Writing a tutorial

If you've keept an eye on my blog you would have seen that I've just put up a two part tutorial/article (part 1, part 2) on how to build a simple animated menu using Silverlight 2, Blend 2.5 and VS 2008.

What you might also have noticed is that I've not been posting very frequently, well let me give you a hint, the two are connected. Writing a tutorial and trying to do it properly is hard work! This was my first attempt at something like this and there where a couple of things I picked up along the way that I thought I'd share.

  • If you're going to include screenshots, get some decent screen capture software, it'll make your life a whole heap easier. A popular and good one seems to be Snagit, the only "snag" (ok that was a cheap one) is that it comes with a price tag. The one I'm using, at least for the moment is Desktop Screenshot Whiz, it doesn't have quite all the fancy features but it's free, easy to use and it gets the job done.
  • Make sure you know what the end product will look like. I.e write the code first, then the write up. I don't know how many times I did a bunch of screenshots and the text to go with them, to then realise, actually that's not they way I want to do it. And then having to go back to redo all the screen shots and changing the text. The tricky thing with this is that when you're writing about step A and taking screenshots, you don't want Step B to be seen. The way I dealt with this in the end was to have two VS solutions, one where I did all the coding and tested things etc. and one for taking screenshots and such, the later one is then the code you publish.
  • Use a tool like Windows Live Writer or similar, it gives you benefits like an easy way to include images and spell checking. I strongly advise against using Word to write your article, I thought I'd have a play with it, and found the formatting of my text and images once I uploaded them to the blog a nightmare to sort out. 

Cheers, and happy coding!


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