Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hosting or Embedding an Online Tutorial

Hosting your own tutorials is very straightforward. In order to host a tutorial on your web site, you’ll need only a working knowledge of HTML, and access to a web server that can be used to host the tutorial assets. If you are unsure how to host a tutorial on your website, please contact your IT department for assistance.

Once you have packaged your tutorial, navigate to the location where you saved your assets. Be sure to grab all of the files associated with that tutorial, including the .html reference file, Silverlight .xap file, and assets folder, if one was generated. All these files can be moved to the location where you want to host the demo, such as your corporate website, a SharePoint document library, etc.

The .html file is included for your reference purposes, and contains all the code you need to embed your tutorial in your own website. It is not necessary to use this entire file. The portions of the file you are interested in are everything in between (and including) the OBJECT embed tag. All of this code can be copied from the reference .html file and included in any of the pages on your web site. This will allow you to embed the tutorial in your own site, with your own corporate branding and site navigation.

If you need to modify any of the default parameters after you have already packaged your demo, you can do so by editing the values in the OBJECT tag. It is not necessary to repackage your tutorial unless you have made changes to the content itself. For further information on valid values for each of the parameters, please refer to the comments in the sample .html document.

Here's a brief tutorial showing how to edit the tutorial source code:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Editing Tutorial Source Code

Get Microsoft Silverlight

If you plan on hosting the Silverlight asset files (the .xap and/or the assets folder) on a different web server from your main web server, then you might need to ensure that your media server is configured to support the x-silverlight-app MIME type. This is necessary to host Silverlight applications being served on a different domain.

You’ll notice a section at the end of the OBJECT embed tag that is displayed only if the Silverlight application could not load. The most common time this occurs is if a user does not have the Silverlight plug-in installed in their browser. You might want to consider modifying this code to customize the look-and-feel to better match the site it is embedded in. In addition, text that is stored in this section can be seen and indexed by search engines, so you might want to spend some time optimizing this with relevant keywords to your demo and product.

A special note on embedding tutorials into blogs: Many blogging services on the Internet do not allow you to upload assets directly to their services. You will need to host the Silverlight .xap file and demo assets folder on a public web server you have access to. You can then take the OBJECT embed code and add it to your blog post. In the OBJECT embed code, be sure to change the source value to point to the location where you are hosting your .xap file, and the AssetUrlPath, if necessary. You should also be careful that the OBJECT tag is all on one line of code – some blogging services will insert extra carriage returns if the tag spans multiple lines, which will prevent the Silverlight application from loading correctly.

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