Monday, December 17, 2007

Book Content Complete

I'm excited to say that last night I checked in the last chapter that needed to be completed for the Ruport book. We've got a reasonably large amount of revising and reorganizing in the next week or two, but the code and commentary are now pretty much where we want them to be.

This means if you've been holding off on buying a pre-order, now might be a good chance to pick one up. We're really relying on the community to help us spot problems and clear up any confusing parts of the book before we make it available for print.

Here's more good news. It looks like we'll be on schedule for an end-of-year release of the book, with our first order of a proof print happening late next week. Hooray!

We promise we'll get the HTML formatted version of the book up ASAP after that, probably by early January at the latest.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pre-orders now open for Ruport Book

Though we've not quite hit the finish line yet, we're far enough along now to open up pre-orders for the Ruport Book. This will give us a chance to see how many folks are actively following the development of the book, and also allow them to help us polish things up before we do a release of the printed work to the general public.

Here's what you can expect if you pre-order now:

  • Starting within the next few days, regular preview releases of the typeset PDF, which contains chapters not yet formatted for the web.
  • You will receive your printed book before general sales even open up.
  • We are selling the pre-order at a slightly cheaper price for the printed work ($25 vs. $30)
  • If we don't get to print by January 1st, 2008, we will honor all refund requests from pre-order participants.
  • A non-automated process. Once we receive payment, I'll email you with some more details as soon as I notice you've paid, and send you a PDF as soon as it's ready.
  • If you wish, we will hand draw a Pacman ghost inside the front cover for you, which is clearly valuable.
This process will be somewhat similar to beta books from the established publishers. We'll make revisions based on your feedback, and ultimately the book will be better because of it.

If you're not sure whether or not Ruport is for you, you may wish to wait until the book is finished and the HTML sources are fully available to look over. However, if you already know our project and want to support us, participating in the pre-order program is the best way to do so.

To pick up the PDF or Printed+PDF Combo, head over to the purchase page.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting Closer

It's been a while since we've made announcements about the book, so this post will hopefully summarize where we're at and what you can expect in the coming months.

First of all, content updates:

The website has fallen behind our actual amount of work completed, because we're trying to write and get things typeset for print at the same time, and are actively revising things and rethinking things. We have several chapters based on PayR floating around in private emails which we'll soon be checking in and finalizing.

We decided along the way that PayR was starting to get too big for its britches on camping, so though the reports will essentially be the same either way, the core example for the Ruport Book is now a Rails 2.0 application. Hopefully this is something folks will enjoy, sorry if I've disappointed a few fellow campers with this announcement. :-/

Schedule updates:

We originally hoped to hit RubyConf as our print date, but that fell through. We announced December 15th at RubyEast, though we're not 100% sure we'll make that date. However, we are really hoping to see the Ruport Book available for print before 2008, and still have a good shot at making that happen.

We plan on opening up pre-orders on December 1st, but will delay them if we think the book will not be out before January. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Pricing and Where Your Money Goes:

If you buy the books during the limited (US-only) preorder, you can buy the printed book for $25(+ S/H) and get the PDF copy for free. If you wait until after the pre-order, the book will cost you $30. The key difference between the two is that the pre-order will be mailed directly from us, which will give us a chance to scribble a Pacman ghost inside the front cover for you. It will also help us start off with a little money in the bank, which would be great.

If you want just the PDF copy of the book, it's $8.50, either before or after the pre-order. Of course, free-loaders will get the HTML and raw sources for well... free.

Because we're self publishing, we have the opportunity to do things a little differently. This is why we've chosen to donate 25% of our revenue after any Lulu fees to Engineers Without Borders. So if you buy the book, you're supporting us a little, supporting BTree a little (who helped pay our expenses), and even helping out a charity. Seems like a good deal all around to me.

More than one way to support us:

If you don't feel like buying the book but still want to show your support, there are a few things you can do:

  • Help spot bugs and mistakes in the book. We'll announce a Trac URL for bug tracking some time soon. These bug fixes will be rolled out to the print copies of the books, as we're doing print on demand.
  • Write up a review (once the book is published) somewhere that gets traffic, and help folks find the book and hopefully buy it.
  • Consider a direct donation to the authors. Though we were able to find funding for core expenses, we weren't paid for our time, and are on our own for future expenses. On the bright side, if the book does especially well, a donation here might buy us a beer or two. :)
That about brings us up to present. Right now, we're sort of keeping a low profile, but if you want to get involved, just email us. We've been sending off documents to review to all those who ask for them.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Content Synced with Ruport 1.2

We updated the book site today with versions of all of the cheatsheets to bring them in line with Ruport 1.2. All of the existing content has been revised as necessary to make sure that it's current.

In addition, the new features introduced in Ruport 1.2 have been added to the relevant cheatsheets. In some cases there were placeholders for them in the previous versions, and these have all been replaced with the real content.

This brings us fully up to date with the current version of the progress matrix. We'll be working on the main section shortly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Book Coverage Matrix Now Available

Mike and I have talked for a while about putting together a matrix which lets people see at a glance what features we plan to cover in the Ruport book, along with their current status. Tonight, we've finally gotten around to putting one together.

This coverage matrix will serve as an important part of the project, because it lets users know what we're trying to accomplish with the Ruport Book and gives them a chance to challenge our sense of 'finished' when it comes to covering various features.

