My Git Book Writing Blog

The More You Look, the More You See

As the book progresses towards the finish line (it’s in layout now), I find myself thinking back on some of the sparks that led to the way I wrote.

The book was born from presentations I have given about Git. In those talks, I always felt that if I could focus for a half-hour or an hour on each Git concept, I could really make Git clear for beginners. That would lead to a 10 or 20 hour seminar, and maybe that’s an idea to pursue, but I went in the book direction first.

The idea of closely focusing on something is examined in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig, 1974). There’s a section where a student is having trouble coming up with what to write, and the teacher tells her that she wasn’t looking hard enough. “Narrow it down to the front of one building … Start with the upper-left hand brick.”

I always liked that part of the book. “The more you look, the more you see.” That’s what I’m aiming for. Each chapter is one close look at one key part of Git. The closer we look, the more we see and learn, and this applies to any kind of tech.

This book is aimed at beginners, and I hope that beginners grow with the book. There’s a lot material in each chapter to digest, and I hope readers use it as a springboard for deeper dives into each part.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Once again, there won’t be a BLOG post next week as I will be away. Stay cool!

Finishing Lay Out

The book has returned from the layout process, and it looks really good! Check out some the pictures below (from Chapters 1 and 2).

The output from the layout process was PDF files, and I used the venerable PDFtk program to count all the pages as a first pass. There are 379 pages, including 15 pages for the index.

I am sure the next task will be for me to review all of these. I’m up for it. It means the project is getting closer to the end.

Thanks everyone for reading!

layout 1

layout 2

Thank You, Reviewers

One of the documents I received earlier in the month is the full list of people who participated in the reviewing of the manuscript. At Manning, people can sign up to be technical reviewers, and this effort completely voluntary. If you remember, this is how I started down the path of writing this book.

The reviewers for this book will go into the acknowledgements section of the book, but let me acknowledge these 19 reviewers in this space. Their comments, by way of a questionnaire and open feedback, were typically anonymized, so this was my first time to see their names.

  • Art Bergquist
  • Boris Vasile
  • Changgeng Li
  • Ernesto Cardenas Cangahuala
  • Harinath Mallepally
  • Kathleen Estrada
  • Keith Webster
  • Luciano Favaro
  • Michel Graciano
  • Miguel Biraud
  • Mohsen Mostafa Jokar
  • Nacho Ormeño
  • Nitin Gode
  • Patrick Dennis
  • Ralph Leibmann
  • Richard Butler
  • Scott King
  • Stuart Ellis
  • Travis Nelson

I looked at each questionnaire and comment during the three review periods while writing the book. I tried to take something constructive from every piece of feedback. Many times this resulted in updates to the manuscript, and for that I appreciate it. Thank you, you reviewers!

There won’t be a BLOG next week, as I will be away. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see everyone next time!

Correcting Page Proofs

As I predicted earlier, I spent the past week going through corrections. The PDFs are now considered ‘page proofs’, and I went over captions, figures, indentations, line breaks and annotations. I could trust the text, but the layout could have jarred some elements from their intended positions.

Corrections are done right to the PDF (unless I wanted to submit an indexed list of corrections). I was surprised to learn that the standard Adobe Reader supports a basic highlight and comment facility. I could select words to highlight, and attach a comment to the highlight, enabling me to call out corrections (abbreviated as crx). (See picture below.) Clicking on the “Comment” button (upper-right of the picture) lists all the corrections.

I believe there’s one or two more rounds of this. The books feels more real than ever. Soon I’ll be dusting off a draft of my “front matter”, which includes my acknowledgements, and the book will be very near the finish line.

Thank you, everyone, for reading!


Divisible by 8

Janet Vail, who is overseeing the production of this book, sent me this note about the final page count.

Chapter 20 currently ends on page 344. The front matter will
add about 20 pages, and the index will add another 8 to 10 pages
for a final estimated page count of 368 or 376. (The final page
count must be divisible by 8 for printing.)

I spent a few minutes pondering that parenthetical. The page count must be divisible by 8. Why?

I spent a good amount of time pondering the printing process when I worked on a student magazine in college. A lot of that started coming back with her e-mail.

The pages in a magazine or a book are printed on a large sheet of paper called a signature. There are 8 or 16 book pages on this large sheet of paper. After folding and cutting, this signature forms a block of 16 or 32 pages.

I found a great picture and explanation of the concepts here:

The 8 page imposition is shown below. The imposition is the placement and direction of pages, such that when folded and cut the pages are in the correct order. The website also shows that larger signatures are possible.


I thought two things: 1) printing software to properly layout signatures would be challenging, and 2) the book is very nearly done!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Visualizing the Work (Redux)

Earlier, I showed a few graphs of how the writing was going.

Today, with the production editors saying “we’re going to press”, here’s a graph of all the commits to my book’s Git repository (courtesy of my local installation of GitLab.


It’s fascinating to see the activity spikes between the start of the project, all the way through April 2015. The commits then start to wane until this month, August 2015. To be fair, a lot of the activity was done outside of Git. All of the corrections and the reviews were done on files not managed in Git, so the only commits are those from my notes.

The book indeed goes to press, probably by early September. The end is near!

Thanks, everyone, for reading!

At the Printers

The book is at the printers. Now I know the work is really over!

I learned from Mary Piergies that the printers are Edwards Brothers Malloy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Unfortunately, I don’t live close to there, or else I would have done one of those vanity tours to see the printers putting my book together.

To learn more about the printers, check this video out:

Earlier in the week I received an e-mail saying that the final PDF of the book is now available. A tweet soon followed. That’s pretty exciting! I know the reality will really hit me when I have the book in my hand.

There won’t be a BLOG post next week, so I’ll see everyone next time! Thanks everyone, for reading!


A tweet yesterday announced that the book was in print.


We’re definitely down to the last few Book BLOG posts now. I hope to post a few pictures of this book in my hands once I receive a copy.

I’ve been fielding more questions about the book from co-workers and people who meet me when I’m out at meetups.

I always have to break past that bit of awkwardness when talking about the book. It’s easier to talk about Git, versus talking about writing about Git. It’s something I’ll have to get used to however.

Thank you, everyone, for reading. See everyone next week!

Printed! (At Last!)

This past Monday evening, I saw two packages outside my door: a box, and a slim media mailer. After examining the label, I knew immediately what it was.

I opened the slim media mailer first, and I delicately pulled out three copies of my book. My first impression: I thought it should be thicker. But I convinced myself that all 352 pages were present, and later I compared its width to another book of a similar page count. They were roughly the same size. My second impression: it smells just like a new book!

That evening I showed the books to my wife and daughter, and I directed them to their sentence in the acknowledgements section. They were smiling. So was I. We joked back and forth, and I resumed the rest of my evening. I felt very satisfied.


Acknowledgement: Kunio Yoshikawa

While preparing the relaunch of this content, I realized there was one more person who deserves an acknowledgement: Kunio Yoshikawa (吉川邦夫). He translated my book into Japanese. Sometime around October 2015, when the book was deep in the production phase, I started corresponding with Kunio as he started his work. In addition to translating the text, he also reviewed the labs in the book with a keen eye for detail. I very much appreciated his thoroughness, and care. In July 2016, I was asked if I wanted a copy of the Japanese version of this book, and of course I said yes. The cover is colorful, and I like how it stands out. His name appears with mine on the cover, as it should!

book cover in Japan