Scott Davis has produced a wonderful (and concise) guide to all aspects of the API, showing how to add mapping and geocoded data to your web site. Check out our latest Pragmatic Friday, Google Maps API, and whip up the next killer web app between the turkey and the game.
Maik Schmidt's writing a wonderful book on using Ruby to knit together real-world enterprise applications. He's making a really good case for using Ruby to speed the creation of new enterprise functionality by gluing together all the existing enterprise applications and data using Ruby's power with XML, databases, directory services, and web services. I certainly learned a bunch while reading it. And yesterday, it launched as a beta book.
Beta books work well when the content is new, and the readers and authors have a lot to say to each other. And when it comes to things causing a buzz, there's not much to beat Ajax. So it seemed natural to release our new Ajax book in Beta. And it's quite a beta. Right now, it's about 2/3rds complete, with really solid chapters on the basics, frameworks, UI design, and UI anti-patterns. And, to top it all off, there's a killer chapter on implementing your own version of Google maps (yup, all the code's included, and it's less than you probably think).
As with all beta books, you can buy either the PDF only or the PDF/book combo pack now. You get unlimited updates to the PDF (both during the beta process and for the lifetime of this edition of the book), and if you ordered the paper book you'll get it when it ships.
A while back we released Agile Web Development with Rails as a Beta Book. You bought the book before it was ready, and got to download the PDF as it evolved. Then, when it was finished, you got the final PDF (and lifetime upgrades of that edition of the book). You'd also get the paper book if you ordered the combo pack. It turned out to be a big win-win: folks got early access to the material, and we got great feedback (and used it to deliver a better final book).
I was blown away with the reception the program received, so now we're planning to do it again. Over the next two weeks, we'll be announcing two new beta books:
Pragmatic Ajax by Justin Gehtland, Ben Galbraith, and Dion Almaer, is a short but deep book on Ajax, covering both the theory and the real-world practice of Ajaxifying your web applications. It isn't Rails specific: it'll cover Java and .NET architectures too.
I'm excited to see these things coming together. The Beta Books and the Fridays are interesting experiments in getting material out there quicker and with more community involvement. Give us feedback on how we could do it better.
Today we launched a new Pragmatic Bookshelf line, the Fridays. A Friday is a small, focused, PDF-only book. We've tried to make them easy to read on screen, and they have lots of hyperlinks, both internal and external.
They address a very specific need: getting targeted and timely information out in a professional, edited format but without the overhead and ceremony of a full-blown paper book. They're easier to write (because they're shorter, and they have a single topic), and they're easier to publish (because they're just a single format). As a result, they're a lot less expensive than the full books (typically they'll be in the $7.50 to $10 range).
We've just announced our first Friday: Rapid GUI Development with QtRuby by Caleb Tennis. We've got more in development (including an interesting book on the Google Maps API, a book on Ruby Best Practices, and one on preparing Rails Applications for Deployment). If you feel you have a Friday in you, drop us a line.
The New York Times has a Steve Lohr article about the changing face of careers with computers. It describes how being able to code no longer cuts it.
For students..., expanding their expertise beyond computer programming is crucial to future job security as advances in the Internet and low-cost computers make it easier to shift some technology jobs to nations with well-educated engineers and lower wages, like India and China.
Well, we've been saying that for a while now. Chad Fowler's upcoming book has a whole section titled Coding Don't Cut it Anymore. As he says:
You're not going to be able to sit back and simply master a programming language or an operating system, letting the businesspeople take care of the business stuff. If all they needed was a code robot, it would be easy to hire someone in another country to do that kind of work. If you want to stay relevant, you're going to have to dive into the domain of the business you're in.
This sounds similar to an observation in the NYT article:
"If you have only technical knowledge, you are vulnerable," said Thomas W. Malone, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of The Future of Work (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). "But if you can combine business or scientific knowledge with technical savvy, there are a lot of opportunities. And it's a lot harder to move that kind of work offshore."
