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Discussion about Wrox

Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Hi all,
Over the past few weeks, several discussions have taken place regarding Wrox: covers, multiauthor, etc...
If you have any questions about these, I will be more than happy to answer them.
So shoot ;-) (not me though, ... please)
Jan
Damian White
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2001
Posts: 13
For those who don't know, Jan is the Brand Manager here at Wrox.

Originally posted by Jan Kolasinski:
Hi all,
Over the past few weeks, several discussions have taken place regarding Wrox: covers, multiauthor, etc...
If you have any questions about these, I will be more than happy to answer them.
So shoot ;-) (not me though, ... please)
Jan

Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
OK, I'll start.
What is the marketing thinking behind all the author photos?


"JavaRanch, where the deer and the Certified play" - David O'Meara
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Cindy Hi,
The author photos were originally meant to illustrate our Programmer to Programmer approach to publishing. That's always been our motto and it has conditioned a lot of what we do over here.
It's about putting programmers in touch with each other as opposed to trying to have someone dictate to someone else. Books are ultimately about learning, and there are many ways to learn: you could attend a classroom where a guy who is a professional trainer will tell you about this or that technique or technology. We don't believe in the classroom, we believe in peers helping each other. We feel that the best person to tell you about something is someone who has been there, has done it (and all that stuff about the T-shirt).
I think there are other ways to look at the pictures thing.
- I have been following with interest (and quite a few laughs) the debate on our cover in another thread. Some of you have picked up on the issue of correlating book covers with content. That's a real challenge (mind you one we still have when designing chapter deviders ;-)). We went through pictures of buildings, stairs (step by step), and settled once on marzipan sweets (Stylesheets book - and today I think the connection was so obscure that nobody here even remembers what it was). But they were all falling short of the mark. Author photos provided an answer to this.
- In my mind, but tell me if I am wrong, it also creates a feeling of trust. If I had to put my picture on a book, I would definitely make sure that what I wrote about was correct.
Jan
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Well, I might be able to understand that logic about one or two authors, but 15?
That sort of gives you the impression that there is no one steering the ship.
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Point taken,
this brings along the issue of multiauthors.
There are 2 issues here: breadth and speed.
Breadth, because our books try to be comprehensive in their coverage of a technology, it is often difficult to find any one person who is knowledgeable enough about everything. Again, this maps to the fact that these are real programmers and therefore can only talk about things they have had experience in.
Speed to market when tracking versions of sofware is important. We feel that this is part of our promise to the readers, they want the information and they want it now.
But you bring up an interesting point as far as "steering the boat" is concerned. This is indeed the role of our editors. They steer, make the decisions, etc...
Jan
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
OK, what is your thinking about the size of a book. I have heard comments that Wrox books are the best for door stops, cuz they are SO big.
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Originally posted by Damian White:
For those who don't know, Jan is the Brand Manager here at Wrox.

Ok, then who is Damian White?


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Another question: you put authors on the cover but there is no way to figure out who is who. Worse, that there is often no way to figure out who wrote which chapter. I have "Prefessional XML Schemas" and this only some previously found information on the Internet that gives clue.
Damian White
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2001
Posts: 13
Hi Map,
I am the Media Relations Coordinator for the Java Team here at Wrox. Amongst other things, I round up Wrox Authors for the promotions in the Saloon
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Ok, then who is Damian White?

Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
I apologise for thetime it takes me to answer back. I have just been into a meeting for the past hour and a half.
OK Cindy, size of the books. They are big, big, too big. Again that comes from our wanting to be comprehensive. Maybe we have to be less comprehensive, focus the books more, do more titles on more topics ? What do you think ?
I do realize that large books are very unwieldy. How can we replace comprehensiveness ?
Map, Hi. Who's who is a great issue, who wrote which chapter is another. We are currently working on a new design for our books. Depending on when my designer gets his act together, I can post them here to get some feedback (before you ask, yes the author photos are still part of the design ;-)). Would you be interested ? (this could take another week or two !).
Jan

PS. I am afraid I have to leave the office to go and pick up my daughter from nursery. We are based in the UK: it's the end of the day here. If you guys keep on posting, I will answer questions tomorrow.
nan sh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 05, 2001
Posts: 167
One sugestion is moving the picture to front of each chapter they wrote.


