Agile Friday: "Informative Workspace" Now Online

16 Jul, 2010

I'm proud to announce the release of this week's Art of Agile Development excerpt, Informative Workspace. This week's release is particularly notable because it's the last practice from the Thinking chapter, which means that you can now read the whole chapter online.

This is probably as good a time as any to reflect on my decision to release the book online. First, I want to thank Shane Warden (my co-author) and Mary Treseler (our editor) for their support of this decision. Royalties from technical books are no way to get rich--actually, you'll be lucky to get above the poverty line--but publishing the book online meant we were putting those paltry returns at risk. Shane and Mary didn't even twitch when I suggested the idea.

How did it turn out? Wonderfully! I think. Website traffic is up, unsurprisingly, and an informal review of Amazon rankings hints that the book sales have bumped up to a nice consistent pace. Based on my royalty statements, we sold more books to stores in Q1 this year than we did in Q1 last year. Next quarter's royalty data will tell the real story, though, because I only started putting the book online at the end of February.

Bottom line? It seems to be working out. The main goal was to provide a permanent, comprehensive Agile resource online that people could link to when discussing specific Agile practices. In that respect, we've definitely succeeded. So, thank you! Thank you for linking us, recommending our book to your colleagues, and spreading the word. That's really all we need.

(If you'd like to do more, the best thing is to buy a copy for a colleague who needs to read it. For colleagues in particular need of new insights, the book also makes a good Clue-By-Four when wielded with proper angular momentum.)

Technically, prepping the book for HTML hasn't been too bad. Shane and I authored the book in a markup language called PseudoPOD, and I wrote a little recursive descent parser1 to convert the POD files to HTML back when we were doing public reviews. To publish a section of the book, I manually incorporate O'Reilly's copyedits and figures back into our source, run the tool, and then paste the output into the appropriate page on my site. The hardest part is figuring out something interesting to say in this weekly announcement.

1"Recursive descent parser" is one of my favorite phrases. I like to drop it into casual conversation. "Yes, Attack of the Clones was flawed, but nothing that an army of monkeys and a recursive descent parser couldn't fix."

At any rate, that's the Thinking chapter. Thanks for reading! Next week's excerpt comes from the Collaborating chapter. Our choices are:

Please use the comments to vote for the practice you'd like to me to release next Friday. See you next week!