Ruby Cookbook

Anyone care to post their first impressions on Ruby Cookbook? I
haven’t seen it yet. I’d like hear what others think of it before
buying or not.

Regards, Morton

On Aug 2, 2006, at 6:08 AM, Morton G. wrote:

Anyone care to post their first impressions on Ruby Cookbook? I
haven’t seen it yet. I’d like hear what others think of it before
buying or not.

Keep in mind it did just come out (I got mine in the mail
yesterday) and it’s over 900 pages. You’ll probably need to wait a
bit for full reviews.

Just glancing through it though I’m pretty jazzed up about reading
it. There is a metric ton of content in there and it looks to cover
just about everything to some degree. I could see it being a very
helpful tool for most people, since your area of interest likely
receives at least some coverage.

Also, the lost dinosaur example had me laughing out loud! :wink:

Fair warning: I wrote six of the recipes in that book, so my
opinions are probably biased. I also have done very little real
reading yet. Buyer beware.

James Edward G. II

I love it. It’s very useful, helpful, accessible, and well organized.

It’s one of the 4 books I’ve got open when I’m doing Ruby/Rails coding
(the others are Pickaxe, Rails/Agile, and Ruby for Rails.)

I think it would be a nice option if they offered this book as a PDF.
Safari at $20 a month just for one book is not a good pitch.

Stuart

Morton G. wrote:

Anyone care to post their first impressions on Ruby Cookbook? I
haven’t seen it yet. I’d like hear what others think of it before
buying or not.

Regards, Morton
I found the recipe for roast duck quite good. :slight_smile:

No its not available anymore as a rough cut, and I agree this book would
be much more useful as a
PDF than a paper book IMHO. (Especially those of us with dual monitors!)

I’ll wait for a PDF book from another publisher I think, as O’Reilly
seems to not like the PDF
format, maybe they should look at how well the pragmatic programmers are
doing :wink:

I just had a bad experience with “buying” this book through the Safari
Rough Cuts program. I assumed I would be entitled to download the PDF
during development and after publication, but it turns out I was only
entitled to download it during development. There were also problems
with random numbers embedded in the text of the table of contents when
I did download it. I’ve now got my money back from Safari and am still
trying to understand exactly what I should have got.

I agree O’Reilly seems not to have worked out how to compete with the
Pragmatic Programmers. I’ve purchased numerous eBooks and beta books
from them with no problems at all.

James
http://blog.floehopper.org

I’ve just received my paper copy. It looks very good.

As I hate transcribing code fragments, I looked at the
Safari site for a zip of the code (It’s normal practice
to get that with other publishers).

Ok, I’m stumped. Does such a thing exist?
If not, why not here?

– Mike B.

On 8/2/06, Dark A. [email protected] wrote:

I think it would be a nice option if they offered this book as a PDF.
Safari at $20 a month just for one book is not a good pitch.

Those who bought the book through Safari’s Rough Cuts program get a
PDF of the book. I checked a few days ago and they still had it listed
as “rough cuts”, so you might see be able to buy it.

On 8/4/06, Jim M. [email protected] wrote:

No its not available anymore as a rough cut, and I agree this book would be much more useful as a
PDF than a paper book IMHO. (Especially those of us with dual monitors!)

I’ll wait for a PDF book from another publisher I think, as O’Reilly seems to not like the PDF
format, maybe they should look at how well the pragmatic programmers are doing :wink:

I just ordered my copy of the dead-tree version.

Although a pdf might be nice for searching, since the cookbook is
categorized I don’t think it will be much of an issue. Also, I don’t
usually see pdf’s with syntax highlighted code snippets, so I wouldn’t
get any benefit there from the printed version. (Note to publishers:
you might sway me if the various source code listings in your digital
versions were color syntax highlighted!)

Also, since it’s a cookbook, I’m guessing the snippets aren’t too
long, so I don’t really mind retyping the ones I need.

Besides, I prefer the quality typesetting of a real book to reading on
my flat panel.

The only (literal) pain in the neck is lugging that thing around with
all my other “essential” books. :slight_smile:

—John

Ok, I’m stumped. Does such a thing exist?
If not, why not here?

This is my fault; I’ve been busy with other projects and never got
around to bundling up the source code. I just sent a zipfile containing
all the code to my O’Reilly editor, and it should be up soon. In the
meantime, you can download the zipfile from the unofficial homepage:

http://www.crummy.com/writing/RubyCookbook/

I hope everyone is enjoying the Cookbook.

