This isn’t the kind of book I’ll use every day. However, the insight I’ve gotten into how to do things “the Rails way,” as the cool kids are fond of saying, is something I’ll use all the time. If you’re already steeped in Rails and Ruby, you can probably take or leave this book based on whether the recipes themselves intrigue you. If you’re new to Rails, the real value of the book is less in the recipes themselves than what they illustrate about using Rails effectively.
“The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web,” is a stunning gallery of web page designs employing only CSS for their layout and formatting. The CSS used to create those pages is explained in detail, though the book is a little hit or miss in describing how to combine those CSS elements to produce a good design.
Have you ever seen one of those advertisements for a free vacation for the entire family to a Caribbean island? The only catch is that you have to sit in on a seminar or two selling timeshares for the beach condos in which you stay. This book is a lot like one of those trips. There is a white, sandy beach there – you just have to get to Part III to find it.
“Ruby on Rails: Up and Running,” is an overview of the Rails web development framework. There is a caveat up that the book is not intended to replace the reference manual or google search. The goal is to get developers unfamiliar with the framework started quickly. I might rewrite that statement as, “This book will provide you enough information to decide you want to use Rails, but not enough to actually do so.”
I have an idea I wanted to bounce off you: a collaborative RPG campaign world development system. If you have $.02 you’d like to throw in, or if you just want to pretend you’re a big shot Vice President of Product Development who hears pitches and shoots them down with biting sarcasm and a savvy understanding of the marketplace, read on…
On the whole, I recommend “The Pickaxe.” For that matter, I recommend learning Ruby. Even if you don’t use it on the job, it’ll remind you how to think in ways that more programming languages should support.
Extreme Programming Explored is a mixed bag. It hits a lot of areas that the rest of the books in the XP Series have missed, including a pretty good presentation of the pitfalls with XPs practices. However, it could have gone farther with some of these discussions, and the chapter on metaphors was… was… well… uh… I can’t think of a good metaphor for it, but I didn’t like it.
“Planning Extreme Programming” goes into depth on how to plan development for an XP project. Both release and iteration plans are covered. The writing and explanations are clear and helpful, but there’s a great deal of redundancy with the rest of the XP series.
Although some parts of the book are redundant and some topics could use deeper coverage, “Extreme Programming Installed,” clearly presents the day to day roles, responsibilities, tasks, and actions necessary to use XP on a project.
I have drunk of the Swiss Miss No Sugar Added with Calcium Hot Cocoa Mix, Milk Chocolate. Friend, if you must choose between drinking deep or not at all, choose not at all.