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19 Apr 2013, 22:35
James Bethison (1 post)

Your book has been extremely helpful to me and I would like to return the favor by suggesting somethings inspired by my many years working in the computerized printing systems industry.

I think what I have to offer is timely as the 4th edition of your book is still in BETA and the changes I want to suggest are relatively easy to implement before the typesetting is finalized.

  1. First and foremost I have a suggestion that relates to your “…[tough] decision to use a hash character to indicate instance methods…“. This syntax was confusing to me because (doh!) somehow I missed that one little paragraph where you explained it. Eventually I figured it out but it led me to two ideas:

1A. Please put this explanatory paragraph in a textbox so that it will catch the reader’s eye. Maybe only a few readers will miss this and it is no one’s fault but our own yet still this would be very helpful for those of us who do make an oops!

1B. Better still (and in addition to the above) change the “hash” character to the “circular bullet” character. I do realize your chosen hash syntax has become widely accepted but now with the advent of Ruby 2.0 it seems a as good a time to make a change as any.

The bullet is visually much closer in concept to the dot which is the real syntax and also easier on the eye, yet still accomplishes your goal to show the user the distinction. Your publisher could even make this a larger bullet for more distinctiveness. The circular bullet symbol (•) is Unicode code point U+2022, and in HTML it may be entered as @•@ or @•@


Treasure.describe <-- dot
Treasure•describe <-- bullet
Treasure#describe <-- hash

I expect a simple regex search could easily find and replace all instances of Name-hash-name in your text.

  1. Some of us programmers do not have the eyesight we should, either because of age or disability or both. To that end I would humbly request a font change for the various bracket characters <>[]{}() used in the code examples. Especially useful would be one which creates a pronounced difference between the () and the {} symbols.

Your publisher should be able to accommodate this request easily. Note I am not suggesting a text-wide change, just a change for these specific symbols. By example I offer the following possibilities:

Gandy Dancer NF (by Nick’s Fonts) at • Vendetta (by Emigre) at • Sirenne (by MVB Fonts) at

Of these my favorite is the last but again, ask your publisher for help on this. The key is that these eight symbols ought to be _easily_ distinguishable to all readers’ eyes even in very small font size.

I hope you will seriously consider these suggestions in the spirit they are offered, to help the reader of your books to be able to enjoy their reading experience. On a more humorous not please also consider how overworked the poor little hash symbol already is in Ruby and give it a well earned rest. :)

10 Jun 2013, 16:48
Alfonso Muñoz-Pomer Fuentes (3 posts)

The problem with changing the hash symbol is that certain tools like @ri@ already work with that syntax.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to switch to a yet-again different syntax instead of sticking to what it’s now widely accepted and understood in the Ruby community.

I didn’t skip the usage explanation, but I rarely skip text. The box sounds like a good idea.

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