Order of book releases

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19 March 2006

A number of people have asked why the C# edition of my new Business Objects book is coming out before the VB edition. And yes, that is the case. The C# book should be out around the end of March, and the VB book about 2-3 weeks later.

As I’ve said before, I wrote the books “concurrently”. Which really means I wrote one edition, knowing full well that I’d be coming through later to swap out all the code bits and change a few of the figures. It really didn’t matter to me which one I did first, because I was going to have to go through every chapter to do this swapping process either way.

I did write the actual framework and sample app in VB first. The initial port to C# was handled by a fellow Magenicon, Brant Estes. Believe it or not, he had the initial compilable code done in about three days! I am thinking he didn’t do a whole lot of sleeping (because he did the port by hand, not with a tool - which is awesome, because it means the code style and quality is far higher).

I could give you a fluffy (if somewhat true) answer, that the reason I did the C# book first was to ensure that the C# code was fully tested and brought entirely into line with the VB code. And there really is some truth to that. By doing the C# edition first, I was able to go through every line and recheck, tweak and enhance that code. Several large chunks of functionality were actually added or altered in C# first (during the writing process) and I back-ported them into the VB version of the code.

But the real reason is what a few people have speculated: dollars. For better or worse, the fact is that the .NET 1.0 C# book is outselling the VB book by quite a lot. Nearly 2:1 actually. Due to this, my publisher really wanted to get the C# edition out first. I initially pushed back, but I personally have no rational reason to do one before the other. I do love VB very much, but that’s an irrational and emotional argument that simply doesn’t hold a lot of sway…

(That said, if there was more than a couple week difference in release dates, I would have insisted on VB first, and I would have won that argument. But you must pick your battles, and it made no sense to me to have a fight with my publisher over which book came out 3 weeks before the other…)

For what its worth, porting the book is far, far easier than porting (and maintaining) the code. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, maintaining the same code in two languages is just a pain. Converting the book was a relatively rote process of copy-paste, copy-paste, copy-paste. But converting the code means retesting, double-checking and almost certainly still missing a thing or two…

Anyway, I thought I’d blog this just to make the order of release totally clear. For better or worse, it was simply a business decision on the part of my publisher.