Source Code Support

Sometimes I need to make really tough decisions.  It isn’t a matter of wanting to make the decision—the need to make the decision is thrust upon me. The topic of this post is source code support in the form of reader uploads. The topic of just how far I need to support book source code has come up before in conversations with readers. For example, in the Source Code Download Issues post, I discuss problems that readers have had in obtaining source code for my books in the past. The issue addressed in this post is files that are removed from archive (.ZIP) files by applications such as firewalls. In some rare cases, files are missing from the download and the reader looks to me to solve the problem. A few readers have gone so far as to say that I really need to provide CDs with the source code on them and mail those disks out free of charge as part of supporting the book. Unfortunately, supporting the books in this way is well beyond my ability. I could easily go bankrupt providing this level of support.

Up until now, I’ve been willing to send source code to a reader who needs it using e-mail unless the book is on my unsupported list. This past month has been especially hectic with reader requests for source code uploads (well over a hundred of them). In some cases, the books in question are ten or more years old, which means I must look the book up in my archives and determine whether the source code is even available. Once I make that determination, I copy the source from the archive and send it to the reader in one or more e-mails. Some of the source code files are 20 MB or so in size and many reader e-mail accounts won’t accept a file that size, so I have to break the file down into pieces and send multiple e-mails to the reader—a time-consuming and error prone task. This past week I went through several problematic uploads and finally gave up trying to support the reader in a number of cases. Nothing I would do would allow the reader to receive the file using e-mail.

I’ve thought about making the source available on my Web site, but that approach hasn’t worked well in the past because readers will often complain they can’t find the source or that the source on the Web site is corrupted (or any number of other issues). Of course, there are also costs associated with online storage for source code for 89 books. After a lot of thought, I have decided that trying to support a book’s source code in this manner won’t work either.

With this in mind, I’ve decided that you’ll need to rely on the publisher’s site for downloading any source code associated with a book, unless the publisher provides a CD for the book. If there is a source code CD, then you need to follow the procedure described in my Obtaining Replacements for Broken Media post to obtain a new CD. I didn’t come to this decision easily because I prefer to provide the fullest possible level of support for my books whenever possible. The issue is the time required to provide the support. On some days it has gotten to the point where a good part of my day is spent looking for resources that readers need and not getting much else accomplished.

When a publisher decides that it’s no longer feasible to provide download support for a book, the source code for that book will become unavailable. In fact, I’ll likely add the book to my unsupported list. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I had to make it because the e-mail support has gotten to the point of affecting the support I can provide to readers for other needs. Please let me know about any concerns you have about this new policy at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com. If someone has a really good solution for this problem—one in which I can provide long term source code support without incurring huge monetary or time issues, I’ll provide an updated post. Thank you for your continued support of my books.

 

Obtaining Replacements for Broken Media

A number of my books, including C++ All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies and Java eLearning Kit for Dummies, come with some sort of media. As hard as the publishers try, it isn’t always possible to ensure that you receive this media in pristine condition. If you’re buying the book at a bookstore, make sure you check the media before you check out and get another copy of the book if you find that it’s broken (make sure the bookstore staff know that the media is broken so they can return the book for another copy).

With the demise of the larger bookstores, most of my readers are buying their books online today, which means you can’t look at the media when you’re browsing the shelves. If you buy from Amazon, make sure you return the book and get a new copy and let them know that the reason for the return is the broken media. Amazon will send you a new copy and they’ll return the copy with the broken media to the publisher.

Unfortunately, the book vendor may not always be very helpful or you might get the book as a gift and not be able to easily return it. In these situations, contact the publisher for a replacement. For example, if you have one of my Dummies books that includes media, you can contact the publisher, Wiley, at http://dummies.custhelp.com/app/ask/ for a replacement.

You know that I make it a top priority to help my readers with book-related whenever I can. In fact, the major purpose of the Technical category of this blog is to provide you with better service. This is unfortunately, one of the few situations where I can’t provide you with assistance, no matter how much I’d like to do so. I don’t have the resources required to create copies of the media for you and send it your way. If you do encounter problems reaching the publisher, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to try to help you. As always, contact me at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com with any thoughts or concerns.