The public life of Apache Security begins
My book, Apache Security, is finally out, after a year and a half of hard labour. I began talking to the publisher in the summer of 2003, and began research shortly after. I began writing in March 2004 and finished in December 2004. O'Reilly had it in stock on March 1st 2005, but it only become widely available in late March.
The work itself was great fun. It is a great privilege to be able to explore the boundaries of your own knowledge in detail. I did have periods of despair, of course. But I was prepared for them from reading blog entries of other book writers. I knew how difficult it was going to be. The biggest challenge I had was deciding what to cover, and what to leave out. It was never going to be a book for absolute beginners (officially, it's an "intermediate to advanced" type of book) but I didn't want to write a book that would be understood only by a few people who are already Apache experts. On an another level, it was also not possible to look at the security of the Apache web server in isolation. A book that pretends to provide "everything you need to know to secure your Apache web server" must delve into topics such as networks security, host security, and web application security. As it turned out I had to deal with these questions every single day. It was a struggle to keep the book from growing too much. Initially, the book was supposed to be around 280 pages long. In the end, it grew to over 400 pages.
As my work progressed I began to think more and more about the process. The traditional book writing process restricts the author to his experience, the experience of his immediate peers, and the experience of the technical reviewers. While this may work in some, or even many cases, I came to believe that a piece of technical writing can achieve its best only through the collaboration process with the readers. Now that the book is out, this is exactly what I am looking forward to.
The first step, the book's web site, is already completed. In the following months I plan to put more material from the book online, start adding fresh content, and generally try to engage the public by offering them the stuff they are interested in. The way I see it, my work has just began.