Kishen is the author of Getting Started with CockroachDB. We got the chance to interview him and find out more about his writing experience with Packt.
Q: What are your specialist tech area(s)?
Kishen: SaaS, Cloud, Databases, Programming Languages, Data Engineering, Lepidoptera.
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Kishen: I was exploring NewSQL databases, including CockroachDB, Google Spanner, and YugabyteDB, as part of my work at Rubrik. I eventually got more interested in CockroachDB and started exploring on my own. During the same time, Sunith Shetty from Packt reached out on LinkedIn asking me to write a book on CockroachDB. Things were not going great with two small kids at home, a very busy professional job, and COVID-19. So, I initially was hesitant, but after several discussions with Sunith, I decided to author this book.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Kishen: I have worked as a software engineer for about 19 years. I had explored CockroachDB for about 15 months before writing the book. So, most of the learning comes from day to day job itself. Each chapter needs 2 – 3 weeks of research and preparation. CockroachDB is evolving rapidly, and Cockroach Labs is putting new features every month. So, you are always chasing and learning new stuff and trying to include the latest content in the book.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Kishen: Main challenges were managing my time and keeping up with the changes in CockroachDB. Most of this book was written between 11 PM – 4 AM when my family was in a deep sleep. Between managing my professional job and two kids, I hardly get any time during the day. Cockroach Labs is doing a fantastic job of adding many new features to CockroachDB. Although this is great as a user, it’s tough to keep up as an author. Many of the initial examples had to be re-written as they did not work with the latest version of CockroachDB. Also, some of the chapters were revisited to include the latest features. It is very challenging to write a book on a database that is evolving very quickly.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Kishen: The book is all about CockroachDB, a new-age SQL database that aims to be as scalable and fast as NoSQL databases while providing full ACID and SQL capabilities. With the onset of Google Spanner, we have a new generation of databases, where all the intelligence about scaling, deployment, management, and security are already baked into the database so that you can entirely focus on your applications. Also, many of these databases are now available as-a-service offering on Cloud. So, all you have to do is pick a Cloud provider, subscribe to these services, and build your applications on top. With serverless, Kubernetes, and fully integrated monitoring capabilities, you don’t experience any of the pain of managing these complex pieces of software. Still, at the same time, you can keep the Cloud cost as low as possible. These databases are also great when your consumers are around the world. You can seamlessly partition your data across geographies and serve the data locally.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Kishen: Right now, there is no other book in the market on CockroachDB. Although there is online documentation from Cockroach Labs, which is fantastic, a book is always handy for learning several key aspects of CockroachDB with very simple examples.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Kishen: You will get yourself familiarized with key aspects of CockroachDB. I have also explained some of the inner working and internal architecture, which helps you appreciate CockroachDB. By the time you complete reading this book, you should be pretty confident about developing your applications on top of CockroachDB.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Kishen: Constant learning is key. I attend conferences and local meetups and get myself familiar with all the latest trends in technology. Most of the softwares now come as open-source, so you can easily clone the repository on your computer, read the code, and try it yourself. Also, once you are comfortable and gain more expertise, you can contribute back to the open-source, which gives you more recognition.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Kishen: It wasn’t easy to plan the timelines for the first 2- 3 chapters. Once you are past that stage, you will better understand how much time and effort is needed to complete a chapter. After that, you can plan better. Make sure you have specific calendar events for when you want to work on your book. Otherwise, it’s very easy to lag behind the schedule or lose interest. Also, it’s important to update your timelines constantly if there are deviations. Based on the number of pages and content, I created time slots for working on the book. Motivational level varies all the time based on several factors. So, it’s important to be generally healthy and happy when writing a book.
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Kishen: All the folks at Packt have been of tremendous help. Roshan Kumar and Tazeen Shaikh are great editors and always come up with excellent suggestions. Sunith Shetty inspires you to work hard and to be an author. Kirti Pisat and Aishwarya Mohan help keep an eye on the timelines and deadlines. Although I’m the author, it’s more of teamwork involving a lot of collaborations. I don’t think I would have written this book if not for Packt’s team. So, I highly recommend any aspiring authors to get in touch with Packt. You will learn a lot along the way.
Q. What are your favourite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Kishen: I prefer online courses and attending conferences against reading tech journals.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Kishen: Part of several Slack groups like CockroachDB, YugabyteDB, Spark, Iceberg, etc, and LinkedIn groups.
Q. What is the one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Kishen: Time management is the key. Sometimes you end up working 25- 30 hours a week to meet a deadline. So, before you start writing the book, make sure you are ready to give your time for about 18 – 24 months. There will be family emergencies, constant stress from your professional job, mental and physical health challenges. So, it will not be an easy journey, but as long as you enjoy the subject you are writing, you will be motivated to finish the book.
You can find Kishen’s book on Amazon by following this link click.