Announcing my book: ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Quickly

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ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Quickly It’s been quite a job, but there it is: Packt just announced my very first book on their site. It is titled “ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Quickly”, covering all aspects ASP.NET MVC offers in a to-the-point manner with hands-on examples. The book walks through the main concepts of the MVC framework to help existing ASP.NET developers to move on to a higher level. It includes clear instructions and lots of code examples. It takes a simple approach, thereby allowing you to work with all facets of web application development. Some keywords: Model-view-controller, ASP.NET MVC architecture and components, unit testing, mocking, AJAX using MS Ajax and jQuery, reference application and resources.

That’s it for the marketing part: let’s do a retrospective on the writing process itself. Oh and yes, those are my glasses on the cover. Photo was taken on the beach near Bray-Dunes (France).

When did you have the idea of writing a book?

I'm not sure about that. I've been blogging a lot on ASP.NET MVC last year, wrote an article for .NET magazine, did some presentations, ... It occurred to me that I had a lot of material which I could bundle. Together with that, my project manager jokingly said something like: "When will you write your first book? With all that blogging." So I did start bundling stories. First of all, I overlooked the whole ASP.NET MVC technology (preview 2 at that moment) and decided there were enough topics to talk about. A draft table of contents was built quite quick, but I gave up on writing. Too much information, not enough time, ...

A few weeks later, it must have been around the beginning of May, 2008, I did start writing a first chapter, thinking I'ld see how the writing itself would turn out, if it fit in my schedule, ... It worked out quite well, each 10-20 days gave me a new chapter. I also started looking for a publisher when I was finished with chapter 6 or so. Having reviewed some books for Packt, I contacted them with a proposal for my book.

After having a look at the other 6 upcoming books (here and here), we decided we could go for it, focusing on a hands-on book which rapidly guides you into the wonderful world of ASP.NET MVC.

How was your experience of writing your book?

Looking back, it was an interesting experience. I decided to write in English, which is not my native language. That was actually quite a hard one: writing in English is no problem, but writing a good, solid and interesting piece of text is just not that easy when writing longer texts than the average blog post. Another thing is that I tortured myself writing about a product that was not even beta yet! I started writing with ASP.NET MVC preview 3, updated it all to preview 4, 5, beta, release candidate, ... Lots of changes in the ASP.NET MVC API or concepts meant lots of changes to make in chapters I already wrote. Luckily, I survived :-)

I only contacted a publisher when I had finished 60% of my book. If you are considering writing: don't do this! Contact a publisher at a very early stage: they normally give you lots of advice upfront, which I only received after contacting them. Advice earlier along the way is always better, so that's something I would definately do different.

Speaking of advice: when writing was done, the book entered review phase. Different people received the draft version and could provide comments and suggestions. Thanks Stefan, Troy, Vivek, Jerry, Joydip and people at Packt for your time in reviewing my draft version! Reviewer comments really made the book better and required me to do some small rewrites, elaborate more on certain topics.

What tools did you use for writing?

There are some tools that you really need when writing a technical book. One of them is a text editor, in my case Microsoft Word 2007. Together with that, Visual Studio 2008 and regularly updated ASP.NET MVC versions were required. Being scared of losing data, I decided to also use a source control system for sample code ánd for my Word documents. All of these files were stored in a Subversion repository located on my server, being backed up every day to different locations. Doug Mahugh laughed at me when I said I was using Subversion, but it did a great job!

Other tools I used were Paint.NET and MwSnap, both for creating screenshots in my virtual PC running Windows Vista and Visual Studio 2008. I also used Achievo for time tracking purposes, since I was curious how much time this book writing would actually cost me.

How much time did you spend writing?

First of all, this is not going to be 100% accurate. I did track writing and development time during writing, but I already had a lot of material to work with. But here's an overview (numbers in hours):


That is right: writing a book consumes only a little more than 100 hours! But still, I already had lots of material. I'd say to double the number for an accurate timeframe.

