[WIP] XBMC Beginners Guide (PDF)

  Thread Rating:
  • 7 Votes - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post Reply
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #16
I've moved the file to a rapidshare account. Never used that before...
Is it working?
find quote
jmarshall Offline
Team-XBMC Developer
Posts: 26,221
Joined: Oct 2003
Reputation: 178
Post: #17
Thanks - downloaded.

I suggest a couple of alterations:

1. Don't mention .nfo/.jpg etc. - the new user doesn't need to know it at that point - it's advanced information.

2. Don't mention skin settings (Movies/TVShows on home). Instead, at the very start indicate there is the "move right" menus on the home page, and get the user used to navigating via that. This way they don't get confused between "Videos" and "Movies".

3. Keep the "preparing your movies + tv shows" bit to a minimum - you can always link out to more detailed information (or indicate there's more info later on in the guide).

4. Don't use that crappy logo - use the one on the homepage.

Nice work!

Cheers,
Jonathan

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.


[Image: badge.gif]
find quote
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #18
jmarshall Wrote:Thanks - downloaded.

I suggest a couple of alterations:

1. Don't mention .nfo/.jpg etc. - the new user doesn't need to know it at that point - it's advanced information.

2. Don't mention skin settings (Movies/TVShows on home). Instead, at the very start indicate there is the "move right" menus on the home page, and get the user used to navigating via that. This way they don't get confused between "Videos" and "Movies".

3. Keep the "preparing your movies + tv shows" bit to a minimum - you can always link out to more detailed information (or indicate there's more info later on in the guide).

4. Don't use that crappy logo - use the one on the homepage.

Thanks for your info...

1. I totally agree, in fact, i've already moved the more detailed info to a section further in the end of the manual. I don't think it should be scrapped from the beginners guide, but it shouldn't be in the initial setup pages...

2. You're right again. I remember that in the beginning I got confused myself. Will refer to the quickmenu from pressing "right" key

3. Same as your first point... I just got 'into it' when I was writing so I kept on going...

4. Are you serious on the crappy logo? I totally love this logo above the homepage logo, ... But I guess the homepage logo is the official one now, so I've changed it. I copied one from a post on the mainpage but it's a quite crappy .png file... Any chance I can get a descent copy?
find quote
ronie Offline
Team-Kodi Member
Posts: 9,442
Joined: Jan 2009
Reputation: 165
Post: #19
gollumscave Wrote:Any chance I can get a descent copy?

http://downloads.sourceforge.net/xbmc/XB...e_v1.0.zip

Always read the Kodi online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not PM or e-mail Team-Kodi members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.
find quote
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #20
Thanks Ronie...

To all skinners, If you want me to include your skin into the manuals too, please send me links to logo's, art packages and manuals please... I know i can spend hours to scrape that off the net myself, but I prefer using that time to write the manual itself ;-)

This doesn't apply to the skins that are downloadable with the standard dharma 10.0 package. Only for skins that have to be installed manually...
(This post was last modified: 2011-01-19 13:35 by gollumscave.)
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #21
Great work so far! It's good to see a pdf guide coming together - I agree that it's much nicer to have a printed guide rather than jumping around the wiki, especially when you're just tring to set something up rather than do something very specific.

I just wanted to make a couple of suggestions/crits before you get too deep into it to change:

1. Just to echo what jmarshall has already said about the "preparing your movies and TV shows" section (i.e. keep it to a minimum). Much of what's already there seems like more advanced information. I think you should just state the basic folder structure, and file naming conventions which allow the scapers to do the best they can. Then you can refer to a later page number detailing all the stuff about folder.jpg, season.tbn etc etc.
On the point of file naming conventions, I don't know if you had plans to expand this but this looks to be lacking at the moment. The information about putting the year with your film's name seemed a bit buried (Page 17), and although I only skimmed through, I couldn't see any information on naming TV episodes (e.g. s01e04). As an example a nice succinct summary of naming conventions / preparing your media was done within this article on Lifehacker.com.

