As many of you know, I often play around with projects and ask people for their feedback. Recently I have been finishing up work on the Git In The Trenches book, which has taken me almost a year to complete. Usually, as a project nears its completion, I ask various friends and colleagues to check it out and give me their feedback. During GITT, I took a different approach of developing the book in public. It was fantastic and resulted in much greater community participation than I had originally envisaged.
The problem with this approach was that getting feedback on the project was more difficult. Either people were;
- Long time friends of mine, in which case though I trust them to be honest, an outsiders opinion would give me something different.
- Not interested in Git because, being a technical book, it has a far narrower audience than a fiction book.
- Intimately involved in the project, in which case they are going to be biased towards it.
To overcome these issues, I decided to find someone in the open source community that used Git extensively and who has also been known to give rather good advice in the past. During the development of the book, I began listening to “The Changelog“, a podcast all about open source, and in particular the web and ruby. It’s a fairly well known fact that many Ruby developers use Git. I decided to send the book to Wynn Netherland, co host of “The Changelog” to see what he thought about it.
I could not have hoped for more useful feedback. I had been focusing the book towards a very specific subset of the Git community and I was exceedingly glad when Wynn summed up his thoughts on who the book would be geared towards.
Corp devs who cling to non-distributed source control and designer-y type folks that are intimidated by SCM (probably scared off from SVN)
Which was my exact target audience. Though the book is easily readable by anyone, the format of the book takes you through, week by week, as Tamagoyaki Inc. decide to implement Git in their workplace.
Another comment was pretty interested too.
I like the writing style. I think it makes a technical topic approachable. What i found difficult was scanning.
Wynn is exactly right. In my efforts to make the book kinda quirky and approachable, I used pun-like headings to each chapter section. Whilst this worked well for someone reading the book cover to cover, it made the book very difficult to navigate if you wanted to dip in and find out information on a specific subject. I do currently have an index and was pleased to see that it had been implemented well.
…but your index is solid
So, my major change to the book will be to include kind of dip-in guide, so that people can just jump to a chapter to get information on a particular topic. Wynn seemed to like the list of topics on the back and the idea of using that as a base for the dip-in index was well received.
I have to say I am pretty pleased with the end result.
…all in all, superb job.
So just a few more tweaks here and there and I’ll be ready to release this baby to the masses. A bit thank you to everyone who has helped out with the book so far and an extra big thank you to Wynn for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to look over the book and offer me suggestions.