Books and magazines have always fascinated me. Perhaps this is due to the fact that until I was nine, my father owned a bookstore and I would spend a lot of my time hanging out in a world of dust jackets and big words. More recently, the internet has brought information sharing to a whole new level and opened up a realm of amazing possibilities. I love this this element of being online to death, but it also means witnessing the decline of (printed) book and magazine sales. After all, the information is out there on the web, and in most cases it’s available free of charge, which makes a lot of people hesitant to pay for a paper version.
Personally though, I feel that the way information is collected and organized in books and magazines still has an important, complementary role. Say that you wanted to learn Scala. You could read about it on the web – there are countless blog entries about it – but it’s hard to beat the cohesive, comprehensive approach of an excellent book about the subject. Likewise, assuming that you were past the first or second book on the topic, you might find the information that’s available online more than adequate, but what a treat would it be to have a magazine that periodically covered the subject with a collection of essays, interviews and other goodies – all authored by the best experts in your particular field of interest.
Presently, Scala does not have such a luxury, given that, while vocal, its community is still relatively small. The great news though is that Ruby however does! In fact, there are now two magazines dedicated entirely to the subject of Ruby and Ruby on Rails, both of which are free of charge if you’re happy with the electronic version (a PDF). Alternatively they can be purchased (at the rate of production cost), if you wish to receive a printed version, just like in the good old days.
The two magazines I’m talking about are “the Rubyist” and “Rails Magazine“. The Rubyist has already put out two copies, while the first edition of “Rails Magazine” just hit the stands. Our community is maturing and the existence of such initiatives is a clear vital sign of the growth that encompasses more than just numerical expansion. These publicarions are far from amateur efforts; both magazines are beautifully laid out, have or are in the process of getting an ISSN, and can boast the commercial support of several sponsors. I was blown away by the quality of the content as well. These are two serious and exciting projects, and we as a community should really get behind them by reading these magazines, blogging about them, answering their call for papers, and if you fee like it, purchasing printed copies.
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and Technical Evangelist at IBM. He authored 'Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers' by Wrox (2009) and 'Technical Blogging' by The Pragmatic Bookshelf (2012). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an IBM educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.