Getting Real, the book David 01 Mar 2006

151 comments Latest by Roland Glicks

The Getting Real book is here. It’s PDF only, 171 pages, and it’s $19.

Getting Real shows you the smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web app. It details the business, design, programming, and marketing principles of 37signals and is packed with keep-it-simple insights, contrarian points of view, and unconventional approaches to software design. This is not a technical book or a design tutorial, it’s a book of ideas.

To give you a taste, we’ve picked four essays to share as free samples: What is Getting Real?, Scale Later, Meetings are Toxic, and Design the Interface First. Visit the Getting Real site to get more info on who should read the book, why it’s relevant, and to see a complete table of contents. Note: We may (or may not) offer a print version at some point in the future but, in the interests of Getting Real, we wanted to get the PDF version out there now.

Also, we’ve created a Campfire chat room on Getting Real for anyone who’s interested in discussing the book or Getting Real ideas in general.

151 comments so far (Jump to latest)

levi 01 Mar 06

Interesting… I think I may have to get this one.

dmr 01 Mar 06

I’m absolutely going to get it this weekend. What made you guys go the self-publishing route? And is there a desire to create a print version, or are there plans for print?

sb 01 Mar 06

ctrl-P. but what are your plans for binding, etc.?

Travis 01 Mar 06

Can I print this once I download - i.e., there are no restrictions on me printing this, eh?

Rabbit 01 Mar 06

I love you guys.

I’m reading my copy right now and I swear if my brain could salivate you’d see drool pouring from every orifice.

Every page (I’m on 28 right now) gives me new ideas, or at the very least, reminds me of things I’ve already been exposed to.

I’m in charge of changing the direction of our primary web site. Since I started reading Getting Real, I’ve got 5 solid ideas for posts I *NEED* to write in order to make this thing a success; and I know it can be.

Thank you Signals. You guys rock. *hugs*

JF 01 Mar 06

Yes, plans for print eventually, but this was easier and we could get the content to people sooner (TODAY).

Why self publish? Because traditional publishing is broken. We tried it once and realized it’s tilted way in favor of the publisher, not the author, and we think that’s wrong.

JF 01 Mar 06

Travis, of course you can print it for your own use.

Andy 01 Mar 06

I’ve read the preview chapters - and I like it. Great work guys.

Just a nit-picking question: why didn’t you fully-justify the text in the book? The left aligned text gives a very messy look to the pages.

RyanA 01 Mar 06

Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! I just bought a copy.

Thanks for the book guys! I’ve been waiting for this since about like… age ago! Yay!

Rabbit 01 Mar 06

Andy, shutup.

:)

matt Carey 01 Mar 06

Andy: with my typographers hat on, you don’t need to justify text to make it legible. Ragged right setting is perfectly fine as long as the line endings are treated right…

Willy Wonka 01 Mar 06

Jason & All of 37,

Why didn’t you solve cancer, world hunger, and israeli & palestinian conflict with getting real? You gotta love these types of questions.

Allow me to answer: “It doesn’t matter”. Honestly, the book is out and looks great. There is enough whitespace on each page.

Pete Forde 01 Mar 06

Congratulations, I’m sure it’ll be as good as we all hope it to be..

While I am somewhat disappointed at the PDF-only status, I see this as an opportunity for you to iterate and tighten up based on feedback.

I agree that tradional publishing is broken, but this is definately a title I would buy.

Jason, can you make a commitment that should you hook up with Pragmatic or a publisher equally great, can we use our PDF confirmation code to get an equivalent discount to the printed version when it’s finally available?

fenryr 01 Mar 06

The links below “Why is this book relevant” here point to the wrong target

JF 01 Mar 06

Jason, can you make a commitment that should you hook up with Pragmatic or a publisher equally great, can we use our PDF confirmation code to get an equivalent discount to the printed version when it’s finally available?

We pitched The Pragmatic Programmers but they weren’t interested in working with us.

Brandon Eley 01 Mar 06

You guys rock! I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and am so glad I can just download instead of waiting for a print copy to arrive in the mail.

Just a suggestion though, printed books are great too! I’d buy a printed version to keep with me. There’s just something about reading a real paper book that I prefer to a screen…

Anyway, just waiting on my download link!

My 01 Mar 06

I am going to purchase that eBook. After all these good comments, for sure I am going to grab one!

JF 01 Mar 06

For the record, we may or may not do a print version in the future. We haven’t decided yet. There’s nothing more to say about it at this time.

Pierre Carion 01 Mar 06

Weird.
When I’ve tried to order under FireFox I had this error:
Oops:
There were problems processing your order.

* Credit card number must be 15 or 16 digits

My order went through under IE - even thoigh I did a copy and paste of my Credit Card number.

As I said … weird.

Kent Fyndham 01 Mar 06

Not sure about this, but I think I’ve seen on-demand print solutions out there for books.

For example, it may be possible to offer the purchase option for a bound, printed version *on demand* rather than from an expensive inventory.

The third party delivers on the printed version as the orders come in and, of course, at a slightly higher price I would think.

JF 01 Mar 06

Yes, Kent, there are options like lulu.com. In time.

Jeff 01 Mar 06

I’m disappointed; surprisingly so. This pamphlet is about ideas, many of the same ideas presented on your blog. That’s great. What’s missing is the integration of words and images that normally allows you to communicate with such clarity.

For example, want to talk about how a sketch makes its way to an application? Fine. But show the sketch. Lead your reader through your argument. In an electronic format where that kind of integration add zero cost to the distribution, and so greatly improves the experience of reading, I’m amazed at the omission.

The sample chapters are around two pages each, and fail to capture the experience of reading 171 pages of gray text with no visual relief besides blockquotes and bullets. It’s not terrible, and it’s only $19, but I’ve come to expect better from 37signals.

Peter Cooper 01 Mar 06

I’m intrigued as to why you’ve gone with a small font taking up little of the width rather than a bigger font if this PDF was designed for on-screen reading. I think this will be looking great when I print it out, and it really seems like a nice print layout, but as an on-screen format.. I don’t get it.

Guess I was just expecting big clear headings, Helvetica, and pastel colors ;-) Anyway, good luck!

