Tuesday
Aug062013

Version 1.01

I’m on vacation this week, but I did want to provide a quick update to Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8. This is just a minor maintenance update that includes some typo fixes pointed out by readers.

That is, there’s no major new content addition yet, nor any of the Nokia HERE apps additions I’m planning. I did add the start of some kind of changelog-type thing at the end. I’m sure that will evolve as well.

There will probably be many small updates like this over time. So this is the first one. :)

Download Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 1.01 (648 page PDF, 39.7 MB)

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Friday
Aug022013

Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 is Complete

It took a lot longer than expected and survived a mid-stream course correction, but the initial shipping version Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 is now complete. This e-book is free and is my gift to the Windows Phone community.

There is still a lot of work to do, and I’ll be updating this book soon to add information about Nokia’s HERE mapping and location apps and other content. Today, however, I’d like to look back and examine my goals for this project and discuss what went well and what didn’t.

Generally speaking, I’m happy with the book. But it look a lot longer than expected, and this slow a pace isn’t sustainable. I should be able to crank out a book of this length in well under 6 months. But depending on how you measure things, Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 required 7 to 9 months of writing. (Granted, this was in addition to my day job. But that will always be the case.) The solutions is simple: Either write more quickly or write less (smaller books).

I announced plans for what was originally called Windows Phone Book on August 27, 2012. In that initial post, I discussed a few goals. They were.

Write a “sequel” to Windows Phone 7 Secrets. “Not a direct sequel—I can’t/won’t use any of the material from that book or my SuperSite articles for the book—but rather a spiritual sequel, one that covers Windows Phone 8 to the same level of detail as that previous book did for the original version and in roughly the same length.” I feel like I certainly did that.

Self-publish. “For this book, I’ll write it as before. I will come up with a vague schedule of sorts that I know I will miss. But this time, I’m going to publish the book as I write it and invite readers to submit feedback. I will incorporate that feedback into the book as it’s written. As Windows Phone 8 changes, potentially, over the course of its development period, I will update the book accordingly.” I’ve certainly done that as well.

Rethink the way a book is written. “Not just the text itself, but the basic layout or structure of the material as well. I’d like to revisit the way this is done too. Instead of sections and chapters, maybe we have smaller pieces about features or scenarios.” Oddly enough, that all came to fruition as well: Part-way through the writing process, I switched to a more efficient task-based format that caused me to go back and rewrite previously completed chapters.

Public transparency about the book and how it’s written. “There will be a broad and public discussion about this book and how it evolves. This will happen at a new web site, Windows Phone Book, where I will begin posting a preliminary table of contents for the book and then individual chapters.” Obviously, that happened and I started co-posting updates to the SuperSite as well. Over the course of 9 months, I published over 100 revisions to the book as I wrote it and over 80 blog posts discussing these updates and other information about the book in progress.

Free forever and available while it’s written. “The book will always be free for anyone that wants it. You will be able to download it at any time in its development in whatever state it’s in at that time.” Mission accomplished.

Format availability. The book would be “available in PDF at least, but over time there will be various eBook formats (Kindle, Nook, Apple, whatever), and native app versions for both Windows Phone and Windows 8. Maybe those versions gets interactive, with videos and so on.” So far, I’ve only delivered a PDF version of the book. I’ve investigated publishing on Amazon and native app versions, and will have more info about that soon. But this is an area where I’ve not done enough.

I received a lot of great feedback early on, less so as the months wore on and I started pushing out more and more chapters and updates. I developed different versions of the Table of Contents (TOC) over time and sometimes changed things dramatically. I dropped chapters, content, and sections.

I started actual writing in mid-September 2012 and experienced about a two-month period of downtime while I worked on a much shorter free e-book about Xbox Music in which I experimented with the task-based approach I then adopted for this book too. (That explains the “7 to 9 months” thing above.) I figured that would let me bring this book in around 500 pages vs. about 1000 projected for the original version. (It came in almost 650 pages including a detailed TOC, and will only grow in the next month.)

From March 2013 through July 2013, I pretty much worked on the book regularly each week. Not every day. But something each week. There were a few exceptions, like the week I went to Build, but it was pretty consistent.

In April, I started openly pondering about the eventual title of the book. This generated a ton of feedback, which was unexpected but appreciated. I had a notion of naming this book and presumably other books as if they were travel guides, like Paul Thurrott's Field Guide to Windows Phone 8. (And Paul Thurrott's Pocket Field Guide for shorter books.) This didn’t go over so well, so I dropped the “Field” (and the “Pocket”): Paul Thurrott's Guide to Windows Phone 8. And then shortened it again to Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8.

Let’s talk length.

The end result, at least in 1.0 form, is over 635pages long with over 90,000 words and 926 screenshots if you exclude the TOC stuff. Without those shots, it’s less than 250 pages long. That’s actually 50 pages less than Windows Phone 7 Secrets, which like all of my previous books was written without in-place screenshots, but given the requirements of noting them in the documents, I bet the length is roughly the same. (Plus I’ll be writing more soon, so I suspect this new book will ultimately be longer overall.)

