Considering writing a book on Ruby/Rails?

If anyone here is considering writing a book on Ruby or Rails I’d like
to ask you to do one thing:

Please, please, please do not do us the disservice of putting a
chapter(or more) on how to install Ruby/Rails.

Every single book I’ve read has devoted at least a chapter to installing
it. Point the inexperienced reader to google or almost any other site on
Ruby and let them learn there, please. At $40+ per book, I expect
information that I will want to reference repeatedly instead of
information that I will only use once, EVER, since installing isn’t
something you need help with doing on a day to day basis.

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7 and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is enough.

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7 and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is enough.

Such a book should then provide a warning label “Don’t just skip
straight to
Chapter 4!”

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7
and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is
enough.

No way. It only seems that way. because most books cater to people
who are fairly new to Ruby or Rails.
Advanced books are always a tougher sell for publishers.
Ultimately, this type of content is likely a publisher/editorial
decision in most cases.
Publishers already pressure most Ruby books’ authors to include
something about Rails.
The one thing that can probably be left out is the “getting up and
running with Rails” sections. Particularly in books that don’t go any
further than that with the Rails topic.
But marketing is part of the publishing industry, and lots of
publishers want you to buy their book and they know that a book that
looks like it might have everything in it (broad, not deep) will
usually sell better than a more narrowly focused book that goes
deeply into one subject.

The same argument would make you say, " no more chapters about how to
use [insert method or class here] "
Far better suggestion is what topics to write books and chapters about!

I suggest a GUI focused Ruby book that covers Qt, Tk, Wx, etc…
A game / graphics focused Ruby book… (could easily be integrated or
connected with the GUI book)
A whole host of Ruby topics could be entire books based on one or two
classes or modules or gems.
What we have enough of are books that are broad but not deep.
As an example: Pro ActiveRecord is a nice one, but an Expert
ActiveRecord would be better…

Lots of topics to suggest.

Phlip wrote:

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7 and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is enough.

Such a book should then provide a warning label “Don’t just skip
straight to Chapter 4!”

Sadly, you’re probably spot on…but funny still.

John J. wrote:

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7 and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is enough.

No way. It only seems that way. because most books cater to people who
are fairly new to Ruby or Rails.
Advanced books are always a tougher sell for publishers.

Nope. It’s book #7 and it’s supposed to be a fairly advanced book.

The same argument would make you say, " no more chapters about how to
use [insert method or class here] "
Far better suggestion is what topics to write books and chapters about!

Not true. My gripe is that an installation is something you do once and,
unless you’ve got absolutely no experience and/or the memory of a newt,
you never have to learn to do again since one install is going to be
extremely close to another even across different platforms.
Methods/classes are something that we refer to repeatedly, “just to be
sure we got it right”; that’s why I made that distinction in my original
post.

John J. wrote:

Lots of topics to suggest.

Agreed … then again, there are some other good books that don’t even
exist:

“Up and Running with Nitro and Og”
“Up and Running with Iowa”
“Pragmatic RSpec” (although I hear that’s due in beta by the end of the
year)
“ZenTest and Heckle Primer”
“Selenium …”
“Watir …”
“Cerberus …”

There are some things Ruby has – like Rails, Nitro, Iowa, RSpec,
ZenTest, Heckle and many others – that don’t exist in the Perl world.
So you can’t say, as you can with Ruby/Tk, “Go learn from the O’Reilly
Perl/Tk book and just translate the syntax from Perl to Ruby and you’ll
be on the air”.

I think the real problem is not that every book on Ruby tells you how to
install it. The real problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an actual
paid market for much beyond books about Rails and core Ruby. The other
good stuff, like the things I’ve listed above, just isn’t getting seen.

Then again, as a potential author, I’m not going to spend any time
writing about things I don’t use. So don’t look to me for a Nitro or
Iowa book, or a book about everything you wanted to know about Ruby on
Windows systems. :slight_smile:

On Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 08:31:54AM +0900, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky wrote:

ActiveRecord would be better…
“ZenTest and Heckle Primer”
I think the real problem is not that every book on Ruby tells you how to
install it. The real problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an actual
paid market for much beyond books about Rails and core Ruby. The other
good stuff, like the things I’ve listed above, just isn’t getting seen.

Then again, as a potential author, I’m not going to spend any time
writing about things I don’t use. So don’t look to me for a Nitro or
Iowa book, or a book about everything you wanted to know about Ruby on
Windows systems. :slight_smile:

Actually, as a first step in that direction a “common useful libraries”
book – perhaps called “prospecting for gems”, or something cleverer –
would be excellent. I don’t mean a listing: I mean an
honest-to-goodness
tutorial/primer on a bunch of great libraries/modules for common tasks.

Chad P. wrote:

As an example: Pro ActiveRecord is a nice one, but an Expert
“ZenTest and Heckle Primer”
I think the real problem is not that every book on Ruby tells you how to
book – perhaps called “prospecting for gems”, or something cleverer –
would be excellent. I don’t mean a listing: I mean an honest-to-goodness
tutorial/primer on a bunch of great libraries/modules for common tasks.

I can do “gem list --remote” and get a listing of the gems and brief
descriptions – good enough to tell me whether I want to learn about
them or not. And as far as “common tasks” are concerned, I think that’s
covered adequately by “The Ruby Way” and “Ruby Cookbook”.

What I want is a book on Cerberus, a book on RSpec, a book on
Selenium, Watir/Firewatir, etc. I know what these things can do, and I
want to know how to get started doing them without having to decode RDoc
and ri files!

