Friday, December 28, 2007

David Flanagan Replaced By Soulless Husk

As far as I can tell David Flanagan's book on JavaScript is the only one worth that's worth a damn, and in the days before Prototype it was absolutely crucial if you wanted to do anything interesting with JavaScript at all, so I hate to be a douche here, but this is just bullshit:

Sam Ruby:I think I prefer Ruby 1.8’s non-support for Unicode over Ruby 1.9’s "support".

David Flanagan:I don’t know anything about the rexml library...I don’t understand why Matz made some of the choices he did, but they seem to work okay...I attempt to explain all this in The Ruby Programming Language which should be in bookstores in about a month...

(From Sam Ruby's blog.)

What happened to O'Reilly? They used to brag about how they would give you the straight dope even if it meant criticizing the people who invented the technology. Now they're telling us that they don't know why the creator did something, but since that person is the creator, it must ipso facto be the right thing to do.

The upcoming book has Matz as a co-author and _why as an illustrator, but honestly, this is a language made famous by opinionated software - having no opinion about its direction and evolution isn't just weak, vague, and noncommittal, it goes against the culture. And writing a book about Ruby without knowing anything about REXML is just silly. More to the point, writing a book about Ruby without learning its standard library is ridiculous.With so many books coming out of the Ruby community right now, O'Reilly could have found somebody who knew something about REXML, or indeed, someone with a background in the language, or at least someone with an opinion about it.

Given the completeness of Flanagan's JavaScript book, I'm sure his Ruby book will be useful, but when you've got Pickaxe 3 on the way and the second edition of The Ruby Way already on the market, and you're publishing something by an author you're comfortable with who isn't even a significant part of the community, I just don't know what these people are thinking. O'Reilly were really cool once. (Bear in mind, this definition of "really cool" comes from somebody who's programming and blogging at 11pm on a Friday.)

Anyway. If you're at home programming and blogging at 11pm on a Friday, you sure as hell don't want a copy of Flanagan's upcoming book, but you may like this one instead:

Parsing, writing a Lisp interpreter, generating MIDI in real time - this book is the shit.