JF 01 Mar 06

Jeff, we had a few images sprinkled here and there, but we didn’t like ‘em so we removed them. They didn’t add enough value.

It felt weird to just have a few (and I mean about 4). We also didn’t want to turn this into a design how-to book — and images begin to head in that direction.

Thanks for your feedback and sorry you are disappointed.

JF 01 Mar 06

re: size… the nice thing about PDFs is you can zoom them to whatever degree you want. Find the size you enjoy and read on.

Alex 01 Mar 06

I’m well into my copy. Thanks.

Would you guys consider mentoring me? :)

Kevin 01 Mar 06

Typo on page 24:

“Keep it small and managable so youo can actually enjoy the process.”

JF 01 Mar 06

Kevin, we fixed that shortly after launch. Sorry you got a version with the typo.

matt lyon 01 Mar 06

re: size

The other thing about pdfs is that while you can zoom to any size you want, reading zoomed pdfs on screen is a real bear.

ParticleTree and Before & After get this, and that’s why they publish their pdf’s with sans-serif fonts and oriented horizontally.

Reading your pdf on the screen, zoomed, isn’t anywhere near as elegant. Guess I’m going to have to buy a printer.

Chad Sakonchick 01 Mar 06

It should have a disclaimer, “Chapter pages will burn through your toner like a Hummer on Petrol.”

Pius Uzamere 01 Mar 06

This is great news … been looking forward to the book for awhile.

If you publish in print will you be offering a promotional code for customers who buy the e-book now? (This question was asked earlier, but I think it might have been missed.)

Also, there’s a typo in the sample chapter on scaling. The last name of Dare from Microsoft is “Obasanjo” rather than “Obasanj.”

RyanA 01 Mar 06

If you make minor revisions to the book will they be made available to people who’ve already bought it?

JF 01 Mar 06

If you publish in print will you be offering a promotional code for customers who buy the e-book now?

We don’t know. We don’t even know if we’re doing a print version. Like the book suggests, don’t make up your mind until you have something to make up your mind about.

If you make minor revisions to the book will they be made available to people who�ve already bought it?

No plans to do that at this time.

Bill P 01 Mar 06

Nice work guys! Well worth the wait.

This book is a great reinforcement to what was taught in the workshop.

One quick question - was the copyright/anti-piracy footer an original idea, or has it been done by someone else?

Pretty effective, I must admit.

JF 01 Mar 06

One quick question - was the copyright/anti-piracy footer an original idea, or has it been done by someone else?

No idea where it came from, but we did it about 4 years ago on our original report series cause we thought it would be a good idea.

me 01 Mar 06

cafepress.com lets you publish books too….

JF 01 Mar 06

cafepress.com lets you publish books too….

Yeah if you don’t care what they look like ;)

We want to do this right and that means not with Cafepress.

ANYHOW, really, please, we don’t know if we’re doing print or not. Please don’t ask anymore. Thank you.

eh 01 Mar 06

specifications are useless, huh.

joel spolsky wrote the specification for Visual Basic for Applications, which is used by tens or hundreds of millions of people in comparison to your hundreds of thousands of users, and he swears by specs.

stop acting like you know everything when the only programmer in your group is fresh out of college.

David Heinemeier Hansson 01 Mar 06

Do you think the same strategy of development should be used to write a programming language as for web-application development? I think not. So we may not know everything, but we do know our apples from oranges.

And, just for the record, 37signals now employs three programmers in addition to myself. Two of them didn’t even complete college. Guess what? We couldn’t care less. Your aptitude for creating great end-user applications for the web has very little to do with your inclination to finish college.

gwg 01 Mar 06

1. Thanks for the 10 copy option. It’s what I bought. Honestly, I would have given it to 8 people had you not provided this option. Thanks for giving me a chance to keep some karma by paying for what I’ll do. Now, I’ll distribute 9 and keep 1 for me.

2. After a first run-through, I see no reason to print it. The PDF is so light in file size that I honestly thought that something was wrong with Firefox when it told me that the D/L was finished.

3. While Getting Real stands on it’s own, I would really love to see more posts / PDF’s that are micro studies of how you work. Nothing long-winded, but slightly more in-depth than your recent post about sketching.

4. I was a little taken aback at the length of the ‘chapters’ at first. However, pages and pages on one topic would completely go against pretty much all of 37’s beliefs.

5. My favorite: “Have an Enemy”

Cheers

Justin French 01 Mar 06

stop acting like you know everything

eh, chill out.

37signals is doing nothing more than offering insight into the way they do things, what works for them, and what *may* work for you. Getting Real is a philosophy. Like all philosophies, there will be those that agree with it, and those that don’t. There will be those that use it (or portions of it) and those that don’t.

There’s no One True Way to build anything, and I don’t believe 37s thinks they have all the answers to everyone’s problems. They just found something that works for them, and they’re writing about it.

However, 37signals do need to “sell” the Getting Real pattern to those who cared enough to buy the book. A book about functional specifications needs to do the same thing.

You either want to buy the book and learn more, or you don’t. Clearly you don’t, thanks for sharing.

Ethan 01 Mar 06

i gave u guys my email so when this came out you would let ppl know. it doesnt bother me but some other people might not know or dont visit the site frequently. cant wait to get the book. thanks 37signals

Leslie 01 Mar 06

Thanks for the book guys. It reminds me, at least in concept, of Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. If your book is only half as good as Paul’s it’ll be worth the price.

And speaking of price… thanks for having a site license. Its just the right size for getting real sized companies.

James 01 Mar 06

So far I’m really enjoying “Getting Real”. It has also given me a reason to finally take advantage of that “Technology Fee” my University makes me pay each semester. 171 pages of printable bliss here I come!

Kevin 01 Mar 06

And, just for the record, 37signals now employs three programmers in addition to myself. Two of them didn’t even complete college. Guess what? We couldn’t care less. Your aptitude for creating great end-user applications for the web has very little to do with your inclination to finish college.

Thank you, David! I’m a young programmer too and I’m tired of all the flack I get for being so young. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do it just as well as everyone else, especially if you really put your mind to it. I sure don’t know everything and neither does eh (for sure) and I don’t see anywhere where you claimed that. You’re just presenting a great way to do things. Take it as you may…

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for putting the book out so soon. I’ve already purchased it. So far it’s great! I’ll definitely recommend this one to all of my developer buddies!

