Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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So much for up-to-date documentation for JasperReports

We're using JasperReports at work.

We purchased The Definitive Guide to JasperReports, even though it was a bit of a hassle (since the purchasing process is geared towards paper books rather than eBooks purchased from the project's own website), since the last paper book seemed to treat a fairly old version of JasperReports. Specifically, 2.x.x has been out since 2007-08-13 and the books I saw only treated 1.x.x.

I presume that a fair bit will have changed from 1.x.x to 2.x.x (a whole new major version!), so I wanted the PDF documentation since it promises to be more up-to-date: The Definitive Guide to JasperReports is updated about three times a year so that it keeps pace with JasperReports enhancements.

You have the choice of purchasing the current edition, or an annual subscription (which lets you download new editions as they become available). We got one copy since we don't expect the project to last that long anyway.

Fast-forward to now, when I actually need to consult the documentation in more detail.

The book itself doesn't mention the current version. For example, the download link merely points to SourceForge's project-specific URL, whereas the dead tree version I had had before explicitly said to download blabla-1.2.bla (or something oldish along those lines).

However, the filename "JasperReports.1.3.4.pdf" makes me suspicious. And lo and behold, there is a version 1.3.4 of JasperReports, so that's probably not the version of the book but (also) the version of JasperReports that it is documenting!

Now 1.3.4 was the last of the 1.x.x track and was released on 2007-06-11 according to SourceForge -- quite a while ago. And the PDF file carries a timestamp of 2007-08-07 (fairly trustworthy, since it apparently came delivered in a ZIP file, so the timestamp is from there rather than the time the book was downloaded) -- six days before 2.0.0 came out.

Maybe we just bought the book a bit too early? Perhaps we should have waited and there's a current version available?

But no! The product page includes a link to the table of contents (PDF), which bears a suspicious resemblance to the table of contents of my PDF file. A resemblance that might be described as "identical". And the PDF metadata of the table of content available from the website says the file was created on 2008-08-08, so it's a day newer than what I have.

So this documentation is seven, nearly eight months old! During which time a major version has come out, followed by five subversions (2.0.1-2.0.5)! You'd think that the documentation might be "updated [...] so that it keeps pace with JasperReports enhancements", but that's apparently not the case. Unless "three times a year" means not "roughly every four months" but "three releases in quick succession, about ten months after the last one", or something like that.

I'm rather disappointed.

And when I looked at the 2.0.0 changelog, I was disappointed, too -- it seemed rather paltry for a major version number. None of the nine bullet points seemed especially ground-breaking.

I then thought about Perl 4, which was marked, IIRC, not by a particularly sweeping series of changes compared to Perl 3, but mostly by the publishing of (the first edition of) Programming Perl; in other words, Perl 4 was the version described by that book.

That sort of thing might have made a bit of sense to me here -- you know, if they change from 1.x.x to 2.x.x because they wrote a big new book or something. Except that then the book could, you know, say that it describes version 2.0.0! But as far as I can tell, the book is for 1.3.4, at least judging from the filename, and I don't really have anything else to go by here.

It just seems a bit odd to me to come out with a book, and then one week later release a new major version, which -- if it's really a major change -- will render much of the book useless. And they can't even use it for bait to get people to "upgrade" to the most recent version of the book IF THERE ISN'T EVEN A CURRENT VERSION, NOT EVEN ALMOST EIGHT MONTHS LATER!

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