2. It may be helpful to get the user more familiar with using the keyboard as the input device by not detailing instructions for mouse as well. I know the mouse generally works for what you've detailed so far, but it does have shortcomings, and is not the best way of navigating/using XBMC in general. Being familiar with the button inputs of the keyboard would also make migrating to a remote a bit more comfortable.
An added bonus of only writing about keyboard input is that it creates less work for you by making sure you only have to write about one input rather than two every time. Having less text would also make the guide clearer by creating less text "clutter" in the body of the text.
Also on this point: at the bottom of page 16 there's an instruction which only refers to mouse input - change this to "select it" rather than "click it with your mouse" to make it universally applicable.
Also related: It may be helpful to have something like the XBMC keyboard cheat sheet in a reference section at the back of the booklet.

3. On the subject of media managers: You've written a nice little sentence about what they do, but it might also be a good idea if you could link to a quickstart guide (if these exist) for each manager. The best way of doing this is probably to say that there's a link / address for these guides in a reference section at the back, rather than sticking the addresses in the body of the text. I don't use a media manager, not because I think it's a bad idea, but because I go to look it up and there's a thread with 5,500 posts on it! not very user friendly if I just want to know how to use it. Admittedly there is a link to a wiki in the first page of the thread I'm talking about (Ember), but I don't know how good it is 'cos the site is down. Many of the other managers don't seem to have any kind of guide, and not having a guide makes it intimidating to the new user. With that in mind, you might want to ask the developers to write a quickstart guide, or ask them to post on their thread to ask for one of their users to do it so you can link to it. As I say I don't use one, and haven't tried. It might be astonishingly intuative and require no help whatsoever, but I doubt it, so if you can point the reader in the direction of a guide that'd be most helpful.

4. Quick typo at the bottom of page 23 "As some of you might now" *know


I hope that's helpful. You might agree or disagree with them but they're just suggestions! Smile
(This post was last modified: 2011-01-19 16:26 by procrastinator.)
find quote
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #22
Agree to all your point and had them planned already. Like I said, it's just a work in progress now and I just wanted some input on what the community is feeling for a manual.
Right now i don't want to write the articles to much bare basic, cause once I'm into the zone of writing a chapter, I prefer to just keep writing instead of cutting and editing. I'll just keep on writing and will move sections around after I have all the chapters I need.
By then I will cut sections (for examples the file naming conventions) from the intro and move them to a later chapter or to appendixes in the book.

Thanks for your info though, glad that people are actively reading and thinking together with us. This is what a community really is about isn't it?

I've always loved XBMC, but the love is growing on me now seeing a close community and new users every day. I've always kind of browsed the forums a bit, but now actively participating and helping out others makes me feel I own the product a little bit too, very funny, i know...
I'm proud of XBMC even if I didn't code a single letter... I want it to be a success
/end suckupmode
find quote
jmarshall Offline
Team-XBMC Developer
Posts: 26,221
Joined: Oct 2003
Reputation: 178
Post: #23
It would be good to point out what XBMC is intended for - i.e. it's intended to completely replace your normal "computer" interface (windows, linux, osx, bsd, foo, doesn't matter) with it's own dedicated to your media. Thus, using a remote control is really the primary point of interaction rather than a keyboard. I'd certainly discourage mouse use (though Confluence works fine with the mouse) and instead indicate that a remote control is best. Then try and make all actions independent of input device such as using "select" and "bring up the context menu" (this one may need further instruction). A simple section on "navigating the interface" might be the way to go here - start with just moving around (select/back/up/down/left/right) then add in the context menu.

Once you have things a little more how you'd like them, I'm quite happy to help review in more detail, and/or move it to a system that can be more easily edited by more people and/or kept in the git repo.

Cheers,
Jonathan

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.