Now I hear the next question coming... Here's the answer already: Yes, I have a girlfriend. We are working on our home (planning phase is done, searching a contractor at the moment), visiting family, doing daily stuff, blogging, work, ... It al worked out to fit together, but still: there have been some busy moments on evenings and weekends. Thanks, people around me, for being patient and caring during these busy moments!

Are you getting rich out of this?

Of course, I can grab a couple of beers (for a couple of times), but don't think writing a book will buy you a car... I just felt that I had lots of valuable information that I had to share, and writing a book seemed like the best option to do that. Creating a "to read"-list? Make sure to add ASP.NET MVC 1.0 Quickly to it.

kick it on

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20 responses

  1. Avatar for Dave Van den Eynde
    Dave Van den Eynde February 18th, 2009

    So when will it become available, electronically? And will you make an electronic version available that fits better on an e-book reader? Like mobipocket?

  2. Avatar for maartenba
    maartenba February 18th, 2009

    Final release: no idea... It's all in Packts hands from now on, I expect somewhere in March.

  3. Avatar for Joris
    Joris February 18th, 2009

    Congrats, great work !

  4. Avatar for knrs
    knrs February 18th, 2009

    Very cool Maarten! Congratz!

  5. Avatar for Juliën
    Juliën February 18th, 2009

    Great success! Pre-ordering now.

  6. Avatar for Benjamin
    Benjamin February 18th, 2009

    Cool article! I'm a little bit sad about developing C# WinForms/WPF all day long, but I'll recommend your book to my asp addicted colleagues ;-).
    I've one questition, because I'm writing a diploma thesis with MS Word 2007... Did you save your documents as XML files? So that you may use diff and other tools?! Or was your intention only to have a clear history and backup?

  7. Avatar for maartenba
    maartenba February 18th, 2009

    I used Word 2007, which also has a diff option (check the Review tab)

  8. Avatar for Simone Chiaretta
    Simone Chiaretta February 18th, 2009

    Congratulations Maarten.
    Waiting for the book

  9. Avatar for maartenba
    maartenba February 18th, 2009

    Thanks! Waiting for yours too by the way.

  10. Avatar for Sven
    Sven February 19th, 2009

    I knew those glasses were yours! :) Well done, Maarten.

  11. Avatar for Eric
    Eric February 24th, 2009

    I'm going to buy it simply because you have cool glasses!

  12. Avatar for Mitch
    Mitch February 24th, 2009

    I've been enjoying your blog for some time now for free, so it is only fitting that I buy the book and help you buy a couple of beers ;)

    Thanks for taking the time to share.


  13. Avatar for Joydip Kanjilal
    Joydip Kanjilal March 16th, 2009

    Congratulations Maarten. I wish you all the best for the success of the book. I am eagerly waiting for the book.



  14. Avatar for Luigi Zambetti
    Luigi Zambetti April 8th, 2009

    I've received the book yesterday. Start reading and ready for a review for italian people.
    Congratulations for your work.


  15. Avatar for maartenba
    maartenba April 8th, 2009

    Thanks! Let me know the URL to the review, really curious to know what you think of it.

  16. Avatar for Luigi Zambetti
    Luigi Zambetti April 8th, 2009

    Sure, of course (it's in italian language however).

  17. Avatar for Jessica Lee
    Jessica Lee March 3rd, 2011

    Great review, I thought the book was great. It had some good points to it and overall I liked it.

  18. Avatar for Jessica Lee
    Jessica Lee March 3rd, 2011

    Great review, I thought the book was great. It had some good points to it and overall I liked it.

  19. Avatar for Michael - Q1 resort and spa
    Michael - Q1 resort and spa March 5th, 2011

    How I wish i could write in a book and be a perfect author.

  20. Avatar for new home building pro
    new home building pro March 7th, 2011

    Just checked out your book at the library and I look forward to reading it. Looks good.