Have you tried this Mock Exam Testing Engine yet?<br /><a href="http://www.mycgiserver.com/~nan111/index.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.mycgiserver.com/~nan111/index.html</a>
David O'Meara
Rancher

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

You do have to accept that the 'big red books with all the geeks on the front' is a good marketing exersize, very noticable branding as far as I'm concerned.
On the Chapter author issue, I'd like to know who wrote a chapter so I can be aware which chapters were written by the same author. If I come across a concept I disagree with it would be handy to know other chapters by the same author. (Not so I can ignore them, just makes it easier to get a head start by knowing the way that author does things.)
One comment I'd make that hasn't been made yet is on coding standards. I'm currently reading 'Professional JSP' (won at the ranch ) and some of the examples use coding conventions that reduce the readability of the code.
I'd have to go home to get the exact example for this, but it's similar to String concatenation versus StringBuffers. String concatenation is inefficient but easy to read. StringBuffers are harder but more efficient. If you aren't learning about code performance, coding styles shouldn't use any fancy performance tricks.
(the use of Strings is just an example of the problem, personally I think you should always do it this way but I think you know what I mean)
Dave.
ps I just remembered, they were using <pre>if(string1.compareTo(string2) == 0)</pre> rather than <pre>if(string1.equals(string2))</pre>
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Damian, sooooorry... I am not a member of our giveaway team (like if it were an excuse ) I suspected you are a Wrox person and decided to ask, so everybody would know you. Ok. Everybody! It is Damian White thanks to whom we can win big red books!
Gee, it took Damian only 8 and Jan 35 minutes to answer my question! That's how they make you work at Wrox... Now I understand what exploitation is about...
Originally posted by Jan Kolasinski:
OK Cindy, size of the books. They are big, big, too big.

I suppose the size already became a part of "Wrox book" image. I also noticed that Wrox books are affectionately referred to as "red fat books" If to speak seriously, that's what I like in your books - that they are so fundamental. When I have to learn a new technology, I always inclined to start from a Wrox book - because I am guaranteed to have both 1) broad 2) deep coverage. After I may buy another book 1) if I need to learn some narrow aspect in more details 2) if it is exceptionally good (like Effective Java, for example) But that maybe only me, of course.
Most important, I think about myself much better when I have several really fat books around, compared to several skinny goofy-looking ones.
I would be disappointed if your books become skinny If you had another book line (perhaps with other design), in addition to existent, that's another matter. These can be skinny.
In my mind, but tell me if I am wrong, it also creates a feeling of trust. If I had to put my picture on a book, I would definitely make sure that what I wrote about was correct.
Unless there are 12 authors and nobody knows who is who and whom to blame for this particular chapter! Actually, Wrox's authors are already the bravest authors ever, so maybe full recognition would be too much to demand...
We are currently working on a new design for our books. Depending on when my designer gets his act together, I can post them here to get some feedback (before you ask, yes the author photos are still part of the design ;-)). Would you be interested ?
Sure! As a reciprocal courtesy you can expect another wave of mockeries and alternative design ideas
Damian White
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2001
Posts: 13
There's no need to apologise Map! Although I don't choose the winners of the books so I can't help you guys out there
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Damian, sooooorry... I am not a member of our giveaway team (like if it were an excuse ) I suspected you are a Wrox person and decided to ask, so everybody would know you. Ok. Everybody! It is [b]Damian White thanks to whom we can win big red books!

