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Behind the Scenes

November 22, 2004

Cameron Moll wants screenshots again. I completely missed the last round, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with this peek at the editing process.

Ugly Editing Session

This is editing in all its glory. Notes and deletions, insertions and corrections, it’s all in there. Word tracks changes as everyone involved makes them, so no text ever goes truly missing — it’s just removed for production purposes. This is a particularly fun example due to the large amount of stuff going on. The inline highlighting can also be turned off, and for the most part it’s impossible to follow along after a few paragraphs of this so I generally do so.

We are aware that Word has a comment feature that’s much less potentially harmful to the production process, but this is how the New Riders style guide recommends inserting notes. I say potentially harmful, because it’s possible one or two of these may slip through the production process and make it into the final text. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I love finding little production mistakes like that in other people’s work; it’s like an Easter Egg in a book. And having said that, I’m sure I’ve just doomed ours to more than our fair share.

How’s progress? Coming along nicely. I guess I’m more or less done writing, now we just have the editing and reviews. We’re not too far off our estimated delivery date, and still aiming for a January release. (The date on Amazon is wrong, and always has been — sorry about that, not much we can do but wait for the update.)


Reader Comments

November 22, 01h

Classic, Dave. Just classic. Glad *you* can make sense of all that…

Dave P says:
November 22, 01h

Good Grief, how do you guys read that?

Phil says:
November 22, 02h

Wow, that’s hella confusing. I never realized that book writers actually used that feature.

PS: Your link to the book on Amazon is faulty.

Firas says:
November 22, 02h

I think it’s pretty readable, actually—just think of it like reading a wikipedia talk page. Are those multiple editors (ER, SI, CE)?

Dave S. says:
November 22, 03h

“Are those multiple editors (ER, SI, CE)?”

Yep, that’s exactly what you’re seeing. It really isn’t so bad once you get used to the formatting. Various colors symbolize the person who made the change, really all you’re looking for in regards to actual edits are what is strike-through and what isn’t.

Not to say it’s the best system of course; I’m still paranoid that all the visual noise means that trailing periods will go missing or duplicate… but that’s what we have a final review stage for.

Jeff says:
November 22, 03h

Wow! As long as the person in charge understands it :D. I’ve never seen anything like it. In the simplistic eitgh grade we don’t edit much. Just turn our boring, aweful papers in, and hope for an A.

7
Simon says:
November 22, 04h

I thought the image was a really bad cut ´n paste job at first… And I used to concider neasted tables and bad html messy looking! :S

8
Tom says:
November 22, 04h

Do people really use Word for this sort of thing? I thought there would be a fancy i’m-book-editor type package, you dissapoint me greatly!

Dave S. says:
November 22, 06h

Yeah, ‘fraid so. Word is *it* when it comes to publishing. What’s amazing is how much stuff is built in that non-editing types would never need, ie. 99.5% of the population. Apparently Microsoft did their homework with this one.

10
G. Scott says:
November 22, 09h

Dave, is there a link to the New Riders guide online? or is it a printed thing? I’d love to see what goes into all this writing and revising (over and over again) of books like this.

November 22, 10h

You might find this interesting:
http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/strikeout/

This guy was looking through some of Microsoft’s releases, and noticed that the editing meta data had been left in. Lots of interesting things in there, and so deliciously ironic. :)

Martin says:
November 23, 03h

Yep, the Office System is incredibly powerful, if you go to the effort of using all it has offer…

A good example is management of multiple contributions through Sharepoint Team Services (or Portal Server) - at any given moment, you can have a list of all documents, contributors, who last modified, who’s currently got a document checked out, and what the version history looks like. When working with more than a few contributors, it becomes indispensable!

For interest’s sake, have you ever used OneNote?

cam c. says:
November 23, 11h

Dave, you’ve officially turned me off ever wanting to write a book… that looks insanely nerve wracking…

Can’t wait to see the finished product, though… (we have to talk about that local launch party when you’re finished editing…)

chuck says:
November 24, 06h

ok, for that reason, I’ll never write a book … what a cluster!

November 24, 06h

Horrible, truly horrible. And I thought the W3C Drafts were an assault on the eyes.

November 24, 12h

I wonder if any text editors have this kind of functionality. It would be useful for programming. Rather than commenting out old code while trying new, you could just declare it as old code and then hide/show it when necessary.

17
Webster says:
November 25, 10h

So what software do you use for that? I need to write a couple of articles and send them out to an editor, and that would be a really cool feature to use :)