"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." - Steven Weinberg.
I don't buy textbooks for software unless required for a class... I prefer to spend my book allowance on fiction and learn applications by the trial and error method.
And, of course, the more recent tomes are there because I have to read them to tell the authors how wrong they are.
The only ones I paid for were programing in C+ and SQL. The rest are either from the publisher/author for reviews or to use to give classes on.
The former AutoCAD MAP3D Power User
X1 on that score ...
Reading a book to learn something I find quite useless. The only way I lean is to do, make mistakes and fix them, then figure out if I could've done it better. The only time I ever open a textbook is to lookup stuff, and then 90% of the time it's extremely arb examples which are usually utterly useless or wrong. These days (or rather for the last few years) I prefer using sites like this for my "research" - tend to get much better answers than I've ever found in books.
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Strangely, our layer standards are made for a special case. We're architects, but usually there's at least 2 different architectural firms on any one project: a concept arch (denoted CA), and architect of record (AR). I can just imagine someone fresh off varsity coming to work for us and thinking: "Those hatches must be for use by only the Arch of Rec."
Knowledge is proportional to experience, but wisdom is inversely proportional to ego!
My little bit of "wisdom": Hind-sight is useless, unless used to improve the next forethought!
You make a good point with the abbreviations, and that's part of the difficulty with any part of CAD Standards management, and moving between firms or collaborating across companies. As you say, finding answers (which can be corroborated publicly) is a great thing about these forums and other online sources rather than a single static reference.