Recommended reading for the Amiga Developer

Recommended reading for the Amiga Developer

Developing software takes a lot of knowledge. The thirst for information is endless. In this post we will make our recommendations on what to read, and they can all be found online in pdf format.

The AmigaOS 3.2 Native Developer Kit

The NDK contains autodocs and include files, but also examples and some documentation.

Get it from the official Hyperion website or from Aminet.

Amiga ROM Kernel Reference Manual: Libraries

This is the first part of the Technical Reference Series by Commodore covering Release 2 of AmigaOS. and it comes with our highest recommendations. This is without a doubt the most important book to have. It deals with every library of the 2.04 except dos.library, which is covered in The AmigaDOS Manual listed below. It is not a holistic tutorial, but as the title suggests a reference manual. It is however written in an explanatory manner with for example a whole chapter about Exec Lists and contains many examples written in C. It can be found here

Amiga ROM Kernel Reference Manual: Devices

This is the second part of the Technical Reference Series by Commodore covering Release 2 of AmigaOS and it comes with our highest recommendations. This book is similar except it deals with devices instead of libraries. As such it relies on subjects like Exec Lists described in the first book. Useful for writing drivers for expansions or controlling keyboard, sound and printers among others. It can be found here

ROM Kernel Reference Manual: Changes & Additions

This is an unofficial continuation of the above two books. It is a work in progress and only available as pdf for now. Aims to cover everything that happened since the original books were published. Despite being work in progress it already provides a lot of insight and is thus highly recommended already. Get it here and be sure to come back several times a year for new chapters.

ROM Kernel Reference Manual: DOS

Another unofficial continuation. It is also a work in progress. Written by Thomas Richter who surely knows a lot of internals about dos.library. Get it here and be sure to come back for updates regularly.

Amiga User Interface Style Guide

Historically underrated, this book covers the essentials of what a programmer should take care of when designing a user interface. Although GUI design even on the Amiga somewhat evolved since the book was written, you should read it at least once to be aware of typical mistakes as well as standards a GUI should provide to the user. It can be found here

The AmigaDOS Manual

While not part of the Technical Reference Series it is still official documentation by Commodore, and the only official book to cover dos.library. Definitely something to have in your library, although it is known to contain some errors. If you have "The Amiga Guru Book" mentioned later you have a good alternative. It can be found here.

The Amiga Developer CD v2.1

This CD contains many articles and more. A real treasure trove. More description at

Notable mentions

The following books are either:

  • Highly recommended, but only available as a secondhand book.
  • Part of the technical reference series, but not really relevant

The Amiga Guru Book

By Ralph Babel, enough said. It contains lots of information about Amiga Programming in general and is the most in-depth resource dealing with AmigaDOS. Some of its knowledge can't be found elsewhere, not even in the official documentation. A must-read for any Amiga programmer. Unfortunately this book is print only and is highly sought after.

Amiga Hardware Reference Manual

You'd typically buy this when you wanted to write demos or games back in the day. Unfortunately it's more of a technical description about how the Amiga hardware (up to ECS) works, so unless you want learn about that or design hardware expansions, you may find better alternatives for the purposes mentioned above. Not really useful for system programming.

Amiga ROM Kernel Reference Manual: Includes & Autodocs

Basically a hardcopy of the system include files. This may be interesting from a historical or even a collector's point of view, but totally useless since the 3.2 NDK have many clarifications and fixes.