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Re: [Caml-list] The new OCaml book (Objective Caml Programming Language by Tim Rentsch)
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Date: 2009-03-03 (01:24)
From: Jon Harrop <jon@f...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] The new OCaml book (Objective Caml Programming Language_by_Tim Rentsch)
On Monday 02 March 2009 18:37:41 Xavier Leroy wrote:
> > Overall, I can't help seeing that any author who isn't known on this
> > list ends up with a questionable book -- first Smith and now Rentsch.
> > Perhaps the elders should form a book vetting committee?
> Well, the power to decide is in the hands of publishers (initially)
> and customers (later).  But I can assure you that reputable publishing
> houses like Springer, Cambridge University Press or MIT Press do
> sollicit opinions from academics like me and take them into account.
> Their area editors attend major conferences like Principles of
> Programming Languages and it's always a pleasure to chat with them.
> But there isn't much that can be done with less reputable publishers
> and self-publishing, as Alexy remarked.

I would advise against getting conventional publishers involved at all and 
would, instead, strongly advocate self-publishing because of the freedom and 
efficiency that it offers. Indeed, the only reason Jason Hickey's book has 
not been published is because CUP were challenged with the task.

On a related note, why was the English translation of the book "Developing 
applications with Objective Caml" not published by O'Reilly?

> Coming back to the Hickey/Rentsch book(s), I feel deeply sad about
> the mess that is unfolding on this list.  I proofread a draft of Jason
> Hickey's book, at his request, and found it very good and just what
> the OCaml community is still missing: a well-written, English-language
> book on Caml appropriate both as a reference and as teaching material.
> (I'm not criticizing the other books in english on OCaml -- thanks God
> they exist! -- just noting that they don't quite fit this exact purpose.)
> What we now have is lawsuit material...  I sincerely hope some kind of
> agreement can still be found at this point.

I see no reason for a lawsuit. Jason Hickey simply needs to remove Tim 
Rentsch's contributions, remove him from the acknowledgements and publish 
what's left. Given the size of the book, that will only take about a month.

If he already signed copyright over to CUP then he also needs to make minimal 
changes to evade copyright infringement (which they will not attempt to 
enforce in the absence of any profits from sales anyway) and publish it 

Either way I see no reason why the OCaml community cannot benefit from yet 
another great book on OCaml in the near future.

I agree that this text would also fill a valuable place in the spectrum of 
OCaml books. The contents are clearly ideal for students but would also give 
computer science graduates an extensive theoretical understanding of OCaml.

Dr Jon Harrop, Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd.