Sunday
Apr142013

Search 1.0

Here’s the first draft of the new Search chapter from Windows Phone Book. This used to be part of a bigger chapter that also includes Maps content. The new version focuses just on Bing Search and has been updated for the book’s task-based approach.

I wasn’t originally intending to work on this chapter today, but that’s how it goes sometimes. As you may recall, there used to be a chapter called Bing Search and Maps (and, previous to that, just Search and Maps) but as part of the TOC restructuring I wrote about in Rethinking the Windows Phone Book TOC, it was split into two chapters, this one (Chapter 4: Search) and one about maps (Chapter 8. Maps + Location).

Of the two, this one needed the least amount of work. But as I got into it, I was curious to see how well the narrative style I was originally using could be mapped to the newer task-based approach. I was surprised to see how well it went.

In addition to switching it to the task-based approach, I made a few related changes to the chapter: Local Scout content was moved to the Maps chapter, I removed all the highlighted (“things to check”) text, I fixed chapter references, and I added several screenshots that were previously missing for whatever reason.

Because Bing Search and Maps was previously at version 0.9, I’ll call this chapter version 1.0. (And will do so with the coming release of Maps + Location too.) I’ve “fixed” the chapter numbering on all the existing chapter documents, but not the chapter references. And I still need to fix the big Windows Phone Book document, so this time I don’t have an update to that.

Moving forward, but feedback is always appreciated.

Download Search 1.0 (30 page PDF, 2.04 MB)

Update: Thanks to some reader feedback, I updated this chapter again with a few minor changes.

Download Search 1.1 (30 page PDF, 2.05 MB)

Sunday
Apr142013

Rethinking the TOC

With apologies for the amount of navel-gazing this project has caused, I’d like to quickly explain some changes I’m making to the Windows Phone Book table of contents. These changes are aimed at getting the book “done” more quickly, of course, but also to align it better to the task-based approach I belatedly adopted last month.

I wrote about the change to a task-based approach in Windows Phone Book: A Second Update to the Music, Videos and Podcasts Chapter. Long story short, if I had continued with the writing style I used with the first few chapters of this book, it would have been about 1000 pages long when completed. Worse, it would have taken a year to write.

No one wants that.

Experimenting first with Xbox Music Book, a much smaller and more manageable topic, I latched onto what I think of now as a task-based approach (rather than the more narrative approach used with Windows Phone Book originally). That is, rather than blah, blah, blah, just get to the point: Here’s now to do this. Here’s now to do this. Here’s now to do this. Get it done.

There’s still some exposition, of course. There has to be. But I like the task-based approach for many reasons. Best of all, perhaps, it’s really easy to plug in a task if you miss something. This makes the book easier to update and manage over time.

The problem with Windows Phone Book, however, is that it didn’t start out like that. The first few chapters I wrote—Messaging, Bing Search and Maps, PC Integration, and so on—were written in the original narrative style. So I’ve known all along that these chapters, once considered “finished” from a first draft perspective, would need to be changed, perhaps significantly, to match the task-based approach I later adopted.

(Related: Some of these chapters need to be updated for other reasons. I’ve got a lot more content to add to the PC Integration chapter, for example, and the release of Nokia’s HERE apps will significantly alter my discussion of Maps. More on this in a moment)

I’ve put off updating those original chapters so I could forge ahead with new material. But this is something that needs to happen eventually.

Related to this is today’s topic, which is that the structure of the book needs to change as well. More specifically, some of the chapters I penciled in for the TOC (table of contents) don’t lend themselves to tasks at all. And since I’m going to make some changes anyway I felt I should reevaluate the content coverage to see if I could whittle down a bit to the essentials. I want the book to be manageable as well as useful. And it’s worth noting that any content I remove now can be added later, after the book is “done.” After all, it’s a living document. I intend to keep updating it going forward.

So.

Originally, the first chapter of the book was something called Why Windows Phone?. And the last chapter was something called Migrating from iOS or Android. I’m removing both of these chapters from the book—at least for now—artificially lowering the chapter count from 20 to 18. (Some content from each could make it into other chapters.)

I’m also (temporarily) going to remove Chapter 13, Other Windows Phone Productivity Apps. This was a bucket chapter collecting built-in apps that don’t appear elsewhere, like Alarms and Calculator, plus some Nokia apps. Not exactly exciting or interesting, but in interests of completeness I’ll get to it eventually. Just not now.

Go figure, but I’m also adding a chapter. I’m going to split what was called “Bing Search and Maps” into two chapters, Search and Maps + Location. The former will focus on the Bing Search experience and the latter will focus on the built-in Maps apps plus the Nokia HERE location apps, which I feel is integral to the Windows Phone 8 experience.

With the removal of Chapter 13 and the addition of a new Maps chapter, that’s still 18 chapters.