Gary 01 Mar 06

Awesome, I’ll have to take a look at this.

Genady 01 Mar 06

Jason, Your personal arrogance is SO off putting. Sometimes your posts just drip with a superiority that it’s hard to take you seriously. You kids thinking you have a philosophy worthy of a “book” (read: pamphlet) is rather humorous and well, arrogant. Unfortunately, I don’t think you realize you are helping a lot of developers make a connection between 37signals and youthful arrogance. I don’t think I’ll be back.

JB 01 Mar 06

Genady (et. al.), I’m very curious what you find “arrogant” in what Jason (and David, and Ryan, and Matt) write. Over and over (and over!) they have stated, quite clearly, that what works for them may or may not work for you, and that you can take what has value for you and leave the rest. There is a difference between “confident in what they do” and “arrogant.” Obviously, a lot of the readers here disagree with your definition of arrogant. Quite frankly, your comment comes across as more arrogant and snobbish than anything I’ve ever seen JF write.

My 2 cents.

JF 01 Mar 06

Sometimes your posts just drip with a superiority that it’s hard to take you seriously…

Then you proceed to say…

You kids thinking you have a philosophy worthy of a “book” (read: pamphlet) is rather humorous and well, arrogant.

I’ll let the readers decide who’s arrogant when they compare what we write to what you just wrote.

I don’t think I’ll be back.

Thanks for letting us know.

Steve 01 Mar 06

Jason, do you apply the Getting Real approach to your book writing? The sample chapters read short, sharp and to the point. I hate reading a whole chapter of around 30 pages only to be told something that would have taken five pages.


I haven’t bought the book, yet, but the idea is brewing.

JF 01 Mar 06

Hey Steve… We like to make points and leave it at that. Too many words is like too many features — it’s just too much.

So we work hard to keep the points as tight as possible. We wanted to write something other people wanted to read. We think that means short bursts of meaningful points, not pages and pages of filler just to bulk up the page count.

Steve 01 Mar 06

Hello, Jason. These two comments have swayed it for me:

We like to make points and leave it at that.

We think that means short bursts of meaningful points, not pages and pages of filler just to bulk up the page count.

I want a book that just gives me what I want to know and drops the rest. I will buy the PDF on the merit of these two comments. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

I read the sample chapter “Design the Interface First”. I am currently applying the Getting Real principle to a web project of my own. Productivity is through the roof. The interface is clean, well rounded, productive, functional and well organised. I like it.

Seeing the visual results quickly and easily changed, updated, and checked for functionality gives me a great sense of achievement and keeps the energy and efficiency alive. The project shows no signs of slowing down. Good stuff.

JF 01 Mar 06

Glad those points resonated with you Steve! We hope you find the book valuable.

Tim 01 Mar 06

I like the book as a compendium of 37S philosophy. I’ve already burned one of my ten (book) lives forwarding it to someone who needs to read it closely.

I do wish, though, that Jason’s response to the folks upthread who requested a typo-free version of the book for early purchaser/proofreaders was more than “sorry” and “no plans to do that.”

A .pdf isn’t a web page. “Reload” isn’t an option.

JF 01 Mar 06

Tim, we are sorry, of course, but at this time we don’t have plans to cook new books for everyone if there’s a spelling error. So far we’ve caught one and fixed it early on.

If we find significant additional issues then we’ll consider it, but we don’t have the systems in place to send out all new books to everyone, and track which version someone has, if we find a small spelling error.

Geoff B 01 Mar 06

Designing the interface first works well for some projects. I can definitely think of a few that I wish I had approached this way…

But don’t you get ideas for functionality by writing code? I know I do. Sometimes you don’t even know exactly what an application is supposed to do until you start the first iteration. An elaborate set of html mock-ups might turn out to be extremely constricting. This approach may also “demote” the developer to someone who just implements a spec, rather than someone who contributes creatively to a project.

I have the book Agile Development with Rails, and it suggests starting with functionality, then moving to layout and design…

Like all things, it depends. But I got to tell you - if I were a developer who’se job involved little more than taking mock-ups from designers and writing the backend to fit, I’d probably start looking around for something else to do.

Steve 01 Mar 06

@Tim

Do spelling mistakes and other small errors really distract from the overall essence and underlying information contained within the book? I myself can live with a few mistakes in a book. Maybe it’s just me, though.

Jason, do you have any plans to have a follow up posting so readers can air their views on the book? It might open up a whole load of trouble, however. I, personally, would like to share my findings with others who purchased the book.

On a side note, you should be careful when using ‘cook’ and ‘books’ in the same sentence :)

Dave Martin 01 Mar 06

Hey just a side-note, I added an entry at readinginsights.com for anyone to upload insights they recieve from reading the book.

http://readinginsights.com/viewbook.php?bookid=100062

Charles Martin 01 Mar 06

jason, while Genady didn’t help a bit with his tone, sometimes it does get a little think in here.

ANYHOW, really, please, we don’t know if we’re doing print or not. Please don’t ask anymore. Thank you.

Tough. There are reasons people like print books. There are reasons …

I’m intrigued as to why you’ve gone with a small font taking up little of the width rather than a bigger font if this PDF was designed for on-screen reading. I think this will be looking great when I print it out, and it really seems like a nice print layout, but as an on-screen format.. I don’t get it.

… people hire book designers. There are reasons book designers don’t put full pages of black in very often.

(Hint: a page of single-column text should be closer to 350 words that 200, which is about what you get.)

Old farts like me like books on paper because we can read them comfortably without being in the office chair. Print the damn thing. And hire a professional for some of the other little things…

Kevin, we fixed that shortly after launch. Sorry you got a version with the typo.

… like copy-editing.

Why self publish? Because traditional publishing is broken. We tried it once and realized it’s tilted way in favor of the publisher, not the author, and we think that’s wrong.

Because now they’re getting $19 - ε per copy, while a regular publisher would pay them about $3 … because they would hire an editor, and a book designer, and so forth.

(Try iUniverse.)

Tim 01 Mar 06

Actually, there are two typos cited, but, granted, they’re very small errors.

