Beta Book: Agile Web Development with Rails 01 Jun 2005

18 comments Latest by ERE

A few weeks ago David posted about Beta Books and last week he and co-author Dave Thomas released a beta of Agile Web Development with Rails. Now that’s walking the walk.

The book is available now in PDF form. You can order both the PDF and the paper version (when it’s published), or just the PDF now. So far it’s sold over 1000 copies in about a week — not bad for a PDF about this little 37signals-invented web application framework called Rails (which powers Basecamp, Backpack, Ta-da List and many others).

Congrats to Dave Thomas and our very own David Heinemeier Hansson.

18 comments so far (Jump to latest)

dmr 01 Jun 05

A great idea; questionable execution. The typeface in the samples is kinda oversized (yah yah, personal rant), but more importantly… $22 for a beta copy of the text is hardly a deal. Cut the price in half to deliver a less-than-ready-for-prime-time version of the book; seems bogus. I’m still considering buying the beta only because I’m confident the content will be solid and I’ve been looking for a good reason to jump out of PHP and into Ruby, but a few days more effort would take the “beta” stage to a more refined and ready state.

rick 01 Jun 05

The thing is, it’s not $22 just for the beta copy. You’ll get the final version when it’s ready.

Matt Turner 01 Jun 05

Er, no, if you want the paper book also when it’s finished then that’s $43.75.
I also think $22 for an incomplete ‘e-book’ is a rip off.
The only good thing out PDF material of this nature is being able to search through it without using the index.

Eric 01 Jun 05

No, it’s $22 for 1) a copy of the beta PDF and 2) a PDF of the final copy.

It’s $43.75 for 1) a copy of the beta PDF 2) the final printed book and 3) a PDF of the final copy.

Doesn’t seem like a rip-off to me.

See for all the gory details.

dmr 01 Jun 05

But what’s the value in having a beta version? Beta information, especially un-proofed text, feels a little too rushed. Let’s all slow down a little, eh? I think we can wait a month or two longer for the complete and more thoughtful version.

Martin 01 Jun 05

I would love to buy the book “now”. But I’m in Argentina and really dunno if delivers to South America with this Beta Book “program”. Then, I think I would have to wait until Amazon’s sell it (but can’t wait!).

David Heinemeier Hansson 01 Jun 05

dmr: If you’d rather wait for the polished version, then that’s a perfectly valid choice. More than 1,000 people would rather have the information now, complete with spelling mistakes, bad page breaks, etc, than wait the ~2 months for the final copy.

That is they value the timing of the information more than the packaging. Luckily, the finished version will also be available later for those that value packaging higher than timing.

Ramin 01 Jun 05

I don’t understand why people are complaining. If you want the final product, then just wait for the final product and buy it then. There is nothing wrong with giving people the “option” to buy it early in beta form.

I’ve been reading it and so far only found very few mistakes. I’ve seen more spelling mistakes in finished products that I’ve bought before.

Plus, with what you pay now, you get the finished PDF (and the book if you bought the bundle.) So there is no rip off of any kind. You’re still getting what you paid for, but as an added bonus, you’re getting an early release version to play with.

Matt Turner 02 Jun 05

I am not a fan of the ‘you don’t have to buy it’ argument because it depends very much on availability of alternatives with which the person in question is happy enough.

Now although this is only $22, the current lack of good books on the subject moves it slightly from the ‘nice to have’ category to ‘price of entry’ imo.

However, I think it’s not so bad if you get the completed version, at least in PDF form once it’s finished. After all my bitching I will actually buy it anyway! :o)

Seth 02 Jun 05

Bought it & reading it on my Treo whenever I have some downtime.

Bigup for releasing this thing in PDF format. Now I can take it with me on BART or wherever else I am. I’ll know Rails in no time ;)

Mathew 02 Jun 05

I am not a fan of the �you don�t have to buy it� argument because it depends very much on availability of alternatives with which the person in question is happy enough.

So you’d rather have no alternative at all? I don’t understand this point.

Matt Turner 02 Jun 05

My points are

a) if there are no alternatives then you shouldn’t justify the price with ‘you don’t have to buy it’ if the price is steep. (if not it doesn’t matter anyway)

b) if there is no alternatives it’s tempting to profiteer.

It’s like gasoline, people complain about the cost (which is considerably worse here in the UK). Well if you don’t like it you don’t have to buy it. Until better alternatives are available then that is of little comfort to those that require a car.

And just to reiterate, i didn’t realise you got the complete version when it was released included in the $22. It’s not really that bad value i guess.

bort 03 Jun 05

but it’s a public release! why call it a beta?

“If you are asking the public to put time in [and in this case, money] on your product, give them a real product.” [comment added]

“We believe that when you release a product to the public, it should be release quality. Private beta, sure. Public beta, no.”

David Heinemeier Hansson 03 Jun 05

That comment refers to web applications, which doesn’t have the concept of a fixed release. Books are not like that. Once it’s printed, it’s fixed. So the print is the 1.0 release of the shrink-wrapped world of software.

That’s the world in which the term beta makes sense.

bort 08 Jun 05

perhaps, then, jf should be clearer in his rants. he would sound less rabid.