Patrick Tisseghem beat me to it (you are so fast man), but I thought posting three blog entries in the same day was crazy.
Today I will blog about a project that has kept us busy for a while: “The Office Visual How Tos.”
We know that the internet has changed the way in which developers learn about new products, features, tools and technologies. People are learning more about Office development thanks to blogs and videos. Office development blogs are quite active and inviting for developers trying to reduce their learning curve for new enhancements added to the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Readers love short articles (1 – 3 pages) with code samples that show how to do discrete tasks such as Using Parameters In Dashboards, What About Workflow and ASPX Forms?, How To Load Win32 dlls Dynamically In VBA and the list keeps going.
On the other hand, we know videos are an excellent resource for evangelizing new technologies. Developers love to see things in action. We published some developer screencasts and the Office Developer Conference videos after Beta 2 and we got an amazing response. People enjoy this kind of content, and I don’t know if you are, but I am a very visual person. Sometimes a demo says more than 10,000 words, specially if you are fast learner and have few time to explore new technologies.
So we built a v-team and created a new type of MSDN article and we named it “Visual How To.”
A “Visual How To” is a new content type that combines some of the best elements of blogs, video, and technical articles by providing a brief (1-3 page) page of content. The idea is that developers have 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes to spend on a task. Developers can look at the code sample on the page (2 minutes), view the video (5 minutes), and explore the additional resources and other added benefits. We think this will help developers learn how to work with specific new features of different 2007 Microsoft Office system programs, servers, services, tools and technologies by providing different flavors of content to fit your learning style.
A Visual How To article includes four basic components:
- Code It: The code sample. Tell me how to do it!
- See It: The cool demo video. Show me how it looks in action.
- Read It: Short article (blog entry like) with basic conceptual documentation. What do I need to know about this new technology or new feature?
- Explore It: Tons of links to videos, blogs, articles, Channel 9 interviews and other how tos related to the same topic. Who else is talking about this or where can I find more information?
Finally, Visual How Tos provide MSDN Wiki support, so you can add links to related resources or comments to these articles.
We built the first two based on most common How Do I…in Word 2007 questions and you can find them here:
- Building Word 2007 Document Templates Using Content Controls: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb264571.aspx
- Building Word 2007 Documents Using Office Open XML Formats: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb264572.aspx
I know two articles is not enough but this is only the beginning. The good news is that we have a list of dozens and dozens of this articles that we plan to build in the next couple of months. Our list includes How Do I articles about Office Open XML Formats, Word, PowerPOint, Excel, Excel Services, BDC, Search, Workflow, Project Server, Outlook, InfoPath, Access and more. Of course, I’ll let you know when we start publishing the next set of Visual How Tos.
You will be able to find them at the Office Developer How To Center or at the MSDN Library listed as Visual How Tos. Also, the Office Developer How To Center is the new section of the site where we will start listing all Office 2007 How tos, even when they are not Visual How Tos.
Let us know if you like the concept and if you have suggestions for must-have Office Visual How Tos. We are really excited about this, but you have the last word!