Leonard Richardson
http://www.crummy.com/

On 8/4/06, Rob S. [email protected] wrote:

[snip]

I don’t know if any O’Reilly authors read this list, but maybe this
thread should be sent on to the authors of the Cookbook or someone
else at O’Reilly. Seems they are missing what the market wants.

  • Rob

I think they already know that many readers want pdf’s. But they have
to balance that with knowledge that many other folks (some of them
prospective buyers of the book) will just copy and freely distribute
the pdf if one were made available. It’s probably just a business
decision for them: do they make more sales by offering the
complimentary pdf, or do they lose more because people will share it
online.

Since a pdf is more of a convenience rather than a necessity for (I’m
guessing) the majority of folks interested in their books, they
probably try to stick to paper books.

Since one big benefit right now of a pdf is searchability, if I were
Oreilly, I’d focus on making their paper books easier to search by
humans (i.e.,

  • even better (or perhaps multiple) indexes,

  • maybe using those edge-of-page marks so you can more easily flip
    quickly to the chapter you’re looking for,

  • easily human-scannable table of contents (and maybe even adding a
    “contents at a glance” along with a more detailed TOC)).

The nutshell books seem to have more features like this. As for the
other big benefit – portability – I guess we’re stuck there. I drag
a number of books to and fro work most days.

BTW, one of the things I like most about my books is that I can mark
them up with highlighter or pencil.

—John

On 04/08/06, John G. [email protected] wrote:

Besides, I prefer the quality typesetting of a real book to reading on
my flat panel.

I, too, am someone who far prefers a nicely typeset[1], printed book
over a PDF on the monitor - even with a nice Apple Studio Display. The
internet has led me to appreciate books as something quite distinct -
I don’t expect instant access; instead, I want good editing and
coherent structure and the ability to flick through and dip in and
out. I want to open the book serendipitously to a page that teaches me
something new.

I’d be more likely to buy an (X)HTML version than a PDF, actually.
There’s something really daft about reading portrait-formatted,
paginated content on a computer screen.

Paul.

  1. I really don’t like the typeface used in Agile Web D. With
    Rails. Is it just me?

On 8/4/06, John G. [email protected] wrote:

Although a pdf might be nice for searching, since the cookbook is
my flat panel.

The only (literal) pain in the neck is lugging that thing around with
all my other “essential” books. :
—John

I also prefer the “look and feel” of a real book over a pdf. However,
the amount of great references for ruby keeps growing, and I’m finding
the pragmatic’s pdfs essential for quick searches when I don’t want to
take the time to page thru a book or google it. Not to mention when
I’m out with the laptop and don’t have the hard copies available.

I don’t know if any O’Reilly authors read this list, but maybe this
thread should be sent on to the authors of the Cookbook or someone
else at O’Reilly. Seems they are missing what the market wants.

  • Rob

On 8/4/06, Paul B. [email protected] wrote:

[snip]

  1. I really don’t like the typeface used in Agile Web D. With
    Rails. Is it just me?

No, it’s not just you. The font is too wide. Your eyes have to zoom
uncomfortably fast back and forth across the page to read sentences at
your normal speed (i.e. not enough words per line). Maybe it’s done to
make the book have more pages, dunno.

The current crop of O’reilly books seem to have the main text font
about right. Older O’reilly books had the same problem described above
though.

Now, of course, I haven’t yet seen any text more beautiful than
TeX-rendered Computer Modern. Very low badness values there – your
eyes just glide over it like a toy hovercraft on a gymnasium floor. :slight_smile:

—John

Ok that goes partway to solving my preference for PDF, (ie copy and
paste code fragments to what I’m
working on).

But I would still prefer a PDF, I don’t mind buying the paper book, but
if I could get a PDF with
it, I’d use the PDF 99% of the time.

Thanks

On Aug 4, 2006, at 3:56 PM, John G. wrote:

No, it’s not just you. The font is too wide. Your eyes have to zoom
uncomfortably fast back and forth across the page to read sentences at
your normal speed (i.e. not enough words per line). Maybe it’s done to
make the book have more pages, dunno.

Actually, we’d love the books to be fewer pages. However, we did a
fair amount of research on fonts, and we worked with readers early on
to see what fonts worked for them. The Bookman we use turned out to
give people the sense of being approachable while still being
readable. Everyone is different of course, and I understand what
you’re saying about the width. At the same time, I get a fair number
of e-mails from folks saying they love the layouts.

