Ruby on Rough Cuts

by Steve Mallett

O'Reilly has begun a new book program called Rough Cuts that allows readers to follow along the development of a book in PDF form with updates along the way as the book evolves into a finished product.

One of the most in demand topics, as Tim's post about Ruby book sales overtaking Python indicates, is Ruby. Suitably half of the new titles available concern Ruby. Ruby Cookbook , and Ruby on Rails: Up and Running.

I'm pleased to see this as I love the model and dove in head first when the Prag. Programmers released Agile Web Development with Ruby on Rails in the same style.

Tim explains, "In short, you can buy online-only access to the Rough Cuts directly from us for about 50% off the expected list price of the final book; you can pre-order the print book for about 35% off the list price; and you can buy both together for only about 10% more than the list price." Why wait for the book to come off the press to dive into the material?


Ted Korolchuk
2006-01-25 10:24:41
I think comparing what O'Reilly is doing to what the Pragmatic does does Pragmatic a huge disservice.

I bought the Rough Cuts Rails book and it flat out sucked. It's nowhere near a finished product, it's ugly and the copyright garbage takes up 1/5th of the page. The PP guys released great beta books with none of the aforementioned problems. Frankly, I want my money back, I made a big mistake buying this thing. I don't know anyone that's bought it that's actually happy.

James Britt
2006-01-29 17:08:15
I bought the Rough Cuts Rails book and it flat out sucked. It's nowhere near a finished product,...

Isn't that exactly what they tell you up front? "Rough cuts" and such?

Now, when the book goes to press, if the product hasn't improved, then you have a reason to gripe. But the whole idea is to sell people stuff that isn't ready, with the promise of improvements and upgrades.

BTW, last week I wrote to O'Reilly, asking about their return policy on Rough Cuts.

Me: What is the return policy? Rough Cuts is asking someone to purchase an item before it is finished. Supposed the finished product turns out to be just plain bad. Can people get their money back?


If you purchase the electronic only option or book and electronic
combo, your credit card is immediately charged the full price for the electronic access (through Safari) and PDF download option.

If you purchase the electronic/book combo or pre-order the printed
book, we will not charge you for the printed book until the physical book is shipped to you. From the time an order is placed until the book ships, you may cancel your order.

If you have purchased the combo, only the print book portion of the
order is canceled and not the portion already charged for the
electronic access and PDF downloads. If you have ordered only the
print book, the entire order is canceled.

Ted Korolchuk
2006-01-30 19:18:20
Sure, I bought an item before it was finished. Just like I did with the pragprog beta books that this guy is comparing them to. My point is that the pragprog beta books are attractive, informative and well-written.

The O'Reilly "rough cuts" waste half their page on an annoying disclaimer, the formatting is awful and the text isn't even close to finished. This whole thing just boils down to buyer beware, which is why I didn't even ask for a refund- they won't give you one for something like this, so what else can you do?

Tell everyone you know that the book is awful and not to buy it, that's what!

The book is terrible, not even close to the quality of the PragProg beta books. O'Reilly should be ashamed.

Steve Mallett
2006-02-02 12:59:48
I've been trying to get to this for a couple of days now, but I'm in the middle of an dual booting xp/Ubuntu machine from OSX gone horribly wrong...

Though I still haven't managed to get my nose into one of the rough cuts (RC) units word is that the RC team hears the feedback and is working to kill those 'too rough' RCs.