Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
See recent comments. RSS feed of all comments.


This is my page for ImageMagick information, including details of my book on the topic, including the following:



Figures from chapter 11 of ImageMagick, the definitive guide

posted at: 01:00 | path: /imagemagick/book/figures | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 09 Dec 2005



Errata from the book

    The Definitive Guide to ImageMagick arrives in bookstores 26 December 2005, but Apress has already started sending out PDF versions of the book to some reviewers (let me know if you're interested in doing a review and I will see what I can do), and there is a sample chapter available for download from the Apress site.

    We worked hard to make the book as good as we could, including having a technical review team, several layers of editors, and me reading all of the chapters more than I would like to admit. That doesn't mean that it's impossible that errata slipped through though, so if you see something like that then please send either me an email, or even better send an email to the address reserved for such things.

    Each error found, if I agree with it, will result in a thank you email, the error being corrected in any future editions, the error being listed online (I don't know where yet though), and a credit in future versions of the book.

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book errata
    Related posts: Errata: Tweak to homework, new VMWare image

posted at: 07:38 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 19 Nov 2005



The book

posted at: 16:32 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 31 Oct 2005



Status of the book

    The book has been written for a while, along with the technical editing and review. The copy edits have been done since last week. There are only two chapters left for page layout. The process has been interesting, educational, and in some parts long.

    The hardest part though? Ironically, it's filling in the marketing questionnaire. I've never done anything approaching sales before, although I have done customer facing work.

    Some parts of the questionnaire are easy... The target audience for instance, a short pitch for the book, that sort of thing.

    What about things like which magazines to ask to do a review? What about people who might be willing to do reviews?

    Got suggestions? Reply in a comment?

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book marketing review
    Related posts: More reviews; Book reviews; Review priorities as we approach juno-3; Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight; Slow git review uploads?; Review

posted at: 02:50 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 07 Oct 2005



The book process continues

posted at: 17:11 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Sep 2005



ImageMagick book - Chapter 4: Other ImageMagick Tools

posted at: 14:18 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 14 Aug 2005



Random segue: how I came up with the original table of contents

    One of the problems I grappled with early on with was how do you come up with a table of contents for a book? It's a complicated process, and it's really important. If the book doesn't flow, then people are left confused about what goes where, and the book is a lot less useful. Additionally, when you sit down to actually write, then you need to know what is covered where so that you can refer the reader to the right place to find out more about a specific topic -- even if you haven't covered that topic yet.

    So how did I come up with the first cut of the table of contents for the ImageMagick book? Well, I started by looking at all of the command line options to the various ImageMagick commands. I wrote this down on a stack of old business cards, and then distributed those cards in logical sounding piles on the floor. Those piles pretty much became the chapters that I originally submitted.



    That's the card mound. Anyway, once that was done, Matt (the editor) and I sat down and worked on the table of contents description until it flowed nicely, covered everything we could think of, and had approximate page counts. It turns out in hindsight that the table of contents wasn't completely correct, but that's ok because I've been tweaking it as I go along, and it was more of a help than a hindrance in that it tells me stuff like which chapter to refer the reader to for certain kinds of information, and that sort of thing.

    So what's the point I'm trying to make here? When you're writing something big, it's important to have a feel for where you're going in the document, the point you're trying to make, and how you're going to get there.

    Update: Fixed my spelling in the title line, as per the helpful comments from Peter.

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book table of contents technique writing
    Related posts: Mature age students continued; Mark is right; Interesting technique for finding leaks in code; Chapter seven of the shop manual; When I go to Vegas, I should stay here; Going to Jeff and Pia's wedding after party? So am I and I've got a minibus

posted at: 16:03 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


The Apress page for the book

posted at: 04:06 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 13 Aug 2005



Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight

posted at: 04:25 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 12 Aug 2005



ImageMagick book - Chapter 3: Compression and Other Metadata

    Writing the summary of Chapter 2 seemed to work as a warmup for me the other day, so I thought I would write about Chapter 3 as a warm up for working some more on Chapter 7. I also need to look at reviewer comments for Chapters 2, 3, and 4 sometime today, so it seems like a good idea as well because it will help me remember what I am trying to cover in the chapter.

