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Saturday, January 06, 2018

"All things must come to an end"

Cover of the book.
No worries, this is just about my Groovy Cheminformatics book. Seven years ago I started a project that was very educational to me: self-publishing a book. With the help from Lulu.com I managed to get a book out that sold over 100 copies and that was regularly updated. But their lies the problem: supply creates demand. So, I had a system that supplied me with an automated set up that reran scripts, recreated text output and even figures for the book (2D chemical diagrams). I wanted to make an edition for every CDK release. All in all, I got quite far with that: eleven editions.

But the current research setting, or at least in academia, does not provide me with the means to keep this going. Sad thing is, the hardest part is actually updating the graphics for the cover, which needs to resize each time the book gets ticker. But John Mayfield introduced so many API changes, I just did not have the time to update the book. I tried, and I have a twelfth edition on my desk. But where my automated setup scales quite nicely, I don't.

It may we worth reiterating why I started the book. We have had several places where information was given, and questions were answered: the mailing list, wiki pages, JavaDoc, the Chemistry Toolkit Rosetta Wiki, and more. Nothing in the book was not already answered somewhere else. The book was just a boon for me to answer those questions and provide an easy way for people to get many answers.

Now, because I could not keep up with the recent API changes, I am no longer feeling comfortable with releasing the book. As such, I have "retired" the book.

I am now working out on how to move from here. An earlier edition is already online under a Creative Commons license, and it's tempting to release the latest version like this too. That said, I have also been talking with the other CDK project leaders about alternatives. More on this soon, I guess.

Here's an overview of posts about the book: