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Getting Real – 37Signals’ book on web app development

Yesterday I bought 37Signals' new book: Getting Real, the book. Here is a bit of background info: "37signals used the Getting Real process to launch five successful web-based applications (Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, Writeboard, Ta-da List), and Ruby on Rails, an open-source web application framework, in just two years with no outside funding, no debt, and only 7 people (distributed across 7 time zones). Over 400,000 people around the world use these applications to get things done."

The tagline of this book is The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application. The price of the book is $19, and it is available as a downloadable pdf. There are a total of 171 pages in the book, and it took me a few hours to read it. There are some sample chapters on the website as well.

For those in the Web 2.0 industry, this book ought to be required reading. This book might seem like a collection of blog entries and also seemingly contains many already known and general things. However, if Web 2.0 is your religion, Getting Real ought to be the Holy Book. It is something you and your team can refer to again and again until you have the main ideas ingrained in your brain.

According to the book, identify a real problem, and that would be your idea. Draw some paper sketches and move on to designing the interface (with HTML and CSS). You'll have a specific thing which your team can discuss. The actual programming comes later. No need for functional specs, etc. Just get down to the real thing.

There is also a heavy emphasis on less: lesser people (a team size of 3 is ideal till version 1.0), features, processes, meetings, code, documents and even lesser user choices. Finally, when you are done with your web app, have a Hollywood-esque launch: teasers, followed by sneak previews, followed by the actual launch. And all this followed by some post-launch stuff. Ride the blog wave and communicate with your users. The book also discusses product pricing and support, amongst various other things.

I printed all the 171 pages and plan to read them repeatedly. 37Signals is an incredible inspiration for all the web app (Web 2.0) developers out there, and this book is their attempt to share their secret sauce. Go get it.

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What’s under the hood ?

The most important aspect of a Web 2.0 application is what's under it's hood. That means, is there any substance to it ? Is it useful ? Does it do something better, faster, cheaper than some other website ? Would it make any difference to a target user if it dropped off the face of the planet ?

Just having a well designed, nice looking, AJAX-enhanced application isn't enough. Infact, that is just the beginning.

Under the hood, your application could be an amazing blog search engine, based on some neat algorithms (BlogRank ?), or something else. Is BlogPulse a Web 2.0 application ? Perhaps.

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Hello, world!

Welcome to Geek 2.0. Read the about page for what this is all about, add this site to your bookmarks and subscribe to the RSS feed.

The journey has begun, on this holiest of geek days, April Fool's Day (GMail was launched on April 1st, 2004, and ignited the Web 2.0 / AJAX revolution).

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