Sunday, December 30, 2007

Professional Rails Online?

In response to the commenter who asked if there was going to be a beta book.

UPDATE: Clearly I should ask about these things before I post. Jim Minatel from Wrox added the following in comments:

  • There will be a PDF about six weeks after the print book, meaning end of March or thereabouts. There will also be an Amazon Kindle version, eventually.

  • Also after 6 weeks, the book will be available via Wrox's online subscription service:

  • It won't be on Safari, apparently Wrox books aren't part of the deal there (which I actually was kind of wondering about). Meaning I still haven't placed a book there)

I now return you to my earlier, ill-informed, blather...

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Not only doesn't Wrox tend to do that kind of thing, at this point, the book is do to go to press in about two weeks, so the amount of time to get feedback would be sharply limited.

At one point, I was told that sample chapters would be available online before release, but I don't have any information on whether there will be an e-book available. I don't think there will be a direct purchase of a PDF, but it seems as though Wiley just joined the Safari book store, and the book might be available there. I'll try and find out for sure this week.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Publication Update

Just got the next version of the book chapters for my examination. I'm not 100% sure exactly where these fit in the process. It looks like they've had a good look-see from a copyeditor, largely for style, clarity, and consistency. (Any lingering "we" sentences seem to have been pruned, for example).

They produced a book-specific style guide, which is a listing of canonical forms for things like plugin names, capitalization of commands or tools and the like. It's kind of interesting to see if I can remember where each name or command was used.

Anyway, I'm supposed to have these turned around by Jan 2, so I'm reasonably sure we're still good to go to press in mid-January, and be released in mid-February.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Things I Learned

Some things I learned about Rails and writing while working on this book:

  • The great benefit of working on a project like this book is that it enabled me to compress about two years worth of research into Ruby and Rails tools into six months. In my case, this was a great opportunity to really dig into some tools to find that I've only been using a fraction of their power and also really get a sense of how elegant and flexible the tools are.

  • Ever since I learned how to type back on an actual typewriter in the mid 80s, I've always followed the old-time typographical convention of two spaces following a period. Which was burned into my fingers despite multiple people telling me that was a silly and counterproductive thing to do in the brave new world of proportional fonts. In fact, on the wx book, I actually did a global search and replace for a period followed by two spaces to get the manuscript to correspond with the publisher's expected conventions. Somehow, I managed to break that habit while writing this book.

  • The hardest stylistic thing for me to get around was avoiding using "we" and "us". In other books and articles, I tend to introduce examples by saying things like "Now we should type the following" or "Let's see how that's implemented". Wiley/Wrox house style, though is to avoid "we" and write the examples as "Now you should type the following" or "I'll show you how that's implemented". Even more preferred is avoiding the pronoun altogether with "Here's how that's implemented" or "type the following". I'm not saying one way is better or worse -- I find the "we" style to be conversational, the Wiley editors clearly disagree. It did take some getting used to, though.