Interview: Author Antonio Cangiano

Our Book Promotion: “Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers” has just started. Win one of four books to be given out for active participation. The coolest thing? Author Antonio Cangiano will be on site to answer questions! Click here for more details. Here, in this brief interview, Satish Talim of RubyLearning talks to Antonio Cangiano.


Satish>> Antonio, could you tell us something about yourself – your background, where you are based?

Antonio>> Sure, Satish. I’m an Italian hacker living in Toronto, Canada where I work as a Software Engineer and Technical Evangelist for IBM. Part of the reason why I was hired by IBM was due to my expertise and passion for Ruby and Ruby on Rails (which I’d been following since 2004).

In 2006 I developed the first version of the adapter that enables DB2 to work with ActiveRecord/Rails, and have since been engaged in many projects that involved Rails and other dynamic languages and frameworks. I like to think of myself as being a very curious person who always approach new technologies with an open mind. My passion for Ruby and other open source tools turns me into the guy who’s always pushing for an increased level of adoption of these less common, but exciting technologies within IBM and the enterprise world.

Lately, in my limited spare time, I’ve been working on ThinkCode.TV, a startup that will focus on producing and selling high-quality programming screencasts in English and Italian.

Satish>> What inspired/prompted you to write “Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers”? What need were you trying to fill?

Antonio>> When people first approach the Rails community, they immediately notice that there is a huge percentage of Mac users. If you are developing with Ruby on Rails, it’s almost given that you are using Mac OS X or Linux. Therefore many books and tutorials on the subject tend to make assumptions about their audience’s skill set, what operating system they use and about their editors. This introduces a major adoption barrier for many developers who are coming from Windows, who may not be familiar with *nix operating systems, or may not be able to afford the latest Mac hardware.

By taking advantage of my background in the .NET world, and my experience with all the three main operating systems, including Windows, I thought I would write a Rails book aimed at those who wish to learn about Rails (but don’t necessarily want to switch their OS, editor and development environment).

Satish>> There is some confusion in the minds of the reader regarding the book’s title. Can you clarify?

Antonio>> The confusion surrounding the title is quite understandable. Readers might think, is this a book for people who work at Microsoft? Is it a book for .NET programmers? Is it for those who use Windows as their OS? The answers is that it’s for all of the above.

As mentioned in my answer to the previous question, this book targets the wide – and underrepresented – audience of Windows users who may be familiar with Microsoft development tools. You don’t have to be a .NET programmer to read this book, but if you are, you’ll find some nice references and comparisons that will make the learning path a bit smoother for you. If on the other hand you don’t know the first thing about .NET, you’ll fully enjoy the book nevertheless. Somewhat ironically, the first two emails I received as an author, came from developers who were Windows users, but who had taken the plunge and were now following the book on Mac OS X.

Satish>> I know that it is too early to say, but looking back are there some topics that you now wish should have been covered or dropped from the book?

Antonio>> When I started writing the book, IronRuby was at a very early stage and was progressing slowly. Now they’ve sped things up and have already reached a feature rich release (0.9) that isn’t too far from achieving 1.0 stable status. As it stands now, the book is packed full of information about Rails, but if I were to rewrite the book today, I would dedicate a solid chapter to IronRuby.

Thank you Antonio. In case you have any queries and/or questions, kindly post your questions here (as comments to this blog post) and Antonio would be glad to answer.

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