To learn ArcGIS, I'm going to purchase a home license of ArcGIS 10.3. But because 10.3 just came out, there are no books out yet. Will a 10.1 book suffice, or are there too many changes?
Looking at this book due to its good reviews.
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I think that book should be fine for learning ArcGIS. The software hasn't changed dramatically between 10.1 and 10.3. For most changes between 10.1 and 10.3 you can check out the "What's New?" sections in the online help.
The help for 10.3 can be found here.
One major new change that came about at 10.3 is the introduction of a new program called ArcGIS Pro. This is independent of 10.3.
Generally, each release adds some new tools and modifies a few others. But, the book will give you a good understanding of how to use the software.
Yes, you can use an older book with a newer version of the software depending on how wide a gap there is. In the case of 10.1 and 10.3, you should be fine. Depending on your level of comfort in working with software in general and navigating help files, and depending on the changes made between versions, you may find it annoying or frustrating.
I took a class which used a similar book. The book was written for 10.0 but we were using 10.1. Over the course of the semester I discovered several errata in the book - tools moved, dialog boxes weren't quite the same, or functionality was just slightly different. For me it wasn't an issue and I was able to negotiate my way around the problems with minimal effort in all but a few cases. I even typed up the stuff I found and made posts on our class discussion board because there were some people who had significantly more difficulty with the errors (the end result was an eight page long Word document with a bit of commentary and explanation as opposed to just 'do this instead'). If you are ok with poking around a bit or experimenting when something doesn't go quite right, I'm sure you'll be fine. And this really applies to any book or tutorial.
Two example errata from my notes:
In section 4-5, Create a feature class..., Step 4. It tells you to "click the Coordinate Sytem of Input Coordinates button" and then click Import. However when you click that first button, 'Import' doesn't immediately appear in the resulting dialog box. Look in the upper-right corner for a button that looks like a wireframe globe with a yellow asterisk on it. Click on that and you'll see the option to import.
In Section 6-2, Generalize tool, Step 2. Double-clicking is not necessary and will bring up the Vertex Editing toolbar. All you need to do is click the poly once to select it. Also the icon for Generalize has changed - it's two overlapping green squares, second one from the right end of the toolbar. It will be grayed out unless you have a feature selected.
The fastest thing to go out of date usually is web links and resources. Almost none of the ones in the book I mention were current, but again if you can dig around a little and search you can usually find the new version or address of the resource.