Woody20 (4) [Avatar] Offline
#1
I'd like to see a more professional book. That means, lose the little drawings, and the inane conversations. You can better use this space for examples and more details.
thompson4822 (4) [Avatar] Offline
#2
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
The biggest problem I have with the cartoons is that it seems like I can never get the resolution right to display them in Acrobat. Since code examples are sometimes in cartoon format, this is especially bothersome. I appreciate what the author is trying to do here (and as an aside, am a big fan of comics and graphic novels) but so far this approach has only gotten in the way of my being able to make use of this material.
robert.crowther (59) [Avatar] Offline
#3
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
Woody, sorry, but the drawings and the conversations (though not so much the inane) are a part of what makes the Hello! series books. If they really put you off then there are several other books on the market and some forthcoming titles from Manning which may suit you better.

Thopmson4822, sorry about the graphics - the MEAP versions are under certain constraints as far as file size is concerned which means the graphics in the PDF don't always come out very clear. All the text, including the listings that are currently part of graphics, will be properly typeset in the finished versions (both printed and ebook), the graphics will be reviewed by a graphic designer, and all the code will be available for download. In the meantime the code that's in graphics is because I wanted to indicate a layout that couldn't be easily achieved in Word, I'll try and figure out a way to also include the code in plain text for a future update (which might be as simple as also including the plain text).

Rob
Woody20 (4) [Avatar] Offline
#4
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
> Woody, sorry, but the drawings and the conversations
> (though not so much the inane) are a part of what
> makes the Hello! series books.

I think you ought to consider the audience for a book which is introducing the latest changes to the standards. Who would read such a book? It's not a tutorial, or for beginners.

But that's not really the point. What matters is, they take up space which could better be used for more explanation, examples, etc.

Are you a professional Web programmer? Do you learn from cartoons and bogus conversations? Or are you just assuming the rest of us are illiterate half-wits?
kaos (12) [Avatar] Offline
#5
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
Woody,

This book won't be to everyone's taste. I'm not trying to dismiss your criticism, but there are reasons for the way the Hello! series is being done.

Manning has several different branded series of books. The Hello! series is meant to be a light-hearted, easy-to-learn, introduction to a subject aimed at visual thinkers. Our In Action series is a more traditional beginner to intermediate introduction to a topic, and our In Depth series covers a topic from intermediate to an advanced level, while our In Practice series focuses on specific practical techniques in a heavily tutorial format. We are working on bringing readers more books on HTML5 and CSS3 in our other series but we're not at the point of announcing anything yet.

The Hello! series is based on "Who is Fourier?" originally published by the Transnational College of Lex in Japan (they use interdisciplinary learning methods). The goal of that book was to present a dense, complex subject in a joyful, even child-like format using plain language and cartoon characters to make the subject of Fourier mathematics highly accessible. Similarly, the goal of the Hello! series books is not to talk down to the reader but simply to make the subject friendlier and more accessible.

I have taught various computer science courses to students over the past decade, and many students have benefited from more visual books like the Hello! series, so I know that this approach works. With more traditional books some students find they often have to reread passages several times, get lost in the subject, or don't recall very well the information they've read.

Graphics engage more of the brain, which aids in comprehension and recall. Cartoon characters that reiterate core ideas help to break up large topics into manageable chunks and invoke empathy from the reader (much like having a conversation with a real person), which also aid in comprehension and recall.

If anyone wants to know more about this approach I recommend checking out anything written by graphic storytelling guru Scott McCloud ("Understanding Comics" is an excellent primer).

Your criticism that explanation and examples are lacking I will take to heart, and see where we may improve this in the manuscript as we move forward.

take care,
Katharine Osborne
Developmental Editor
kaos (12) [Avatar] Offline
#6
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
Woody,

This book won't be to everyone's taste. I'm not trying to dismiss your criticism, but there are reasons for the way the Hello! series is being done.

Manning has several different branded series of books. The Hello! series is meant to be a light-hearted, easy-to-learn, introduction to a subject aimed at visual thinkers. Our In Action series is a more traditional beginner to intermediate introduction to a topic, and our In Depth series covers a topic from intermediate to an advanced level, while our In Practice series focuses on specific practical techniques in a heavily tutorial format. We are working on bringing readers more books on HTML5 and CSS3 in our other series but we're not at the point of announcing anything yet.

