Last year when Visual Studio 2005 and version 2 of the .Net Framework were released, I read a blog post by Chris Sells stating that he had finally completed the final drat of his book on Windows Forms 2.0, but that it would be another 4 months before the book would be in print. Many other authors would produce a final version of their book based on beta software, and then post errata based on changes to the final product. Sometimes those would be small changes, sometimes big. To avoid those potential pitfalls, Chris decided to wait for the final release of .Net 2 before putting the finishing touches on his manuscript and sending it off to the publisher, even if it prevented developers from getting the information in a timely manner.
I for one could not understand why I couldnâ€™t just download a PDF version of the book now, then get the tangible version months down the line as it rolled off the presses? Iâ€™d be willing to pay cold, hard cash (or at least use my credit card) to get that info NOW, when I need it, as soon as possible after downloading the product the book was written about.
Finally, Oâ€™Reilly has read my mind (and no doubt the minds and emails of many other developers) and succumbed to my wishes. Yesterday I downloaded the RTM bits for .Net 3, including Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and rolled up my sleeves, ready to sink my teeth into the stuff. All I needed was a guide, a sage who had spent months, if not years, tinkering with the alpha, beta, CTP and RC builds, exploring every nook and cranny, so that I could get up to speed as quickly as possible. I asked my colleagues at a recent company retreat which is the best WCF book I could lay my hands on, and I heard that Juval Lowyâ€™s promised to be one of the best. However, I was sorely disappointed to find out the expected publish date of his book is February 2007!
My fears were soon relieved, though, when I spotted the â€œRough Cutâ€ version of his book available for download from Oâ€™Reilly, for less than 30 bucks! It had been updated a little over a month ago, and I could still get the final printed version for another $15 (shipping included!). Wow! That would satisfy both my intellectual and tactile needs! Until now Iâ€™ve resisted getting my books in PDF format — even though Oâ€™Reillyâ€™s Safari Bookshelf is a great deal — simply because I enjoy the experience of thumbing through a freshly printed book, hearing the crack of the spine, smelling the new paper and glue – OK, maybe I do need to get out more. But the Rough Cut edition of Juvalâ€™s book gives me the best of both worlds at a heck of a good price. How can you beat that?