A question about content: I wonder if the quote on page 84, about Mozart and Salieri (Five Antonio Salieris won’t produce Mozart’s Requiem. Ever. Not if they work for 100 years.), is in conflict with the book’s assertion five pages later, “A happy yet average employee is better than a disgruntled expert.”

True, Salieri was more “frustrated and average” (well, actually, a lot more than average), but I’m wondering what your take is on the two seemingly very different points of view.

Dave Martin 01 Mar 06

I don’t know what everyone is fussing about. I just went and published mine at kinkos for $13.50. They even cut off the edges and put a binding on it. Looks great ;-)

Tim 01 Mar 06

@Steve

I really don’t care about minor typos other than

1. They’re there and shouldn’t be

2. When a paying reader does the job of a copy editor and politely asks for fixed copy of the e-book, he should expect something more than “sorry, no.”

3. When a group such as 37 Signals sets itself up as the expert voice (with the usual caveats of “this works for us; it may not for you”), a reader has the right to expect that proper care has gone into the backreading of the text. Especially when it is so brief.

I think this may be some of what some posters upthread are responding to as arrogance. For the record, I am a paying 37S user, I quote them often, and I think they are contributing mightily. And my life is not made less enjoyable by a misspelled word in a PDF.

That said, Jason’s entitled to react however he wants - it’s his show here. Steve Jobs is a pill sometimes too, but that doesn’t make him any less of a visionary.

But you’ll never see a typo in his Keynote slides.

:-)

Steve 02 Mar 06

@Tim

1. They’re there and shouldn’t be

I agree, they should not be. However, even after extensive proof reading, many books still contain errors. Unfortunately, it is something that cannot be helped.

… asks for fixed copy of the e-book, he should expect something more than “sorry, no.”

This comes down to general practicality. It is not really possible to maintain reader requests based on every typing mistake that arises. It would be nice to have them corrected and everyone issued with a new copy, but it takes a lot more then people realize to make that possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like mistakes in books anymore then you, but I realize that they are a given and move on. I accept them in light of the early release of the book rather then waiting longer. My view is that we can have an early release with a few minor mistakes, or we can have a later release with slightly less mistakes.

Steve 02 Mar 06

@Tim

Can I jump the topic back onto the content of the book, please?

Would you mind sharing your views on the content and how easily ideas and methods are extracted? Do you see them as being easily applied to the reader’s individual situation?

Jaan Orvet 02 Mar 06

A suggestion - a printable receipt would be great! Thanks.

Jake Ingman 02 Mar 06

As I see “HEY, TYPO” as a recurring trend - I thought I would ask - _do you want us to post spelling/grammer corrections here, or is there a better way?_ I ask cause I’ve got one… :)

Jake Ingman 02 Mar 06

“grammer”, I kill me.

Hrush 02 Mar 06

Jason,

Thanks for the free chapters and getting the book out.

Just a quick edit from the Meetings chapter:

“They often contain at least one moron that inevitably get his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.”

Shouldn’t that be “gets his turn”?

Hrush 02 Mar 06

Yes, good question, Jake — seeing as I just posted a correction here.

Sean Schantzen 02 Mar 06

Can I lend my PDF to a friend after I finish reading it and then get it back when he is done, just like I would do with a printed book. J/K :) Just throwing in Lawrence Lessig’s two cents.

morituri 02 Mar 06

Guys, any plans to offer payment via Paypal?

Spike 02 Mar 06

Kudos to you guys for self-publishing. No better example of the “getting real” philosophy in action, IMO.

Excepting spelling / grammar corrections, is the book something you are planning on revising over periods of time, or will the layout and so forth stay the same? I know you’re fans of just releasing with bare-bones for version 1, then updating your core product with “cool” bits and pieces that weren’t essential for revision A.

Also, send Tim a typo-free copy of the PDF to stop his fucking whining!

Kenny 02 Mar 06

I have been greatly inspired by the design simplicity and marketing machine of 37signals.com. I met David and if it represents the pack, there are nice guys too.

But I start to worry about the value versus hipness balance that is disturbed with this book. Ofcourse less is more, but when I read the chapters it does not appear to very much value to me.

Too many people go blind on 37signals and want to be like them, in every aspect. Projectmanagement, design choices, what matters and does not depends on your insights, your company, your characteristics and your clients.

There is absolutely a demand for this thinking but guys, do your own thinking and challenge the order in your own way and become 370signals.

The last comment I want to add is the small world you are in when you only buzz around these logs, there is so much good and new things out there beside 37signals. Go be the next big thing instead of cheering and piece of text of code that comes out of them.

Again, I totally applaude for the success and the way 37signals did their thing, especially David. But I see all these “1 person design firms” sit with their powerbooks in London with this glare in their eyes “I wanna be a star just like them..” but will never be, not even by reading the book :-)

OK Fans, you can now kill Kenny.

Tim Almond 02 Mar 06

Design the interface first?

Perhaps you mentally have already broken down the process that your UI will be built on, but I’ve worked on projects where someone did the screens first, and they were a catastrophe. They didn’t consider how they’d get the data in that would allow them to show an “overdue account”.

If you want to start from somewhere, start from the end. What’s the system got to deliver? Then deal with what you need in to get that out.

Aaron 02 Mar 06

Great to see the headline today that 37Signals had released “Getting Real”, I am on the road overseas at the moment, and the only thing that was better than seeing it was released was being able to download it here and now. Otherwise I may not have purchased it.

Here’s a solution for those who have typos, would perhaps a trial version of Adobe Acrobat or similiar PDF-editor work, or is it encrypted?

Thank you to everyone at 37 Signals who has made this possible.

Anonymous Coward 02 Mar 06

Typos ARE important, especially in a short, short, short book like this one. What kind of message does that send? To pretend they happen “all the time,” with almost all books is nonsense. With poor editing at the publishing house, yes. At a publishing house that demands excellence, it is not. I find it a little disturbing that 37Signals would say that they don’t have a way to send corrected versions of a - pdf file(!) Consider this, what if the editing of the book, and the cavalier attitude about the errors, is indicitive of their attitude toward coding and software development? “Sorry you downloaded the version with the misspelled tabs, you got one of the early versions. But a replacement? No, sorry. Can’t do.” I mean……”Get Real!” I think sometimes the critical posts (like this one) can “add value” more than the rah-rah posts that seem to accept mediocrity and suggest that second-rate work is acceptable. Come on 37Signals, admit that the errors are UNacceptable in something that’s so small, that cost almost $20, and allow downloading of copies that show 37Signals= excellence!