[Image: badge.gif]
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #24
jmarshall Wrote:try and make all actions independent of input device such as using "select" and "bring up the context menu"

This is so blindingly obvious; I can't believe I didn't suggest it myself! Laugh

Quote:using a remote control is really the primary point of interaction rather than a keyboard

I certainly agree that this should be the case, but I just wanted to state why it was that I suggested instructions for the keyboard rather than going straight for the remote:
It's just that a remote can take some setting up to work with XBMC* whereas a keyboard is a peripheral which is attached and whose keys will always be mapped correctly. It is therefore a better input for the complete beginner as it doesn't require setting up. But at the same time it demonstrates that the interface is fully navigable via keypresses, and makes that transition to a remote a logical (and preferable) progression.

*It's been a long time since I tried to set up a remote for use with XBMC (I currently use an iPhone remote), but it certainly used to be the case that it took some setting up. It might be a lot more straight forward now. I've recently noticed a MCE Remote addon which I don't know much about, but I'm guessing it makes the remote setup a breeze, but even with that in mind you still have to explain to the new user what the addon system is before they can use that.
find quote
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #25
jmarshall Wrote:It would be good to point out what XBMC is intended for - i.e. it's intended to completely replace your normal "computer" interface (windows, linux, osx, bsd, foo, doesn't matter) with it's own dedicated to your media. Thus, using a remote control is really the primary point of interaction rather than a keyboard. I'd certainly discourage mouse use (though Confluence works fine with the mouse) and instead indicate that a remote control is best.

Sounds like something that I could put in the "Prologue"...

About the "SELECT" function. I've even accidentally written "SELECT" a few times instead of "ENTER". I changed it back to "ENTER" because I think that most users will initially try XBMC on their regular pc's without a remote...

If XBMC really is going to be shipped on settop boxes with a remote, the manual shouldn't contain keyboard command but "remote" commands indeed. It's not too much work to replace those words with a simple "search and replace" option. Might even be an idea to make a manual for use with a remote, so users can download the beginners manual for windows (keyboard version) or windows (remote version) or Windows Live, or advanced, or whatever?

Nah... as I am writing this I think it's actually not a good idea to make more manuals. There's so much info on the forum already. If we make the manuals complex now too then we're back where we started....
I think "SELECT" will do. We can explain in the prologue that the functions used refer to a remote control, or we can add a foldout image of a keyboard with the functions written on it?

I can also include footnotes. If I use the term "CONTEXT MENU" for the first time i can place a small asterix behind it, referring to a footnote explaining that the "CONTEXT MENU" can be access by pressing the M on the keyboard?

Mr Marshall... Maybe you could do the honors to write a prologue? Write something about XBMC's origin, target audience and functionality?
(This post was last modified: 2011-01-20 10:28 by gollumscave.)
find quote
BacklitVillain Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 39
Joined: Aug 2010
Reputation: 0
Location: UK
Post: #26
This all sounds very good.

Fed up having to walk my mate through the simplest of XBMC tasks all the time, I'm just going to throw this guide at him and tell him to learn himself.

Keep up the good work.
find quote
jmarshall Offline
Team-XBMC Developer
Posts: 26,221
Joined: Oct 2003
Reputation: 178
Post: #27
Regarding Select/Context Menu, I'd just extend the bit where you say "have a play around navigating the menus" to a new section "Navigating in XBMC" where you do the basics (up/down/left/right/back/select) then add in "context menu". Something like "Another important function to access in XBMC is the context menu. This is a popup menu similar to a "right click" or "Control Click" menu. You can access it via the "C" button on the keyboard, or by pressing the context menu key on your keyboard (if you have one). Similarly, it's normally mapped to the MENU button on your remote, or is right click on the mouse."

Always read the XBMC online-manual, FAQ and search the forum before posting.
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
For troubleshooting and bug reporting please make sure you read this first.


[Image: badge.gif]
find quote
Robotica Offline
Posting Freak
Posts: 1,202
Joined: Aug 2010
Reputation: 5
Post: #28
Great that you're doing this! The guide really looks good & professional....

gollumscave Wrote:Sounds like something that I could put in the "Prologue"...