On 10/8/07, Chad P. [email protected] wrote:

Actually, as a first step in that direction a “common useful libraries”
book – perhaps called “prospecting for gems”, or something cleverer –
would be excellent. I don’t mean a listing: I mean an honest-to-goodness
tutorial/primer on a bunch of great libraries/modules for common tasks.

It’s only a single step, but…

Practical Ruby Gems
http://www.apress.com/book/view/1590598113

Regards,
Peter C.
http://www.rubyinside.com/

On 10/7/07, Eric H. [email protected] wrote:

information that I will only use once, EVER, since installing isn’t
something you need help with doing on a day to day basis.

I hate to gripe but as of today I’m at Ruby/Rails book number 7 and it
has the exact same info all over again on installing. Enough is enough.

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.” It goes through all the
steps, with detailed commentary (which other books lack). I think
it’ll be great for taking people from Ruby/Rails installation
journeymen to masters.

Pat

On Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 09:07:44AM +0900, Peter C. wrote:

Practical Ruby Gems
http://www.apress.com/book/view/1590598113

Nice! I didn’t know it existed. Thank you.

On 10/7/07, Jay L. [email protected] wrote:

On Mon, 8 Oct 2007 10:10:54 +0900, Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.”

Next you’ll suggest that all the other books delete their installation
chapters and link to a page where people can buy your book… :slight_smile:

Fantastic idea! And since they’ll have to print new, updated
editions, I can get a cut of the royalties.

Pat

Since we’re all throwing book titles around, you might be interested
in my book that just entered MEAP. :slight_smile: It’s basically what you
describe.

Ruby in Practice
http://www.manning.com/mcanally

–Jeremy

On 10/7/07, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky [email protected] wrote:

What we have enough of are books that are broad but not deep.
year)

Actually, as a first step in that direction a “common useful libraries”
Selenium, Watir/Firewatir, etc. I know what these things can do, and I
want to know how to get started doing them without having to decode RDoc
and ri files!


http://www.jeremymcanally.com/

My books:
Ruby in Practice

My free Ruby e-book
http://www.humblelittlerubybook.com/

My blogs:
http://www.mrneighborly.com/
http://www.rubyinpractice.com/

Chad P. wrote:

Actually, as a first step in that direction a “common useful libraries”
book – perhaps called “prospecting for gems”, or something cleverer –
would be excellent. I don’t mean a listing: I mean an honest-to-goodness
tutorial/primer on a bunch of great libraries/modules for common tasks.

There exists a book that describes an assortment of gems. It think the
stated idea was that this was some sort of “must have” collection, but
it comes off more as “these are the gems I just happened to learn about
in my year and a half of using Ruby.”

On the other hand, Hall Fulton’s The Ruby Way has , I think, something
of a “How to do assorted common or interesting tasks” theme, and does
mention some of the less hyped, but no less useful, gems and libs.

Publishers seem deeply interested in following proven paths. Most would
rather publish the 100th dreary Rails book than the first Nitro or Iowa
book.

It seems like an area ripe for self-publishing of brief, low-cost,
PDF-only works.


James B.

“Design depends largely on constraints.”

  • Charles Eames

On Mon, 8 Oct 2007 10:10:54 +0900, Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.”

Next you’ll suggest that all the other books delete their installation
chapters and link to a page where people can buy your book… :slight_smile:

Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.” It goes through all the
steps, with detailed commentary (which other books lack).

What’s sad is that I can’t tell if this is satire or not.


James B.

“In Ruby, no one cares who your parents were, all they care
about is if you know what you are talking about.”

  • Logan C.

On 10/7/07, James B. [email protected] wrote:

Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.” It goes through all the
steps, with detailed commentary (which other books lack).

What’s sad is that I can’t tell if this is satire or not.

Yes.

Jay L. wrote:

On Mon, 8 Oct 2007 10:10:54 +0900, Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.”

Next you’ll suggest that all the other books delete their installation
chapters and link to a page where people can buy your book… :slight_smile:

How about a chapter on how to uninstall Ruby and Rails? Here’s how you
do it on a Gentoo Linux system:

emerge --unmerge ruby rails

emerge -uvDN world

emerge --depclean

If you have packages that depend on Ruby, the second line will
re-install it. And the third line will delete any orphaned packages.

On Mon, Oct 08, 2007 at 06:15:05AM +0900, Eric H. wrote:

If anyone here is considering writing a book on Ruby or Rails I’d like
to ask you to do one thing:

Please, please, please do not do us the disservice of putting a
chapter(or more) on how to install Ruby/Rails.

+1 here. And I’m putting my money where my mouth is. You’ll have to wait
a few months to not read about how to install Rails, though:

http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Rails-Brad-Ediger/dp/0596510322

Assuming we don’t change the chapter order between now and then, the
first chapter will have you neck-deep in Ruby metaprogramming.

It really does hurt my page count not to include huge screenshots of
installing Ruby, Rubygems, and Rails on Linux, OS X, and Windows,
though. :wink:

Brad

Pat M. wrote:

Funny you should mention that. I’m actually working on a book
entitled “How to Install Ruby and Rails.” It goes through all the
steps, with detailed commentary (which other books lack). I think
it’ll be great for taking people from Ruby/Rails installation
journeymen to masters.

Sadly, I’d rather buy your book if I needed it than to pay for the info
to be included in the other books where I do not. :wink:

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