The Next Book

I’ve been working to adapt the Programming Windows series, which is really a tech-centric history of Windows, into a book. It’s an interesting process. It’s also going to take some time, which raises some questions about how I’ll publish it.

The first issue is the size.

As a work, Programming Windows is big, like really big. But the question is, how big? For example, the Windows 11 Field Guide, which is unfinished, is currently well over 100,000 words long and is almost 700 pages in PDF form, largely because it’s chock full of screenshots. It’s not clear to me how many pages or words Programming Windows will be when the conversion to book is complete. But there will be far more words, I bet, and far fewer screenshots.

So far, I’ve converted the first half of the series, the “pre-.NET era” part of the series, into 55 Markdown chapters that occupy 226 pages in PDF format. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the second half of the book (“the .NET era”) will be about the same length, but I guess I could be off, maybe even by as much as 100 pages. Plus, this is just the text: there are many screenshots and photos to add, so the book will be longer when those are added.

So the first question is, should this be two books? Or one long book? I’m not sure yet.

The other major question is what this should be called. I can’t call this book Programming Windows because there’s already a famous and well-regarded series of books by Charles Petzold called Programming Windows. And so I need to think on that. (And am open to suggestions.) I’m leaning toward Windows Everywhere but I’m not sure that conveys the technical/software development focus of most of the series/book.

Reexamining the first half of Programming Windows about two and a half years after I wrote it is interesting—I’ve enjoyed re-reading it—and I see again all of the places where I could add additional content. But the existing work is so daunting, that will need to wait. I want to make sure I’m correctly linking to original source material where possible—books I quote from, legal documents preserved online, and so on—and there are so many technical terms that it occurs to me that an in-book section on terminology is required to make this approachable for the non-technical. Point being, there’s still a lot to do before I can think about doing new work.

Also, I mentioned that this book is made in Markdown, but it’s really being written in Markua, which is a new Leanpub-based derivative of Markdown for creating books. This is my first time using this markup language, and there are syntactical differences between it and the Markdown I use in the Windows 11 Field Guide and my previous books. So there’s a bit of a learning curve, but also some niceties around how code can be presented. It should at least look pretty good.

I guess I also need to think about the price. I’ll most likely stick with the variable pricing model ($9.99 and up) I use with the Windows 11 Field Guide, but we’ll see. Maybe it should be $9.99 for each half, or $19.99 for the two. Or something.

Anyway, the first bit of grunt work is done: I have what I think will be most/all of the text of the first half of the book previewing via Leanpub. The next step is going back and adding the photos and screenshots. And then building out that terminology guide with links within the book each time a term is mentioned. I think a reading list would be nice to add as well. And I have already asked my wife to proofread it further. So we’re just at the beginning of this process, but I should have a substantial in-progress work to offer people via Leanpub soon-ish, and can keep updating it going forward after that. I will probably put the second half up in a similar big release a few months after the first half is published.

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