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Adding tutorials, tips, tricks etc.

Developer's Corner

Moderators :  Winterhawk99, Mermut, Bannor Bloodfist

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Bannor Bloodfist
Posts:  1309
Joined:  Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:45 pm
Our Custom Content forums and our "the Learning Curve" sub-section is where you can find/use/add almost any sort of tutorial(s) that you wish to add. We encourage folks to create/copy/paste/use these various tutorials to help us all learn some of the aspects of creating custom content for NWN.

We also encourage folks to create NEW topics here, so if you have a tutorial that you think might belong here, please feel free to create a topic for it!

There are various tools that you can use to create and modify screenshots to help capture the image, and this website will automatically adjust a huge number of image formats to one that can be viewed here.

I personally use "Snagit" by TechSmith for all my screen capture and editing. I always save the original image, before editing, and the edited version on my local hd as a .PNG format. Even though a .PNG is larger on the HD side of things, it will automatically get converted to .jpg or whatever a website will support, when it is attached to a message in the forums.

I also typically host my images on my own images on PhotoBucket which allows me to organize images in sub-folders and provides links that can be easily embedded into the forum messages here so that you can provide visual shots.

I typically find that an image based tutorial is MUCH easier to follow than a youtube type of vid. Typically on youtube vids, the individual steps and clicks/menu choices etc, get missed as youtube and most vid capture utils only take intermediate screen shots and can miss a huge amount of detail.

Using the Snagit editor, which is provided free (or if you purchase for the very reasonable $50 price) you can do an amazing amount of editing of an image, you can capture menus, sub-menus, sections of a screen to save space, over-lay your own larger text and pointers to explain things etc. This gives you a huge amount of power as a tutorial editor.

I have posted dozens of tutorials on this site and you are free to view them all to get an idea of how powerful an edited image and a text explanation can truly be. I also freely admit that any tutorial I may have created, could also be better, but it is always a learning process as you go. (for example, the prior two sentences were at one point in time, much lower in this message)

Organizing your thought process a bit, prior to uploading can make things a lot easier to follow as well. I have found that splitting a larger tutorial into several messages also gives me time to re-organize and think what extra text/explanations may be needed or helpful.

The other aspect to remember is that when you enter a link, you can edit what the link looks like when posted.

" [ url = link]" Name of link " [ / url ]" can really be a powerful explanation of what you are linking too. Note that you MUST remove the extra spaces that I added inside of the " marks for the sytem to work correctly.

For example: ... C0fLAkXLag is a HORRIBLE looking link, yet by using BBCODE to format the link PhotoBucket you can make it soo much easier to read.

Be warned though, to SAVE and re-edit your post as you go along, this site like any other, can sometimes forget to save if you have edited too much in a single session, or added too much bbcode at a single time. So save, and then re-open the post to edit it as you go along.
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Bannor Bloodfist
Posts:  1309
Joined:  Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:45 pm

During the screen capture/editing process, I NAME the images to more fully describe what that image represents. Instead of a name like "01asd$248" or whatever the OS decides to name an image, I always rename them to match what the image represents. Most of us now use a 32 bit, if not a 64 bit OS, giving us the ability to have longer names for images.

Images are a POWERFULL way to emphasize text, and to explain processes etc. Adding notes to those images (inside the image) vastly increases the power of the image as well. Again, I highly recommend "Snagit" and it's associated editor which is a VERY powerful editor. i can add text balloons, arrows to point out features, crop, expand, capture single menus (you know how menus disappear when you hit prt-scr? With the Snagit screen capture util, you can capture those as well.

Again, using BBCODE to import the img file you can get quite a bit of power as well, even resizing if you wish, although leaving an image as full as possible is likely the best option.

I won't presume on anyone's intelligence, nor will I actually give step by steps on how to edit a screen capture, but if you wish it, I will provide you with some basic instructions on how to set Snagit up, and how to use some of it's features. Send me a request if you wish to have some of that sort of thing added to this thread.

Going beyond having the extra screenshots, remember to always save the original image as .png, and your edited version also saved as .png. This website, and Photobucket will auto-convert and auto-re-size images as necessary, but you want to have the largest, uncompressed version to start from. If you run into issues where the website refuses a specific image due to size, please let me know, and we will see what we can do to accomodate you.

Why use PhotoBucket you ask? Simple, it's free, and it won't disappear if you decide to you no longer wish to maintain your own personal website etc, your account with PhotoBucket won't accidentally disappear, and since it is hosted somewhere else, for free, you will be disinclined to just delete stuff from it. Photobucket also allows some editing, resizing, etc, and allows for direct linking to images so that you can post a direct link inside your forum posts here. Photobucket also allows you to create sub-folders to help organize your images, which I use to create a folder for each specific tutorial, thus keeping them more organized and easier to find as I search for the individual image link to insert into a post. I know, I know, there are other image hosting sites available, and you are of course, free to choose what you wish to use. I am just recommending one that works, works well, and is free.

So, to continue with general types of notes here; and/or simple instructions on what is needed to get a successful tutorial completed.

1) You have an idea for some type of tutorial.

2) You have taken the time to test out what you wish to teach others.

3) Repeat number 2 until you get as small a series of steps as you can, and make those steps as simple as you can.

4) Write down what you wish to say, this bit is not necessarily for everyone, but I find that if I write things down as I go testing, I find that I may have missed a step, or added a few steps too many.

5) Take your screenshots. Best done while you are testing. Break the steps down. If there are ANY possibilities that someone may not understand the writen instructions, then take a screen shot, and edit the shot to give extra steps, or tricks or whatever you think may help. Remember to keep the original image as well as the edited image, and to ALWAYS save them as .PNG

6) Move on to actually posting the steps into the proper forum. For us here, we recommend "The Learning Curve" as the best possible location, but you may find one of the other forums makes more sense depending on what you are creating. Write down the individual steps into your post, and THEN attach the image, embedding into the text if you wish, or as a before/after image from the text instructions you have already written into the post.

7) Break your tutorial into as many posts as you need. I tend to make mine a bit too long, and find that I need to split them down into multiple posts to make it more manageable. I do know that this website has limits on how many links (including direct image links) that can be embedded into a single post.

8) Take your time creating the post. Remember, the target audience is ASSUMED to be someone that is completely unfamiliar with whatever it is you are creating a tutorial for. Aim your tutorial at a complete newbie. If someone reads it that has more skills, they are always free to skip steps etc, but if someone reads it that has no clue how/where to start reads it, they will love you all the more for having taken the time to make the steps as simple and accurate to follow as you can.

9) If you wish it, ask one of the admins here to "Lock" and/or "Sticky" your post. We can typically lock and unlock a post while you are online so that you can post bits and pieces as you get time IF we are online... sending a PM for this type of help is best. and you can see who is online from the main forum page down at the bottom. We can also remove extraneous posts from folks that are replying or posting before you finsh your complete tutorial.

10) Don't be surprised at how many "thank you" messages that you receive from having created a tutorial for just about anything NWN custom content related. 8-)

11) Sit back and enjoy the feeling of having helped OTHERS to learn something that may have taken you a long time to learn. It is truly a thrill to help others, believe me.

I am available for help if you get stuck on how to word things, or how to edit an image, or how to create a flow for your specific tutorial, and I am also available to help test out what you create as a tutorial, just don't be surprised if I hit you with lots of changes to make, or rarely but possible, a short list of minor changes. :mrgreen:
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