DaveNet: Wednesday, November 12, 1997; by Dave Winer.

blue ribbon O'Reilly Query

This email was sent to several UserLand-run mailing lists last night.

O'Reilly Query

As some of you may know, O'Reilly & Associates is working with Matt Neuburg on a Frontier book. Even though we haven't done Mac-related books in the past, Frontier seems like a topic that is very close to many of the things we write about - power tools for sophisticated users. The fact that Frontier is moving to Windows as well is also exciting, even though Frontier still hasn't established itself there.

Where we're caught out is with the timing of the book's release. Matt has targetted the book to Frontier 4.2.3 on the Mac, but as plans for Frontier 5 become clearer, we find ourselves with a bit of a dilemma. Matt's book is mostly done. We think it's a very good book. If we go to press now, the book will be out in early January.

The other alternative is to wait for Frontier 5.0 to stabilize. We are not sure what the final release dates will be, and there seems to be a lot of debate on this list that suggests that it may be a while before all the kinks are worked out. In any event, the book will lag the final software by some months, since it will require substantial rewriting. So we would probably not be able to get a 5.0 version out till next summer at the earliest.

My question is this: Would you rather have a 4.2.3 book for the Mac now, and then upgrade to a 5.0 book later, or just wait till next summer for a 5.0 book? And secondly, when we do the 5.0 book, would you rather a cross platform book, or separate editions for Mac and Windows?

Tim O'Reilly

Dave Winer's comments on Tim's message

I reviewed an early draft of the O'Reilly book in September. Here's what I saw.

Matt knows and loves Frontier. He's a great teacher. I love the way he explains stuff. Frontier deserves a Matt Neuburg book. And we also very much want the O'Reilly endorsement for our software.

But... The book mostly covers the feature set of Frontier 3. The site management features in Frontier 4 are in one of the final chapters, presented as an application. So, if you use Frontier to manage websites, as many people do, you'll find some useful material in the book, but it isn't about what you do.

We welcome an O'Reilly book on Frontier, but we hoped for a book that was more closely aligned with how we use the software, and how we think others use it.

So if they asked what I preferred, I'd prefer a book that reflects how people use Frontier, and has some connection to where Frontier is going.

We took a major turn in Frontier 4. The O'Reilly book doesn't reflect that.

Dave Winer

PS: We're working as fast as we can on Frontier 5. We hope to have a cross-platform alpha release out shortly.

PPS: It's been suggested on the Frontier-webmasters list that O'Reilly could publish a first draft of the book on a website. We'd support that, and offer to help them get it on the web. Like software, I think books can benefit from review and comment from a community of users.

PPPS: Matt Neuburg wrote the web and scripting tutorials for Frontier 4.

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