    Chapter 3 is all about the different things you can do with compression with ImageMagick, as well as other forms of image metadata. So, I start out by talking about lossy versus lossless compression (there's an interesting tangent to this discussion which I need to add as a sidebar to the chapter during this editing process, but I'll leave that to another post here), I give some examples of the accumulative nature of the loss from lossy compressions. We then move on to compare the size of a bunch of images using different compression algorithms, which gives a good introduction to discussing which image format is the right choice for given scenarios.

    (As an aside that I will follow here, that was probably the most recurrent battle I used to fight as an imaging specialist at IPAustralia, what format to use when. The number of times I've had to explain why JPEG is a poor choice for text is amazing to me.)

    I also talk about other compression aspects, such as quality levels and interlacing.

    Then we talk about image metadata, which includes random stuff like image width and height, as well as more complicated stuff like JPEG's EXIF tags. It also includes changing what imaging nerds would call the photometric interpretation -- the way that the pixels are interpreted in the image. For example with a black and white image, is 0 black, or white? I finish up by briefing covering gamma correction, color intent and profiles, and so forth.

    Finally, I introduce multiple image formats, such as TIFF, and PDF, which can have more than one image per file. Animations are of course multiple image formats as well.

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book chapter compression metadata meta data
    Related posts: Audio from linux.conf.au 2005 continued; Breaking: Zap2IT turning off guide data for the US?; Audio from linux.conf.au 2005; Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight; MythTV Chapter Ready: Selecting Hardware; MythTV Chapter Ready: The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntu

posted at: 18:32 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 11 Aug 2005



ImageMagick book - Chapter 2: Basic Image Manipulation

    I'm meant to be writing the rest of chapter seven tonight, but I thought I would warm up by continuing with my promised series of posts about the content of the book. The next chapter in the list is chapter two, which covers simple image manipulations. The idea was to get the stuff which everyone wants to do and cover it as soon as possible so that people can get some runs on the board (so to speak). In chapter two you will find an introduction to the bits of imaging theory that we need for the book (rasters, vectors, bitmaps, pixels, you get the idea).

    Then I move on to talk about ways to change the size of images. This includes resizing, sampling cropping, scaling, thumb-nailing and so forth. We also discuss some interesting transformations like trim. Then we move onto making an image larger, before finishing up with how to process many images at once with ImageMagick.

    It's an interesting chapter in that it's immediately useful, and goes through some interesting theory matters. It also sets the stage for the later coverage of all the other cool stuff you can do with ImageMagick. As a point of interest, this is also the chapter I wrote to determine how long it takes to write a chapter, which was an interesting experience.

    Anyways, on with chapter seven me thinks.

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book chapter basic image manipulation
    Related posts: Over-analysed Friday comments on Half Nekkid Thursday; Working on review comments for Chapters 2, 3 and 4 tonight; Old ImageMagick packages in Debian and Ubuntu; MythTV Chapter Ready: Selecting Hardware; MythTV Chapter Ready: The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntu; Color ebook!

posted at: 02:04 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 07 Aug 2005



Some details about the publication process

    Pascal asked in the comments to a previous post about the book about how I was going about writing the book and how the publication process works. It's a good question, and something I meant to cover here anyway, so now seems like a good time.

    I'll start from the beginning with a brief summary of how I got started with this writing thing. I started off by writing a number of articles for IBM DeveloperWorks. DeveloperWorks are actually really good to work with, all I did to start writing from them was fill in the proposal web form within a couple of hours we'd sorted out what was happening, and off we went.

    The ImageMagick articles I wrote turned out to be quite popular with the ImageMagick people. I suspect that's why the editor for Apress, a lovely guy named Matt contacted me. He pitched the book to me, and I was originally hesitant. He spent a fair bit of time (a month?) discussing the project with me, and I ended up deciding that because it's fairly closely aligned with the imaging work I'm doing for my PhD, I ended up saying yes.

