Would you buy a book called “Advanced Data Visualization with ColdFusion”?

Well, the title of the post pretty much says it all: I’m seriously considering compiling and beefing up all of the work I’ve done in the last few years having to do with ColdFusion, data mining, and data visualization, and getting it into printed format. I’ve blogged about half of it, but I would of course rewrite the blog entries to be more informative and educational. The other half would be new material.

Long story short, print-on-demand services have come to the point where they are almost competitive with big publishing houses. I’ve done some non-related publishing via one of them and am impressed enough with the quality that I’m willing to put forth the idea. Of course, the other upsides to a POD service would be faster turnaround time and the ability to “version” the book so that I can fix problems as they come up. Since the books are printed as ordered, I don’t have to worry about a run of books all with dumb mistakes in them.

So here’s the pitch: The working title of the book is Advanced Data Visualization With ColdFusion: Using Ingenuity And Open Source To Move Beyond cfchart. Here’s a short list of topics it would cover:

  • Mining and visualization concepts: organizing raw data, how to step back and figure out what needs visualization, separating the wheat from the chaff, archiving data for moving snapshots.

  • Specific visualization techniques: heat maps, tag clouds, tree maps, bubble charts, timelines, spark lines.

  • Leveraging open source tools: MIT’s Simile, Java math libraries, Batik SVG, HTML Canvas.

  • Discussions: generate content in the browser or on the server or both, cross-browser considerations, visualizations and time constraints, interactive or not, different versions of ColdFusion.

Rough estimates put the book between 300 and 600 pages, mostly depending on exactly how much of the source code gets worked into the body of the text. (I’m still on the fence about this one.) That puts the printing cost of the book in the $20-$40 range, you directly ordering from and shipping from the printing service without me ever getting in the middle, which is pretty darn good. It’d be literally 3x-4x as much if I wanted to put in color examples, though, which is a bit of a bummer.

Timeline: beta versions would go out in May, final versions in July.

So, having said all of that, before I jump in I’d like to see if it would be worth my time. Care to answer a few questions?

Would you buy a book about advanced data visualization with ColdFusion?
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How much code would you want to see?
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Would you lean more toward ...
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What about the length of the book?
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Since more pages equate to a higher cost, which would you choose?
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Which option is most appealing?
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What about a PDF version of the entire book? (No DRM. Nothing left out. Search- and print-friendly. I trust you.)
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My goal in all of this? Oddly enough, it’s not to make money. Well, not from the book. To be completely honest, I’m considering it (a) because I’d like to write down all the great stuff I’ve been doing for the last 4 years before I get rusty and lose it, and (b) because I’d like to be able to slam a book down on my next job interview and say that is why you want to hire me. And far, far behind that are (c) because I’d like to share, and (d) because I think it would be wicked cool to see some of the tech I’ve developed show up on other sites.

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Rick Osborne

I am a web geek who has been doing this sort of thing entirely too long. I rant, I muse, I whine. That is, I am not at all atypical for my breed.