The Rakudo Book Project

2017-09-17 | 907 words | A plan to write some Rakudo books

When I first joined the Rakudo project, we used to say "there are none right now; check back in a year" whenever someone asked for a book about the language. Today, there's a whole website for picking out a book, and the number of available books seems to multiply every time I look at it.

Still, I feel something is amiss, when I talk to folks on our support chat, when I read blog posts about the language, or when I look at our official language documentation. And it's due to that feeling that I wish to join the Rakudo book-writing club and write a few of my own. I dub it: The Rakudo Book Project.


The Books

The Rakudo Book Project involves 3 main books—The White Book, The Gray Book, and The Black Book—as well as 2 half-books—The Green Book and The Cracked Book.

The White Book will aim to provide introductory material to the Rakudo language. The target audience will benefit from prior programming experience, but it won't be strictly necessary for computer-savy people. The target audience is "adept beginners", as some might call it.

The book will cover most of Rakudo's features a typical Rakudo programmer might use in their projects, but it won't cover every little thing about each of them. By the end of the book, the readers will have written several programming projects and will be comfortable making useful, real-world Rakudo programs. More in-depth coverage of the language will be provided by The Gray Book, which is what The White Book's readers would read next. The Black Book will reach even deeper, exploring all of the arcane constructs. The progression through the books can be thought of as a plant growing in a flower pot. Initially, the roots extend through a large area of the pot, but they don't go all the way to all the walls and are rather sparse. As the plant grows, more and more roots shoot out, covering more and more volume of the pot. Same is with the books; while reading The White Book alone will let the plant survive, the root coverage will be sparse. However, by the end of The Black Book, the reader will be an expert Rakudo programmer.

Those three books are the core of my planned project. They're supplemented by two half-books on each end of the knowledge spectrum. The Green Book will target absolute programming beginners and get them up to speed just enough so they would be able to comfortably continue their learning using The White Book. On the other end of the spectrum is The Cracked Book. It's a half-book that follows The Black Book and won't provide more advanced techniques per say, but rather arcane "hacks" or even "bad ideas" that one might not wish to use in real-life code but which nevertheless provide some insight into the language.

The Cracked Book is yet a faint glimmer of an idea. Whether it will actually be made will depend on how much more I will want to say after The Black Book is complete. The Green Book is currently a bit amorphous as well. I have a 12-year old sibling interested in computers, so The Green Book might end up being a Rakudo For Kids.

The likely order in which the books will be produced is White, Gray, Green, Black, and Cracked. It's an ambitious plan, and so I won't be making any promises for producing more than one book at a time. Thus, the current aim is to produce just The White Book.

The Price

The digital versions of the books will be available for free.

Since Rakudo development can always use more funding, I plan to run crowd-funding campaigns during each of the book's development. 100% of all the collected funds will be used to sponsor Rakudo work (sponsoring someone other than me, of course). The campaigns will start once half of the target book has been created and the backers will get early preview digital copies as the book is developed further, as well as honourable mentions as Rakudo sponsors in the book itself.

Thus, the first Rakudo Core Fundraiser will launch once I have the first half of The White Book finished. I'm hoping that will happen soon.

The Why

Other than the obvious reason why people write the books—giving an alternate take on the material—I'd like to do this to cross off an item off my bucket list. Having written a terrible non-fiction book, lackluster fiction book, and a decent illustrated children's book, I hope to add a great technical book to the list, to complete it. I figure, with 5 books to attempt it, I'll be successful.

As for my alternate take, I hope to squash the myth that Rakudo is too big to learn as well as carve out a well-defined path for learners to follow. Just as I could make a living 10 years ago, when I barely spoke English, so a beginner Rakudo programmer can make useful programs with rudimentary knowledge of the language. The key is to not try to learn everything at once as well as have a definite path to walk through. Hence the 5 separate books.

I'm hoping at the end of this journey I will have accomplished all of these goals.

See you at the first Rakudo Core Fundraiser.