    Along the way I wrote a table of contents with Matt's guidance for the book, which is what the contract with Apress is based on, and wrote a chapter of the book to determine if the timing estimates that Matt had provided were believable. I was also a little less scared of the process given I was on the review team for a Jeremy Wright's upcoming blog book.

    So, no. The book isn't self published. I have Apress doing that for me.

    The book is written in a Microsoft Word template provided by Apress. This has to happen that way because that Word document plugs into Apress' publication process. I am not aware of a non-Word format option for this at the moment. It's not a big problem though, as OpenOffice's support for the Word format is quite good. The entire manuscript has been written in OpenOffice, with the exceptions being the insertion of images into the document, and the dealing with change tracking and comments from the editorial and technical review team. Both of those tasks I do in Microsoft Word, as the OpenOffice support for image insertion seems to be buggy (I can't get it to work for me), and the change tracking is significantly nicer in Microsoft Word.

    It would be nice to give a presentation at LCA 2006 on what it's like to write a book in OpenOffice at the OpenOffice mini-conf (if there is one), but we'll have to wait and see if the papers committee accepts my real talk proposal, and what happens with some personal stuff I am dealing with at the moment (nothing bad, I'll tell you all more about that when it's more public).

    Anyway, so there's my book publication brain dump. Any more questions?

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book author process apress
    Related posts: The book; Reading recommendations anyone?; The book process continues; Color ebook!; Mark is right; A book on ImageMagick?

posted at: 17:55 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 04 Aug 2005



And now the book is on Amazon.com

posted at: 02:17 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 29 Jul 2005



Wow, Amazon UK is listing the book

posted at: 17:42 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 26 Jul 2005



ImageMagick book - Chapter 1: Installation and Configuration

posted at: 01:06 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 18 Jul 2005



A book on ImageMagick?

    I've been sitting on this for a little while, and a couple of people I've met in the flesh have heard about it, but I think the time is right to start talking about it more in public. A little while ago Apress asked me if I would be interested in writing a book on ImageMagick, presumably based on my having written two articles on ImageMagick for IBM DeveloperWorks. You can find those articles here and here. The book is a complete re-implementation of that content, despite my contract with IBM allowing for reuse, because that basically has to be done to make the book coherent and flow.

    Anyway, the contract has now been signed by myself and Gary Cornell (recent interview). The first three chapters have been written and are currently undergoing review. I have a table of contents and a schedule, so I know what else I'm going to cover.

    Why Apress? Well, apart from the fact that they approached me, which is flattering, they're also a pretty awesome technical publisher. They're the publisher of Nick Weinholt's .NET books, Joel Spolsky's software development books, and heaps of other stuff. Checkout they're site for more information.

    I've got a bunch of notes on the whole book process which I am going to write up and post over the next few months until the book is released for Christmas. You'll see them here when they're ready. Let me know if you have questions about what it's like to be a first time book author for an open source project when working full time, studying and having a family, and I'll see what I can do.

    Aren't I doing a PhD? Well, yes. Then again, the book hasn't actually distracted from that much at all, because of the massive amount of time freed up by the end of linux.conf.au 2005. The PhD is meant to consume 20 hours per week, which it still is.

    Got questions? Comments? Let me know in the comments to this post... Oh, and no, the book wont make me rich. Unless you buy a copy...

    Update: I should make it more clear that the book covers a lot more than those articles did. What I was trying to say here is that the content of the articles wont just be reprinted, but has been reworked, and woven in with the rest of the content. The book should be around 350 pages, so you can see that I need to write a whole bunch of other content too.

    Update: Oh, and there is another interview with Gary here.

    Tags for this post: imagemagick book open source apress
    Related posts: I won a radio shark and headphones!; Conference Wireless not working yet?; MythTV talk at Google; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; Links from Rasmus' PHP talk; I'm getting fed up

posted at: 02:21 | path: /imagemagick/book | permanent link to this entry