Also, I don't know whether you guys have seen this but Victoria Large who is the Editor of Wrox.com has put up a pretty cool article on the Wrox Cover designs - Here!
Angela Poynton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 02, 2000
Posts: 3143
Well as the Bunkhouse Manager, I should welcome you guys from Wrox to Javaranch!! Also to Meaningless Drivel :-D
It's great that you guys have come to us to get some feedback on your books.
I for one love professional JSP (as you can see from my review) and intend on getting some more of your books.
Yes they are Big, fat and the photos can be a little scarey but if Profession JSP is anything to go by the Bulk is necessary to cover the broad range of concepts covered and I can't imagine a single bit being taken out. The editors do a really good job of ensuring the content is relevent, and nothing is repeated too much!
Plus you guys are so nice to us here at Javaranch, with the givaways and to the Bunkhouse team, how could we not love you!!


Pounding at a thick stone wall won't move it, sometimes, you need to step back to see the way around.
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Good Morning all,
Originally posted by Sridevi Kovvali:
I just opened my Professional XML from you guys and i felt so uncomfortable. Too many guys staring at me and i get the feeling that they are asking questions like So you don't know XML? or How long will you take to read this book?. or Are you still in chapter 4 etc...

You bring up a very important point: readers develop a very personal relationship with a book.
Before I joined Wrox (so I was not biased at the time ) , I found myself in a bookshop looking for a book on C++. I had a choice between Ivor Horton's Beginning C++ and another title. Prices were the same, but the other title had a CD in there. I went for the Wrox book. Why ? the picture of Ivor. I felt he was saying to me "you are in safe hands, with me you are going to learn, I am going to tell you all the secrets.
I feel that the pictures convey the more humane aspect of programming. On another post I mentioned trust: trust that this guy or guys are going to give me what I want.
I think it's a very personal thing: whatever book I read, I quite like to see the face of the person who wrote it, this goes from a Tom Clancy novel to a management book. In my mind this creates a bond between the writer and myself.
I am looking at the cover you mention. I agree that maybe some of them have a bit of a scary look. Maybe we should get them to smile as some of them look like they are taking themselves too seriously .
Jan
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Sridevi Kovvali:
[B]
After reading this i felt that you guys don't want to take up the real challenge of designing the cover to convey something meaningful with the content and felt that authors photos is an answer to this because you don't need to think anything but just put their photos. If u guys don't want to be innovative/creative
or don't want to take up the challenge of designing a cover then
Why don't you leave it to authors of the book to design
something meaningful to convey for whathever they have written.
B]


Believe me us sticking with author photos has nothing to do with lack of creativity or imagination but more (as David mentions) about branding.
We have just launched a new series called Early Adopter (I think Damian organised a book giveaway in the XML, XSL, DOM and SAX forum) where we have changed the style of the cover. There are 5 authors on the book but we have decided that the new cover style would only feature one picture. Sopme of the other authors were very disappointed about that.
It might be that we are the victims of our own design. If we asked the authors to design the covers, they would probably make sure that their pictures are on it.
Jan
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
I always love discussions about photos on the cover. Even within Wrox there are people who do not like them, while others love them.
Aside from all the branding arguments I can put forward, it all boils down to personal taste, and as they say "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" (although I would not categorise our covers as beautiful ).
Different covers speak differently to different people (and that's a different sentence !). And each reacts to them in a very personnal manner, reading into them different messages. I think that our choice of cover style is more prone to different interpretations because we as human beings react differently when faced with different people.
Without falling too much into the psychology of faces, reactions to a given face can be different from one person to the next. Has it happened that you do not like one of our cover but like another one ? Yet they are basically them same, what changes are the faces on the cover.
Jan
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by David O'Meara:
On the Chapter author issue, I'd like to know who wrote a chapter so I can be aware which chapters were written by the same author. If I come across a concept I disagree with it would be handy to know other chapters by the same author. (Not so I can ignore them, just makes it easier to get a head start by knowing the way that author does things.)

