Could you explain Apache Kafka® in ways that a small child could understand? When Mitch Seymour, author of Mastering Kafka Streams and ksqlDB, wanted a way to communicate the basics of Kafka and event-based stream processing, he decided to author a children’s book on the subject, but it turned into something with a far broader appeal.
Mitch conceived the idea while writing a traditional manuscript for engineers and technicians interested in building stream processing applications. He wished he could explain what he was writing about to his 2-year-old daughter, and contemplated the best way to introduce the concepts in a way anyone could grasp.
Four months later, he had completed the illustration book: Gently Down the Stream: A Gentle Introduction to Apache Kafka. It tells the story of a family of forest-dwelling Otters, who discover that they can use a giant river to communicate with each other. When more Otter families move into the forest, they must learn to adapt their system to handle the increase in activity.
This accessible metaphor for how streaming applications work is accompanied by Mitch’s warm, painterly illustrations.
For his second book, Seymour collaborated with the researcher and software developer Martin Kleppmann, author of Designing Data-Intensive Applications. Kleppmann admired the illustration book and proposed that the next book tackle a gentle introduction to cryptography. Specifically, it would introduce the concepts behind symmetric-key encryption, key exchange protocols, and the Diffie-Hellman algorithm, a method for exchanging secret information over a public channel.
Secret Colors tells the story of a pair of Bunnies preparing to attend a school dance, who eagerly exchange notes on potential dates. They realize they need a way of keeping their messages secret, so they develop a technique that allows them to communicate without any chance of other Bunnies intercepting their messages.
Mitch’s latest illustration book is—A Walk to the Cloud: A Gentle Introduction to Fully Managed Environments. In the episode, Seymour discusses his process of creating the books from concept to completion, the decision to create his own publishing company to distribute these books, and whether a fourth book is on the way. He also discusses the experience of illustrating the books side by side with his wife, shares his insights on how editing is similar to coding, and explains why a concise set of commands is equally desirable in SQL queries and children’s literature.