Noel Rappin Writes Here

Rails Test Prescriptions Out Of Edit

Posted on January 7, 2011

Very quick status update:

Rails Test Prescriptions is out of copyedit. It should head for typesetting on Monday for a probably ship date in mid-February.

Right now, we’re in the phase where I go over the copyedit and whine about things. Actually, this copyedit has been pretty clean, probably the cleanest I’ve ever had.

By way of contrast, when I did the wx book, the copyeditor did not realize that “Python” and “wxPython” were two different things, and decided to unilaterally change all instances of “Python” to “wxPython”, apparently in the belief that I had made the same mistake 1500 times.

Though if there’s one thing that copyediting proves, it’s that I am capable of making the same mistake over and over again. Here are some things that keep coming up:

The copyeditor changed all instances of “plugin” to “plug-in”, which may be the dictionary usage, but isn’t the common Rails community usage. I’ve changed them all back, except that I changed a bunch of them to “gem”.

  • Apparently I add extra commas to sentences a lot. In my head, I tend to think of a comma as indicating a pause when I read the sentence aloud, which leads me to put commas before words like “and” and “or” in cases where the structure of the sentence doesn’t require a comma. I’m not arguing about any of these.

  • There’s a pretty consistent change where I’ll write something like “this only happens when” and it’s changed to “this happens only when”. I’m assured that the second form is correct, but it still sounds weird to me.

  • My probably-annoying tic of putting a) outline notation in b) a sentence was removed. I get why, and I didn’t put them back, but I still like the slightly staccato rhythm and extra emphasis from adding those notations to a list. In a couple of cases I rewrote the sentence to get a similar emphasis a different way.

  • One surprise for anybody who has been following this book since the beginning is that we finally seemed to have flushed out all the its/it’s mistakes, or at least the copyeditor doesn’t seem to be finding new ones. I consider that a triumph – this was a mistake I made A LOT –, aided and abetted by a number of people who made corrections early on.

It’s an open question how much of this makes a difference to a reader. I like to think that making each individual sentence clean and consistent lowers the amount of friction between the text and the reader’s brain, but then, as an author I would say something like that.


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