Justin Smith 02 Mar 06

I see that I am labled “anonymous coward” for writing the above post and not being reminded that the name was not filled in when I hit “Post This Comment.” That’s a nice way to treat a customer and visitor to your blog! I’d say your attitude toward the mistakes of others are treated a tad more harshly than your own.

Andrew 02 Mar 06

I love PDF books. I love not having to carry heavy books between work and home. Its great not having to chop down a rainforest to print a best-seller. And you don’t need a cluttered-up bookshelf after you’ve accumulated a number of books you’ll probably never read again. Oh, and the ability to search.. and and and….

As for typos, I’d be pretty amazed if I could publish 191 pages without a single typo. Who has time to care? If you covet “your” copy of the PDF and so much time to worry, why don’t you hack it up and correct it yourself, *or* sell it on ebay as a piece of 37signals memorabilia ;-)

Spike 02 Mar 06

“I see that I am labled “anonymous coward” for writing the above post and not being reminded that the name was not filled in when I hit “Post This Comment.” That’s a nice way to treat a customer and visitor to your blog! I’d say your attitude toward the mistakes of others are treated a tad more harshly than your own.”

Has anyone got a big wooden cross, circa 33 AD? These 37 Signals guys SUCK! Lets have us a crucifixion! I sometimes think this weblog would be better named “Signals vs. Humourless-Bitching-Robots”

Robert Handrow 02 Mar 06

I’m not yet on board with agile development and business structures, but I’m eager to learn more. Espescially your basic education approach interests me a lot. It seems like a missing link between traditional didactic principles and media literacy in general. Thank you guys for having me inspired to learn more once again!

Russell G 02 Mar 06

I’m not reading anything that is fully justified… readability gone. Long live the left ragged.

tim 02 Mar 06

This book would make a great indie film. Give it some thought. You might even be able to get Keanu.

JF 02 Mar 06

I wish we were perfect, but we’re not. Errors are made. It happens. We’re sorry. Professional copy editors or not, people make mistakes. We had 22 eyeballs read this before we released it and yup, a few small errors slipped through. It happens.

We’ve corrected them.

Thanks for spotting them and letting us know.

Anonymous Coward 02 Mar 06

Holy crap people! Spelling mistakes happen. I can find at least one in every book I buy from any author and any publishing house. IT HAPPENS! You’ll get over it and I’m sure it will be fixed in future books.

Mark 02 Mar 06

It’s amazing how the bigger point of this is so easily missed by some here.

This e-book is a culmination of their thoughts on “getting real.” If you have been following their posts, or have at least read the book, you’d know that this revolves around the idea of getting it done, scaling later and appropriately, not wasting time in meetings, fixing mistakes in later iterations, keeping the team small…

While the ideas of “getting real” are centered around building web apps, it doesn’t take too much a stretch to see they applied some of these principles in writing this e-book, as well.

Personally, I find it refreshing that Jason has found a credo to follow, he follows it, has built a team around it, and has several successful products showing the viability of it.

Whether or not you buy into the signals’ theology, you have to give them credence for practicing what they preach.

Morten 02 Mar 06


Typo: In “Scale later” (free online chapter at least) you’re quoting “Dare Obasanj” which should be “Dare Obasanjo”.

The book looks great, the format is excellent.

JF 02 Mar 06

Thanks Morten, we fixed that and it will be pushed shortly.

Morten 02 Mar 06


@Kenny: People read this book to get inspired - for quite the same reason they read blogs and other books. Not necessarily to become (like) the author. The “A-ha” moments served to you by this book may not be of the same value as they are to other, less experienced, design/development teams. The “Getting Real” book is basically the same format as “The Pragmatic Programmer” - it’s a collection of points, only the target group for the “Getting Real” book is less well-defined than for “The Pragmatic Programmer”.

Getting inspired is a good thing.

Darrel 02 Mar 06

I wish we were perfect, but we’re not. Errors are made. It happens. We’re sorry. Professional copy editors or not, people make mistakes. We had 22 eyeballs read this before we released it and yup, a few small errors slipped through. It happens.

If people want to see ‘real’ typos, pick up a WROX book. On average, there’s a major typo every 10 pages. That, itself, wouldn’t be too bad except that a lot of these typos are in the code examples.

Looks like a nice book, 37sig…and at a nice price! And you saved a few trees too.

ML 02 Mar 06

Thanks so much to everyone who’s posted or sent errors found in the book. We appreciate it a ton and we fix any error found ASAP (rolling out a new version right now actually). If you spot something, email us at gettingreal [at] 37signals.com.

That said, if getting a PDF with typos is a dealbreaker for you, we encourage you to wait a few days before purchasing the book. If you like to live life on the edge and can handle a few typos, then go ahead and buy it now.

If you’ve still got a beef about this, read this comment from Steve. We think that’s the right way to look at it. Thanks for the reasonable, thoughtful comment Steve. We appreciate it.

cboone 02 Mar 06

Wow. There are some seriously negative comments in this thread. Why?

I don’t get it. You all (37signals, that is) must be hitting a pretty sensitive and central nerve to be getting this kind of reaction…

You’ve published an interesting looking book containing your thoughts on your work and how other people might find put those thoughts to use, in a novel manner with relatively little hype, provided free samples, and… people are freaking out. That’s peculiar, no?

Is it simple jealousy? The trolls coming out of the woods? End of the week angst? Winter doldrums?

I mean, what’s up?

My casual guess: People are scared of change. You all are suggesting that perhaps the standard practices in our industry are no longer appropriate, or efficient, or effective (assuming they ever were). That’s a scary thought. Thus, people lash out at the messenger.

Reminds me of the musical establishment’s continued hatred and misunderstanding of free improv.

(Nota bene for the trolls in the audience: I’m just saying that I’m reminded of that. No bigger claims there. ;)

Anyway, the book looks interesting guys. Looking forward to reading it.

ML 02 Mar 06

printed books are great too!

