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Jochem Stoel
Jochem Stoel

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Do you pay for online courses or ebooks?

The internet is full of Hello World examples, there is an abundance of documentation and example projects on GitHub, thousands of development blogs/networks like and you can learn anything from YouTube.

On the other side of the spectrum there are online courses on sites like udemy that you do pay for. These platforms hand out a certificate when you completed a course. You can also buy books and/or ebooks.

Do you pay for knowledge? Do you ever buy (e)books or spend money on a course? Was this a good investment or did you waste your money? What makes/made you decide to give it a try? Do you recommend it to others? What is your story?


Top comments (17)

danroc profile image
Daniel da Rocha

I've bought many courses in the past and it is usually after getting a preview, or some free chapters. One recent example was Miguel Grinberg's excellent Flask Mega Tutorial. He was basically publishing the chapters every week for free on his blog, and the content was so good that I went and bought the whole course. This was not only to have it in advance but also to support his work and (hopefully) motivate him to do more.

I am not a big fan of video courses, but that is a personal preference and I did find some I loved and would pay for (CS50X, for example, but they are free). I will always go for a text-based than a video-based course. Just gives me more freedom to define my own pace and order.

rosejcday profile image
Rose Day

I agree with looking for the samples or previews of courses! I do that as well for books before I decide to buy. It gives a good insight into if the content is worth purchasing or not. Especially when courses and books can be very pricey at times.

itsjzt profile image
Saurabh Sharma

+1 for CS50,

catriname profile image
catrina • Edited

My company pays for our PluralSight and requires a certain amount of time in that and also QuickHelp. As a dev, that time is flexible but for employees, QuickHelp is becoming a must. We can't live in a world where people can't save files or login. Where they can't navigate through Word or sort their own emails in Outlook.

Personally, I've gone back to buying my programming books. I love books for fun on my Kindle. I like to read easy books, wasting a few hours with a drink in hand. For me, though, I need dedicated time away from computer for reading seriously. I need the physical touch of a book when I'm learning.

I also, personally, keep an eye on Udemy. Even though I have and had access to PluralSight, the first teacher that really broke down .NET for me in a way I quickly understood was on Udemy. After him, I made my first app, gained confidence and really considered .NET as a path.

iwilsonq profile image
Ian Wilson

I spend money on Udemy courses, ebooks, and physical books all the time. I like free content too but you knows whats better than just free or paid content? All of the content. The stuff you can learn from a $10 Udemy course can bring 1000x ROI because you're investing in yourself knowledge you might keep with you for a very long time.

erebos-manannan profile image
Erebos Manannán

In my experience books tend to contain old, opinionated and very specific knowledge, i.e. be at most good for "copy & pasting" in case you happen to be building something exactly like the author was, instead of teaching how to get real skills and apply the skills. Courses might be useful for some things, but I've not had a situation where their generally exorbitant pricing would've been acceptable.

dougmckechie profile image
Douglas McKechie

Yes I have personal memberships to Tuts+ and Udemy and regularly look at tutorials and courses on there (Tuts+ more so than Udemy). Tuts+ membership also gives me a number of free ebooks per month.

Yes I think its value for money, particularly when a Udemy course is on sale / promo which seems to be fairly regularly. They are a bit pricey otherwise.

I think wanting to find a course about a particular thing let to me finding these sites.

coolgoose profile image
Alexandru Bucur • Edited

Like the others, my answer is yes.

In general books or paid tutorials get more in depth with certain subjects (I really 'digg' the ones that are using practical examples).

Not all of them are good, and in some cases you're better serviced by free resources (I still remember fondly Symfony 1's Jobeet) .

As an alternative, I really like initiatives of paying contributors to open source projects like Chris Fritz

booligoosh profile image

No, I don't - it's amazing what you can find for free! Also, free courses often require you to figure more out yourself, which is a valuable skill (and none of that 'live help'stuff, you have to do networking yourself 😜)

jochemstoel profile image
Jochem Stoel

Thanks for your response. I really like how the responses are all over the place.

whoisryosuke profile image
Ryosuke • Edited

I've never bought an online course or eBook. Though I have admittedly pirated things in the past like the Gnomon Workshop to learn 3D, and if I had the money to spend at the time, I definitely would have bought it. It helped me learn skills rapidly and efficiently, at a greater pace than browsing free tutorials on CGSociety was taking me. But I also found a great free tutorial series on another website that I preferred over the paid Gnomon DVDs, so it really depends.

There are plenty of free resources that can get you pretty far into your personal edification. The problem is finding the resources, and from an author you can understand. Then once you're skilled enough, the problem becomes finding specific resources to expand your knowledge.

You can always just hammer at things yourself, dissect documentation and application code, but sometimes it's easier to learn from someone who's done the dirty work.

marb61a profile image
Martin Byrne • Edited

Hi Jochem,
The answer is yes and yes but I have learned that some resources are better than others. Udemy has some great courses particularly the bleeding edge tech ones and instructors like Stephen Grider, Maximilian Schwarzmüller and Anthony Alices.

For anybody looking at Javascript and frontend in general it is very had to find anything better than Frontend Masters and they are having a week long freeby at

if anybody is interested, check out Kyle Simpsons courses and Jafar Husain in particular but these guys set the standards for training in general to be honest.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

The last development book I think I bought was the Javascript for Dummies reference (the one with the spiral binding so you could lay it flat on your desk) sometime around the turn of the century.

I have inherited a bunch of books I'll probably never read but like the look of on my shelf.

I have paid for a humble bundle of ebooks once (I think). I think I may have paid for a cheap ebook or two by someone I know out of a feeling of giving general support.

Other than that, no. The sources you described (especially YouTube) are very good for skimming and for deeper learning for everything I've needed, but the killer reason is that if the official documentation is that sub-par that I can't get what I want, well, I'm just going to learn something else instead.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic • Edited

Oh yes, I spent lots of money on learning-material.

Most of that for video-courses.

On Udemy I got some real gems, and some mediocre material, too.
I don't trust their reviews and ratings at all, since they already prompt a rating after the first few lessons, where it's usually impossible to judge a course.

My best courses on Udemy were the JavaScript-courses by Anthony Alicea:
Really in-deep but beginner-friendly explanations, took my JS-skills to the next level.

I also got an iOS-Devslopes-Course, which I can recommend to anyone interested in iOS/Swift:
(Maybe get the latest version, though)

Tip: Never pay more than 20$ on Udemy, they do discounts all the time. And if not, there's usually some googleable voucher-codes on the web.

I also like to mention Wes Bos' courses on JS & CSS:
I worked through all paid ones and it's some of the best learning-material I spent money on.

Though I have to say, while not paid, the Udacity-courses are all high-quality, top-notch and better than most paid courses (especially the Android-Dev-Series).

Right now I'm considering purchasing the Go-Web-Dev Video/Ebook-Course by Jon Calhoun, since it seems pretty thorough.

martindevto profile image
Martin O'Neill

Hi Antonio and thank so much for the great tips. Did you ever pay for I'm considering buying and it seems a little pricey. How was it? Can you recommend it? I'm just starting out and would appreciate your advice. Cheers, Martin

matheus profile image
Matheus Calegaro

Yes, i spend a lot of money on Udemy and I'm also subscribed to School of Net, a brazilian "Netflix-like" platform with web dev screencasts.

vinayv9 profile image
vinay • Edited

i never buy any e books or enrolled for paid courses. everything available for free if we spent some time on google search.