About the "SELECT" function. I've even accidentally written "SELECT" a few times instead of "ENTER". I changed it back to "ENTER" because I think that most users will initially try XBMC on their regular pc's without a remote...

Or maybe the LiveCD is the best option to test (thus as base for this manual)....


My remarks (on version 0.35):
1> Maybe add a license to it? Creative Common or something (goal: exclude commercial use)
2> With screenshots: always activate the option to choose to highlight the user action. (starting with download you didn't select "save", the setupwizard you didn't highlight "Next" but you highlighted "I agree" at the license agreement: This is more clear/easy/dummyproof. I also think non-windowed (full screen) screenshots look a lot better.
3> Hopefully you start with explaining the concept of the library before adding video, tv shows and music..
4> Strangely, the links in the index brings you to the end of a chapter/paragraph.
5> Have some kind of versioning in the doc (or maybe you can use SVN for that) and add the date in it (e.g. if people are interested in translating this can be useful but also for users to know they have a current version)
6> After installing: I think it is best to start with a chapter "Initial setup": Region, language, video settings, calibarate etc.
7> Maybe end each chapter with "Advanced settings" to go a few steps deeper.
8> Since the manual is so large in file size: Are you using the right resolution/format to create screenshot? I would advise .png files.
9> When I check the document properties (not on windows but within the pdf-reader) I see "Microsoft word" in the file name: that's cursing! ;-)

ps. what is that vertical line on all your screenshot?
(This post was last modified: 2011-01-21 03:22 by Robotica.)
find quote
gollumscave Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 148
Joined: May 2009
Reputation: 2
Post: #29
Robotica Wrote:Great that you're doing this! The guide really looks good & professional....

Well thanks... I'm trying to do the best I can...

Robotica Wrote:Or maybe the LiveCD is the best option to test (thus as base for this manual)....

No, I don't think so. It being a beginners guide we have to keep in mind what a beginner would do. Assuming an unfamiliar user that wants to try XBMC, he's gonna sit at his pc on a regular evening, click on the website and download the program. He wants to have a quick look at it and just installs it under windows. If he doesn't like it, he deletes it. No more, no less. I totally agree that saving it on a thumbdrive and booting into a seperate environment would be cleaner to just test it, but many users just don't wanna go through that. They know windows, and are familiar with it. No hassle, no reboot, just click the installer...

Robotica Wrote:1> Maybe add a license to it? Creative Common or something (goal: exclude commercial use)

Will be there in the prologue...

Robotica Wrote:2> With screenshots: always activate the option to choose to highlight the user action. (starting with download you didn't select "save", the setupwizard you didn't highlight "Next" but you highlighted "I agree" at the license agreement: This is more clear/easy/dummyproof. I also think non-windowed (full screen) screenshots look a lot better.

I've tried to do that as much as possible, but gave more attention to that somewhere in the middle of the manual, so in the beginning i might miss a few. Right now the images are just a guideline for me to get an impression of the final looks. ALL artwork will be redone, these are just quick and easy screengrabs with win7 snipping tool. The final version will all have the same dimensions and will be "windowless".

Robotica Wrote:3> Hopefully you start with explaining the concept of the library before adding video, tv shows and music..

I gave that some thought and am still not sure WHERE the concept of a library actually belongs... if you go through the motions of a setup, you have to add the movies and shows first before you are able to even select the library, therefore i haven't included the "what is a library" in the adding movies to XBMC (notice xbmc, not adding movies to the LIBRARY). Before i start setting up the library i explain the library in more detail.
I'm still on the fence... what are the other's thoughts on this one?

Robotica Wrote:4> Strangely, the links in the index brings you to the end of a chapter/paragraph.

I haven't tested it but I think that's a conversion error. I'm writing in Word 2007 and convert with nuance pdf creator 5

Robotica Wrote:5> Have some kind of versioning in the doc (or maybe you can use SVN for that) and add the date in it (e.g. if people are interested in translating this can be useful but also for users to know they have a current version)

The only versioning is in the title now. For every change i make I go up a level in the numbering. Afetr a few changes I upload a new version. Again, in the final version there will be a proper versioning tool.

