I’m Dave Rankin, CEO of the Pragmatic Programmers. Unlike many publishers, our company is founded and heavily staffed by software developers. Our books get developers face-to-face with real-world problems to give them the practical experience they need to succeed in their roles. From the foundations to the cutting edge, our content covers various topics and is backed by a worldwide network of experts and educators.
A lot has changed for the Pragmatic Programmers since we last appeared on the Educative blog in June 2020. We’d just kicked off our partnership with Educative back then, inspired by our shared hands-on approach to developer learning. Two years and 50 projects later, Educative’s team and interactive platform have given us more ways to present our content than ever before.
We’re thrilled about how much stronger our partnership with Educative has become, but our partnership is just one of many recent initiatives that we’re excited about at PragProg. From supporting higher education to launching new series, I want to take this opportunity to update you on all the new things we’ve had cooking in these last two years.
Our team knows the realities of being a software developer because most of us have personally been there. We know that, at the end of the day, developers are always solving problems. We also know that experience is the greatest teacher—that’s why hands-on learning is central to our instructional methodology.
When a developer learns a new technology with us, they don’t just learn what it is—they learn what they can do with it, its pitfalls and advantages, and how it relates to other technologies currently important to the industry. Most importantly, they build with it.
You can learn all the information in the world about something in the abstract, walk away confidently, and still be completely lost at your desktop if you don’t know how that theory translates into action.
Theory is important, but it needs to be paired with hands-on experience. Our content brings theory to life by leaning heavily on exercises and projects, giving learners the firsthand experience that’s crucial to effective learning and retention.
We believe that offering learners more ways to interact with content provides them with a better chance at getting a deeper understanding of it.
To give developers as many opportunities to learn as possible, our publishing formats span the physical and digital. We offer eBooks, paperbacks, audiobooks, serialized content, and Medium web-based readings, as well as Educative courses.
Our content covers a range of topics equally wide in variety as the problems developers face in their roles. Depending on their industry or career level, a developer could be posed with problems related to anything from software and technology to management and ethics.
While we love all our authors, our most in-demand content tends to be:
For many years, we’ve been the go-to source for all things Ruby. The same is true with our Elixir courses, which were written by the language creators. We’ve recently been making great inroads with some of the most popular books on Rust as well.
We’re always looking for the next most interesting topic to publish—and we don’t shy away from emerging, niche topics. We had the very first book on Tailwind, and when our book came out, it was one of the only resources out there that actually got you building projects with the CSS framework. We covered web assembly when people were rather dismissive, and now it’s really popular. We recently put out a book for WebRTC. Many developers have only worked with WebRTC indirectly, so the underlying technology can be a real mystery.
By going where other publishers don’t, we’re helping curious developers get an edge in the industry. That comes with a risk sometimes, but it’s a risk we’re happy to take.
Our authors are excellent in a particular technology and in teaching, and they come from all walks of life. Some are professors, while others are heading up projects at Google and Facebook. For some of the series, like Elixir, they’re the actual language creators themselves. But we always stress this with authors—you don’t have to have 25 years of experience as a Google architect, or a PhD. Really, some of our most successful authors are earlier in their careers, and they do a fantastic job teaching very difficult subjects to people.
Our content is held to the highest standards of quality by our indispensable tech reviewers and editors. Its accuracy is ensured by hundreds of tech reviewers who are recognized experts in their specialties. Our authors’ work is then polished to a gleam by our behind-the-scenes experts, our editors. All our editors are industry veterans and most have worked professionally as some combination of software developer, author, and editor. They are truly experts in multiple fields. I wish they got more visibility for it.
While our authors spend the most time in the spotlight, we’re actually backed by an international network of experts and industry leaders.
We have multiple panels and committees consisting of notable leaders in the tech industry who advise on a range of issues. For example, our Ethics Panel helps us make well-informed decisions on difficult issues, and our international panel of technical advisors consists of people who are central to their technologies’ communities and advise us on where the technology is going, potential partners to collaborate with, and content gaps we may need to fill.
We strive for a diverse and global perspective within our network. While there’s overlap, the most important topics and issues in technology are different for every locale and community. We want to serve our community as a whole, so it’s important for us to build up as many voices as we can.
As a company built of software developers and backed by industry experts, we provide insight into the industry that would be almost impossible to get as an individual person immersed in a particular focus area. This puts us in the unique position of being able to synthesize what new developments mean for developers’ everyday work.
Check out the 35+ courses by Prag Prog on Educative.
Here are three areas where we’ve had some exciting developments at PragProg.
One very new thing is higher education’s newfound interest in our books.
Before the pandemic, only a few of our titles were popular on university campuses. I mean, we’re not textbook publishers—textbooks are far more centered in academia and really cover a lot more conceptual content. But when the pandemic hit, university students were suddenly saying, “What’s the point of spending so much on tuition if I’m not going to get any hands-on experience? I may go get real-world experience instead and finish my degree after the pandemic.”
