siever has an excellent book explaining Linux in a Nutshell to the Linux beginner. The book outlines the aspects of administering and making effective use of Linux systems.

  • Database Management

    27. Pro Oracle Application Express

    Pro Oracle Application Express, or "APEX" is an incredibly useful and innovative application development framework for creating database-backed applications. This book allows you to get under the hood and get your hands dirty with the APEX and all of the advanced functionality it can bring to your next application.

  • 28. High Performance MySQL

    High Performance MySQL is yet another stellar book from O'Reilly. The book is co-written by ex-Yahoo! empoloyee Jeremy Zawodny. With a popular site like Yahoo!, one of the crucial elements of their backend is making sure the performance of the site remains high. MySQL is notorious for not having well-documented literature on the issues of reliability, scalability and performance. This book teaches many strategies and techniques that allow your MySQL-powered application to perform much smoother.

  • 29. MySQL Crash Course (Sams Teach Yourself in 10 Minutes)

    MySQL Crash Course is a quick and handy guide for the MySQL newbie. Learn how to be immediately productive in MySQL programming with 30 hands-on lessons.

  • 30. PostgreSQL

    PostgreSQL is a comprehensive tutorial spanning 1,000+ pages. The book covers the basics of PostgreSQL programming and theory, and shows features that build upon each other. It's coined as the "definitive guide" to PostgreSQL programming.

Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.