It’s like understanding the theory but not knowing where or when to apply the code. The reason I was able to understand CodeIgniter’s documentation is because it has different examples for different situations and “What if?”'s.
The more I worked with Yii, I noticed that it worked differently from codeigniter in that most of the common task is generated for you, all you need to do is modify it into your liking, the challenge is knowing what functions to use and how to modify it. I’m also wondering, how do you use controller and view without the model in case you don’t need it?
I suggest to not use Gii (as a beginner). Instead take a look at the source-code of the blog demo. Try to tweak it, try to find out how things work and combine it with the documentation. Try to create a small application with your own hands. So in short: Learning by doing.
When i started i read the guide at least 2 times completely. It has all information you should need and it’s still very compact. Besides that i did some first experimenting. Even though you might not memorize every detail - it helped me a lot when some problems arised: “Aah, i’ve read this somewhere, let’s see…”.
As Mike said, you should know very good the definitive guide to Yii, and experiment a bit.
The class reference is also very useful, read this article for more information about it.
For developers:I think that the code generated by Yii before the introduction of the Zii widget were easier to learn, would be nice if there were a second option for code generation, both for didactical pourpuse everyday usage.