Point taken. I will try and see what we can do.
One comment I'd make that hasn't been made yet is on coding standards. I'm currently reading 'Professional JSP' (won at the ranch ) and some of the examples use coding conventions that reduce the readability of the code.


David that's a very good point. What you underline is a potential downside to multiauthor books. Each author might not only have a very different style of english (which is difficult to edit without re-wrirting the whole book) but have different coding habits or standards. There are 2 issues here. The first is making sure we adhere to universal coding standards (if they exist) or at least make sure that our books include "good code". The second is coding standardization within a book from chapter to chapter.
I have asked Chanoch Wiggers to come in to this point to explain what is done at the editorial level.
Jan
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Gee, it took Damian only 8 and Jan 35 minutes to answer my question! [b]That's how they make you work at Wrox... Now I understand what exploitation is about... [/B]

Damian ... exploited ... never
I would be disappointed if your books become skinny If you had another book line (perhaps with other design), in addition to existent, that's another matter. These can be skinny.

Well, you can check out the new Early Adopter Series. They definitely are "skinnier". The idea behind them however is not comprehensiveness but more opinion at an early stage of development of a technology.
Sure! As a reciprocal courtesy you can expect another wave of mockeries and alternative design ideas

Mockeries and alternative designs welcome
Jan
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Angela,
Thanks for your welcome. And thanks to JavaRanch for giving me the opportunity to come here and talk to you all.
Jan

chanoch wiggers
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 24, 2001
Posts: 245
One comment I'd make that hasn't been made yet is on coding standards. I'm currently reading 'Professional JSP' (won at the ranch ) and some of the examples use coding conventions that reduce the readability of the code.
I'd have to go home to get the exact example for this, but it's similar to String concatenation versus StringBuffers. String concatenation is inefficient but easy to read. StringBuffers are harder but more efficient. If you aren't learning about code performance, coding styles shouldn't use any fancy performance tricks.
(the use of Strings is just an example of the problem, personally I think you should always do it this way but I think you know what I mean)

I guess this is a matter of taste and opinion. The reason the our latest book are beginning to have these optimisations in example code is that we are finding more and more of our code showing up in production systems.
I guess you know that our code is offered completely copyright free in most chapters. We do try and put warnings that the code is not production quality but people still use it.
That led us to think. People have been reading our books for a while. They buy our books for the real life experience that is in the chapters. We should aim toward real life code. Going back to your example on StringBuffers vs Strings; if all you ever see if the use of Strings in a code, even if this is not what the text is teaching, you are going to go away and use strings instead of stringbuffers.
A typical example is writing exception handling code. Many of our new editors feel like there is nowhere that teaches good exception handling techniques because its not core to a given chapter's content.
So, we try and get a balance between good quality code and readability. One possibility ofcourse is to show the simplified code in the book and provide the full code in the code download. How do you think that would go down? would the differences in code confuse people?
chanoch

[This message has been edited by chanoch wiggers (edited September 04, 2001).]


chanoch<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1861007736/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Author of Professional Apache Tomcat</a></p>
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Hi Jan and Damian
First of all let me thank you personally for the book I won (Professional Java Mobile Programming )
And then I'd like your comments on the following pse.
I reviewed a book of yours Professional Java Data
In the review I made the following comment:
"I also wish the team that wrote this book took the time to choose one standard set of tools ie. data base servers, for their coding examples. I personally find it extremely irritating that I have to download and install something else first before I can try the code in a new chapter.
(for the full review see : Bunkhouse Misc. Java)
What are you comments on my statement above ?.
I'd also like to know why Wrox does not supply a CD-rom witgh their books. Heck with Professional Java I reckon I'd have to download 100 Meg+ if I wanted to install & try everything that is covered in the book.
Thanks for your time & this great discussion
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited September 04, 2001).]
Richard Huss
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 04, 2001
Posts: 1
Originally posted by David O'Meara:
ps I just remembered, they were using <pre>if(string1.compareTo(string2) == 0)</pre> rather than <pre>if(string1.equals(string2))</pre>

