Book Ideas

A small publisher has approached me about the possibility of writing a book. I have to admit that, until know, I haven’t really given much thought to the idea. The general subject of the book is somewhat open-ended, as the publisher has asked me what I’d like to write about.

There are a number of interesting things that I could write about, but I’m not sure which to tackle, so I’m turning to you.

I could write about how Word does things internally. It wouldn’t be a “How-To” book, but it would give users some insights into how and why Word does things the way it does. The book could explore the philosophy behind some of the basic design decisions that make up Word.

I could write about the people behind Word, and some of the significant ideas they created, either in terms of the development process or in terms of Word’s features. This could be a somewhat difficult topic, though, because I’d need to track down, get permission from and interview some of the people who’ve worked on Word over the years.

Or, I don’t even have to write about Word at all. There’s a hole in the market for books about programming on the Macintosh in C++. One possibility is to write a book about developing an application framework for Carbon directed at C++ programmers.

I could write a book about some of the usability and UI design lessons we’ve learned over the years. This subject could also be rolled into a general discussion of various lessons we’ve learned from developing Word.

So, if I am to write a book, what do you want that book to discuss?



Comments (17)

  1. David Betz says:

    I would personally love to see a book which is less technical and more marketing based. Perhaps on how Microsoft views it’s relation to the Mac world and why it feels it should write Office for them, but not a port of Windows XP. This is a topic I would be very interested in.

    This discussion of course could involve what you said involving Mac C++ and application frameworks(…also, why no .NET for Mac?) I’m serious…this would be close to a best seller.

  2. Michael Ruck says:

    I’d vote for #1, #4, #2 in order of preference.

  3. x-sol says:

    Write a book about making docking toolbars and menus. On Windows and on Mac 😉

    Isn’t there some no zero deal with Mac?

  4. Scott says:

    Personally, I’d rather see Carbon go away but I’m not personally invested in it since I just started Cocoa programming in my spare time.

    Do you want to write a technical book or is that what the publisher is expecting from you? Otherwise a book along the lines of "behind enemy lines" (well not really enemy lines) or "a fox in the henhouse: the story of the MacBU at Microsoft" would be interesting. The stories you post here that have to do with that , chasing down weird bugs and so forth, interest me. I can get technical advice and training from (almost) anyone.

  5. Mike says:

    I’d like to see a "behind the scenes in the MacBU" – the struggles, the pains, the triumphs. What it’s like to be a Mac guy in a Microsoft Business. Something along the lines of "Revolution in the Valley"

  6. I would be interested in the internals and also about the people behind Word, Perhaps you could fit both in…

  7. Chris says:

    David, if you want to use .Net on your Mac, take a good look at Mono. This works pretty well on OS X, and some folks have even got .Net bindings to Cocoa working.

  8. Kris says:

    Here is my vote – programming on the Macintosh in C++.

  9. Aldo says:

    A book that explains both the technical and philosophical underpinnings of Word would be very interesting.

    You might use a general theme of the "Word-eye view," that is, how Word "sees" things, similar to how Dawkins approached the "gene’s-eye view" in the Selfish Gene. Especially interesting would be showing how implementation details sometimes propagate out into odd user habits and bugs.

  10. DavidMck says:

    If you’re going to spend the time and energy in a book, I’d suggest writing about something that you are particularly suited to write about. While I’m sure a Macintosh C++ book would be interesting (and you’d do a good job of it), I’m guessing there are a lot of folks who could write that book. I’d suggest a book along the lines of #2 – the people who worked on word and some of the interesting stories involved. Or even, perhaps Scott’s and Mike’s suggestions on writing about the MacBU. Something that few people could write about.

  11. I think that the kind of book you choose depends in part on how long you want it to last. The first and third choices on your list are fundamentally about current technology, which means that in five or ten years they’ll become part of the detritus of history, abandoned and forgotten, even as they are important to a small number of people now. The second option, though, about "the people behind Word, and some of the significant ideas they created, either in terms of the development process or in terms of Word’s features," might be a longer-lasting work that chronicles one of the most important programs in computing; in this sense, it would be more of a historical than technical work. To my mind, however, it would also entail the greatest amount of time and committment.

    I suppose the above is just laying out the question in different ways. Maybe that will be helpful, though. I think a book about the recent MacBU (say, from that time Bill Gates got on stage at the Key Note), to the present would be an interesting idea; within it, you could also discuss the technical problems of coordinating such a large, cross-platform project, and how MS manages internal communication and such between the Office versions. Although this idea may seem like trying to serve two masters, I think together the two would work better than separately.

  12. Fan says:

    I might be a bit late, but I’d prefer a "Word book" rather than one about C++. While Word is not my primary word processor (confession: I use AbiWord :)), I’m amazed at its ability to do so many things well in a quick and reliable fashion. Its stability is particularly amazing, at least to me, mainly because of the enormous range of actions one could perform with the program. With that said, I think it’s only natural that I’d like to read more about the process and the people who made such a program come to fruition. On a side note, thanks for the fascinating blog entries and comments – they’re quite informative and enjoyable to read.

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