Prototype Tip for the New Book



Wanted to get your input on this one.  I'm working on the new Tips and Tricks book and had a concept for how I want to show the information.  The format is basically the same it is now except heavier use of graphics so instead of SHIFT + ALT + [UP or DOWN ARROW] I use pictures instead.  I'm also going to include keyboard mappings if they are different than the default and add mouse commands.  There will also be some graphic to represent the version(s) supported and, finally, a list of related tips.  This is a VERY rough draft but wanted to get folks engaged early on to get your thoughts.


Here is the prototype tip that I was thinking of:


Zero-length box selection


clip_image002 + clip_image004+clip_image006clip_image008

clip_image004[1] +clip_image011



Related Tips: vstipEdit0006, vstipEdit0007, vstipEdit0008


Let's assume that you have a situation with some variables like the ones below and you want to make them all public:

The answer is a zero-length box selection.  Hold down your ALT key and Left Mouse Button, then drag straight down.  Note the line that is created:

Release the ALT key and the Left Mouse Button.  Now, just start typing:

Bask in the wonder and glory that is the zero-length box selection! 🙂

Comments (11)
  1. Greg says:

    Good idea, but could I suggest having the right or left mouse button highlighted to show which button should be clicked?

  2. GAndora says:

    Sorry, the above post from "Greg" was mine, I wasn't logged in.

  3. Don Gerard says:

    I would allow suggest moving the "OR" type keys so that they line up underneath each other.

  4. billinkc says:

    Pictures are great but keeping the text in the book will make the content searchable.  Sometimes, I mis-remember or fat-finger a keystroke and then try to figure out just what I did.  By keeping the text, I might be have a shot of finding what SHIFT + ALT + UP ARROW

    Just my $.02

  5. kelvin.mcdaniel says:

    I second Don, and I also think the mouse/keyboard graphics should be half as big (or smaller) as they are now.

  6. Aaron says:

    I'm with billinkc, maybe provide both (pics and text)

  7. Mr. Jiggs says:

    I see we're having issues with the graphic representation on the web. I definitely concur with the idea of a highlight of some sort to indicate the mouse (button) action. I also agree that there needs to be an intuitive 'OR' for the optional items… Are you planning and indexed PDF as well ?

  8. zainnab says:

    Greg — yeah Im actually going for making the button that should be pressed colored black.  The keys and the mouse are old school symbols that used to be in books all the time and need to come back IMHO.

    Don — totally agree the graphics need to be much smaller.  So for the "or" scenario should I put the up and down arrow keys in a vertical orientation rather than horizontal?

    billinkc — I think the plan (once we sign the final agreement stuff) is to have multiple forms of access so there will be hardcover, PDF, iPhone, Windows Phone 7, etc.. type things created to make the content easier to use.  I told the publisher that if this isn't the most used Visual Studio book then we have failed in the mission for the content.

    All — awesome feedback!  keep it coming and I will keep everyone in the loop as we progress with the new book.  

  9. Teresa says:

    I am torn… I like it but I worry about space.  

    On the mouse, mice are configurable

    Hav you thought of making some sort of VS addin to go with your book for live tips tha you can get to while you code.  maybe a key combo that brings up a window that you can type in a key and see all combos that include that key or that combo AND a way to search.

  10. zainnab says:

    Hey Teresa 🙂

    Yeah we are actually in talks about a possible extension that goes with the book but the trick is to make it cool without pissing you off.  That's a fine line.  I think it will be a natural progression (assuming the book does well) is to go book > pdf > phone app > book readers (kindle, etc…) > vs extension


  11. efalsken says:

    At first I didn't like it. But then I recal some older manuals (especially for games) basically do the same thing. They'll draw a box around a character or word to mean the key. It definately does help calling out the hotkeys. But try not to make them stand out too much from the text (size and styling). More like a keyboard font (…/keyboard).

    As someone said above, the (or) case isn't clear at all. And I can forsee another issue with chords. I think, much more friendly, would be the addition of the visual studio command name. Sometimes an extension overrides the hotkey (will get worse with more extensions) and I want to be able to reset only that key.

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