Jacki and I just submitted the first two chapter to our publisher, so I would like summarize early lessons learned (actually we submitted one chapter, but the editor decided to break the chapters in half; a decision that we fully support.) The chapters includes material on programming style (from R’s point of view), introduction to functions and functional programming, some information on S4 classes mostly from user’s perspective, vectorizing code, debugging and various methods of data access including web scraping and Twitter API.
First the obvious. We underestimated the amount time required to produce the content. No surprises there.
We spent too much time wrestling with the outline. Outlining seems to work well when I know my own writing style, but not so well otherwise. At some (earlier) point we should have just started writing and figured out the detailed chapter structure as we went along. I suspect this will change as we get deeper into the material, but only time will tell.
What does need to be planned is the immediate section. For me it helps to have all the code written and all the visuals produced prior to starting writing. When I tried writing code on the fly, I struggled to make any meaningful progress.
Lastly, it would have really helped if we read each other’s sections more carefully both in terms of synchronizing content and writing style. I hope that the final product does not read like the book was written by two people.
Onto Chapter 2.