We agree! This book isn’t printed though. It’s a PDF. It may or may not be a printed book later. We can’t make any guarantees on that though (or promise you’ll get any deal on a print version if you buy the PDF). If this is a dealbreaker for you, don’t buy it.

The sample chapters are around two pages each, and fail to capture the experience of reading 171 pages of gray text with no visual relief besides blockquotes and bullets.

It’s true, there are no pictures. If that’s a problem, you prob don’t want to buy the book. On the other hand, many people have no problem reading 171 pages without images. I guess this book is for people like that.

joel spolsky wrote the specification for Visual Basic for Applications, which is used by tens or hundreds of millions of people in comparison to your hundreds of thousands of users, and he swears by specs.

That’s great for Joel. What works for him is different than what works for us. This book is about what works for us.

Jason, Your personal arrogance is SO off putting. Sometimes your posts just drip with a superiority that it�s hard to take you seriously. You kids thinking you have a philosophy worthy of a �book� (read: pamphlet) is rather humorous and well, arrogant.

If this is the way you feel, you probably shouldn’t read the book. Actually, what are you doing here at all?

You know who I think is really annoying? Ryan Seacrest. You know one thing that helps me deal with this problem? I don’t pay attention to Ryan Seacrest. I don’t watch American Idol. I don’t write him letters. I just kinda go about my life without worrying about him. You should try this approach.

When a paying reader does the job of a copy editor and politely asks for fixed copy of the e-book, he should expect something more than �sorry, no.�

We respect your opinion on the matter but right now we’re unable to offer this. If this is a problem, we encourage you to wait a few days before purchasing. Most/all the kinks should be worked out by then.

when I read the chapters it does not appear to very much value to me

Don’t buy the book then. We think there’s a ton of value in the text though. We may just have to agree to disagree.

Come on 37Signals, admit that the errors are UNacceptable in something that�s so small, that cost almost $20, and allow downloading of copies that show 37Signals= excellence!

Actually, some errors are acceptable. Sometimes it’s better to go ahead with something that’s 99% accurate. Actually, that’s part of Getting Real. Sometimes you’re better off getting something out there vs. waiting longer to make it 100% error-free.

Thanks to everyone who has provided thoughtful feedback, positive or negative.

Charmed 02 Mar 06

You created this book collaboratively, yes?

Large part of business is dealing with splitting the profits. I’d be curious to learn whats your tactic on this issue?

Robert G 02 Mar 06

The people who need this book the most are the typo police.

“Why isn’t your web application finished yet?”

“I’m still trying to perfect the layout on paper, down to the pixel…”


As a paradoxical side note, there is probably an opportunity here to create a publishing system that allows users to rerieve corrected versions of a document. The next 37signals application?

JF 02 Mar 06

The people who need this book the most are the typo police.

Robert, you made my day with that one! Thanks!

Steve 02 Mar 06

I just purchased the book, thank you so much. I plan on reading it in bed (with a warm lap).

For those whining about the large white space, just crop it down, as I did with OS X Preview.

Tony 02 Mar 06

If a sub-200-page book on “getting real” isn’t your speed, and you don’t want to have to read it on-screen or print it yourself, maybe this 470 tome from Bill Gates is more your speed: Business @ The Speed of Thought :P

z 02 Mar 06

just got the book, havent read it yet, but whatever bits i did read resonated with me, so i’m looking forward to diving in.

my only gripe is the black pages. i was going to print it off my laser printer and of course black pages waste a lot of toner.

ML 02 Mar 06

my only gripe is the black pages. i was going to print it off my laser printer and of course black pages waste a lot of toner.

We’re listening and working on this. Stay tuned.

Nick C 02 Mar 06

I’m impressed.

It would have been deeply ironic to write a volume on the art of superproductivity using a small-scale, agile and dynamic framework only to commit it to 171 physical pages that would take weeks to reach a hungry international audience, weeks longer to revise and give less time for feedback.

All credit for practicing what you preach.

I’ve just had my copy printed and wiro bound and it cost me less than 5 pounds (about 8-9 dollars). It’s not going to win any bookbinding awards, but who cares?

Self-publishing in electronic format is definitely the way to go. It cuts costs, speeds content delivery, is better for the environment and allows buyers to print what they need.

Electronic paper will be likely to boost the self-publishing industry to even greater heights - Sony’s Librié electronic book reader has paved the way for similar devices which could read PDFs on a thin screen that looks and feels like paper.

Interesting times ahead…

Willie Abrams 02 Mar 06

The huge margins suck. Everytime I go to read the book, I have to zoom and resize and whatever to read full screen.

Other than that, I love the book.

Blake 02 Mar 06

In a word, quality. Thanks 37s for what you’re a doing and for sharing the knowledge love.

Don Grantham 02 Mar 06

One of my colleagues turned me on to the book earlier this week and I have to say after downloading the book yesterday, I have not been able to put it down. Great job guys!

Frank Gruber 02 Mar 06

Sounds interesting. I cannot wait to get a chance to download it and check it out. I would be interested in a print version as well.

Rahul 02 Mar 06

I haven’t read it yet because my boss refuses to buy it for me. What should I do?

Pete Prodoehl 02 Mar 06

I second the “payment via PayPal” request…

JF 02 Mar 06

I haven’t read it yet because my boss refuses to buy it for me. What should I do?

Buy it yourself.

z 02 Mar 06

Buy it yourself.

bullseye! ;)

Anonymous Coward 02 Mar 06

I haven’t read it yet because my boss refuses to buy it for me. What should I do?

and you wonder why your boss treats you like a child.

z 02 Mar 06

my only gripe is the black pages. i was going to print it off my laser printer and of course black pages waste a lot of toner.

We’re listening and working on this. Stay tuned.

thank you, Matt!

can you wager an ETA? just trying to gauge whether i’ll wait for it or just go ahead and say to hell with toner ;)

Adam W 02 Mar 06

Just bought and started reading, I’ve followed your posts over the last little while and love your applications. I look forward to finishing the entire thing.

David Heinemeier Hansson 02 Mar 06

z, we’ll deal with it today. So if you can withstand the urge to print for a few more hours, we’ll save your toner :)

z 02 Mar 06

thanks, David, it’ll be tough, but i’ll try to manage ;)

YaaL 02 Mar 06

Could you *please* show me where exactly did I allow you to spam me, when I commented on your blog?

