2015-12-30

My thoughts on buying professional documentation

The Apache Camel project has a lot of documentation online at its website, we have more than 1000+ pages. However due to project was created so many years ago, and the choosing of a wiki based system for documentation, has lead us today with a website and documentation that is a challenge to navigate and keep up to date, and have a modern look and feel.

The Camel team is aware of this, but its a huge undertaking to build a new website and restructure and redo the documentation. But we will get there, part of the help is the work on being able to keep the EIPs and components, data formats etc. partly up to date based on a build system that can sync the source code and documentation, to ensure all the options are present and documented.

However this last last blog of mine for the year 2015, is a concern of mine. Are commercial companies so bad at allowing their engineers to buy books about the various open source projects they are researching or using?

I sadly see too many new users to Apache Camel, that could benefit from buying one of the many Apache Camel books, and read a few chapters to help set the scene, and get the reader on a much better path and journey with using Apache Camel. I also sometimes encounter private emails from big companies asking for help about various Camel issues they have, and from what I can see then 7 or 8 out of 10 questions are already covered in the books, or at least the books could guide them to a solution in much less time. Besides the books there is also Camel training, where some companies offer training either online or onsite.

Apache Camel is a very feature rich integration library, and it has a lot of functionality. And you will be much more successful when you learn this piece by piece. The Camel books will help you archive that by covering the pieces chapter by chapter.

As an author myself I know that there is a lot of effort going into making a book. The level of details and work from both the authors and publisher goes beyond what is possible to do as online website documentation. You should really see this as different kind of documentation, which gives the synergy effect where 2 + 2 = 5. 

So are we there where a $30-60 book (depending on discount codes and print vs ebook). And during x-mas there is even some publishers that has all their books on sale for $$ is a barrier to entry? Are companies that make $$$ in using free open source projects, and never contribute back, not even able to let their developers get hands on the best documentation, to allow them to be even more successful? 

Professional documentation such as books are a key to become more successful

You may also consider that as a developer in the IT industry, you have constantly to improve and learn new skills to keep up, or stay relevant. During my many years in this industry and with the rise of the internet, its become much easier to self study, than in the old days, where you had to wait 1-2 years before your company would send you to some outside training. So what cheaper way is there not to spend a bit $$$ on a book (and if your company reimburse its even better) and start reading. 

If you look for free material, then I was recently interviewed by DZone and there I gave some links to what I think are good resources to get started learning Apache Camel. There is links for both blogs / articles / videos etc.

Its been many years since I last did a job interview, but in my previous engagements a question of mine was always asking for the company to allow me to buy IT books of my choosing.

I buy books today as well. Because I like to read the old fashioned print books, I am looking forward to the Netty in Action book, to learn this excellent library much better, which also helps me to better support the Camel netty components. Another book I enjoy reading is the Functional Programming in Java book which is excellent at covering all the new stuff that Java 8 brings to the table.

To end my blog, then Manning has a 39% discount on the Camel in Action 2nd edition book (you will get 1st edition for free - the ebook version) if you order the book using the discount code camel39 from their website.

5 comments:

Maurice Betzel said...

Sold ;). I have to agree, it is not just choosing the right tooling, but understanding it. I to love to get into books that contribute to my knowlledge. But with the use of so many frameworks like Camel, ActiveMQ/JMS, Karaf/OSGi, Wildfly/JavaEE, JavaFX, Drools/jBPM and Maven (my main setup) it is hard to keep all the details in ones head. Camel book part one has helped me countless times getting complex issues solved, ecspecially after returning to camel after some time from a JavaEE project.
And if not, there was the mailling list.
Keep up the good work.

Sebastian Łaskawiec said...

I totally agree. Young developers tend to read less books and more tutorials (which often are quicker to get everything up and running but in long-term they are not a good fit). I also agree with @Maurice but on the other hand developers choose their own tools. So the role of Software Architects and Senior Developers is to stop introducing new tools and technologies if they observe problem with maintaining existing ones.

Sebastian Łaskawiec said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maurice Betzel said...

Sebastian, it is the role of the senior to solve a business case as efficiently as possible, for now and for future modifications. This has led me to the stack i use today. This stack covers a broad field of knowlledge, hence the stack of books i own, but has saved me a lot, A LOT, of headpains and time on the long run. And Camel is one of these tools that actually makes a developers live easier in standard use cases.
I am having this sort of discussion on every level within my daily work and it is my success rate that proves me right, not just before my colleages but mainly for myself.
Use the power of thousends, (dark voice) use the open source Luke ;).

mstittle said...

I bought and read cover-to-cover Camel in Action a couple years ago and it was a great resource for building several internal applications used by company. I've also purchased the 2nd Edition Meap and look forward to reading.

thanks Claus for all your work on the project.