After a tumultuous week, I am happy and relieved to announce that Windows Everywhere is finally available for purchase on Leanpub. It’s still not exactly where I want it, but it is at least the entire book as it now stands, and not a subset.
Apologies for the drama earlier this week. It’s fair to say that I was in a despair spiral on Wednesday after two straight days of technical issues trying to get the book in shape for publication. And that testing things with Rafael the next day really helped, mostly to put my mind at ease that the fault lied with Leanpub and not me.
On Friday morning, I woke up to a set of emails from Leanpub. They had identified two issues with the publishing system for the latest system (the one we’re using now) and fixed them both. And not to over-simplify things, but part of the fix involved giving books four times as many server resources than before during previews and publishing. Long story short, it worked: I was able to perform successful (and correct) full and subset previews of the book on Friday, setting the stage for a public rollout.
Before that could happen, however, I had to finish up some detail work for the book. Most of that was backend stuff that isn’t particularly interesting. But part of it may be of interest. For example, since the book was going to come into the world in a “complete” state—more on that below, I wanted to do so with a cover. As you may be aware, the Windows 11 Field Guide doesn’t yet have a cover design, but that book is not yet complete, so there’s no rush.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted the cover of Windows Everywhere to look like, and to be fair, I’ll probably never be happy with it regardless. But my work on branding for the Eternal Spring YouTube channel that my wife and I created led me down a path where the bold title style we were using in the video turned into (what I think is) a cool logo design in which you can see an image inside of the text of the Eternal Spring letters. And I thought that maybe something like that would make sense for Windows Everywhere, perhaps using a current or classic Microsoft/Windows font.
This effect—where you can see an image inside of letters—is called masking and I do it so infrequently in Photoshop Elements that I have research how to do it every time it comes up. So I endured a several minutes long struggle before I finally decided to see whether this process was easier in Affinity Photo. And sure enough, it’s stupid easy, and something I will never forget now. So I got to work.
What I came up with is kind of fun. I ended up using a Windows XP “Bliss”-inspired wallpaper that’s free for commercial use (and while I haven’t done so yet, I will be crediting the creator in the book soon). And I used a contemporary Microsoft font, Segoe UI, for the text, squashing and stretching each instance of it to get the look I wanted (similar to what I did with Eternal Spring), and so that each was the same width.
After a bit of back and forth, I then decided to add a four-quadrant square that’s reminiscent of the Microsoft and Windows logos as well. I’m still not sure if it’s too big, but that can be changed easily enough. As can the entire design, really.
And … then I kind of sat on it. After all that work, and knowing that there were still things left to do, I wasn’t sure about going live with it. So I left it unpublished last night.
This morning, I again went through all the Leanpub back-end forms related to the book to make sure the description, pricing, and so on was all correct. And then I wrote a short note to the first buyers, explaining that the book was “complete,” but that there would be changes and content additions. The book, at that time, was 993 pages long, as I had kept in most of the images.
Then, I hit publish. Gut check time.
The book went live a minute or so later and it’s now available on Leanpub for $9.99 and up with a suggested price of $29.99.
But I wasn’t done tinkering. After a 40-minute walk and breakfast, I used Visual Studio Code—which can open and act on a folder of files with an ease that is almost alarming—to make corrections throughout the book. (I backed up the folder first, of course.) For example, there was a mishmash of smart and dumb quotes, of both the ‘ and ” variety, throughout the book, so I did a Find and Replace (CTRL + SHIFT + H) and turned them all into dumb quotes in two quick and efficient passes. Bam.
During my initial two editing passes (during the second of which I also added all the images), I had discovered that the characters I need to use in Word to generate an em-dash in WordPress “—” created instances of an em-dash and a normal dash right next to each other. And because I use this a lot, they were all over the book. So I fixed that too. In like two seconds. Bam. (This is/was a problem in the Windows 11 Field Guide too. Fixed! Bam.)
With that out of the way, I previewed and then published the book again.
In looking through the PDF version of the book, however, I discovered that the chapter “7,” which of course deals with Windows 7, has no images. And that’s because it was one of several chapters in which I had removed images after adding them; alphabetically, 7.md is the first file in the book chapter, and I started removing images because I thought this would solve the issues I was experiencing earlier in the week. I had reverted the other chapters since, but had apparently missed this one. So I added the image references back, re-previewed, and re-published. And with those additions, the book was … exactly 1000 pages long. Heh.
I didn’t need that reminder to move on to my next task, which was to shrink the size of the images in the book in a bid to lower the page count and file size. I had had to do with this with the Windows 10 Field Guide at some point, moving most images from 100 percent in size to 75 percent in size, and that had worked nicely with that title. So by the time I moved onto to the Windows 11 Field Guide, I just used 75 percent for most images.
With Windows Everywhere, however, most images were 100 percent, and I have a smattering of images at 40, 50, 60, and 70 percent too. I left most of those alone, but I again used Visual Studio Code—seriously, what a wonder—to change the 100 percent images to 80 percent, figuring that would do the trick. Then I re-previewed the book, waited a bit, and checked to see what the impact was.
943 pages. I had only reduced it by 57 pages. That’s not enough. I was hoping for 150 to 200 pages in savings. Ah well.
And this means I’ll have to do what I’ve always known I’d have to do, and reduce the number of images in the book. There are just too many. I will begin that process soon, but it will take a while. We are flying home from Mexico City next Thursday and I’m sure this work will continue well past then.
As I’ve written before, I will also be updating the content in the book over time. (Thus the quotes around “complete” above.) This will occur via content additions in the existing narrative, since I glossed over some topics that maybe deserve more discussion. And I will write about the Windows 10 and 11 eras, and possibly ending it on an “AI to the future” note of some kind. We’ll see.
For now, I’m just happy that all the hard work is out there for the world to see. And while I’m not super-comfortable promoting myself per se, there is no better way to support me than to buy this and my other books since doing so directly impacts me. And so I hope you will consider buying the book. If not, remember that it is available in its original form as the Programming Windows series here on Thurrott.com as well. (And I will update the series when I add content to the book as well, of course.)
Thanks for reading. Getting to this point has been an incredible years-long journey.