So it’s not that long. It works out to about 35 manuscript pages per month, or less than 10 pages per week. Obviously, I can write faster than that. (I wrote Windows Phone 7 Secrets in under two months, for example, though that was pretty grueling.)

So, what could I do better? What would I like to change going forward? Lots. Speed is the big thing, and this is an area where having an editor from a publisher breathing down my neck was actually missed, sort of. Book writing is a solitary process, and I would have enjoyed working more closely with Rafael, as on the Windows books. Maybe the next one. And I was hoping for more reader interaction, though to be fair it’s probable that doing so through the comments section of a blog maybe isn’t the best approach.

I’ll be revisiting and revising these goals for the next book—and there will be a next book, starting very soon—and of course updating this one and figuring out more diverse publishing options. But first, I need a short break, which I’ll be taking this coming week. For now, at least, the book is done.

Note: Feedback is always appreciated. I will update the book regularly going forward for minor typos and additions, not just new content.

 

Download Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 (647 page PDF, 39.7 MB)

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Tuesday
Jul302013

First Draft + 3

This third update to the first draft version of Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 includes a number of copy edits, with about 50 percent of the book now proofread. This will be the final pre-release version of the book before the 1.0 release.

With this version of the document, I’ve copy edited (or “proofread”) about 50 percent of the book, or up through Chapter 9 (Email). This involves me reading the book, often out loud (for whatever reasons, this helps) and fixing any spelling and grammar issues as well as making other small changes. I also had to fix or add a number of new cross-references. That first pass I made for First Draft + 2 did not include some intra-chapter references, for example, and some of the inter-chapter references were mislabeled (for example, “.3 Store” instead of “Chapter 3: Store”).

I made a few small technical corrections, but I’m not actually checking every single procedure against running hardware since Windows Phone doesn’t change that quickly. That said, a number of times a passage caused me to double-check something on the phone, so I suppose a minimum level of technical editing is occurring as well.

Feedback is always appreciated. With the next release the book is “done” for now. Then a 1.1 release will follow within 30 days to cover Nokia HERE location apps.

Download Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 First Draft + 3 (648 page PDF, 39.7 MB)

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Thursday
Jul252013

First Draft + 2

This second update to the first draft version of Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 includes a number of edits, including more working cross-reference links. But the big news is that I’m changing the name of the book to something a bit shorter.

First, the edits. The plan has always been to do a thorough read through/edit on the entire manuscript before declaring it finished in 1.0 form. And I’ve done some of that. But after discovering the cross-reference capabilities in Word recently, I decided to cross-link all of my inter-chapter references in the book (so they behave like hyperlinks and can be clicked). So I did that first. That is done, though I’ll check them all in the next sweep through the book. There were hundreds of them.

Second, I decided I wanted to shorten the name further with an eye, again, towards coming up with something that would make sense for a series of books. Paul Thurrott’s Guide to Windows Phone 8 was a bit long, so I’ve shortened it to the simpler Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8 and will do so for other books (Paul Thurrott’s Xbox Music, for example, as well as future books.)

I’ll more on the next book and my ideas for the future later. For now, of course, I want to get 1.0 out.

Feedback is always appreciated.

Download Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 First Draft + 2 (648 page PDF, 39.7 MB)

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Tuesday
Jul232013

First Draft + 1

This update to the first draft version of Paul Thurrott’s Guide to Windows Phone 8 includes a complete table of contents and a few other minor changes.

I have this list of things I’d like to complete for the initial version of the book. One of those things, a Table of Contents, has been added and I felt this was a big enough deal to republish the full book document. Actually, there are two TOCs, a quickie version with just a chapter listing and complete version listing all chapter sections too. Every item in both TOCs is “live” (clickable) so you can immediately navigate to the topic you’re interested in.

On a related note, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle in-book references. But thanks to a Word feature called “Cross-reference” that works in an exported PDF as well, I’ll be using that. And that means that references in the book (things like “See the section Wallet in Chapter 16 for more information about paying for items on your phone”) will be live/clickable as well. In fact, if you search for that sentence, that’s the one reference in the book that I created for testing purposes, so you can see that it works. Converting all of the references in the book will be tedious and time consuming but, I think, worth it. (I couldn’t do this while writing the book since many of the references were for other chapters—and thus other documents, so the links wouldn’t work—or for things that hadn’t at the time been written yet.)

I also have an Index on my wish list but in investigating this, I suspect that won’t be possible.

More soon.

Feedback is always appreciated.

Download Paul Thurrott's Guide to Windows Phone 8 First Draft + 1 (648 page PDF, 39.5 MB)

Alternate Download Link (I guess I killed SkyDrive today)