I’m pitching my editorial contacts on the idea me of writing a Catalyst book. So far the initial feedback or reaction has been that of hesitation…they aren’t sure if there’s really a market for the topic…what follows is a version of my email response (I thought it was an interesting enough debate that it should be made public for others to weigh in on)
Based on my conversations with people and companies doing Catalyst I know there’s at least a small market for another Catalyst book, and my gut is that the market is bigger than it appears at first glance.
If for no other reason than lots of people learn Perl along their path somewhere. I think they just don’t realize all of the amazing things they can do with that Perl knowledge in today’s world (like build Rails-like applications with Catalyst).
Honestly I think the lack of buzz about Catalyst so far is related to a few things:
1. Right now there is only one Catalyst book on the market - The one existing book is a good starting point, but mostly just because it’s the only starting point (from a book). Also the book was published by Pact and so it doesn’t carry the recognition in the tech. world as an O'Reilly or even an Apress (ie. honestly I don’t think many people know it’s even out there).
2. I don’t think most people doing or learning Perl in today’s world really even know about Catalyst yet…I think this is related to a larger Perl community issue right now - marketing. In my opinion CPAN is not really designed to introduce you to cool new things in Perl like Catalyst, it’s designed to help you find and use what you want…but you have to know what you want first.
3. Perl is an established language. Everyone seems to know it, but a lot of people also pass it over in discussion because I think they (wrongly) assume everything there is to say about Perl has already been said/published about Perl.
Catalyst is in a bit of a catch-22 in my mind - it’s not getting the buzz because it’s not getting published, and it’s not getting published because it’s not getting the buzz.
I sort of feel that way about the Perl community as a whole right now really…I think the existing Perl books are still selling well (no?)…I just think it’s been awhile since anything new in the Perl community has really been worth publishing. As a result of little new things being published, many people seem to view Perl as a dying or fading language…but I think Catalyst is the project to change that and wake people back up to the world of Perl.
On a personal level, I started doing CGI applications and web stuff in Perl many years ago (early 90’s) and over time moved almost entirely away from it into other languages/technologies…along that path I got heavily into the Rails framework (including writing the PDF I did with O'Reilly and the Active Record book with Apress)…and now most recently, thanks to a contract job, I’m spending a lot of time working with Catalyst and getting to return to my first programming love, Perl.
Actually I think my unique involvement and experience in the Rails world, along with my Perl exp., would be a big help in writing about Catalyst and in helping people pick up the Catalyst framework/concepts.
Also since I’ve been spending a lot of time in Catalyst I’ve been plugged into the community a bit (and into the frustrations a lot)…it feels a lot like where Rails was a few years ago, and so I think there’s already a solid road map of what readers really want to know about (my basic plan would be to review the feedback on all the existing Rails books as well as what people are saying about the Catalyst book, and target this book to cover the most important things people seem to struggle with).
So my basic idea is along the lines of a “Learning Catalyst” book that uses the Rails community/experience as a guideline for what people really need to know to do useful stuff with Catalyst right now.
Anyway, that’s the gist of it…I would love to hear your feedback though - do you think there’s a market for another book on Catalyst?