Yes, this occurs on pages 427 and 442-3. We ought to have caught this during the edit, and the code on pages 442-3 in particular is hard to follow - my apologies. I think, though, that this bit of code would be hard to fit within the width of a page, whether we used compareTo() or equals() :-(
Richard Huss
Technical Architect, "Professional JSP 2nd Edition"
chanoch wiggers
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 24, 2001
Posts: 245
"I also wish the team that wrote this book took the time to choose one standard set of tools ie. data base servers, for their coding examples. I personally find it extremely irritating that I have to download and install something else first before I can try the code in a new chapter.

We will have to keep this in mind. I guess we are spoiled with having high speed connections to the internet.
One of the reasons for multiple software in a book different products operate differently so we try to show how they all work. In recent books you will find that we often choose one and stick to it. This is particularly helped as properietary servers are being phased out.
With regards to the CD instead of code download, for me it is a matter of which chapters I want to cut out in order to pay for the CD. How many people would find CDs useful?

------------------
Chanoch Wiggers
Architect for Professional Java Mobile Programming
well done on winning the book, I hope you like it
[This message has been edited by chanoch wiggers (edited September 04, 2001).]
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Looks like I should thank chanoch wiggers & Richard Huss as well.
So to cover all my bases "Thanks to the whole Wrox team" for the bookprizes & books we are allowed to review for them
You make an interesting comment chanoch
finding more and more of our code showing up in production systems
I used code from "Professional Java Data" for a system a bunch of Cattle Drive students and myself are working on in an attempt to automate the Assignment Log.
I'm sure that I will grab the book more and more as I start working on more and more "real" systems.
ps. off course it is debatable if our "project" can be classified as a production system
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
We will have to keep this in mind. I guess we are spoiled with having high speed connections to the internet.
You sure are
One of the reasons for multiple software in a book different products operate differently so we try to show how they all work.
If it were a book about say database servers I'd agree. It "spoiled" the book for me. It cost the book 1 missing Horse shoe.
In recent books you will find that we often choose one and stick to it.
This is a recent book
With regards to the CD instead of code download, for me it is a matter of which chapters I want to cut out in order to pay for the CD.
So its all about the cost of the CD ?
How many people would find CDs useful?
I agree some CD's are an overkill. They put the biggest junk on it. The authors poem's , yes really I have one at home , his picture collection , you name it
However considering the amount of tools , servers etc. that one should download for "Proffesional Java Data" I dont think there would have been space left for the authors poems
well done on winning the book, I hope you like it
Hey winning was pure luck. I've only read the 1st two chapters and it looks like a great book. I hope to hit the book hard soon
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited September 04, 2001).]
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Johannes de Jong:
I'd also like to know why Wrox does not supply a CD-rom witgh their books. Heck with Professional Java I reckon I'd have to download 100 Meg+ if I wanted to install & try everything that is covered in the book.


