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Old June 3rd, 2003, 10:31 PM
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Default Terrible Editing, Broken Examples, Rotten text

I'm glad to see that you have taken over WROX.

I own 6 Wrox books and the experience has been mixed. I found Beginning Active Server Pages to be a generally good book, but other books were not so helpful. Particularly- Professional ASP.NET 1.0 was perhaps the worst technical book I have ever purchased. The other books suffered from some of its problems.

Briefly...

Multiple Authors...
The whole multiple author concept produced redundant material which, combined with Wrox's poor editing, produced a hodge-podge, patch-work of merely semi-useful information.

The error plauged examples...
When I pay $50 for a technical book I want the examples to work. I it was simple enough for me to figure it out on my own I wouldn't be shelling out the money. Don't disappoint me. Charge me $60 if you want, but don't waste my time. Many professionals are very ticked off at WROX and have forsworn their stuff if my circle of aquaintances is any indication. Wiley is going to have to work hard to improve the reputation of WROX and regain trust.

Redundancy and lack of cohesion...
The content of the book should be cohesive in an organic sense. Get a general editor who understands the big picture. It is painfully obvious when you don't. Also, don't repackage the same book and resell it to us with 2% different material as the 'Professional' version. That only works once. And I certainly don't want to read the same exact information covered by multiple authors within the same book.

Finally, don't rush to be the first to press with a book on a hot technology, only to produce a book full of circular explanations that reveal that the authors themselves have not come to grasp the subject. It was almost excuseable in a book on something so amorphous as .NET, but not quite. More time spent actually explaining the principles and larger concepts of using a particular feature would be appreciated. 'ASP.NET Unleased' by Sams publishing was a much better book than the WROX's 'Professional ASP.NET 1.0' for exactly these reasons. Guess which company's books I have subsequently purchased since that time.

In spite of these complaints, I am willing to give WROX another chance to see if Wiley will steer it in a new direction.

Give us clear, helpful and insightful books and we will gladly become loyal customers.

Trey Carroll

---------------
Trey Carroll
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Old June 4th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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Trey,
   I completely agree. My experience with Wrox books has also been mixed. The ASP series of books were very good. But, the first edition Beginning series of .NET titles, like Beginning C#, were a mess, the lack of editing was very apparent. That's the biggest problem I have with these books, the subject matter is good, the concepts are good. But, the mispellings, omissions, misinformation and poor code samples(oh lord, the code samples, are almost always buggy) are a disservice to every reader who spent their hard earned money. If readers can find these errors so easily, why in heavan's name can't book editors find them first??? Answer: because they don't bother trying, last minute changes are made by authors and no one checks them and books get rushed out the door. Like Trey said, a big part of that has to do with multiple authors submitting and changing the material at different and last minute times before printing.
   Quality Control is needed, and I hope Wiley is just what the doctor ordered. To assist in this effort, why not beta test the books, just like you would software? Give out pre-release versions to a bunch of readers, give them x amount of time and let them find as many errors as possible. Perhaps let the volunteer readers choose which chapters to review from a sign-up web page, and when those chapters fill up, they have to pick from other chapters. This way the books get full coverage. In exchange, reviewers should get a free copy of the final release and their name added to the book under a reviewers section. A nice gesture that could possibly help a reviewers career. Would also look good for Wiley to show their quality control effort in each book. Sounds fair to me. A win/win for Wiley and reviewers. I'm sure many of the subscribers on this forum would be interested. I sure would! Heck, I'll even sign an NDA if need be. :)

Dan Maltes
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Old June 4th, 2003, 04:29 PM
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I'd be the first to admit that QC is often one of the most challenging aspects of this business. Beta changes, product bugs, etc., contribute to the high degree of difficulty involved in putting out a quality book. That said, yes, we certainly want to do everything we can to make sure WROX books meet your expectations.

The multiple author solution is one virtually every publisher has experimented with. Without a strong lead author and/or project editor the results are unpredictable. Will we continue using multiple authors on WROX books? Absolutely. Do I think we can apply certain standards that will help eliminate many of the quality problems you refer to? Yes. But I also want you to know that I don't claim to have a magic solution for this. In fact, you can help us reach that goal.

As Dan notes in his reply, there are things we can do together on this front. I'm very interested in posting content as it's being developed to get community feedback. There are NDA issues involved, not just for us as a publisher but for the topic product and the software company that produces it. We'd have to work through that, of course. I'd like to see how many people would be interested in participating in a program like this and then start working on how we could implement it on a test project or two to start. We can get creative on how to credit the reviewers. Dan's suggestions of a free copy and/or citation in the book are two good starting points.