All very well, you say, but what can developers do to expand their skills beyond IDE-jockeying? Well, it really isn't rocket science. You just have to ask people---non-technical people---in your industry "what's up?". Chad has a call to action at the end of this section in the book:
Schedule lunch with a businessperson. Talk to them about how they do their job. As you talk to them, ask yourself what you would have to change or learn if you aspired to have their job. Ask about the specifics of their daily work. Talk to them about how technology helps them (or slows them down) on the job. Think about your work from their perspective.
Do this regularly.
Pick up a trade magazine for your company's industry. You probably don't even have to buy one. Most companies have back issues of trade rags lying around somewhere. Start trying to work your way through a magazine. You may not understand everything you read, but be persistent. Make lists of questions you can ask your management or business clients. Even if your questions seem stupid to you, your business clients will appreciate that you are trying to learn.
Look for industry websites that you can monitor on a regular basis. In both the websites and the magazines, pay special attention to what the big news items and the feature articles are about. What is your industry struggling with? What's the hot new issue right now? Whatever it is, bring it up with your business clients. Ask them to explain it and to give you their opinions. Think about how these current trends affect your company, your division, your team, and eventually your work.
Well, it's been quite a day. We shipped all the Rails preorders out in one (long) day. We've had boxes of supplies rolling in, and trucks laden with books rolling out. In the end, we shipped over 2 tons of books to patiently waiting Rails developers: those who ordered using priority shipping should see the books start to arrive at the end of the week.
We still have some books in stock, and the good news is that through some creative juggling it looks as if we'll be able to jump the line and get a second printing started this month. Last week I was worried that we'd run out of books, but I don't think we'll go into backorder on direct sales (if we do, I'll make sure folks know). You might find a small delay with other channels over the coming weeks. If you want to buy from a bookstore, I'd recommend heading in fairly soon.
We've never had a title go into a second printing on the day we shipped the first, so it looks as if the OSCON buzz is true: Ruby and Rails are hot!
So hot, in fact, that I've got blisters on my fingers.
(Or maybe that's from the shipping....)
Thank you again to everyone who trusted the process and participated in the Beta program. You can update to the final version of the PDF at the regular URL (I’ll be sending an e-mail around to you all sometime today with the link).
And for everyone else—the folks waiting for the dust to settle before exploring the book—now’s a great time to come on board. Welcome!
One of the things I really like about the new PDF is the code hyperlinks. The little [File nn] lozenges in the margins next to code extracts are now live hyperlinks to the corresponding source file up on our media server. If you want to see the full code corresponding to an example, click, and it appears in your browser. (And, of course, all the code is available as a tarball or zip file.)
As a result, I’m really pleased to announce the release of the second beta version of the book. If you bought the book as of sometime this afternoon, you’ll receive the latest version automatically. And if you already have a beta book, you can upgrade (for free, of course). Please be patient while waiting for your book to cook—our poor little servers are likely to be running warm for a while.
For folks who do upgrade, there’s a little "thank-you" surprise at the end of the process.
Friends, they may think it’s a movement. And that’s what it is.
Thank you all.
And then someone pointed out that we’d forgotten to put up the sample chapters. Oops.
They’re up now. Sorry about that.
You can now buy the book as either a PDF or as a PDF/Paper book combo. We’ll ship your PDF (in beta form) when we get your order. When the final book is available (currently aiming for the first week in August) we’ll automatically ship you the final copy of the PDF. If you ordered the Book+PDF combo pack, we’ll also ship you the paper book at that time. The price you pay now is the same as the price will be when the book is available, so by buying now you basically get early access to the book and then get the final version, all for the same price as you’d otherwise pay for just the final version.
The book is currently pretty much complete. It’s missing an index, and a couple of small sections on things that are still pending in Rails. Visually, it’s a mess. There are bad page breaks, over-long lines, and all sorts of other ugly things. We’ll get all that sorted out over the coming weeks.
Here are the links:
But folks are saying they want it now. And David HH is doing a good job of convincing me that perhaps the old ways are not always the best. So, once I’ve worked through a couple of legal things, perhaps we’ll find a way to get some form of the book out there. Maybe as early as next week. It’ll be different, and it’ll be interesting.
Watch this space.
How we put code samples in our books.