We started getting flooded with emails and calls from universities going, “We just came across you guys. It looks like you’re doing real-world programming, hands-on stuff. We want to use your books to bring people back into the classroom this fall.”
This was exciting—and a real change. It made us start to think differently in terms of content. Now we’re creating content not only for learners but for instructors too (e.g., instructor’s manuals).
Earlier this year, we began developing two new series that are really a departure from the content we’ve done in the past, and we’re incredibly excited about them.
One is an ethics series touching on issues such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and mental health in the workplace.
We’ve always said that we’re focused on real-world problems for developers—but the job isn’t just writing code, and it’s not just about managing other people, either. There are ethical matters involved too.
Many developers work in high-pressure fields where their work can affect lasting consequences. This could involve training AI or developing technology for medical fields or areas of defense. A lot of these developers struggle with questions:
Our ethics series will offer actionable frameworks to help developers overcome challenges in their day-to-day roles.
The other is a tech stories series, where we look at how particular moments in tech history can help developers make better decisions or avoid certain downfalls. Again, it’s not about just learning what happened, but really gaining valuable takeaways from past successes and failures.
Another new initiative we’re really excited about is our partnership with Humble Bundle. We want our platform to be a positive force beyond just the boundaries of technology. With Humble Bundle, we raised a significant amount of money for Active Minds, a charitable program supporting young people who are experiencing mental health crises. We’re looking forward to partnering with Humble on many more bundles to come.
In our first meeting with Educative, the parallels between our hands-on approaches were immediately apparent. The main differences were that Educative had interactive quizzes and an in-browser software development environment that eliminated setup, while our instructions, hands-on projects, and setup walkthroughs were in printed form.
While Educative browsed our books and we browsed their courses, we said, “You know, it almost feels like this content could fit in either place.”
Educative seemed to be a promising platform to help get our learners hands-on experience with real-world problems quickly, so we decided to partner.
The beginning of our partnership was experimental. We started by adapting our published books into Educative courses. Most of the content worked great, relatively untouched, but Educative worked with our authors to fill in any gaps in interactivity through quizzes and coding exercises.
This collaboration turned out to work really well. Now, we have about 30 courses in production, and our partnership has only evolved.
Check out the 35+ courses by Prag Prog on Educative.
Working with Educative has opened up so many new opportunities for our content.
This year, we started building courses that are entirely native to Educative’s platform. This has been an effective and highly collaborative process between Educative’s content team, our team, and the authors we’ve sourced.
We think about possibilities with Educative as early as acquisition. During new publishing conversations, we consider whether each opportunity will work better as a book, as an Educative course, or both. And it can be both, because it’s not at all a competing product. By offering both a book and an Educative course, we think that people are learning at a much deeper level.
Sometimes we look at a proposal and decide it’s better suited to be exclusively on Educative’s platform. This is often the case for technologies that require a demanding amount of setup that a developer otherwise wouldn’t need to do. In the real world, a dev is often asked to work with an entire set of technologies that’s already running and available at their workplace. It’s impractical to introduce devs to technologies like this in a book where we’d have to commit several chapters just to walk them through an impractical setup. We know this is frustrating for developers, and we love getting them hands-on more quickly with technologies like these in Educative’s built-in development environment.
I feel like everything we do with Educative is really a win-win for both parties—and that’s pretty rare.
If our other partners are reading this, we love our other partners too! But we really do have a unique relationship with Educative.
We love how incredibly collaborative our partnership with Educative is. Our teams get together, figure out what’s good for everybody, and then move the project forward. We help Educative fill their content gaps by connecting them with authors and SMEs in our network, and Educative brings a new interactive dimension into the work we’ve been doing—even breathing new life into content that didn’t make sense to publish in our other formats. We really complement each other’s work.
It doesn’t feel like a partnership in name—everyone’s really committed toward the same goal.
I can sincerely recommend partnering with Educative to anybody. Educative has dedicated staff who are focused on our projects. They are responsive and proactive, and projects rarely ever stall as a result. Our experience working with them has been fantastic.
We’re thrilled about the new content areas and initiatives we’ve kicked off in just the last two years at PragProg. We certainly have a lot underway, but many of our new projects aren’t live yet.
So, keep an eye out for our new ethics and tech stories series on our website, The Pragmatic Bookshelf. In addition to our 30+ Educative courses, stay tuned for the new courses that we’ll be publishing natively to Educative’s platform, under The Pragmatic Programmers. And to make sure you don’t miss any updates from us, sign up for our Pragmatic Bookshelf newsletter.
And again, to anyone who’s considering partnering with Educative, we certainly recommend it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to hear about our updates!
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