Hi Johannes,
The CD issue is another one that crops up here and there. Chanoch already mentioned the issue of cost, but that's only one side of the story.
Historically CDs at the back of books have only included an electronic version of the code developped within the book. On rare occasions do they include copies of software (but admittedly some do).
WRT code, we decided that with the advent of the internet and the fact that the files are usually quite small, a code download would be a better way. The money saved is spent on editorial and incresing the content of the book.
WRT to including software this opens the issues of 1) licensing and 2) support. Licensing would mean that sometimes we would only be able to provide an inadequate time bombeb version of a product. Support means that as we include that by including sofware in our books we would be responsible for everything to do with that software (installation, maintenance, bugs, etc...), and we would end up having to solve a lot of queries that have nothing to do with the book, but have to do with the CD itself (CD whose production we would not control).
Jan
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Thanks Jan , point taken. I agree the "expected" support of software that you yourself are only a user of must be a real pain.
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited September 04, 2001).]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Hello to everyone on the Wrox team and thanks for dropping in to the ranch!
I recently reviewed the book, "Building Java Enterprise Systems with J2EE" from SAMS publishers. This book is about the size of a typical Wrox book (1500 pages). The main difference between this book and a Wrox book is that it was written by only 2 authors who worked in collaboration. And it feels that way. There is a flow to the book from chapter to chapter. There is a unity of style that makes reading it from cover to cover much less of a chore that some Wrox books. Often the feeling I get from a Wrox book is that it is a very large magazine with many articles. But that is not neccessarily a bad thing. What I find with a Wrox book is that there are always chapters that will have little interest for me and others that are of great interest. Sometimes the information in a Wrox book will be sufficient while at other times I will feel need the need to pick up another book on one or two topics covered by the Wrox book. In my review of "Oracle 8i Application programming" I said that you would have to buy a dozen books to get all the information in this one book. But if you are a developer and want to learn PL/SQL you will need to pick up a book on that topic. But the other information, especially the information about tools and admin, are enough for a developer. I'll give another example... I bought the first edition of "Java Server Programming" when it first came out. It was extremely helpful but I still needed to buy a separate book just on servlets. So to summarize, my experience with Wrox books is that they tend to be very wide but not very deep. But that isn't a bad thing!
As to editing: I think they do need to be a little more tightly edited. A book with so many authors needs to be reviewed more closely so that it doesn't feel jumpy as you go from chapter to chapter. Also the authors need to be more aware of what the other authors are writing about as I have seen some repetition in Wrox books.
As to the pictures: I love them. Whenever I go to a conference I am always looking for familiar faces. "Didn't I see you on the cover of a Wrox book?"


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
As to CD's: keep them out of the books. They are usually full of trial software that is outdated and code samples that don't work because the CD maker uses an older version of the code. I would rather have a list of links in the book telling me where to get the software and code samples. But don't make the software links to someone else's web site! Make them to a Wrox site that has the links to the other sites so that if they change, Wrox can keep them updated. And make sure the code is available in compressed format!
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Sometimes the information in a Wrox book will be sufficient while at other times I will feel need the need to pick up another book on one or two topics covered by the Wrox book. In my review of "Oracle 8i Application programming" I said that you would have to buy a dozen books to get all the information in this one book.

Hi Thomas,
Thanks for the welcome.
What you refer to is our publishing strategy. The books that you are mentioning are compendiums (although we call the Professional). By that we mean that they are a roadmap to a given technology. They should be broad but not dip too deeply in any given subject (although still provide useful information). For some that is sometimes all that is needed, sometimes, as you say you might want more. That's where we do books which are more focused on a particular technology. These are not compendiums, we call the "drill-downs" and we try and dig deeper in a given area of a technology.
As to editing: I think they do need to be a little more tightly edited.


Chanoch, Richard ? Are you listening ?
Thanks for the thumbs up on the pictures. I think you again show that the reaction to them is very personal.
Jan

Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
As to CD's: keep them out of the books. They are usually full of trial software that is outdated and code samples that don't work because the CD maker uses an older version of the code. I would rather have a list of links in the book telling me where to get the software and code samples. But don't make the software links to someone else's web site! Make them to a Wrox site that has the links to the other sites so that if they change, Wrox can keep them updated. And make sure the code is available in compressed format!


All great ideas, thanks Thomas.
Jan
Ajith Kallambella
Sheriff

Joined: Mar 17, 2000
Posts: 5782
Thank you Jan and Damien for taking time to address these issues. Firstly, I would like to complement Wrox publications for their wonderful books. No doubt they are fat, heavy and full of people staring at you on the cover , but indeed they are extremely comprehensive and upto-date. I am really amazed by the time-to-market edge you guys have over the other technical publishers.
Originally posted by Jan Kolasinski:

Speed to market when tracking versions of sofware is important. We feel that this is part of our promise to the readers, they want the information and they want it now.
Jan

I am currently reviewing the Professional EJB book and in the first chapter itself I found about four grammatical and formatting errors. I am not pointing fingers at Wrox, but I think concentrating only on speed may not be good. Accepted, there cannot be a "flawless" book, but I can't stop wondering how simple things like these slipped through so many iterations of technical and content proof-readings!

