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On Documentation

24 Jun 2012

One of the key discussions brought up at LDC 2012 was the subject of "Documentation". Now "Documentation", as a concept, has a whole bunch of different potential components. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following;

  1. Reference Information

  2. Books on "How-to"

  3. A Reference Manual

  4. Articles and Examples

  5. Videos and Tutorials

These, of course, have different key audiences - including new and past users of Lasso, newbie or pro-am users like myself right up to Captains of Code, like Jono or Ke or Steffan. Everyone needs more documentation.

 

In addition, in order to grow as a community, we need on-boarding mechanisms. There are very few people who learn from nothing. We all need a little help from time to time, and a place to go when we are stuck. I personally spent years using Lasso and had been through the manuals upwards and forwards before I dared post to LassoTalk.

Even more pronounced is the fact that the "number of books" on a subject is considered a key performance indicator of the prevalence of a language. In other words, popularity or fashionability of a language is based on going to Amazon and typing in "Lasso Programming".

Um, don't. It's embarrassing.

With these considerations, this is the place where Lasso falls smack on its face.

It is here also where we have the greatest opportunity to create a competitive advantage. Eric Landmann pointed out that during the days of the Inline Curtain, he was forced to look outside Lasso as a matter of business continuity. When he did, he looked to PHP, and found a messy, decentralized pile of crap. Finding something relevant or useful took longer than anything.

One thing which we currently do not have is a pile of crap. (We don't even have that). What little we do have is good, but for Lasso 9, we are very, very short of material.

If we did have a superb set of literature on the subject of Lasso 9, we wouldn't need to have thousands of crappy books on the subject. I personally bought probably 50 books on Javascript over my time as a developer, and only one ever stuck. I've never even bothered to buy another DNS book after DNS and Bind.

It's not about how many books, but about how good they are. It won't hurt to have a few books to choose from.

So, over the next 18 months, we are going to focus on creating as much superb documentation as we can, through as many mechanisms as we can. I consider it a personal goal over the next few years to develop as many of these as possible regarding Lasso 9;

  1. An O'Reilly book on Lasso 9
  2. An "Idiot's Guide" to Lasso 9
  3. A set of core reference guides similar or better than the Lasso 8 Guides.
  4. A few "Boundary Pushing" books on Lasso 9
  5. A book on security and speed tips for Lasso 9
  6. Some walkthrough Guides
  7. A PHP/Python/Ruby to Lasso comparison Guide

In addition to this, I've collected some other ideas I'd like to share with you, and thought you all might be able to help with.

Oddly enough, we have a number of clients who are major publishers, and I am sure they will work with us to turn the various books into a reality. Heck, worst case scenario - we can Lulu.com it.

Thanks for the feedback!

Sean Stephens

CEO
LassoSoft Inc.

Comments

A recommendation

by Eric Knibbe, 25 June 2012

Anyone who desires to help out with the book needs to have this pinned on a nearby wall: http://abstrusegoose.com/474

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