WinmxWorld Tutorial Writing Guide



This guide was written to encourage you all to successfully create tutorials for the WinMX community and to cover some of the parts of it that may not seem obvious right away, by showing much of the behind the scenes magic that is employed to construct the pages here I hope you will gain confidence in both your own writing skills and how best to deliver both large and small sets of subject material, lets get started.


The Basics

One of the most important aspects of writing successfully on a web site or forum is to use language thats not too simplistic or at the other extreme too complex for the target audience, however when you make a first draught on any topic its suggested you get as much as you can written down and then only when you cant think of anything more to add is the time to firstly spellcheck your work and then look back at the language used to ensure its clearly worded concise and readable by ordinary non web using humans, many times a good tutorial fails because something in the text is unclear and thus the rest of the tutorial is lost on the reader.

You can avoid this type of problem by enclosing abbreviated or technical terms in a more expanded format in brackets eg: WPN (WinMX Peer Network), now when you need to refer to the WPN again folks are clear whats meant and can refer back at any time later if they get confused.

It may also be helpful to break the subject down into sub topics as I have used in this guide, done in the right way it can add readability and also allow folks to skip parts to reach the area of their specific interest, however there are no rules on this so if the text looks better all in one area with an image and delivers the information then happily leave it that way.


The Site Editor

Having written some text it may look on its own rather bland and could do with some colors etc to add an eye catching factor, also we may wish to make the text sizes larger and add other text formatting, this is when we have to make friends with the Site Editor until we have learned the format it uses and can type the special codes in by memory.

This is the site editor ...




You'll note there are 12 seperate functions and in most tutorials we use the majority of them to contruct each page, lets look at what each one can do and how to use these formatting features to best advantage.


The Formatting

The formatting options shown in the image of the site editor above are all based on a simple bracket system so when you click the button you will get the format code Start characters, then you would have placed your text in between that and then you click the button again to get the format code End characters so your text looks like it has messages before and after it, those special start and end characters do not appear on the page itself only your text will.

We have a simple selection of Bold, Italic or Underlined text types, there is no font size selection mechanism so instead we have two larger font sizes that are pre defined, these are the large sized one you see at the top of this tutorial thats a "heading" and a smaller one called "subheading", normal text does not need any special characters, but for even smaller text there is a rarely used format called "small"

To centre text or images in the centre of the page you will need to use the "center" format button and place the item to be centered next then press the "center" button again to gain the End version of the format type.

A special format is used to enclose code or non standard characters that the site compiler may become confused by, this is basically a special set of container brackets and can be found under the "code" button, any page format instructions inside the code brackets will be ignored as shown below.


Test [b]test[/b]test



Handling Images

The images types we use here are nearly all of a type called "png" (Portable Network Graphic), its well supported by most tools and retains the clarity of most ex-bmp (Bitmap) images with a much reduced file size. Placing an image within a tutorial is pretty easy, you simply click the "image" button on the site editor or alternatively type the following placing your image location within the Start and End image format brackets, shown more clearly below  

 



To place an image in the centre of the page you will need to use the "center" format brackets and place the image code in the middle of those, and the image will become centered, as shown here.





URL Linking techniques

The two basic types of URL linking are the plain link and the embedded link the plain link is simply adding the link on the page, the embedded link requires a little bit more effort but can be useful to point old domain links to new ones and are great for when you dont want the whole url to show as it will put folks minds off the clean flow of your text.
Heres an example of both types of method



This is what the links will look like when shown on this page.

you can get the pixie tool here.  

or here

http://www.nattyware.com/bin/pixie.zip  

As you can now see its all pretty easy when you know how its done.



Useful Tools

There are a few tools I regularly use to enhance basic tutorials and an important one is a screen capture tool, this is invaluable when you need to show visually some key aspect of your tutorial, the one I use is this one, but any will do, the preffered output file for such a tool is PNG but BMP is acceptable as that can be converted to PNG without any real loss of picture quality, never create JPG's as they can look very poor quality when compressed too much.




Another great tool is the Pixie tool that can be used to get the colour codes from any colour you point it at and that has been very useful when it has been necessary to embed pictures into a matching background colour seamlessly, of course you will need to use an image editing suite or MS Paint to do the actual colour adjusting, many of the sites tutorial pages use this method of colour matching, you can get the pixie tool here.  




In Conclusion

I hope some of you feel more confident in preparing and delivering information in a easy-to-read format for all of our readers, I personally ask other folks to proof read most tutorials I produce so I can gain valuable feedback, however the final golden rule of writing is simply if you’re happy with the work and there are no obvious flaws of major parts missing then its time to call it complete and post a link for the public to sample your output, and of course reap the respect and pride that are rightfully yours.

Thank you all for your time.


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