Digital Edition

SYS-CON.TV
O'Reilly Network: Navigating a Sea of Information
How to Find Exactly What You Need Now

To start searching Safari today, go to http://oreilly.com/safari-syscon

When you need quick solutions for time-critical projects, vast quantities of technical information from thousands of sources are within easy reach. But getting the right answer is often like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Information on message boards, news groups, and the Web at large is readily available, but it is not consistently reliable. Trade publications and vendors provide a limited range of answers. Technical books, while dependable, can take lots of time to weed through - assuming you have the right book.

There's a better way. A recent study by The Ridge Group of Princeton, New Jersey found that, when programmers and other IT professionals need information, electronic reference library (ERL) services have a clear advantage. The group compared one ERL, Safari® Tech Books Online (available through the O'Reilly Network Safari® Bookshelf), to other information resources and concluded that the service delivers savings of approximately 24 times its cost.

Unlike an online bookstore, or static e-books, an ERL is a repository of programming and IT books that allows you to search multiple books simultaneously to find and extract information. You can read books cover-to-cover online or, more likely, jump to the exact page you need. You can cut and paste code directly, to save time and eliminate programming errors. And to find information, you can browse books by category, or locate specific books quickly by searching by ISBN, author, title, publisher, or publication date.

Why ERLs Are Better: The Safari Advantage
The Ridge Group study is a real eye opener. The group found that, without an ERL, the typical technology professional spends an average of 7+ hours per week - or more than 31 hours per month - looking for answers, researching issues, and helping colleagues do the same. The drain on personal productivity translated to millions of dollars per year, but that was just the beginning. There was also the cost of re-working projects due to picking up erroneous code, and the impact on others waiting for someone to complete their work. And, when programmers turned to colleagues for help, two or more people were taken offline to solve one issue.

Subscribers to Safari had a different story. When asked how the ERL affected their ability to research solutions or find code, users reported that Safari saved them an average of 13.5 hours per month, or just over 4 labor-weeks per year - nearly half the amount of time lost by those who didn't subscribe to the service.

Safari is a joint venture between two leading technology publishers, O'Reilly & Associates and The Pearson Technology Group (whose imprints include such well-known names as Addison-Wesley Professional, Cisco Press, Peachpit Press, Prentice Hall PTR, Sams, and Que). Among the subscribers interviewed, 86% stated that Safari helped them become better prepared to handle new projects that involved new technologies, while a full 66% acknowledged that because Safari is accurate, they spent less time on re-work.

Sun and America Online Agree
Along with its own analysis, The Ridge Group cited similar results from Sun Microsystems' SunLibrary and America Online, which also conducted tests with Safari subscribers. According to one systems engineer at America Online, "Google and other search engines come back with more noise than I want. I have to wade through all that information, which takes a lot of time. Safari is much more relevant and targeted to the information that I am after."

Because Safari is publisher-backed, the service gets first-hand access to the latest from O'Reilly and The Pearson Technology Group, along with content from other publishers such as Microsoft Press. Currently, Safari offers more than 2000 technical titles. Subscribers can search through all those books onscreen, or download PDF copies of selected chapters.

"I was asked to make a Web site for my company, and I needed lots of HTML, DHTML, CSS, and JavaScript information and samples," noted one study participant. "With Safari, I got answers in seconds with the search function. Not to mention the benefits of being able to copy and paste code."

To start searching Safari today, go to http://oreilly.com/safari-syscon.

For information about corporate site licenses, contact corporate@oreilly.com or 800-998-9938.

About IT Solutions Guide
IT Solutions Guide (ITSG), aimed at development and corporate managers, is a free quarterly supplement focusing on the most competitive tools, solutions, and services available in the IT and infrastructure technology world today.

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