And so it came to pass that I was approached by Manning, to commission me initially for a book about Julia for data scientists. It became clear quite fast that because there were rather few Julia users who knew enough to be able to make good use of an advanced level book (and most of them knew their standard deviation from their chi-squares), and so, the editorial committee decided to acquiesce my request to instead first let me write a book that introduces readers to Julia, what it is, why it is so awesome and why they, too, should care.

A year and a half, two jobs, a move and a life-changing diagnosis later, Manning has decided they are out. Much may be wrong with the decision, but this might well be a blessing in disguise for the community. After contemplating various other options to recoup the time it took to write the book to its current state – worth the best part of £200,000 at my normal day rate -, I have decided that the right thing to do is to give this project back to the community. For this reason, the project will now be gradually integrated into Learn Julia the Hard Way, and that version will become the new #juliabook. That’s right – with your contributions, too.

In late 2014, I spent a Christmas holiday putting together a makeshift tutorial on the Julia programming language on Github. Learn Julia the Hard Way. In just a few months, it was starred over a hundred times, and is now by far my most-starred repo. Clearly this was meant to be much more than a simple Julia tutorial. And so the #juliabook was born.

To create a work that is appropriate to a new language is a scary endeavour. So much can go wrong! And giving the wrong impression in one of the first books on a language can set that language’s course on a disastrous path. As such, I have tried to maintain the ‘community’ feel that Learn Julia The Hard Way had. While it is no longer a community project and I have to carry it on my own shoulders, I still take a lot of community involvement with my book. One of the singular blessings of publishing in this modern era is that the author is no longer a solitary creature, diligently slaving away over his manuscript, but part of an integrated whole. Many of the leading lights in the Julia community have visited the book’s online forum and contributed valuable insights that have made their way into the manuscript. I am indebted to them, and deeply humbled by their kindness. My main mission, then, is not just to do right by Julia but also to do right by the community.
Over the next months, the Manning manuscript will be gradually worked into the community manuscript on Github, and eventually development will principally use that manuscript. Like the Manning book would have been, the Github manuscript will now be accompanied by a series of Jupyter notebooks that explain and illustrate key concepts of the book.