So while the goal here is to shorten the book and the TOC, overall, it’s still going to be well over 500 pages long in Word (with images), something I see as a sort of vague goal. And again, the exorcised material is stuff I can add later. I want to get this thing “done” as quickly as possible, with the content that makes the most sense for the topic.

And since I’m already mucking around with the thing, I may as well move around some chapters so that the book flows more naturally. I have a section called “More Than a Phone” that includes a chapter about Phone, for example. There’s more, but suffice to say some shuffling is taking place.

All of these change will obviously and unfortunately trigger a chapter renumbering, which is a pain because I reference other chapter numbers pretty frequently throughout the book. So at some point this week, probably, I’ll edit each chapter with this in mind and reissue each.

In the meantime, the edited TOC now looks like so.

Getting Started

1. Getting Started

2. The Windows Phone User Experience

3. Apps

4. Search

Phone + More

5. People + Me

6. Phone

7. Messaging

8. Maps + Location

Productivity

9. Email

10. Calendar

11. Internet Explorer

12. Office + OneNote

Entertainment

13. Music, Videos + Podcasts

14. Photos

15. Games

Taking It to the Next Level

16. PC Integration

17. Security + Networking

18. Windows Phone at Work

From a chapter count perspective, I have 8 chapters “completed” (though again, some need to be changed to a task-based layout) and two that are half completed (Maps + Location and PC integration). And I have two chapters, People + Me (which I just issued the first update for) and The Windows Phone User Experience, that are in progress. So it’s over half done.

My goal is to bang out a chapter every week to 10 days when possible but we’ll see whether/how this reorganization temporarily mucks with that schedule. Hopefully not too bad.

Enough navel-gazing. Back to work… :)

Saturday
Apr132013

People and Me 0.1

Here’s a first peek at the People and Me chapter for Windows Phone Book. In this early version of the chapter you’ll find a rough layout of the expected tasks and just a few completed sections.

This chapter won’t be a straightforward or short as the last few, due to the ways in which different accounts interact with the People hub. So we’ll see how long it takes to write, and how long it gets.

From a rough layout perspective, I originally had Me first, followed by People. But the Me tile is really something that comes out People (it’s just your own contact card, pinned), so as I worked through the tasks list, I eventually decided to reverse the order (and the name of the chapter).

(Speaking of which, I’m probably going to change all the instances of “and” in chapter titles to “+” in keeping with how Windows Phone names things. So this chapter will likely be renamed again, to People + Me.)

For the People section, the big bits will be the many tasks related to both contact interaction and seeing what’s new with your contacts. Me is a lot more straightforward, though the tip about reinstating a deleted Me tile is probably useful enough I’ll publish it as a Tip article on the SuperSite soon as well.

So far, I’ve only written a few sections: Find a contact (quick navigate, Search, from other apps), View a contact card, pin a contact, and link and unlink contacts. Early days on this one.

Feedback is always appreciated.

Download People and Me 0.1

Download Windows Phone Book 0.030

Friday
Apr122013

Games Chapter is Complete

The Games chapter for Windows Phone Book is now complete in first draft form. This version of the chapter adds several additional sections, while reordering some of the previous sections.

This update adds the following sections: Intro and Understand Xbox LIVE, Find games in the Xbox Games Store (launch the Games Store, Understand the Games Store layout, Search, Find Xbox LIVE games, Explore a game), Play Games (send and receive game requests, earn an achievement), Pin a game to Start, and Uninstall a game. I also moved a few things around, nothing major.

As promised, a pretty short chapter overall: its 32 page length is due partly to the number of images. Looking at just the text, it’s only 12 pages long. There’s only so much you can say about game-related functionality.

Feedback is always appreciated. Another chapter soon.

Download Games 0.3 (32 page PDF, 3 MB)

Download Windows Phone Book 0.029 (346 page PDF, 19.5 MB)

Thursday
Apr112013

Games 0.2

Here’s a second look at the in-progress Games chapter for Windows Phone Book. This version of the chapter includes several additional sections and is about two-thirds complete.

As noted earlier, this chapter should be very short—though the number of screenshots is making it appear otherwise; the actual text parts are short—and should be done by the weekend.

This update adds the following sections: Tour of the Games hub, View and configure your online persona (which includes sub-sections about having fun with the avatar, viewing your profile, viewing and editing your bio, customizing your avatar, and viewing your achievements), and the rest of Interact with your Xbox LIVE friends (including see which friends are online, view a friend’s profile, send a message, read, respond, and delete a message, and remove a friend).

Just a few bits are left: Find games in the Xbox Games Store and Play Games, plus the introductory material, which will describe Xbox LIVE and which LIVE features are available on Windows Phone (and which require a Gold subscription). That last part is the wild-card, from a length perspective. I’m going to try and keep it short.

Feedback is always appreciated.

Download Games 0.2 (21 page PDF, 1.64 MB)

Download Windows Phone Book 0.028 (335 page PDF, 18.13 MB)