Every now and then I experiment with changing the fonts around (we
recently changed the code font in all our books to make it narrower)
and I’m still open to suggestions. But approachability is still
important to me, and I wouldn’t want to go with anything harsh.

Regards

Dave

On 8/4/06, John G. [email protected] wrote:

prospective buyers of the book) will just copy and freely distribute
the pdf if one were made available. It’s probably just a business
decision for them: do they make more sales by offering the
complimentary pdf, or do they lose more because people will share it
online.

But do you know how many PAPER-ONLY books are already shared online?
They just get OCR’d. And for each one of these that is not available
in PDF, that someone illegally downloads and uses - do you think that
person will then buy the paper book?

What I mean is, convenience is king. If someone wants an electronic
copy and only paper is (legally) available, they will get the
electronic copy anyway and then NO money will go to the publisher.
Whereas if the publisher offered the electronic book in the first
place, the person wanting that might buy it.

You have to remember that in many parts of the world, paper books
incur large shipping costs, and take weeks to come. If I’m about to
start a Rails project, am I going to wait three weeks for the book?

Since a pdf is more of a convenience rather than a necessity for (I’m
guessing) the majority of folks interested in their books, they
probably try to stick to paper books.

Maybe in America, where you can get any book in just about any nearby
bookstore. I have yet to see a SINGLE book about Ruby in a South
African bookstore. All my Ruby books have been bought online, and I
buy many more e-books than paper books because they come instantly and
they cost less (no shipping) and they are searchable.

“contents at a glance” along with a more detailed TOC)).

The nutshell books seem to have more features like this. As for the
other big benefit – portability – I guess we’re stuck there. I drag
a number of books to and fro work most days.

If I need something to read on the bus where I can’t take out my
laptop, I print a chapter of one of my e-books. This is where the
importance of ‘printability’ comes in.

BTW, one of the things I like most about my books is that I can mark
them up with highlighter or pencil.

You can annotate some PDF's too. Although PDF DRM drives me mad. Lately I buy the encumbered version (so the author and publisher get their money) and then just find a bootleg copy without all the restrictions. Otherwise I spend literally hours registering and reregistering and activating and being told I can't print this or copy that to the clipboard.

Penalising people for paying you money is the height of madness - you
see it in DVD’s which force you to watch all their FBI warnings and
Ad’s every time you put in the disk, you see it in the 1-hour phone
calls to Microsoft every time I reinstall Windows XP. The illegal
versions are not only easier to obtain, and free, they are more
convenient to use!

If you want to see what I am complaining about, look in my journal:
http://lesliev.livejournal.com/28216.html

Les

Steven R. wrote:

Actually, we’d love the books to be fewer pages. However, we did a
important to me, and I wouldn’t want to go with anything harsh.

Regards

Dave
I started out with Pragmatic buying the combo packs, but I’ve migrated
to PDF only. First of all, it’s a lot less expensive that way. Second,
they’re searchable. But the real reason is that I have close to a
gigabyte of PDFs (not just Pragmatic) and I can’t even begin to think
how much space all of those would take up on paper.

There are a few times when I need paper – it’s really tough to read a
PDF on anything smaller than a notebook, and I ride the light rail in to
and home from work. But for the most part, I only buy paper books now
when they’re only available in that format or they’re “collectors items”
like my Richard B.man collection.

Another real advantage to the PDF is that they can be easily updated.
The Pragmatic folks have this down to an art.

Dave T. wrote:

amount of research on fonts, and we worked with readers early on to see

Regards

Dave

37signals produce a book called “Getting Real” for download, watermarked
per purchaser. They have made better margins on the book than they would
have through a ‘normal’ publisher.

CSS can be used to format pretty much anything (within reason) in a
‘custom’ manner.

What would stop an author from writing a book, publishing it online with
watermarks and a EULA (or equivalent) holding purchasers responsible for
the watermarked editions of the book, and then selecting a format for
the book (font size, style, etc.) that could be used to generate a CSS
file through which the book would be printed to .pdf (for example) and
downloaded by the purchaser?

Is there a reason an author would not use such a system, were it
available? Is the retail channel so powerful, it makes such a scheme
unworkable to content creators?

There are ‘civilian’ versions of such, but I was thinking of ‘real’
books designed for a mass audience.

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