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How Long did it take?

 
Amit Batra
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How long did it take to write this book? and whats your favourite chapter and the hardest chapter to write? and what other books had you consulted/referred while you were writing this?
 
Charles Lyons
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In terms of hours, it probably took 10 hours per chapter to get everything correct; some chapters took longer simply because they were longer or required more research on the finer details. Mainly my resources were just the specs., my Web container and asking myself a lot of "why" and "how" questions. Something I've always tried to do is to add extra detail on top of that found elsewhere - so many of the things in the book are questions I've asked myself and then gone to experiment with before I comment on how they work on paper.

After that the proof reading took about an hour per chapter - which I ended up doing three times to make sure it was all good and proper! Plus an independent review took another a few weeks to complete.

The questions took about two weeks of continual creativity to invent (that was not the most pleasant of weeks!) and another week of formatting into the correct style.

The most difficult thing to juggle was writing the book with a full-time occupation, which meant the whole thing took well over a year (probably closer to two years) to get finished. It would have been much shorter if I could have just sat down and written it all at once.

I don't really have a favourite chapter: for reference material, I like Chapter 9 (Deployment) because of its diagrams showing the structure of the web.xml file (I use this on a daily basis), Chapter 17 showing the structure of the TLD and perhaps Chapter 15 on custom tags because I've read some terrible accounts of custom tags before... I used a set of flow charts in Chapter 15 to emphasise how the execution of tags occurs, and to me that's the best thing I've seen yet to explain how Tag and IterationTag differ, for example.
 
Amit Batra
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whoa you mustve had this thing memorized down cold if youve read it that many times and taken half a day per chapter. Which opens up another question, in the event that we need to clarify doubts etc. would you be maintaining a periodic presence here at the ranch? or might there be another way to address questions to the authors? Ofcourse ranch members here are always a great source of info but sometimes still...
 
Charles Lyons
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The point of course wasn't to memorise, just to make sure there weren't any major errors or omissions - you'd be surprised how many mistakes (admittedly, mostly minor typographical errors) you find on a re-read.

To answer your second point, I don't see myself going away from the Ranch at any time in the near future, although work dictates how much time I can spend here per week!
 
Marc Peabody
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Originally posted by Charles Lyons:
To answer your second point, I don't see myself going away from the Ranch at any time in the near future, although work dictates how much time I can spend here per week!



I believe Charles mentioned to me by email that he plans on maintaining an errata page for the book as well.
 
Charles Lyons
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I believe Charles mentioned to me by email that he plans on maintaining an errata page for the book as well.
Yes, but that would be for typographical errors etc., not for clarifying the doubts of individual readers (unless of course it's the text which is causing the confusion)! The Ranch is far better for clearing up problems. However, the errata would be open for all to add submissions to, so if you find an error while reading, please let us know (instructions are on the inside cover along with the legal stuff). So far there are only a few entries on the errata, with most of them being along the lines of "that word should have been in bold" - pretty minor stuff so far!
 
Christophe Verré
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How irritating it is to find that a book aimed at an exam is full of typos, and most of all contains erroneous information (for example important XML attributes missing...). Do you have a team of reviewers ? (You said you've used an independant review.)
 
Anthony Karta
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Originally posted by Satou kurinosuke:
How irritating it is to find that a book aimed at an exam is full of typos, and most of all contains erroneous information (for example important XML attributes missing...). Do you have a team of reviewers ? (You said you've used an independant review.)


I think typo is acceptable, as long as the writer can explain a concept clearly, and
at least one book is one author, not like previous *rox (red) books.
 
Christophe Verré
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Of course, a few typos here and there, nobody is perfect.

In fact, I'm not particularly concerned about English typos, more about inconsistent source code, or wrong information. I was particularly thinking of Manning's Study Kit, where the DTDs used in the book are for the older exam.
 
Amit Batra
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I think erratas and stuff are part and parcel of any book that comes out, but being that the author himself has said that he tried and tested every example himself and reviewed it, in addition to getting an independant review done. I dont think there should be much to worry about. I belive more than that what usually irks me about a book is the organization, I hate it when terms and concepts are introduced and then an explanation for them starts at some different page, makes the text really disjointed.
 
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