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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  The TCP/IP Guide: Introduction and "Guide To The Guide"

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Goals of The TCP/IP Guide

Every author who sets out to write a book or other document has certain objectives that he or she hopes to accomplish when the work is completed. This is why you can go into a library or bookstore, pick up several books that cover the same subject, and discover that they are surprisingly different—not just in their content or scope, but in their entire approach to the material.

I too had a number of goals when I set out to write this Guide; you certainly don’t need to know them in order to read and appreciate the material, but knowing what I had in mind while I was writing may help you while you are reading. And if you are reading this information prior to licensing The TCP/IP Guide, knowing what I strove for in writing the Guide may help you decide if this is the right resource for you.

My overall goal in writing this Guide was to create a resource that would allow anyone to obtain a deep understanding of how TCP/IP technologies really work. To accomplish this, I had a number of specific objectives that guided my writing efforts:

  • Comprehensiveness: Like most authors writing a resource that covers a large subject, I wanted the TCP/IP Guide to be comprehensive. Of course no single document can cover everything, so I have had to limit the scope of the material. However, I feel I cover more about TCP/IP as a whole than any other single book or other resource.

  • Comprehensibility: Creating a resource that is comprehensive is important, but I felt that it was even more important that the Guide be comprehensible. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to review many hundreds of books, guides, Web sites and papers related to networking. I have found that even though most of them are generally high in quality, too many use unexplained technical jargon or assume extensive prior knowledge of networking concepts and technologies on the part of the reader. I worked very hard to ensure that my descriptions, even of very complex concepts, can be understood by almost every student of networking.

  • Rationale: It’s certainly important to know how every TCP/IP protocol functions. However, to gain a true understanding of complex material, one also needs to understand the reasons behind why things are what they are. In writing this material I have always tried to explain not just the what but also the why of TCP/IP. I have anticipated and answered questions that I believed would commonly arise in the mind of someone learning about this technology.

  • Illustrations: A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say. There are many concepts that no amount of verbiage will adequately explain, while a simple illustration will do the trick. For this reason, I spent many months creating over 300 full-color diagrams (some simple and some not so simple!) to complement the written material in The TCP/IP Guide.

  • User-Friendliness: I have intentionally broken many of the rules of conventional book authorship, in creating a document that uses a conversational, first-person style, and no small amount of humor where appropriate. My intention was to make you feel at home while you read material that can be quite technically difficult. I want you to think of me like a friend sitting next to you at your computer explaining how TCP/IP works, rather than a professor preaching at you from a pulpit.

  • Organization: Many networking books consist of dozens of subjects just listed one after the other, leaving the reader to wonder how everything fits together. When I first began this Guide, I spent weeks just organizing it, with the result being a hierarchical structure that indicates clearly how subjects are inter-related. I also carefully laid out each individual section to ensure that it covered its topic in a way that made sense.

  • Multiple Levels of Detail: I realized that some people reading a TCP/IP Guide might only want a quick summary of the operation of its constituent protocols, while others want to learn all the nuances of how everything works. I have provided the full details that most readers will want, while also providing overview topics in each section that summarize each technology for quick perusal. This gives you the option of either skimming the surface or “diving deep”, as you choose.

  • Platform Independence: I have endeavored whenever possible to avoid describing TCP/IP in terms specific to any hardware or software platform. Even though I use a PC for most of my computing and UNIX for other aspects, most of the material is not particular to any type of device or operating system (though I do focus more on networks of smaller computers than larger ones).

How successful was I in achieving these goals? I’d like to think I did a pretty good job, but ultimately, you will be the judge!

Previous Topic/Section
Introduction To The TCP/IP Guide
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Scope of The TCP/IP Guide
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005

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