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Posting early drafts of Introduction and Chapter 1

Today, I start posting early drafts of the Introduction and Chapter 1 of my book. I'm keen on hearing feedback from those of you who would like to read early drafts of my book. The latest versions of chapters will be linked from the table of contents.

Although my book will be fully released under a Creative Commons license once my publisher Apress and I finish off the first edition ("v 1.0") , I won't apply the license to the pre-v1.0. I don't want too much reuse of the materials until we've hit the level of quality of the first edition.

I will to being a bit nervous about posting early drafts publicly since the drafts are still rough around the edges (if not more deeply flawed!) but I will put some faith in the open source philosophy embodied in the mantra of Release Early, Release Often. One of my goals in writing this book is to create a community resource. The more input I can get from the community, the better. Moreover, I'd like to get as many improvements and fix as many mistakes ("bugs") as I can before the book gets committed to paper. As with software, it's easier and less expensive to make changes earlier in the process.

A note about the publishing process I'm using here:

  • I'm using the standard Apress process of writing books in Microsoft Word. (I'm sure with the heavy representation of open source topics that there are many Apress authors who use another tool but I've decided to go with Word. I wrote my dissertation with LaTeX and I figure that it would be instructive to learn the ins and outs of Microsoft Office in the process of writing a book. I'm crossing my fingers that I won't have major Office corruption problems.)
  • I will start with the easiest way for me to post my manuscript, that is, as a series of PDFs. I will move towards posting the manuscript in more flexible formats, such as transforming the book into a wiki that we can keep up to date.
  • Although I don't have a good structure for aggregating discussion around chapters yet, I decided to experiment a bit with Google Docs and Zoho Writer. To that end, in addition to the PDFs, I'm uploading my draft chapters to the two systems.

I admire the commenting system available at the Django Book site and hope to have a system in place that allows for inline annotation of my book. For now, I provide at least three places to provide comments:

  • For the GoogleDoc version, I can add collaborators who would like to edit or comment directly on the manuscript. (Send me email.)
  • For Zoho, people can tack on comments to the document.
  • We can use the commenting system in WordPress.

I look forward to using the Zoho APIs and the Google Docs API (which I'm sure will eventually be there.)

You will note the figures are currently missing from Chapter 1. Though I have a strong argument for posting these pictures under fair use, I'm in the process of securing all the copyright clearances just to ease everyone's minds about including screenshots in the book.

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