This is a professional lens for DX digital cameras having the rapidity of f/2.8 and the price of 1500$. It was introduced in July, 2003.
17-55 f/2.8 is a great medium-focus high-rapidity zoom but it is very expensive. Such a purchase can be justified for those for whom rapidity and multifunctionality is important, for example, a reporter. Such a lens 100% is not necessary for beginners.
Now 17-55 f/2.8 is overpriced that is why I do not see any sense in paying a world of money for f/2.8. Naturally if you buy 18-55 VR AF-S f/3.5-5.6 and 35mm f/1.8 you will lose multifunctionality but you will win the price and quite a bit of it.
It goes without saying that 17-55mm f/2.8 is a great lens with a super fast autofocus and metal body (the weight of the lens is 760 g). It was extremely popular among digital photographers up to 2008 but after the introduction of FX-cameras the lens has lost its significance and can be useful only for the very few as practically all professional photographers have already switched to full-format cameras such as D750 and D4.
17-55mm f/2.8, 30mm, f/2.8, 1/320s, 0.00eV, ISO20017-55mm f/2.
8, 55mm, f/2.8, 1/500s, 0.00eV, ISO200
17-55mm f/2.8, 55mm, f/2.8, 1/160s, -0.67eV, ISO200
You will get cut edges on FX-cameras with the focal distance of 17 mm.
If you use this lens the autofocus will work on low-cost cameras such as D40/D40x/D60/D3000/D3100/D5000/D5100/D3200/D5200/D3300/D5300/D5500.
Conclusions and recommendations
If you are a beginner and you need a lens for self-protection, buy 17-55 f/2.8 for 1500$. I will tell you with certainty that the lens will be cheaper, at present it is overpriced. Until FX-cameras cost exorbitant money 17-55 f/2.8 will stay at the same level, but when their price drops, the price for 17-55 f/2.8 drops as well considerably.
If you want to spend the money using your head I advise you to buy super light 18-55 VR (100$) and 35mm f/1.8 (250$). The difference between 17mm and 18mm is practically subtle.
If you need multifunctionality, buy 18-200mm for 800$.