Zsh Mailing List Archive
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Re: o'reilly zsh book?

On Mon, Jan 25, 1999 at 05:06:18PM +0000, Bruce Stephens wrote:
> > i've been thinking for a while that what zsh really needs is one of
> > those o'reilly handbooks to be written about it, and more recently,
> > i've come to the conclusion that that probably isn't going to happen
> > anytime soon.
> There's a potential problem of market: does anyone have any idea how
> many people use zsh?  I'd buy an O'Reilly book on it.
	that would probably be the hardest selling point.  now that
zsh is being included in most of the linux distributions, we can't
even do something like try to get a count of total number of downloads
from all of the mirror sites.  does anyone know how other free software
packages get estimates of their user base?  (for that matter, how many
people are on the zsh lists?  i think we could assume that anyone on
one of the lists is a user.)

> Alternatively, you could help to improve the documentation that comes
> with zsh.  That would have the disadvantages that you wouldn't get any
> money from it, and there wouldn't be a nice printed version (which
> would be nice).  But even if O'Reilly (or whoever) turned down your
> proposal, you could still contribute to the free documentation.
	all of the basic documentation is really already there, although
often in very cryptic langauge; even so, as you pointed out earlier, what 
is really needed is good tutorial info.  part and parcel with good examples
and tutorials, however, is having a way for someone who wants to do something
to easily find it, and that's where i think that having the docs done
professionally would be of greatest use: making a really good index.  i'd
guess that, all told, about a third of the time spent making a really useful
set of documentation on zsh would involve just building a good index and
cross-referencing everything; a commercial publisher would be far far better
at doing something like that than, say, i would.
	the money isn't much of an issue anyway; the last book i co-authored
(sams.net's intranets unleashed, which i can heartily recommend you not
waste your money on) was done for free as a favour to my then-employer
(who promptly got into a lawsuit with the company who had subcontracted
them to help write the book, so that, of the 6 chapters i wrote, none showed
up in the final product, while i was given credit for co-authoring a
chapter that i had never even seen).  for zsh, at least, it would be more a
labour of love, or maybe just a labour of lust--i know that i'm just barely
scratching the surface of things that zsh can do for me, and having to
sit down and write it all up and come up with nifty examples would force
me to dig a lot deeper and actually learn everything i want to learn but
keep putting off until next week.
	if there's no book, of course, i would still help out with the docs,
but as i just mentioned, i have a huge tendency to put things off unless
there are deadlines to be met, which would (for me, at least) be another
advantage of doing the docs for a book, rather than "for fun".

	-- sweth.

Sweth Chandramouli
IS Coordinator, The George Washington University
<sweth@xxxxxxx> / (202) 994 - 8521 (V) / (202) 994 - 0458 (F)
<a href="http://astaroth.nit.gwu.edu/~sweth/disc.html";>*</a>

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