----- Original Message -----
From: Brian Marick <marick / visibleworkings.com>
To: ruby-talk ML <ruby-talk / ruby-lang.org>
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 4:19 PM
Subject: [ruby-talk:21413] Ruby/objects book in style of The Little Lisper


>
> The question is: can I pull it off? To see, I wrote the first chapter,
> which you can find here:
> <http://www.visibleworkings.com/little-ruby/Chapter1.pdf>
> If you also liked The Little Lisper, I'd be happy if you took a look at my
> chapter and gave me your opinion:
>
> 1) I'm trying to come close to TLL's gently whimsical tone. Have I got it?
>
> 2) Does the chapter show evidence that I can make a book build in the
>     way that TLL does?
>
> Please be frank. Writing in this style is surprisingly hard, so I want to
> stop now if I'm not up to it.

Brian,

My opinion. (I've read only the first 6 pages or so.)

This is entertaining and informative. It has the advantage of (potentially)
revealing the motivations behind various syntactic and semantic design
decisions. This is an area frequently overlooked in tutorials; they all tell
the "how" but they don't all tell the "why." This is important (at least to
people like me).

The style is like a (fairly pure) form of the Socratic method. Have you
ever done any extensive reading in that stuff? There's a truly fascinating
passage (apologies if I'm mis-remembering the details) where Socrates
is talking with a slave who can count, add, and so on, but doesn't have
any formal math skills. They are on a tiled floor with horizontal, vertical,
and diagonal lines (affording pictures of squares and triangles). By giving
very little information, almost none, Socrates was able to lead the other
person into deducing the Pythagorean theorem. A masterful bit of writing
whatever century you happen to come from, and something that every
teacher or expository writer should read.

Good luck with this...
Hal Fulton