I know, it’s not time for another RubyTapas newsletter yet. I want to tell you about some things that have been happening both inside and outside of the kitchen. And about some changes that are coming.
Since RubyTapas is a show, you can choose to watch this announcement in video form! (If you’re reading the emailed version of this update, click here to go to the blog post and watch the video. In what I think is a first for RubyTapas, it features me on-camera!)
Prefer text? Read on.
This is long. Feel free to skip to the end to see what’s changing. But I hope you’ll take the time to read the whole thing.
About a month ago I sat down one Monday to start writing a new RubyTapas episode about a particularly vexing object-modeling problem that has gotten me into trouble in the past. I wrote and I wrote, and I soon discovered that I had a double episode on my hands.
Then I realized that I was nearly out of my allotted time for drafting. I put the scripts aside, and quickly banged out a couple of much smaller episodes on simpler topics.
The next monday, I picked up the scripts again. I had realized that this time, I wanted to do some on-camera visual explanations. I planned. I wrote. I shopped for props(!).
Then I ran out of time again, put the scripts aside, and banged out some shorter episodes as quickly as I could.
The following Monday I came back to the scripts. They needed more demo code than most episodes. I spent a couple of days working out, testing, and revising the demo code.
But I was out of time, so I put them back on the shelf and picked some low-hanging fruit off of my idea pile.
You can probably see the pattern by now.
Those episodes are still sitting in the queue, waiting to be completed.
When I started RubyTapas, as a fledgling screencaster I knew it would be all I could do to keep up with my publishing schedule. (Originally, three episodes a week!)
I knew that if I tried to bite off more than I could chew, I would quickly burn out. So I usually picked relatively “easy” topics. Stuff that I knew backwards and forwards from my years of coding experience, and that I knew I could cover without straining my time budget.
As time has gone by, I’ve learned my tools better and honed my workflows. I’ve become more confident. And more ambitious.
I still love doing fun, quick little episodes about language details, quirky gotchas, and handy gems. But I’m also stretching more often. I’m wanting to tackle bigger topics about program design, and domain modeling, and problem solving. Episodes that shine a light on perennially useful design approaches, like the series I’ve been doing on Ward Cunningham’s CHECKS pattern language.
People constantly ask me if I ever worry about running out of ideas. But that’s never been an issue for me. The problem I find myself coming up against now is that I don’t have time to take on some of the big episodes I really want to tackle.
And it’s not just that I want to talk about these bigger ideas. I hear over and over again that the “big idea” episodes are, by far, people’s favorites.
(Sometimes small ideas take time too. I struggled for weeks to come up with what I felt was an adequately “real” demo problem to illustrate Ruby’s exec method in a practical way. You’ll be seeing this in an upcoming episode.)
As I’ve mentioned in a recent episode intro, I have more people helping me than I used to. So you might be wondering why I’m still talking about not having enough time. There are a few reasons.
Besides for my desire to create more ambitious episodes on bigger topics, the main reason for my limited time is that I’m doing a lot of other work behind the scenes.
As you know if you’re a longtime member, the site stagnated for years while it was on the old hosting service. Now that I’ve taken over control of the site, I’ve been adding much-requested features, cleaning up the archive, and fixing bugs at a steady clip. The fact that I’m finally sending out monthly newsletters again is a sign of the fact that at last, I have regular improvements to write about!
To be perfectly honest, for a while there I also let marketing slide. An un-marketed screencast is a dead screencast. I’m making sure I don’t make that mistake again, and spending a little time every week working on strategies to get the word out.
Finally, and most importantly: my ultimate goal with RubyTapas is to make you a more effective developer. And I recognize that there’s only so much that I alone can teach you.
The great thing about speaking at a lot of software conferences and being a podcast host for many years is that over the years, I’ve had the great fortune to meet a bunch of amazing people. People who are way smarter than me, and knowledgeable in areas where I’m clueless.
Lately, I’ve been taking time to reach out to people I know who are experts in various topics, and kicking off some new collaborations. I’m not a fan of going into specifics until I have tape in the can. But what I can say is that I’m really excited about some of the voices and perspectives I’m hoping to bring to the show in the next year.
As you may already know, RubyTapas isn’t just something I do for fun. It’s also how I support a household of ~7 people, including our four young children.
An aspect of this that I don’t talk about much in public is that my wife has been suffering from a lot of health problems. And this has necessitated my picking up more of the slack in childcare and other areas.
Lately, no matter how carefully I’ve structured my schedule, I haven’t been able to effectively balance my work and family commitments. Bluntly, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and sometimes the middle.
Tomorrow my wife is going in for a surgery, and she’s going to be out of action in recovery for a few weeks. Honestly, I’m kind of panicking about how I’ll manage to keep up with the kids and with the show.
You might be able to guess where I’m going with this.
I need more time to work on the business, on delivery, and on expanding the site’s scope. I need breathing room to address bigger, more ambitious topics and ideas. And I need to be present and energetic for my family.
This is a very long way of saying: RubyTapas is moving to a 1-episode-per-week schedule.
This is a minimum frequency. I may still occasionally put up more than one item a week. For instance, if I have a real quickie episode that doesn’t take long to write. I’m also considering doing occasional blog posts or unscripted screencasts, for topics that I don’t feel warrant a full, polished episode.
There’s a question that’s likely to come up, and the answer is: no, I won’t be altering the subscription pricing. While I’m changing my production schedule, I’m not diminishing my commitment to the site. What I think you’ll find is that with more space between episodes, I’ll be able to deliver an even better product than before.
And yes, if you’re wondering, this change will enable me to bring back the RSS feed sooner. You know who you are 😉
Thanks for being a subscriber, thanks for reading all this, thanks for your understanding, and as always,