Why Another 3rd Party Book?

Gerd recently posed a good question on the PowerShell blog:

I'm really surprised to read about another 3rd party book from a member of the PS team. To me PS is the most intriguing MS innovation for years and Bruce's book is really excellent and answered almost all my questions, but maybe I'm not the only one wondering why PS team members write that busy for the bookstore shelf, as long as the official MS documentation on PS is less than adequate. I would expect the essential information needed to master PS from MSDN and not from Manning or O'Reilly, sorry.

The answer is that we're trying to tackle this from all angles.

The question considers MSDN as a sole learning resource, but it's just one avenue for most people. PowerShell installs tutorial-style documentation with the product itself, and we are continually working to improve both user-focused and developer-focused help content. But that’s just the start.

What we write goes into the product help, MSDN, and Script Center. It also goes onto blogs, newsgroups, and books. There’s also Podcasts, screen casts, LiveMeetings! And, of course, there’s also training sessions, keynotes, conferences, interviews, and mailing lists.

Books are the preferred information delivery vehicle for a lot of people. They travel well, and have an aesthetic appeal that many desire. In fact, I've heard from several people that they have literally been waiting for the O'Reilly book — filling that need with quality content is important to us as well.

That said, if you see holes in the documentation, please let us know. We’re continually working to improve it, but we may miss areas.  We use the Microsoft Connect website (http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell/archive/2006/05/09/filing-bugs.aspx) to help gauge priority, so we would really appreciate your input (via document bugs and suggestions) there.


4 Responses to “Why Another 3rd Party Book?”

  1. Neil Fairall writes:

    I agree – I’m sure there are many who don’t think a technology has "arrived" until there is an O’Reilly book about it!

    Microsoft Press has some good books for VBScripters, but sharing the wealth this way is a clever way to raise the profile of PowerShell as well.

    Personally, I tend to buy books based on a good review score rather than who published them these days.

  2. Joel "Jaykul" Bennett writes:

    No offense, but to pretend that the extra (personal) revenue has nothing to do with it is disingenuous.

    It’s not that we need more "learning source"s, what we need is an single REFERENCE. Not a tutorial. Not a code sample.,
    Just an authoritative, definitive, complete, included with the software, available on the web, free, reference.

  3. Lee writes:


    You don’t do a book for the money or the fame! Charlez Petzold gives a couple of good points here: http://www.charlespetzold.com/blog/2007/10/081247.html.

  4. Joel "Jaykul" Bennett writes:

    Petzold makes lots of great points. One of the points he makes is that when it comes to reaching the programming audience, there’s very little difference between a book and a website:

    <bloquote cite="http://www.charlespetzold.com/blog/2007/10/081247.html">It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these [web pages or blog posts] can also be assembled into a tutorial narrative for people who prefer to learn a topic less haphazardly, or who come upon a topic through a search and want to know what came before, and what comes after.</blockquote>

    But the ultimate point he makes is that the reason he writes books instead of posting the same content in 500 to 1500 word chunks on a blog with a guided narrative so people can read it like a book … is that book authors get paid.

    However little you may feel that income is — income from a book about the software you got paid to write is still additional income to your salary. Good for you! But it’s not so good for the rest of us if you consider these books which cost extra to be an integral part of your documentation. Particularly when the only freely available, supposedly authoritative, albeit incomplete, documentation is frequently wrong.

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