No Question Too Small

Sometimes reader questions take me by surprise. I simply didn’t think about the issue and there was no way I could have even thought about the issue in advance. For example, I recently received a question from a reader of HTML5 Programming with JavaScript For Dummies. It seemed that the first example wouldn’t work.

After asking all of the usual questions, I asked the reader to tell me what he was seeing on screen. It turned out the reader was getting the right result all the time, but wasn’t seeing the fancy skin I was using on my browser. Here’s the screenshot from the book.


The content that the reader should have been interested in is the heading, “My First JavaScript Example” and the subsequent paragraph, “This is a JavaScript test.” Those two items are the output from the example, not the browser itself. If you’re seeing the content I just described, then you’re seeing the correct result from the example—ignore the browser, it’s only there to act as a frame for the content.

The example is designed to work with any browser, decorated or not. Of course, I had looked at the content and the content was fine, but the reader pointed out that not everyone looks at just the content. Some people will look at the browser window as a whole and want their browser window to look the same (or nearly so). Normally I put a disclaimer about this in the book and I should have provided it in this book.

At issue here is the reader’s learning experience. No one should ever feel that a question is too small for me to answer. I really want you to learn something from my books and if an issue such as the decoration on my browser window is causing problems, then we’ll work through it together.

This particular issue has also demonstrated why beta readers are so important to my writing efforts. I ask for beta readers for each of my books for precisely this reason. I can’t see these sorts of issues myself because I have worked with computers for a long time and they’re simply invisible. What I need are fresh eyes to look at my work and tell me when I’m hiding the entire forest in the trees. Always feel free to contact me regarding any question you have, especially those simple questions most of us are hesitant to ask.

I also ask for your continued help in producing the best books possible. Whenever possible, volunteer to be a beta reader. I find your input incredibly helpful and useful. Let me know your thoughts about simple question or being a beta reader at


Author: John

John Mueller is a freelance author and technical editor. He has writing in his blood, having produced 117 books and over 600 articles to date. The topics range from networking to artificial intelligence and from database management to heads-down programming. Some of his current offerings include topics on machine learning, AI, Android programming, and C++ programming. His technical editing skills have helped over more than 70 authors refine the content of their manuscripts. You can reach John on the Internet at