The Hello! series is based on "Who is Fourier?" originally published by the Transnational College of Lex in Japan (they use interdisciplinary learning methods). The goal of that book was to present a dense, complex subject in a joyful, even child-like format using plain language and cartoon characters to make the subject of Fourier mathematics highly accessible. Similarly, the goal of the Hello! series books is not to talk down to the reader but simply to make the subject friendlier and more accessible.

I have taught various computer science courses to students over the past decade, and many students have benefited from more visual books like the Hello! series, so I know that this approach works. With more traditional books some students find they often have to reread passages several times, get lost in the subject, or don't recall very well the information they've read.

Graphics engage more of the brain, which aids in comprehension and recall. Cartoon characters that reiterate core ideas help to break up large topics into manageable chunks and invoke empathy from the reader (much like having a conversation with a real person), which also aid in comprehension and recall.

If anyone wants to know more about this approach I recommend checking out anything written by graphic storytelling guru Scott McCloud ("Understanding Comics" is an excellent primer).

Your criticism that explanation and examples are lacking I will take to heart, and see where we may improve this in the manuscript as we move forward.

take care,
Katharine Osborne
Developmental Editor
Woody20 (4) [Avatar] Offline
#7
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
I'm not discounting visual methods, but I disagree that advanced topics need to be presented in child-like formats. Some illustrations are certainly useful, but you have to be more selective (see Knuth's TeX books for examples). How well graphics aid learning depends strongly on how good they are.
bangoche (1) [Avatar] Offline
#8
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
I disagree. You are discounting visual methods. *That* is exactly one of the major issues Mr. McCloud in his book; the equation of "comics" with "children" or infantile ways of representing information pictorially. The idea is to get the information into people's minds. Period. If you look at the realm of things "design" related, most people see design as "decoration." In truth, design's focus is to provide solutions for others. I will admit that sounds nominally like BS.

One of the aspects that non-design folk like me equated this initially was that these artsy-fartsy folk were belittling my intelligence. In truth, they were trying to make it easier to focus more deeply on what the main purpose of whatever it was I was looking at. I would suggest you grab a book by Garr Reynolds called "Presentation Zen."

While Mr. Reynolds is mostly talking about how to do what the eponymous title implies, he discusses how most presentations suck because you cannot bombard people with reams of text, bullet points, and expect understanding. I ran into something similar trying to learn AFS many moons ago. Dense text, cryptic commands, high-level concepts. I felt stupid since I could not "get it" but realize that it may have been more an issue of how the material was presented and organized. A brain dump from the folks who coded the product is more meaningful to them that it is to someone simply curious about how this cool product works. It would have been better for them to keep the target audience in mind for their book at all times, since I'm the person that will be reading it.

In other words, you must connect emotionally to the consumers of your product and make it more meaningful. Reynolds says that the presentation is about "you" the presenter, your ability connect to audience about your topic. Full-bleed images, alignment of elements, using as little text as possible, the "law of thirds" all this artsy-fartsy stuff made sense once I saw it applied firsthand.

I have coworker who is an Information Architect. She "builds websites" all day, but barely knows any HTML. If say the word "div" to her it may as well be the same as me saying "じょずじゃりません” to her. The product in place at my job touts of the key features of not having to learn HTML. For me, I was "meh" on that idea, since I can crank out a page in emacs from muscle memory. Why cannot these department chairs and administrative assistants learn this the way I did? How irresponsible is it for people to "build websites" but not know HTML?

At minimum, they are non-technical. In a larger context, they may be in different sorts of careers due to their own personal mechanisms of representing information (verbal, kinesthetic, visual). In bigger picture, the idea is to get the web content out to the people that we are serving; it is not about me, nor is it about making them learn things the same way I did.

I think Manning is trying to build the book for a particular target audience, and the use of the comics for that purpose will personalize it for those who lack the context/experience someone as myself may have.

For an example of a text that uses what you may consider "superfluous" visuals in an extraordinary manner, I would grab a copy "Phillip & Alex's Guide to Web Publishing." Alex is Mr. Greenspun's dog.The books has images of mountains, shirtless men slicing fruit on each other's chests, cars in a parking lot, but it is one of the most extraordinary texts I have read discussing the Web. Ever. Even though it was published in 1999.

For me, if a visually narrative theme makes ensures that people grasp and absorb the tech quickly, I'm all for that.
theschles (1) [Avatar] Offline
#9
Re: Fewer cartoons, more information, please
As a long-time fan of the UserFriendly.org site, I think the use of the comics is a spectacular way of teaching. Please do not change the quantity of comics.

That said, I hope that the graphics will be sharper in the final version -- especially the cover page. The rasterizing is unpleasant to the eyes.