Making Windows 10 Field Guide Better … And Prettier

Posted on September 17, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 8 Comments

Following up on my recent update about the book, we’ve fixed the publishing issues and are introducing a prettier new layout to Windows 10 Field Guide.

The goal, as always, is to make the book an even better value, for both our existing readers and those who have not yet purchased it.

Here’s what’s happened since the previous update.

After a lot of back and forth between Rafael and Leanpub, we basically discovered that we’d run into a wall, of sorts: Our book is simply too big, with too many images, to continue publishing it the way we had been doing for the past year and a half or so. Every time I attempted to publish a new version of the book, the site would slow to a crawl and it would eventually fail, usually on the part of the process in which the PDF version of the book was created.

As it turns out, the issue isn’t strictly Leanpub’s fault: We’ve been using Dropbox to host and share, between the three authors, the book’s files. And the failure had something to do with Dropbox.

This is too bad, in a way, as I’ve found Dropbox to be reliable and speedy on my PCs, and better in some ways than OneDrive. In fact, a few years back, when we first started using Dropbox for the book, and when OneDrive was uniformly terrible, I had started the painful process of migrating my most important work to Dropbox.

But since then, OneDrive has improved dramatically. It works so well, in fact, that I’ve pulled all my non-book work out of the service, and have been using OneDrive pretty much exclusively. So I asked Rafael if we can’t use Dropbox to push the files to Leanpub, can we just move the book to OneDrive?

The answer was yes, so I am now 100 percent on OneDrive again for most of my personal and work-related data. (The only exception is photos; I backup my smartphone camera photos to both Google Photos and OneDrive.) I’m dropping Dropbox.

The new system for publishing the book to Leanpub involves accessing the Github version control system from the command line in Windows 10. Basically, I add all changed or new files to the book repository, publish (or “commit”) the changes, and then push them so that leanpub can access them. It’s less seamless than using Dropbox—where I was simply sharing the book’s manuscript folder with the service—but it works great and is fast. And the process for publishing the book, which happens on the Leanpub website, is unchanged. Well, except now it works fine.

Since the last update, I’ve completely rewritten the Mail, Calendar, and People chapters, retaken almost all of the screenshots (I think there is exactly one screenshot still in there from the older version, but that will be replaced too), and have rejiggered each chapter as needed. Each chapter has been updated to be accurate to Windows 10 version 1709 (the Fall Creators Update), and each is likewise accurate to Windows 10 S, not just Windows 10 Home and Pro. I hope to complete the new version of the Microsoft Edge chapter soon; right now I’m about halfway through that.

More happily, Leanpub has coincidentally come through on a feature I’ve been asking for since we started this process: A way to make graphical callouts for tips, warnings, notes, and other asides. So part of each chapter update will involve replace text like “Note: Something something” with a nice graphic, and text that is visually called out. The result is a much prettier—and, I think, useful—book. I’m really excited about this.

I’m going to focus on the stuff I feel is most important first, which means the productivity apps, personalization (which includes two of the most important parts of the book, for removing Windows 10’s many irritations and protecting your privacy), and then gaming and entertainment. But I’ll update the whole book this fall—rough goal of hitting the October 17 Fall Creators Update launch; we’ll see—and then begin adding new chapters for entirely new features like 3D/Mixed Reality, phone integration, and more.

Also on the roadmap is a feature I used in previous books like the Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide, the Windows 8.1 Field Guide, and others: The ability to link within the book to references. That is, in many places, I will note that we provide more information about such-and-such a topic either later in that chapter or elsewhere in the book. But those references are not hyperlinks, so you have to go find that information manually. We are going to fix this, as Leanpub now supports that functionality as well.

I don’t have a timetable on that bit yet, but I think it will happen after the book’s existing is fully updated.

Anyway, we are actively working on Windows 10 Field Guide again. If you’ve not purchased it, it is available for as little as $9.99 from the Leanpub website. I really appreciate your support.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Making Windows 10 Field Guide Better … And Prettier”

  1. lwetzel

    Thanks for you hard work. Glad things are improving in the work flow.

  2. Tsang Man Fai

    Yes OneDrive was terrible when I first used it about 2 years ago - frequent sync conflicts, unreasonably long sync time and even file loss. It has improved quite a lot in 2017. My school is using both Office 365 and Google for Education. I would recommend my colleagues to consider switching to OneDrive in favour of Google Drive. OneDrive has much better integration with Win10 and Office.

  3. Chris_Kez

    I guess the Field Guide is no longer a lean publication ;)

    At $9.99 it is a ridiculous value. Seriously Paul, for the amount of time and effort you guys put into this thing it's a steal.

  4. GerryH89

    I just bought it at the full price. Does that mean I get an autographed copy?? :)

    Thanks, Paul, Raphael and Martin for your hard work!

  5. edboyhan

    I want to access W10FG on a tablet. The nature of the book (with complex layout and graphics) makes it ill-suited for kindle devices which are monochrome. I have been using an Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 for all my access to technical and professional publications -- including technical magazines.

    Amazon has a nice "Send to Kindle" app (which actually has little to do with kindles per se) which lets one transfer documents in a variety of formats (importantly PDF, and MOBI) to Amazon's cloud drive where they are accessible as "personal" documents from any Amazon kindle or Fire device.

    Leanpub even has a feature that lets you email their titles to Amazon devices. Unfortunately, this email facility has a 50 MB limitation -- as does the "Send to Kindle" app. The W10FG is way over that size limit (interestingly there are also significant size differences between the MOBI and PDF versions as delivered by Leanpub).

    I would not be adverse to having W10FG published in chunks -- each no larger than 50 MB. Otherwise the process of getting W10FG onto an Amazon device is laborious.

    Or, instead of using OneDrive, you could just use Amazon Cloud Drive (:grin).

  6. mortarm

    >...after the book’s existing is fully updated.

    Or perhaps after the existing book is fully updated.