Project Description

At my first professional experience at SEG, I worked with Primavera software, a Portuguese solution to manage the core activities of micro and small companies. This software uses Crystal Reports to build reports in each software module.

At that time, my main activity was to demonstrate and fit the Primavera solution in the business context of my customers. However, sometimes I needed to create new reports or change existing ones, and for that purpose, I needed to understand the workings of Crystal Reports very well.

Most of the time, I faced some difficulties while executing this task, especially while deploying the new reports on the customers’ systems. There were always some incompatibilities between the Crystal Reports DLL and the customer operating systems, or there used to be some Crystal Report’s bugs hard to understand.

I searched the Internet a lot to find useful information about these problems, but it was difficult at that time, and that made me to think that I could do something about it but I was not sure what to do. One year later, I thought about writing a book about the subject.

The Opportunity

If you think a little bit, writing a book seems something complex. Is it right? If your answer is yes, then you are absolutely right! I will explain how difficult it is to write a book later, but before that, it is important to understand that you need to get the opportunity first or, in other words, you need to find a publisher, because if you don’t get a publisher to publish your book, you should forget about writing a book.

Well, actually finding a publisher is not exactly the biggest problem. The biggest problem is to find a publisher who accepts to publish your work. In order to achieve this, you need at least two things: to have the required technical skills about the subject, and to be able to show it to the publisher. Of course, you also need to have the time and the patience to write the book, and it means that writing should be one of your most important talents.

In my opinion, the most important action you can take to have your book accepted is to plan it very well. You need to be sure about the objectives and structure of the book. Then you need to present your CV or something similar, in order to show that you master the book topics. The quality of the first chapters should do the rest.

The Challenge of Writing a Book

Writing a book is a challenging and complex task. In order to write a book, you need to master the subject. But even if you master the subject, you need always to go a little further, more precisely, you need to make some research. Most of the research I did to write the Crystal Reports’ book was regarding the most usual errors that users were experiencing. I had also experienced myself a lot of them but, surely, I didn’t get most of them all alone. Thus, it was important to know about those errors, simulate them, and to present a solution in the book.

A second challenge is that writing a book means, not only to write the text of it, but it also involves the preparation of the images, the formatting, and the example files, which can be a lot in a technical book. Just to give you an idea, I spent the last 3 weeks of the book writing only doing formatting stuff. This happens because you can’t just start printing the book with errors. You and the publisher team need to read the book a lot of times and incorporate the necessary changes. Most of the changes will be incorporate by the writer and not by the publisher team. Plus, you will need to review carefully the example files, because, almost for sure, no one will do that for you.

Finally, it is necessary to make a good planning from the start as stated earlier. It is not possible to start writing something without seeing the big picture, until you get a table of contents of the book clearly specified. If you do not do that, you will get lost and the book will not be finished on time, and believe me, you will have a restricted schedule as I had. In my case, it was more or less three months. If you took more than this time, you could lose important market opportunities (time-to-market), like not being the first one publishing a book about the topic. I needed to be alert about this because the Microsoft .Net framework was providing the initial steps, and Crystal Reports were distributed with it. My book could be the first book in Portuguese language talking about Crystal Reports integration on the .Net Framework, and it actually was!

The Contents of the Book

You can see more details about both books here:

You can also get the first chapter of the Crystal Reports – Complete course here (Portuguese language only).

What Comes Next?

After writing the first book, I believe that a writer would have initially thought this: “I will not do it again!”. However, then you go to a book store and see your book on the shelves with your name. You can even see people getting it and looking at it, and I assure that you will think again about what you thought earlier.

That is why I wrote a second book, but this time I was invited by the publisher and I would write only one third of the book. My main aim of writing this second book was to see if I had what was necessary to write books – the talent. I said this because it is possible to most people with the right skills to write ONE book, but if you are able to write more, then it must be definitely a TALENT.

If you look carefully, this happens with most of the creative work. You see singers, for instance, having success with an album that took almost all their professional life to produce, but then they disappear. In my opinion, they had the skills, they worked hard to improve the skills, but maybe they do not have the talent to make it a continuous activity. So, with this second book, I was able to prove that I had the talent to write. Actually, I wrote my part of this new book in less time than the time I took to write the same proportion of the first book.

Will I write any other books? I am not sure, but it is not in my plans to write any other technical book. Firstly, because I don’t believe I will take any further advantage of writing another book, as I already had from the previous books. I can get some more money, but that doesn’t compensate the effort. Secondly, because I have other projects in my mind. Nevertheless, I don’t put it completely apart, specially the writing of another type of book.