Agile Web Development with Rails has been available on paper less than a month, but is already entering its third printing. And it wasn't like we gave it a baby run on neither the first nor the second go.
Hopefully that'll take the book out of its perpetual "Usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks" on Amazon and give us some of that "Usually ships in 24 hours" loving. It's no wonder, though. Amazon is currently ranking it as #83 on the most popular books list (and #7 in the computer department).
Needless to say, it's intensely satisfying to see a book carrying your name on the spine slam dunk in sales. Hopefully this will set the precedence for all the Rails books to come. Thanks once more to everyone that bought the book and helped send a strong signal to the world that Rails is real.
Edd Dumbill interviewed me for the O'Reilly Network last week. That interview is now online and touches on the success of Rails, programming languages and web frameworks, and where we go next (and don't want to go).
October is going to be one heck of a conferencing month. This is my itinerary:
Phew. That's nearly three weeks of traveling. Eeks.
BTW, if you're thinking about going to EuroOSCON, which you should since Jarkko is also doing a Rails tutorial, you can get a 25% discount by using the code "euos05dhh". Ain't that neat?
We're considering buying a MySQL Network support package from those lovely Swedes to get all enterprisy at 37signals. But their shopping descriptions leaves a lot to be desired. Take this string of pearls for example:
MySQL Network Basic provides independent consultants and small businesses with a comprehensive set software and proactive services that improve productivity. MySQL Network Basic saves you time and effort by giving you access to MySQL Certified Software and notifying you of new product releases, security alerts, and other issues. MySQL Network also includes Web access to the MySQL Knowledge Base and Support Team to address issues you may encounter.
From that bowl of marketing, it's hard to judge whether you're just signing up for an expensive restart script and a newsletter, or if you're actually getting something of value. I reckon the fine engineers at MySQL AB might have left the job of describing their offerings to someone else.
So how about trying that fancy lazyweb: Have you tried any of the MySQL Network packages? We'd be very happy to hear all the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'd love to hand these chaps some cash if they're as good as you could hope an open source company could be.
For some people, the answer is certainly no. Or at least, that software shouldn't have opinions. Jason certainly felt a fair share of that sentiment after posting "Make one person responsible" where he rejected the idea of having multiple people be responsible for a todo item in Basecamp.
The core theme seems to be that it's considered arrogant on the part of the software builder to limit features, or decide not to implement them, on the basis of their believes in how the software should be used. In other words, some people want the maximum amount of flexibility in their software and then they will figure out how to use it best for themselves, thank you very much.
On a deep instinctual level, I sympathize. It smells like a struggle between those who want freedom and those who (apparently) arbitrarily wants to take it away. How could you not side with those crying for freedom?
But the question of freedom is not one of primary interest for this matter. Rather, questions like "does it work?", "can I learn something?", and "can I make my situation and the software fit?" seems to be of greater importance. Which in some ways are paradoxical. Asking for a pragmatic response to an arguably dogmatic pose.
To me, though, that's fine. Because when I adopt software, I'm not just looking for features, I'm looking for approaches too. One of my favorite examples is the original wiki design. Ward Cunningham and friends deliberately stripped the wiki of many features that were considered integral to document collaboration in the past.
Instead of attributing each change or line to a certain person, they removed much of the visual representation of ownership, which in turn fostered a shared sense of community belonging and partnership. That very key ingredient that makes Wikipedia work today.
Of course, I don't even need to reference others to demonstrate my position on the matter. Ruby on Rails is a tour de force of opinions packed up as software. Its decrees are much more apparent than "make one person responsible", which is obviously also a big turn-off for some people. The same kind of people that rejects the notion that Basecamp should have an opinion on project management. And that's cool.
Neither Basecamp nor Rails is trying to be all things to all people. Because you can't. And once you realize that, it becomes a lot easier to embed opinions in your software. They're going to be there anyway. Kind of like the notion of "objective journalism", the bias can never be rooted out. And while the search and presentation of "the truth" might require you to pursue that objective goal, software rarely shares the same heavy responsibility.