I'd appreciate it if anyone who's interested in this would post a reply so I can gauge the enthusiasm level. It's not something we could start overnight, but if there's enough support I could start laying the groundwork for it soon.

Thanks,
Joe Wikert,
Publisher, WROX
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Old June 4th, 2003, 05:51 PM
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Hi,

I agree completely with treycarroll for "Professional ASP.NET 1.0". It is big and expensive book, but also useless for preparing MS exam, par example. Many times in this book I was confused, and I had to consult the other literature over net to resolve the quandary.

However, I found that "Professional C#" is better publication, but it seems that for exam's preparing the most useful is MSDN documentation.



...but the Soon is eclipsed by the Moon
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Old June 4th, 2003, 06:24 PM
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When did any wrox publication claim to be prep for an MSFT exam? For that matter when did a MSFT exam really show that someone passed it really understood the product they were tested in?

Yes, we need to get the certification so it looks good- but, I think most peple who know what they are doing will agree- they mean nothing more than you can pass a test MSFT designed.



Hal Levy
Daddyshome, LLC
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Old June 5th, 2003, 11:00 PM
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I have this "Professional ASP.NET 1.0" also. I bought this when .NET is in RC2.
It try to cover all topics. This book is ok, but not a good one.

I like the book, "C# Data Security Handbook". This book provide detail information and samples towards System.Security.Cryptography namespace.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 03:13 AM
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Yes, the standard of books dropped considerably during the last year. I have over one hundred Wrox books. It was very annoying to fork out c £50 for Professional C# and then find over one hundred errors in it. Nor was I pleased with Wrox's "We'll correct them in the second edition.". If they offered it half-price I would have bought it but I was sorely tempted to try returning it as "Unfit for purpose".
I acted as a Technical Reviewer myself for Wrox. The pay was low but I would have done it more except they stopped using them towards the end, perhaps they were struggling to pay them.
To be fair I also own a few Wiley books. One particular one about building Instant Messaging applications takes the record for appalling quality control. The font set used replaced many punctuation marks with empty squares, the proof reader and editors comments to the authors are still in the text and the code sample have many typo errors as well as the code being of dubious technical merit. It was the worst advert ever for the development team that wrote the application featured, I wouldn't dream of using that firm.
I hope future Wiley/Wrox books will be better.

Good luck to you all.



--

Joe
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Old June 16th, 2003, 12:13 PM
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Mr. Wikert:

I would certainly be interested, as I too have had mixed reviews with several of Wrox's titles. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the code examples are irrelevant or too simplistic AND don't work, either because something intuitively obvious was missed by the reader or because the example plain doesn't work. Especially with n-tier development, whenever a server is developed, a client should be shown to verify that the server actually works!

I understand how much work it must be for the authors and all of the folks in the background working on a deadline; just remember, your customers are probably working on a deadline as well, and we need good reference/teaching material that help us.

Thom
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Old June 17th, 2003, 03:10 PM
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Thanks Thom. All good points. We're still working out some of the details on how to do the tech edits going forward. My goal is to test the community feedback approach on a book in the coming months. Depending on how that test goes we'll look to expand it on a broader scale.

Joe
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Old June 18th, 2003, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by treycarroll
 I'm glad to see that you have taken over WROX.

Redundancy and lack of cohesion...
The content of the book should be cohesive in an organic sense. Get a general editor who understands the big picture. It is painfully obvious when you don't. ... And I certainly don't want to read the same exact information covered by multiple authors within the same book.
Hi Trey,

The "general editor" you mention is what we at Wiley call a development editor (or DE). DEs edit for cohesion, clarity, consistency, organization, and presentation of content. Having coauthored and edited books with multiple authors, I can tell you that they are challenging projects to say the least. As Joe Wikert mentions elsewhere, a lead author usually helps immensely, as do good editors. I and my fellow DEs here at Wiley will soon be editing Wrox titles; I can assure you that we are dedicated to bringing Wiley quality to the venerable Wrox brand.
Quote:
quote:
In spite of these complaints, I am willing to give WROX another chance to see if Wiley will steer it in a new direction.

Give us clear, helpful and insightful books and we will gladly become loyal customers.
Thanks for your willingness to stick it out for the new Wrox team! The most helpful thing you or anyone else reading this can do is to use the Books forums here at p2p.wrox.com (All Forums --> Books) to state clearly and concisely your concerns with each individual title. Feedback of this nature will help our editors immensely to make the new generation of Wrox books really rock.

James Russell
Development Editor
Wiley/Wrox
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