Chris McEvoy 02 Mar 06

Just bought my 11 copies. (10 friends at work will be getting a copy tomorrow).

Thanks a lot for treating me like an adult and not forcing me to enter my e-mail address twice on the order form.

David Heinemeier Hansson 02 Mar 06

YaaL, we don’t spam anyone for posting on our blog. The email address is not harvested. The only way to get an email from 37signals is to opt in for it.

Tom Michlig 02 Mar 06

In the Introduction, I appreciate the reference to this philosophy being for designers, musicians, etc. and not app developers exclusively. As a graphic designer I have always found 37S philosophies/discussions applicable to my situation(s).

And, on a somewhat ridiculous sidenote, kudos on naming the PDF sample chapters. It’s a small pet peeve, but I hate grabbing PDFs from a professional organization, only to see a naming “convention” similar to something like “44366_intro.pdf” or even worse, “intro_final.pdf”.

Details!

mattg 02 Mar 06

for reading on screen landscape would work better

mattg 02 Mar 06

oh & thanks for Rails btw

Rahul 02 Mar 06

and you wonder why your boss treats you like a child.

I do? I wasn’t aware.

Derek 02 Mar 06

Hey, I have been eagerly awaiting the dunce cap. I think a few posts in this thread could take that honor.

Kenny 02 Mar 06

Fine, why don’t i jut direct-deposit to your guys’ bank account.

I bought your book, and look forward to making it cut in line in the queue.

simpleISbetter 02 Mar 06

ot, but valid i hope. from the deck:

“How do I buy?

First, download and launch the latest Knox release. In Knox’s Vaults menu, choose “Buy Knox…”. On the first screen of the purchase dialog, enter the coupon code PATHFINDER. The Purchase detail view should now reflect the bundle pricing. After you’ve completed your Knox purchase, you will receive the Path Finder license details automatically to the email address you specified.”

does this seem like a whole bunch of work to anyone besides me?

Stanley 02 Mar 06

Boy, 37Sig fans sure seem like a bunch of pr!cks after reading this post.

Print the f-ing book out and quit b!tching. Overlook the typos and learn from what you read. The whole is FAR greater than the sum of it’s parts.

I know. I read the whole thing today.

Stanley 02 Mar 06

I even caught my own typo and I still like myself!

Aytekin 02 Mar 06

Just printed the book. The text is very small and difficult to read. I wish you made the text bigger and bolder instead of the huge space around.

Steve 02 Mar 06

Hey, there are two Steve’s on here now :)

ML: If you’ve still got a beef about this, read this comment from Steve. We think that’s the right way to look at it. Thanks for the reasonable, thoughtful comment Steve. We appreciate it.

No problem guys - keep the interesting subject matter pouring.

Jared White 02 Mar 06

I bought the book. I read it in three chunks today…only took around 2 1/2 hours total.

I got more out of reading this little e-book than just about any other computer-related book I’ve ever read on any topic that I can possibly think of. Whoa. I think you applied Getting Real to the book. :) And that’s fine — when I want verbose frills, I’ll read Jame Fenimore Cooper. When I want a brain supercharge, I’ll read something like this.

Way to go guys. Well worth every penny of the $19 I spent.

Ashish 02 Mar 06

Amazing….you ALL act like bunch of Juvenile, in love with 37sig’s every single idea.

Hey 37sig guys: You can most probably sell these kids anything you want. I really respect your community building/marketing approach. Nothing better then die-hard company evangelists.

Steve 02 Mar 06

Ashish:Amazing….you ALL act like bunch of Juvenile, in love with 37sig’s every single idea.

@Ashish

I have actually had very strong and often negative comments on a number of various aspects and principles relating to 37Signals. I have raised concern over their way of thinking and other parts of what those at 37Signals have to say.

However, I also have the common decency to do the same for ideas I like and support. Not everything they say is perfect for every situation and for everyone’s way of thinking, but you can gain some insightful ideas and comments by reading and listening what is contained in these pages.

I, personally, don’t agree with everything, but some people do. They state that clearly and I state the fact that I don’t support everything. Give people their chance to speak and support in the way they see fit. We’ll give you the chance to say what you have to say.

Have a look around some of the other posts and you’ll see that I’m not a spoon-fed individual. Neither are a lot of the other people posting comments here.

Prabhath 02 Mar 06

I’m sure this is an excellent book, and I’d love to buy a copy, but for the “freedom compromising” nature of the “license” (I guess that’s a term new to books - we used to own books in the past).

I’ve elaborated on these thoughts here.

Guess it was quite difficult to avoid, and you’re not to be blamed for trying out novel ways of distribution, but we do need to come up with a model where knowledge sharing is not restricted through licenses.

Ian Gordon 02 Mar 06

One thing that irks me about this is that I think people give 37 Signals too much credit, like your gods at what you do, I mean don’t think I hate you or don’t think you guys do good work, you have made a lot of worthy contributions but, in my minds, that just it, their just contributions, most of what you have done has been done in the past to some degree, you guys have in a lot of ways just re-invented the wheel.

This is my opinion so, I could be wrong but, I mean I think you guys are blindly praised by a lot of your readership. If people really sat back and looked at what you have done, its not really that much, it seems that way but, you guys are still new and as I said before their just a few noteworthy contributions but, nothing overly innovative.

This e-book about your business practices and such, seems a bit pretentious, you guys aren’t really innovators and aren’t doing things in such a way that is someone followed your methodology they would gain fame and the boost you guys got because of the rise of AJAX and the “Web 2.0”. I mean, yes you guys are pretty slick on some things but, overall it seems to be just pretty basic and nothing that seems to stand out to make it a “new” idea.

Just thought, i’d voice a bit of my problems with some of the praise and glory you guys bring in about your products and methodology you guys are spreading.

ML 02 Mar 06

most of what you have done has been done in the past to some degree, you guys have in a lot of ways just re-invented the wheel.

