Books Before Bytes

I noticed the other day that O'Reilly has a new book format
for prerelease software that relies on planning for and making incremental
updates as the software is developed.  After
the software is released, the prerelease book and all of its updates are
cleaned up and turned back into a book with standard formatting.  It looks like a Silverlight 2 book is
being used as the test subject.

I think this approach is interesting as a response to how
quickly software is developed and then obsoleted these days.  Additionally, software is being developed
with increasing amounts of transparency. 
Customers get early builds and trickles of information long before the
official release date, and often while the software is still very
malleable.  By the time software is
stable enough to write a real book about it, you've already missed the best window
for publication for that release.

Comments (2)
  1. kenny joseph says:

    Well, it only applies to microsoft products which are pushing a psuedo time to market and creating unnecessary buzz about a technology that they are really playing catchup on. Despite being a loyal .net guy and an equal fan of flash-based RIA, I see micrsoft’s entry into RIA is so late that they force this situation to happen. If this was the case with Silverlight 1.0, perhaps it would be ok, but 2.0 should have been a bit more stable. I have this new book, and unfortunately it (the technology) looks much the same as silverlight 1 and to find that the rest of the book was full of blank pages, means that either microsoft or the publisher or both are playing the same game. Why? Its just silly. If I wanted an online book, I would have gone to Safari. So maybe the answer is that Safari(or its kind) is the future of online tech publishing. They (O’reilly) might as well have sent me an electronic reader device so I could download the book when it was ready. So I could have the entire book with having to burn a few ink catridges on printing the rest of the book. Again maybe the future will make that clear for us. For now I think that this is a silly experiment and I had no clue of what I was gettting into when I ordered the copy. Best to sell it back and wait for a real book.

  2. Hi Kenny,

    Thanks for the review from someone that has tried the book.  I don’t know what level of collaboration the author has with Microsoft so the content may be getting written more or less as releases come out.  I know with WCF in Silverlight we have been keeping quiet with features until they are basically complete, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to do the research that a book needs.

    It was interesting that they started with paper copies first and then went to Safari.  The format seems built for Safari and maybe something like an Amazon Kindle edition.

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