Things left unsaid

by Chris Adamson

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I recently did an interview with TheAppleBlog about QuickTime for Java: A Developer's Notebook. It went well, and I thought they asked some good questions that gave me a chance to talk about interesting stuff. And now I'm looking back at the interview and asking myself...

...why am I not thanking the Developer's Notebook series for helping me focus this book?

The thing is, this book represents the third time I tried to get a Java Media book off the ground. In fact, it was almost three years to the day between sending out my first proposals and seeing QTJ:ADN on bookshelves. And a lot of that is because what I was proposing probably wouldn't have had a readership much larger than... um... me.

I initially tried to put together an omnibus Java Media book outline, the be-all, end-all, desk-cracker on the topic. This required a fair amount of self-delusion - I'd worked with Java Media Framework long enough to know that it didn't internally support any media formats that anyone used (except MP3, which they later took out). Worse, in my desire to be complete, I proposed a chapter on JavaTV. It was already dead in 2002, but today? Take a look at the mailing list archives for javatv-interest. It has been years since a non-spam message was posted to the list, yet the list keeps running, and the home page maintains its quaint link to PersonalJava, on which JavaTV is based, even though that link takes you to an end-of-life announcement... OK enough details, leave it at this - it's probably a good thing that this proposal went nowhere.

Funny thing, I also had QuickTime for Java in this first proposal, and thought I would have to defend the inclusion of a non-Sun API. Instead, the feedback I got was "QuickTime has credibility, but people don't really understand it... why don't you look into that?" So I did, and wrote some articles for ONJava (I site that I now edit, but I digress). And then I decided I was ready to pitch a QTJ book.

And wouldn't you know it, I again proposed the be-all, end-all, desk-cracker format. But this time I got some good feedback, basically along the lines of "nobody wants the ultimate animal book on QuickTime for Java, but a small, focused book with practical and isolated examples might work."

Lucky for me, this is exactly what the Developer's Notebooks series is all about. True, I had to adjust my writing style - working with Brett means no more "we" and the attendant lecture-hall style of writing - but that's a good thing. I think the format is more direct and more practical, and for some topics, particularly QTJ (which has some methods and constants that are literally meaningless in Java because they involve things that only C programmers would have to deal with), ignoring the edge stuff and just showing what you can do with it is a great approach.

So... sorry I forgot to mention that in the interview. The format really helped me find my legs, and I'm grateful for that.