Fwiw Ian, this quote is from page 9 of Getting Real:

We’re not claiming to have invented these techniques. Many of these concepts have been around in one form or another for a long time. Don’t get huffy if you read some of our advice and it reminds you of something you read about already on so and so’s weblog or in some book published 20 years ago. It’s definitely possible. These techniques are not at all exclusive to 37signals. We’re just telling you how we work and what’s been successful for us.

Sergey Vlasov 03 Mar 06

It would be great for the book to have a “Contents” section.
Nothing personal ;) it’s all just about “usability”.

Stuart Sutherland 03 Mar 06

37 Signals. This is a really solid book. It’s provocative and you guys are honest about what it is and isn’t. I have no problems with the fact that you get praised. Good luck to you. Well done. You make people think and have the balls to make money out of that. And P.S. I bought the book for the ideas and, while it might irk, to be honest I don’t give a shti about typso.

M Turner 03 Mar 06

Kinda reminds me of Joel On Software (Joel Spolsky), which was also a bunch of blog posts amalgamated into a book. Whilst the short hits of ideas are quite good in this I think I prefer Joels writing style and depth he goes into covering topics. Not too much mind but enough to make it good enough to just read straight through.

I suppose at least this one’s short enough to read straight through.

John Graham 03 Mar 06

“For those whining about the large white space, just crop it down, as I did with OS X Preview.”

I tried to print 2 to a page with cropping and it doesn’t work. Anyone know how to remove the whitespace for printing?

marvinlewis 03 Mar 06

37signals, i really enjoyed the book (read it last night). i think some people think that a reader needs to be “crushed with brilliance”. hats off to you for laying out your common sense approach in something that’s easy to digest.

i guess you’re currently ‘riding out the storm’ wrt the book. - b

Oliver Nielsen 06 Mar 06

So far an interesting read. Makes sense. Refreshing. Cool to release it as an e-book - very web 2.0 ;-)

clint 06 Mar 06

I’m about 3/4 of the way thru it and I gotta tell you that it is very timely info for me. to quote King Solomon “a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” I’m currently working on a project that has taken a good amount of my thought and creative energy for quite a while now (year and a half to be exact).

The best thing about this is that since I havent gone live with it yet, it has given me a very good opportunity to re-evaluate everything that I’ve done to this point, focus on the core, and cut out everything that doesnt need to be there…basically, its turned my perspective completely upside-down temporarily…and thats a good thing.

Oliver Nielsen 06 Mar 06

PS: Please send a free copy to eBay - they desperately need it!

Joe Clark 06 Mar 06

If anybody is running odds that this book is a tagged PDF that passes the Acrobat accessibility checker, I give it 50:1 against. Remember, adding the accessibility “feature” would force 37Signals ideologues to take another feature out.

AD 08 Mar 06

I’m confused, I found a slideshow presentation detailing why businesses should do business with 37signals, and it states that its “about the customers goals”, and focusing on business goals, etc…. but in “meetings are toxic” it says that you should limit the number of meetings to the bare minimum and that anything that takes you away from developing the app is bad.

Whilst I agree with the concept that one should only have meetings with an agenda, and that time should be spent on making,developing the app, I think it’s conflicting with your customer-focus.

If its about the customer, if its about their goals, if its about what their objectives, if its about their needs and wishes and if therefore its about their agenda, not yours - why does that chapter state that you need to be “me-me-me” focused, why does the chapter state that your time as the developer is more important than that of the customer and you shouldn’t waste a single second.

But, what happens if we take this idea and put it into schools; what if teacher’s suddenly decided to spend their time only on the best, brightest and boldest of students - what happens to the rest?

Yes, I agree with the age-old 80-20 rule, and I agree with you that the app should solve a problem, that we (as web developers) are here to solve that problem, achieve a goal and be more customer focused… but how do you square the circle that “your needs vs customer needs”?

Is the book a cynical marketing ploy, or does it really have insights that can be put into place right now? Does it really offer anything new, does the book claim that 37signals has all the answers and that the word of 37signals is to be trusted because they said it…?

To be honest, I’m deeply cyncial - on one hand there are some good things in the book… its a movement for change. No doubt about it.

But I have to question 37signals’ reasoning for putting a manifesto for change, a bible for a new way of thinking…and then slapping on a $19 charge. If the manifesto is so important, so necessary, and indeed so revolutionary; why isn’t it for free? Indeed, why is the terms and conditions so ironclad preventing the free distribution of the e-book?

Is it because under all the hype, and behind the smoke and mirrors of a “philosophically different” company, 37signals is just using age old tactics ripped off from self-help gurus such as Napoleon Hill, just to make a fast buck under the guise of “revolutionary snake oil” that will change the world?

As Buddha once said;
“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it.
Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.”

Joe Rugged 09 Mar 06

What a hater.
Snake-oil? What a stupid post.
Is the web so full of trolls that don’t want to pay for anything?
Get over it. Nothing in life is free and if it is, you get what you pay for.

The Bible isn’t free. The Bible was and is big-business.

Why would someone spend all their creative moments making a book to explain **their” way of doing business and give it away to a classless jerk like you?

You probably want to waste your money on an overpriced IPOD or Mac laptop. Oh, those prices are OK right?

What about overspending on your mobile phone? Rip off.


What about all the other crap you buy and use?

Face it. Free is for poor people. Ger a job.

Tim 11 Apr 06

I like your site.
Blogs with comments windows that you have to click to open keep the dialogue under wraps. Blogs like this one which string comments out in the open are much more proactive about sparking dialogue.

Tim 11 Apr 06

I like your site.
Blogs with comments windows that you have to click to open keep the dialogue under wraps. Blogs like this one which string comments out in the open are much more proactive about sparking dialogue.

Roland Glicks 04 Jun 06

Please contact me by ICQ: 749127197. I have a news for you.

Roland Glicks 04 Jun 06

Please contact me by ICQ: 749127197. I have a news for you.

Roland Glicks 04 Jun 06

Please contact me by ICQ: 749127197. I have a news for you.

Roland Glicks 04 Jun 06

Please contact me by ICQ: 749127197. I have a news for you.

Roland Glicks 04 Jun 06

Please contact me by ICQ: 749127197. I have a news for you.

Post a comment

(Basic HTML is allowed)

NOTE: We'd rather not moderate, but off-topic, blatantly inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate or vapid comments may be removed. Repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. Let's add value. Thank you.