How To Use Safari Books Online

This in-depth tutorial follows up on our review of Safari Books Online and shows you, step by step, how to use this valuable online digital library of books and videos to advance your skills – whether you are a programmer, search engine optimizer, or any other technical professional.

You may remember all of the features I discussed in my review of Safari Books Online a few months ago. If you missed that article, you can always check it out at http://www.devshed.com/c/a/Reviews/Safari-Books-Online-Review-/. At the end of that article, I gave you a link for a free trial. If you have an account there already, great. If not, go to http://safaribooksonline.com/d/learning/devshed?cid=201201-my-devshedtutorial-lwol-links

 

 

and sign up for a free trial  and discounted subscription now (10 days free + 30% off a Safari Library Subscription). It will make following this tutorial easier.

 

Getting Started

Once you log in, you will be taken to the Safari Books Online home page. The page is broken down into several elements, each of which we will cover below or in a separate article. They are:

  • My Dashboard

  • Browse Categories and Publishers

  • The Search Bar

  • Just Added, Top Titles, and What’s New

  • My Account

  • Tools

  • Safari Labs

  • My Safari

{mospagebreak title=The Search Bar}

Safari Books Online’s search bar functions just like any other search engine. You simply type in the keywords you want to search for, choose what part of the site you want to search in, and click the search button.

If you click on the pull-down menu, you will see that you can search the following locations: the entire site, Book/Video titles, short cuts, rough cuts, or any of your private folders (more on this later).

For instance, if you want to find a book on the Joomla content management system, you might type the word “Joomla” in the search box, choose “Book/Video Titles” from the drop-down, and click the search button. This will return 36 items, as shown below:

If you look to the left of your results, you will see a break-down of Joomla titles by category. Clicking on any of these “categories” will take you to a listing of Joomla books within those sectors.

Heading to the middle of the page, you will notice two tabs: Books and Videos. Your default tab is Books, which naturally lists Joomla books. If you click on the Videos tab, you will be shown a listing of all videos that cover Joomla.

Beneath the format tabs are some check boxes and a “sort-by” pull-down menu. By default, the Book/Video search also lists Rough Cuts (books in progress) and Short Cuts (short, specific tutorials). Un-checking their boxes will leave them out of the results. There is an option to “include previous editions” as well.

The “sort-by” pull-down lets you adjust the way the results are sorted. You can view them via Relevancy, Popularity, Insert Date (date they were added to the site), or Publish Date.

You can also save your search by clicking on the Save Search as Smart Folder button:

     

This saves your search query into a folder, which you can click on and see updates to that particular query. For instance, Safari Books Online has two pre-built Smart Folders – one for New Releases and one for Top Titles. If you click on the New Releases folder, you will be given a list of all newly released articles.

If you look at a result box, such as the one below, you will notice that you have several options.

For starters, you can add the book to your favorites by clicking on the button of the same name. Likewise, you can scan the table of contents and start reading as well. If you click on the “Add to Favorites” button, a pop-up will appear, asking you where you wish to store the book. You can either store it in “My Folder” or create a new folder, which you may wish to do if you are downloading books from multiple categories.

Clicking on the “Start Reading” button will take you to the first chapter in the book, while clicking on the author’s name will take you to the writer’s bio page, where you can find out more information about him/her, and see a listing of other books they have written.

Clicking on the actual book title will take you to the book’s page, where you will be presented with a whole host of options, as well as a plethora of data pertaining to the book, such as who the author is, who published the book, its publication date, ISBN, page count, and how many tokens it costs to download a book (typical books cost 1 token per chapter, or 15 tokens for the entire book).

You can also review the book and add a note or tag.

Below the title’s description, you will see five tabs:

  • Overview: Provides an overview of the book.

  • Table of Contents: Gives you an interactive Table of Contents, where you can not only see the individual sections of the book, but also click on the link and be taken directly to that section. You also have the option to download specific chapters as well.

  • Notes and Tags: This tab lets you view, sort, filter, edit, and print any tags that you have created.

  • Bookmarks: Here is where you can work with any bookmarks you have created.

  • Search This Book: This is one of the most powerful tools in the Safari Books Online arsenal. This feature allows you to search for any keywords within the book.

To the right of the description section is a box of quick buttons, which comprise the meat and potatoes of how you might work with Safari Books Online.

Start Reading

The Start Reading button does what you might expect it to do – that is, it allows you to begin reading the book. By default, it takes you to the first chapter, but you can easily browse to other sections using the navigation pane to the left.

To navigate to the next page, you can either scroll down, or use one of the < > buttons at the top of the chapter.

You will notice other buttons on the toolbar as well. They let you do things such as view the page in HTML, bookmark a page, view multiple pages at once, download, print, or even share with another user.

Add To Favorites and Share

In addition to reading the book, you can also choose to add it to your favorites. With this function, you can select which folder you want to save the book to, and come back and visit it again at any time.

Likewise, you can also share the URL for the book’s page by clicking the “Share” button. This will post the link to either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or an email to a friend. Alternatively, you can click the “Create a Widget” link to create a widget to store on your personal website.

Download

If you wish to purchase the entire book, you can click on the “Download” button. It will give you a prompt screen that tells you the price of the book (in tokens), with options to purchase it or – if you are short on tokens – purchase more tokens.

Lastly, sometimes you want the tactile feeling of holding a book in your hands. For lovers of the paper page, Safari Books Online even has an option for you to purchase the book directly from the publisher, with the added bonus of being able to save 35% off the price.

Summary

We covered a lot of ground in this article, but there is still more you can do with Safari Books Online. We did not even skim the surface of the site’s functionality; we left out coverage of Safari Labs, Tools, Mobile, and the advanced search. But never fear, we will cover these topics in a future article. So keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, if you have not done so already, sign up for a free trial of Safari Books Online (10 days free + 30% off a Safari Library Subscription) at http://safaribooksonline.com/d/learning/devshed?cid=201201-my-devshedtutorial-lwol-links

 

 

 – you will be glad you did!
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