I have no objections with the pictures on the cover, I only worry about what is inside
I agree with your arguments ( in response to my concerns posted in the the XML forum ) about overlapping( and redundant? ) contents covered by books in the same series. I had raised tis issue with the three XML books you have - Professional XML, Professional Java XML and XML Databases. Eventhough I agree with you to some extent that the breadth of coverage is different in each book, I still fail to understand why should you be spending time( money and resources ) on covering the same topics again and again? Old wine in new bottles!!
When this happens, the career map on the back of your books becomes obscure. For instance, the Professional Java XML book suggests the Professional XML as the predecessor however, however considering the overstepping these two books have( about 40%, ) I feel the career path is not quite optimal.
Again, I am just voicing my opinions. I am not trying to pull your leg. I love Wrox like many other developers and I am just nit-picking

Open Group Certified Distinguished IT Architect. Open Group Certified Master IT Architect. Sun Certified Architect (SCEA).
Jan Kolasinski
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 03, 2001
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Ajith Kallambella:
I am currently reviewing the Professional EJB book and in the first chapter itself I found about four grammatical and formatting errors. I am not pointing fingers at Wrox, but I think concentrating only on speed may not be good. Accepted, there cannot be a "flawless" book, but I can't stop wondering how simple things like these slipped through so many iterations of technical and content proof-readings!

Ajith, first thank you for your compliments with regards to our books. Second, do point the finger at us with regards to grammatical and formatting errors. These should not be there and I for one (I am sure the editors will too) put my hands up.
Often, it is easy to forget that book publishers are also book readers. And I admit that I hate when I come across an error in a book as these do get in the way of the reading. So there are no excuses, no reasons ... guilty as charged.
Self flagellation aside, it is right that you bundle these mistakes with speed to market. In that speed the chances that mistakes arise increase. The process by which we produce our books concentrates on technical information and code accuracy and sometimes the written word suffers. We are addressing this issue and we WILL deliver on this.

about overlapping( and redundant? ) contents covered by books in the same series. I had raised tis issue with the three XML books you have - Professional XML, Professional Java XML and XML Databases. Eventhough I agree with you to some extent that the breadth of coverage is different in each book, I still fail to understand why should you be spending time( money and resources ) on covering the same topics again and again? Old wine in new bottles!!

Great point. You do later in your post correlate this to the book trees and again you are right the overlap sometimes means that these trees are irrelevant. Hands up again. There is a balancing act that editors perform, on the one hand the desire for completeness, on the other the desire to focus on task based topics.
Take Pro XML, this is a typical compendium and should cover widely the current state of the technology (if you'll excuse me calling XML a technology). Within that book we do cover database stuff (Chapter 10) but that's it. In the Pro XML Databases book we cover things such as DOM, SAX, Schemas, XSLT, XPath, etc.. which are indeed covered in the Pro XML book. So you are completely right. When the editor structures the book he/she has the customer in mind. They can assume that the reader has indeed bought Pro XML and therefore has grounding in XML concepts, but would that always be the case ?
Ajith, I am not trying to justify the contents, you'll find that overlap is something that exists probably in several of our publications. The only solution to this is assuming knowledge on the part of the reader who would pick up the Database Book, but as you can imagine that could be quite dangerous.
Is there a solution to this. I think that this is the real challenge for a book publisher.
Again, I am just voicing my opinions. I am not trying to pull your leg. I love Wrox like many other developers and I am just nit-picking

Ajith, if I thought we were perfect, I probably would not be here. I am one of those guys who believe that life is more interesting when you have room to improve. And it's thanks to people like you who tell us about our mistakes that we can get better. So no apologies and thanks.