Rails obviously cranked up the opinions high. I believe that's a large part of why its getting whirlwind traction. The closer your opinions on web-application development are to mine (and that of the growing community), the more Rails will feel like the perfect fit. A fit that couldn't be attained from a neutral position (where everything is equally hard).
I wish more software was like that. Took the courage of the wiki and said, you're not going to see how made every change because that has undesirable sociological consequences on collaboration. It would make it instantly clear when a piece of software was not for me. Instead of discovering the mismatch of bias down the road. And it would make me love the software that either fit my bias instantaneously or could pursuade me to.
I'm asking for more art and less science in software.
When I got started working with the net, I remember thinking how cool it was that nobody would know that your CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet company was just you in your living room. And not some big corporation. That it was cool you could fake your way into looking like the big guys.
Of course, the cool thing about working on the net as a small company is exactly that you can act even more like one. You can be personal, human, interesting, offensive, and still manage to scale to a world-wide market.
Naturally, I'm thinking about these things as we run 37signals. But in this case, it was the picture stream of the TextDrive move that made me realize it once again. It's a wonderful window into what might be mundane every-day business, but its making me care and be interested because of the relationship.
I first discovered Kathy Sierra about three months ago and I've been reading her Creating Passionate Users blog religiously ever since. As a big fan of her writing, I was naturally immensely delighted to see her highlight not only Ruby on Rails but also do a 37signals Passion Review.
It's fantastic. I keep getting questions from people who wants to know why it is that Ruby on Rails are making 10-meter waves at the moment. And more importantly, how they can make the same happen for their own project. Kathy has a lot of answers for just that questions. It's all about the passion, about making users "kick ass", and for getting that Next Level groove going.
See how it just happened in this post? I really liked Kathy's work, she blogged about mine, I returned the ball, and know you are probably positioned in an even more positive place about both of our stuff.
We didn't get to make a big fuzz about the 1-year birthday of Rails on the actual day, July 24th. But this past week at OSCON more than made up for that in terms of celebrations. It was an overwhelming lovefest for what the Ruby on Rails community has created within this tiny sliver of time. Some of my favorite moments:
It was a fantastic show and the best celebration we could have hoped for. Thanks so much to Nat Tolkington, Rael Dornfest, Vee McMillen, Tim O'Reilly and the rest of the O'Reilly team for believing enough in Ruby on Rails to let me deliver both tutorial, session, and keynote. And for giving Ruby a real (if totally overbooked) track this year — hopefully we'll have an even bigger room next year.
It's so exciting to see that after all the good times we've been enjoying through the year still haven't brought us to a peak. There's so much more to come. October will bring another big month of Ruby on Rails at conferences with appearances at JAOO, Web 2.0 (not directly presenting there, though), RubyConf, and EuroOSCON. And there's of course 1.0 around the corner. And those 7+ books under production.
But first there is vacation.
Agile Web Development with Rails is flying up the charts at Amazon. It's now at 3rd place in computer books (was 6th) and #248 (was #408) total as of me writing this. That's an amazing run out the gates and means that the first printing is almost sold out!
So do hurry to get your order in if you're looking to pick up the paper version. Apparently there's a world-wide paper shortage, so it might take a little while before the second printing is out. There's no running out of the PDF, of course, so you can always order that and the print book to be shipped as soon as the second run is ready directly from the Pragmatics.
The ego inflation just culminated in a near pop. The Google-O'Reilly Open Source Awards granted me the great honor of being named "Best Hacker" of the year for the work with Ruby on Rails:
I'm glad that I'll be taken a vacation after coming back from Portland. There's only so much praise you can take from smart people all week (and pretty girls on the street giving you "nice shoes" compliments).
The $5,000 price money should surely be able to buy Mary and I a drink on Maui to distance myself a bit from this surreal experience. And make me come back down to earth to realize that none of this is really about me, but more just about enabling people to experience the beauty of Ruby.
In any case, thanks so much to Google and O'Reilly for this award.
I am incredibly honored.