Monday, May 4, 2009

Tips for Packaging Tutorials

The all-new DemoMate Embeddable Player is here, and with it come new opportunities for you to increase revenues, decrease cost, and delight your customers. With the latest version of DemoMate (Build 690), you can now “package” your tutorials in a new Silverlight player that can be embedded in websites, blogs, and SharePoint portals. We worked hard to give you a great deal of flexibility and control of the first-run experience for your tutorials. You can view your options on the new Tutorial Settings screen:

Here are some useful tips for packaging your tutorials:

Title: The name of the tutorial as it will show up in the player. By default, this is simply the name of your DemoMate file, but can be changed if you desire. Generally speaking, short names work best. You can use the length of the Title field as guide for when your Title gets too long.

Output: There are two different output formats available:

Multiple Files - Creates one small Silverlight file (.xap) and a folder containing all tutorial assets. Best for online (streaming) scenarios.

Single File - Creates one large Silverlight file (.xap) containing all tutorial assets. Best for offline or high-bandwidth scenarios only.

Width: Determines the width of the demo player, in pixels. Changing this value to 0 will default the player to 100% of your browser width, and allow it to flex as the browser window is resized.

Height: Determines the height of the demo player, in pixels. Changing this value to 0 will default the player to 100% of your browser height, and allow it to flex as the browser window is resized.

Lock Aspect Ratio: If this box is checked, then when you change either the Height or Width, the other value will be automatically calculated based on your screen resolution to determine the best possible fit and reduce the amount of letterboxing in the player.

Pointer Speed: Determines how fast the mouse pointer moves between steps, and thus how fast the tutorial progresses.

Start Screen: Determines which player elements are shown when the player is first loaded. The options are to show the Play button and the Title, just show the Play button, or show neither. If both of the elements are not shown, then clicking anywhere on the first step will start the tutorial; this allows you to customize your Tutorial experience by using the first Step of your Tutorial as the Start Screen, branded however you like.

Show Presenter Script: Determines the default location for the presenter script pane in the tutorial player. Options are to dock it to one of the sides of the player, or have it as a floating box that can be dragged around the screen by the viewer. You can also choose not to display a presenter script pane at all by selecting Off. For demos that you intend to embed in small spaces, consider not using any presenter script text whatsoever, and having short descriptions of your actions contained just in the Click Instruction field.

Show Click Instructions: Determines if the Click Instruction bubble is displayed.

Show Mouse Pointer: Determines if the mouse pointer that moves between steps is displayed.

Play Click Sound: Determines if a subtle click sound is played before advancing to the next step.

Start Demo Automatically: Determines if the demo automatically starts playing as soon as it is loaded, or if the user must click a Play button.

Show Click Beacon: Determines if the click beacon is shown for each step. This beacon can be useful as an alternate method of indicating where to click to move to the next step in your tutorial.

Loop Demo: Determines if the tutorial will loop after it reaches the last step. You can also set a time, in seconds, that the player stays on the last step before starting to play the tutorial again.

All of the player control settings can be changed by your customers once they start viewing a tutorial, through the Options menu in the player. When you are through selecting your defaults, click the OK button to package your tutorial. By default, tutorials will be placed in a My Tutorials folder in your Documents folder (Note: this is different from your My Demos folder).

Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the new Package Tutorial feature and let us know if you have any questions!

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