Hi-res screenshots and creating a book index – any ideas?

It’s been nearly a month since I blogged about the Delphi book I’ve been writing, and in between times, CreateSpace (Amazon’s ‘print on demand’ subsidiary) have become a lot more attractive for a UK-based would-be author like myself. So more attractive, in fact, that I now have two problems: creating high resolution screenshots on both Windows and OS X, and creating an index. Would anyone have any suggestions?

WRT the first issue, does a ‘print-ready’ screenshot just mean a normal screenshot increased in size x times over and the resolution set accordingly? E.g., if (on Windows) the pixels per inch setting is 120, is it just a matter of tripling the size of each screenshot without interpolation before setting its DPI to 360×360? That would seem… cheating however!

As for indexing, MS Word has a ‘concordance file’ concept for indexing a long document in a semi-automated fashion. Does anyone have experience of it? For example, does using it actually produce an OK result?

More generally, I’m a bit clueless as to what a ‘good’ index is in the first place. E.g., a good index might be said to be a ‘detailed’ index, but detail in itself can be a bad thing (imagine indexing the word ‘the’!). So… what sort of things should be included in an index?

Any ideas will be much appreciated!

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A new book

[Update: this book is now available on Amazon, in both eBook and printed versions – see here for more information.]

As many users of Delphi will know, the product’s official documentation is not exactly a classic of technical literature. While some parts are good, other parts and the overall structure are… not so good. Despite that, the market for Delphi books is hardly chockablock with entrants. The fact there was no entry level version of Delphi for a few years probably didn’t help, but that situation was rectified over a year ago now. At which point I acquired an itch that just had to be scratched…

Since then (Feburary 2011) I have been writing a book entitled Delphi XE2 Foundations that documents the language and wider RTL, in a reference-and-conceptual-overview style. If you will humour me, I’ve been aiming for something like the Albahari brothers’ C# 4.0 in a Nutshell (which is a great book by the way), only without the curly brackets!

My plan is this:

  • Self-publish in three parts as eBooks on Amazon, i.e. through their Kindle bookstore. Amazon do free reader apps for a range of platforms, so potential purchasers won’t need an actual Kindle device. UK pricing will be £7.59 per eBook (£22.77 for the whole thing); international pricing will be similar given current exchange rates.
  • If there’s interest, sell a printed version of the whole thing on Lulu or CreateSpace (probably Lulu – I have reservations about both, but CreateSpace’s American-centric payment system tips the balance).

Why three parts in the first instance? For the reader it means you don’t have to buy the introductory stuff if you don’t need it, but to be frank, from my point of view Amazon’s royalty structure pushed me into it. For the same reason my pricing is going to be rather keener than I would have liked, not that potential purchasers will care!

Having now basically written the thing, I need some help. Blog begging (blegging?) is possibly the lowest form of requesting something, but what the hell, if you don’t ask you don’t get!

  • If anyone reading this has a Kindle Touch and would be able and willing to test a short sample for me, that would be great. In the US, Amazon’s recent software patch will need to have been applied – I understand the Touch originally did not have a landscape mode, which my book (or rather, the code snippets) require. I’ve been using Amazon’s Kindle Previewer tool and tested on a UK-spec physical Kindle, but haven’t been able to test on a Touch, given it has only just been released in Europe.
  • I anyone would be willing to do a bit of gratis technical editing of a chapter, I will be very much grateful. A table of contents is here (link); perhaps not surprisingly, the multithreading chapter is the one that could most benefit from some double checking, though a second eye looking over any of the others would be helpful too.

If you can help, please email delphifoundations AT gmail DOT com. If offering to look over a chapter, please tell me which one; if I won’t recognise your name and details from either the Delphi blogosphere, the Embarcadero forums, or having previously commented on this blog, please very briefly say a little about yourself as well. Frankly, if I get even one offer of help I will be pleased, but if in the event I get a group of people for the same chapter, I may have to choose between them.