Robotica Wrote:6> After installing: I think it is best to start with a chapter "Initial setup": Region, language, video settings, calibarate etc.

This is the only point where I disagree, but I might be wrong ofcourse. My goal is to get users enthusiast about XBMC as fast as possible. Meaning they should have a gorgeous screen filled with movies in front of them as fast as possible. All the extra's like advanced settings and hardware setup, region and calibrations is essential, i agree, but to pull a potential new user over the line i want to focus on getting his setup to look good in as little as possible time.

You and me, when we do a new installation we go through those steps. Region, video settings, change some views, turn on the subtitles and change to 5.1 or 7.1 audio etc. But we KNOW the program and have already made the choice to use it. We know what it can do and go for a complete setup. In the advanced version of the manual this information will definitely be in one of the first chapters, but not for the beginners... just my 2 cents... any other thoughts about this?

Robotica Wrote:7> Maybe end each chapter with "Advanced settings" to go a few steps deeper.

I will go into advanced settings after I've written the entire thing. I wanted to put more chapters at the end with advanced settings, but I think you're suggestion is indeed a better one and have a subchapter after each section with advanced settings, just like how I added a "library views" after some chapters... I think I'll go for this option, but haven't finish writing the initials yet... will be a few more days since i'm fully booked in the weekend.

Robotica Wrote:8> Since the manual is so large in file size: Are you using the right resolution/format to create screenshot? I would advise .png files.

No i'm not. All artwork will be redone. Now i just need a quick visualization.

Robotica Wrote:9> When I check the document properties (not on windows but within the pdf-reader) I see "Microsoft word" in the file name: that's cursing! ;-)

That's because it's written in word... I've used word all my life and love the ease of use and the graphic functions presented in the 2007/2010 version. Personal preference...

Robotica Wrote:ps. what is that vertical line on all your screenshot?

Maybe a dead row of pixels on your reader? No, i'm just kidding... I have no clue what you're talking about. If i open the PDF here they look fine?

Anyone else has this line?


Thanks for your great response! I really like getting feedback and ideas.
find quote
procrastinator Offline
Fan
Posts: 443
Joined: Aug 2008
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #30
gollumscave Wrote:I gave that some thought and am still not sure WHERE the concept of a library actually belongs... if you go through the motions of a setup, you have to add the movies and shows first before you are able to even select the library, therefore i haven't included the "what is a library" in the adding movies to XBMC (notice xbmc, not adding movies to the LIBRARY). Before i start setting up the library i explain the library in more detail.
I'm still on the fence... what are the other's thoughts on this one?

Personally, I think you should have the first chapter as a quickstart guide, where nothing is explained in more than a sentence. For example, you could say something like: "the movie library is where we catalogue the films you have to best display and organise them, we add the movie files to the library by doing this...". Obviously there's a lot more depth to the library than that, but if you can get them up-and-running as quick as possible then those details become more interesting. Getting bogged down in the minutiae of a bit of software before you're truely interested in it can be dispiriting. Obviously the details can (and should) be dealt with in the chapters that follow, but use a quickstart chapter to get the ball rolling, and don't worry about explaining anything in that chapter.

It seems that you're think along the same lines

Quote:My goal is to get users enthusiastic about XBMC as fast as possible. Meaning they should have a gorgeous screen filled with movies in front of them as fast as possible. All the extras like advanced settings and hardware setup, region and calibrations is essential, i agree, but to pull a potential new user over the line i want to focus on getting his setup to look good in as little as possible time.

Quote:Anyone else has this line?

I couldn't see this line

Quote:They know windows, and are familiar with it. No hassle, no reboot, just click the installer...

I agree with this. I think that if I was to try out a new bit of software and I was presented with a Live CD or a Windows install file then I'd just go with the Windows file. A Live CD is only really necessary if you want to test out an operating system, for a bit of software it's easier to just install on whatever platform you're already using.
find quote
Post Reply