Jan

Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
I would rather have a list of links in the book telling me where to get the software and code samples. But don't make the software links to someone else's web site! Make them to a Wrox site that has the links to the other sites so that if they change, Wrox can keep them updated
Great idea Thomas. Your and Ajith comments on the flow of Wrox books is a very accurate discription of how I feel about it.
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited September 04, 2001).]
Steve Rycroft
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 04, 2001
Posts: 2
Hi Ajith!
I'm a technical editor at Wrox, and I've been following this discussion with increasing interest. It's really satisfying to hear from people with a genuine interest in our books! Listening to your opinions, both positive and negative , gives us a good idea of which direction we should be heading.
Originally posted by Ajith Kallambella:
I am currently reviewing the Professional EJB book and in the first chapter itself I found about four grammatical and formatting errors. I am not pointing fingers at Wrox, but I think concentrating only on speed may not be good. Accepted, there cannot be a "flawless" book, but I can't stop wondering how simple things like these slipped through so many iterations of technical and content proof-readings!

Your point about editorial errors is entirely valid and, as an editor, it's very frustrating to find that mistakes have slipped through. Even more so in this particular case because I actually worked on Pro EJB! You're correct in assuming that our editorial process includes a number of checks which should ensure, theoretically anyway, that no grammatical/formatting errors get through to the final version. Indeed, each chapter goes through a fairly rigorous cycle that includes multiple levels of reviewing, editing, and proofing, so it's always surprising to find that we've missed some seemingly obvious points.
You also make a fair point about concentrating on speed... in my opinion, the trick is to get the optimum balance between speed to market and editorial accuracy. Ideally, we want this "balance" to produce PERFECTLY presented information to be available NOW to those who are interested, and we're constantly revising and improving our edit process in the hope of achieving this. So I take full blame for the errors in Pro EJB, and offer you a sincere sorry. And I guarantee that the next book will be better!
Originally posted by Ajith Kallambella:
Accepted, there cannot be a "flawless" book

One day maybe...
By the way, remember that you can send us errata, anything from grammar and style, to more technical comments, at support@wrox.com. This can be really helpful, especially when preparing the second print run of a title. Thanks for your feedback.
Cheers,
Steve
[This message has been edited by Steve Rycroft (edited September 04, 2001).]
Ajith Kallambella
Sheriff

Joined: Mar 17, 2000
Posts: 5782
Jan - thank you for your comments.
Steve - I am still reading the book( sometimes between the lines ) and I will most certainly send you my feedback once I'm done.
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Regarding CD: I never missed them in Wrox books. Even with other books, I was trying to remember if I ever had a feeling "how great that this book has a CD!" and I couldn't. But I suppose there may be few books that require huge downloads, and then the CD perhaps would make sense. For now I am more than satisfied with links to either the Wrox site, or author personal sites - because I always find a lot of other interesting info there!
Question. How do you find authors? Or do they find you?
Searching on the Internet, I found some very good materials, like "XML Schemas: Best Practices" or Jeni Tennison's tutorial and wondered how such useful resources, superior to all what I read "on paper", exist in "online" version only. Now I am reviewing "Professional XML schemas" and what I see? "XML Schemas: Best Practices" incorporated and Jeni Tennison as an author!
Another question: how is your reviewing process organized? I am sure you have competent "technical reviewers" who nitpick small inaccuracies. But "technical reviewers" are probably 1) too smart 2) too competent to provide a good feedback on how well a chapter is written overall.
How about "the reasonably intelligent layperson" as a reviewer? Do you have "dumb reviewers" as opposed to "smart reviewers"? I ask because I find some of your texts hard to follow and Iimagine it is very difficult for an author, who is already an expert, to penetrate into a novice's state of um... mind and foresee which paragraph may be unclear. It is especially important if your authors are not professional writers or educators, but genuine programmers
 
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