2008-07-16

Missing Books considered harmful

A very large percentage of of my customers are just starting to use Eclipse and Eclipse based technologies for their applications. So apart from having the basic 4-6 days training in RCP, EMF, GMF, etc they all have have one common and very important question: "Which books should we buy?"

And that question has become increasingly difficult to answer lately.

There are a number of absolutely good and noteworthy Eclipse books, but almost all of these are not up-to-date and that can be a major problem for people that need a good reference guide and best practices guide to Eclipse.

Almost all of the books on Eclipse are one or two versions behind the current baseline and that means the readers will not be able to take advantage of the new and improved stuff. And consequently they are rather frustrated when the only source to the new functionality is... the source.

Yes, I do know that many of the books in question are under revision and expected to be here any time soon, but even these revisions are delayed - in some cases as long as a year. And yes, I do know that the authors of technical books do not get rich from their work, so they have little incentive to update their books.


But there must be something that can be done about this. Just consider the number of books that are marketed by Microsoft on their many technologies and consider which role these books play in many developers life.
Before you start: yes, most of Microsofts software is closed source and consequently you need the books... but why should you have to read though 8-12 millions lines of code to understand just what the new and much improved APIs do?

I would suggest that we add a new criteria before an incubator project can graduate: there must be a book or at least a number of authoritative articles on the project. And for each new major release, there must be an official update of these...

Whether the foundation should be part of this work or not, I don't know. I can easily see arguments for both...
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