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Re: [Caml-list] The new OCaml book (Objective Caml Programming Language by Tim Rentsch)
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Date: 2009-03-02 (16:21)
From: Tim Rentsch <txr@a...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] The new OCaml book (Objective Caml Programming Language by Tim Rentsch)
Caml-list readers,

I've now had an opportunity to catch up on the caml-list emails
over the last month or so, and review those relating to my book
"The Objective Caml Programming Language."  I see there's been a
lot a speculation about what happened.  To help clear things up,
I've written a more detailed version of the history between Jason
and myself, and our working together, and some related items that
have happened since then.  I may also reply later to specific
emails on an individual basis, but for right now it seems best to
send out just the history, and let the facts speak for themselves.


I first met Jason Hickey in January 2004.  Jason was teaching a
class I was interested in;  I introduced myself as a Caltech alum
and asked if it would be okay if I sat in on his class.  One of
the course materials was Jason's Introduction to OCaml course
notes, which I expect many or most of you have seen.

A little bit later that year -- I think it was March, but it
could have been February or possibly April -- I approached Jason
and asked if he was interested in turning the course notes into
a book and would he like my help with the publishing process.
He said yes to both questions, and we started working together
soon after that, continuing until early January 2007.

Originally I was expecting to do some light (sentence level)
editing, various mundane tasks related to finding a publisher,
working with their production people, etc., and perhaps have a
few discussions about organization of later chapters in the book.

Over time that changed significantly, going on to include:
developing outlines, keeping manuscript to-do lists, discussions
about reorganization, original writing, paragraph-level editing,
discussions about appropriate coding style, researching some of
the more obscure corners of OCaml, paragraph- and section-level
rewriting, developing exercises, writing answers to exercises,
writing example OCaml code, and numerous small tasks related to
text preparation.  Between March 2004 and January 2007 I did all
of these things as part of working with Jason to get a manuscript
ready;  I edited, wrote, or re-wrote, every part of the text, in
most cases not once but several times.

In the second half of 2006 Jason and I talked about publishers
and we set out to find a suitable publisher.  I know we discussed
several, maybe four or five, but the only ones I definitely
remember talking to were Springer and Cambridge University Press.
I did most of the contact phoning/emailing with the Springer
people, and Jason did most of the contact with the CUP people (of
course Jason and I usually would send or forward copies of these
emails to each other).  In both sets of conversations I was
identified as a co-author.

In about mid-January 2007, as part of our trying to sign a
publishing agreement with CUP, it became clear that there was a
misunderstanding about what we thought had been communicated
between us about what our internal arrangement would be (the
"we/us" here being Jason and myself);  although we had talked
about what our arrangement would be a couple of times over the
years, we'd never decided on any specific arrangement, not even
informally.  At that point we suspended working on the manuscript
while we tried to find a way to reach a mutually acceptable
agreement.  Those negotiations continued for some time, as I
recall about eight or ten weeks, but ultimately were not

After that, Jason decided to pursue an independent arrangement
with Cambridge University Press on his own.  Subsequently I
decided to proceed with a book based on our unpublished joint
work, or I might say starting with, because there was still a lot
to be done before TOCPL was ready to be published.  Jason was
contacted by mail to ask about arrangements for him to receive
half of any royalty payments, which he's entitled to since TOCPL
is based on a joint work by the two of us.  Jason wrote back and
said he did not wish to be financially involved with my book.  He
also declined to be named as a co-author.  He did ask for an
acknowledgment, which is given right at the end of the Preface in

Since our working together stopped in January 2007, I haven't
looked at any writing on OCaml that Jason has done since then,
including the online document that I have now seen referenced and
is supposed to be under submission to Cambridge University Press.