We invite folks to keep an eye on this matrix, make suggestions for new features to be covered, complain when you think we're covering something that's not important, complain when the documentation is marked complete when it's not, give us the heads up when things are out of date, etc...

Basically, when all the rows in all the tables are green, the book will be ready to enter the typesetting / general editing phase and be complete content wise. So in addition to using this as a road map, you can look at it as a progress bar, and harangue us when things seem to be moving too slowly :)

In other news, we also got all of the cheatsheets up to date with Ruport 1.2 tonight, we'll have them up on the web within a couple days.

Monday, September 3, 2007

PayR 0.0.1 released : Developer Preview

We've been talking about how the Ruport Book is going to be based on a real world application, but until today, that's largely been vaporware aside from a screenshot or two from me.

PayR 0.0.1 has been released, officially dispelling the myth that we're over here coding up Duke Nukem Forever. However, there is still a ton to be done. This initial snapshot, available on RubyForge, is really just to get the code out there and let interested developers and potential Ruport Book readers take a look at it.

The code is a straight yank from the application that's currently in a late prototype stage at my work, and will likely undergo major cleanup and changes within the next couple weeks. We also need to add a bunch of reports to it, some of which I've started but aren't included in the package.

I do have some tests, but since they're currently broken, I've not included them. My hope is that getting the code out into a public place will shame me into cleaning it up, and also let us drive the book forward and get back on track with producing new content. Keep in mind, we won't be doing weekly releases of the main discussion, but that you can always keep an eye on the book's subversion repository for our latest source documents.

We are currently about 3-4 weeks behind schedule, which means that we'll need to make up some time if we want to get the book in print before November. Mike and I have both freed up our schedules a little more, but we can use your help editing, reviewing, and testing the code examples, so if you're interested, be sure to let us know.

Back with more news soon, until then, enjoy the sneak peek at PayR, which will hopefully quickly get the polish it deserves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ruport 1.2 released, now to get things up to date

We've been working off of trunk as we write the Ruport book, so it means that some of the features from the new 1.2 release have already been covered.

However, there are at least a few places where things are out of date, and probably broken now. If you'd like to help out, have a look at the Ruport 1.2 release notes, download the gem, and start playing with the book content. When you run into problems, let us know.

We'll be working to get everything back up to speed in the next few days, but we appreciate any problem reports between now and then. For now, enjoy 1.2!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Book Content: Using Ruport::Query

There's a new chapter of the Ruport book available on the web site. This update adds a chapter on the use of Ruport::Query. Using the cheatsheet format, it explains the configuration and use of Ruport::Query to interface with Ruby DBI for data collection (or to process any SQL queries).

This is the last of the planned cheatsheets, so you might not see much new content on the book site for a while, as we'll be taking the time to write the central narrative.

The new chapter is available at

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Come Get Up In Our Grill

Though we've been calling this effort "The Most Open Publishing Project Ever", we've clearly been missing a key part of that, a blog. Now we've decided to change that and join the mass of mixed signals and noise that is the blogosphere.

We'll be using this blog to announce new content whenever it is available, as well as give people progress reports on the administrative side of things, such as starting up the company that we'll be printing the book through Lulu with.

We hope this serves a few purposes, the first of which is of course giving the book more exposure and inviting our users to participate or at least stay in the loop. The other thing we hope to do, which is perhaps more generally useful, is document our experience of writing and producing a work basically on our own, without a publisher to handle all the details for us. With any luck, we'll be able to do this successfully and share our experiences for the benefit of other folks who want to write free documentation.

For now, here's an update on where we stand, on various fronts:

  • We're in talks with BTree to get some initial funding to start up an LLC or other kind of company with. This company will likely consist of only two partners, Michael and myself, with a very reasonable profit sharing model worked out with BTree.

  • We're looking for some incentives for folks to buy the printed book or typeset PDF when it becomes available. Because we intend to make the HTML version of the book available free of charge forever, we won't be using traditional product-centric profit models. Instead, we plan to donate a sizeable amount of our proceeds to charity. We have a couple of organizations in mind, and will announce our final selection and the amount of profits we plan to share with them soon.

  • We are also considering doing pre-orders of the printed book at a much lower cost than the final retail price. Please let us know if you're interested in this, as a decent amount of interest will help make sure we do this. We'd likely begin taking pre-orders in mid-September for an early November release date.

  • We are about two weeks *behind* on writing, but have worked enough wiggle room into the schedule where this should not effect our goal of having the book in print before RubyConf. We'll let you know if things change.

  • An alpha release of PayR, the application which the Ruport Book will be based on will be out soon, within the next couple weeks.

  • The editorial support, review commentary, and feedback for the book have been less than what we hoped for. We notice that our users are learning a lot from the materials based on the kinds of questions that are being asked on the mailing list, but we are really counting on honest opinions from our users on whether or not the work we've done so far is helpful to them. Feel free to chime in any time. :)

  • What has been lacking in discussion has not been lacking in financial support. Donations have covered our hosting costs for 1 year for the various project resources. All further donations will be used to help offset business costs, allow us to borrow less money, and generally make things go more smoothly. To those who have contributed so far, thank you!
That wraps up where we are for now, expect to see new updates soon. Please feel free to actively comment on any content you see here, we can use your advice!