Oh f***

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Blacky the Blackball
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Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:00 am

Damn, damn, damn!

I've been writing Dark Dungeons using Microsoft Publisher 2007 so far. Mainly because it's what I have and it's what I'm used to.

Unfortunately, now that the main document has reached over 275 pages, Publisher doesn't seem to be able to handle it and I've been getting lots of crashes.

I haven't lost the whole text, since I've been keeping back-ups - although I have lost most of this weekend's work.

So I've started creating a series of individual Publisher files for each chapter, and I'm copy/pasting each chapter into it's own file. In some ways it will make editing a chapter easier, since in each case I'll only be editing a small (usually 4-10 pages, but sometimes up to 20 pages) document instead of having to insert new material into the middle of a 275+ page document. On the other hand, it makes converting it to PDF more complicated.

Now I have to print each chapter independently using the Acrobat Distiller printer driver (that gives far better results than Publisher's own "Save as PDF" option), and then use Acrobat Professional to combine each of those 22 single-chapter PDFs into a single one for the whole book.

I am also now having to set the page numbering of each chapter by hand - so if I add material to a chapter and it results in the addition of an extra page, I have to manually edit all later chapters and increase their "start page" value by one. I'm sure that's going to get out of synch repeatedly!

On the plus side; it's not just the page count that I've reduced by this. Having to copy/paste everything has given me the opportunity to rationalise the master pages. My old document had about 25 different master pages - one for each chapter, one with just a page number, and a blank one. The section pages and chapter headings weren't on the master pages; they were added by hand to the normal pages. This meant that it was sometimes a pain to align them consistently. Now, I have a "New Chapter Template" file which contains the styles and a single set of three master pages - section title, chapter title, and normal. This means that each section and chapter will be exactly consistent with the previous ones, since all I need to do is change the text on the existing styles to match the chapter and section name rather than having to create new styles for each one.

Similarly, although the main document had a single colour scheme throughout, I now have the freedom to - if I want to - easily change that scheme for each section of the book. I'm not sure what that will look like, but providing I'm subtle about it (The first rule of design: Less is More) it could be very effective.

Unfortunately I've a lot of work to do over the next few days copy/pasting every page and every table and so on by hand into its relevant chapter file and reproducing the old layout as best I can...
Last edited by Blacky the Blackball on Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Chimpman » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:36 pm

Have you considered Open Office? Like you I do most of my work in Word, simply because it is familiar with me, but someone put me on to Open Office specifically for it's built in export to pdf functions. Anyway, I'm not sure what kind of size limit you're going to come up against in OO, but maybe it's worth a shot.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:44 pm

Chimpman wrote:Have you considered Open Office?
I've considered it in the past and even downloaded a copy to try. It's okay as a replacement word processor, but it doesn't really do DTP.
Like you I do most of my work in Word, simply because it is familiar with me, but someone put me on to Open Office specifically for it's built in export to pdf functions. Anyway, I'm not sure what kind of size limit you're going to come up against in OO, but maybe it's worth a shot.
Actually, PDF output is the least of my problems. I've got Acrobat Professional, which comes with Acrobat Distiller. Since Acrobat Distiller is a printer driver, I can make - and then optimise and bookmark - good quality PDFs from any application that allows me to print.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:58 am

Well, I've got things caught up to where I was before this weekend.

I now have 24 small Publisher files - one for each "chapter", and I can convert them individually to PDFs, and then easily compile the PDFs into a single document.

The good news is that while I was having to copy/paste all the old text and tables, I took the opportunity to do a reformatting. The compiled document - while still missing pictures, and therefore still having orphaned titles and so on - is now full colour and looks much more professional.

What I've done is split it design-wise into the five sections that it is also split content-wise, each of which contains from 2-7 chapters.

To keep things simple and uncluttered, each section has a palette of only two fonts and two colours; and those fonts (Norton for titles and Garamond for body text) are identical from section to section. The colours are always Black and one other colour; but the "other colour" is different for each section. The "other colour" also comes in three shades each time.

It sounds a bit weird when describing it like that, but it works really well and I think it looks very professional.

When I've finished the chapter I'm currently working on, I'll upload a copy of the whole thing to get some feedback on it...
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Big Mac » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:17 pm

Sorry to hear about your troubles.

But I just noticed your avatar! Nice subliminal advertising you have going on there.
Blacky the Blackball wrote:To keep things simple and uncluttered, each section has a palette of only two fonts and two colours; and those fonts (Norton for titles and Garamond for body text) are identical from section to section. The colours are always Black and one other colour; but the "other colour" is different for each section. The "other colour" also comes in three shades each time.

It sounds a bit weird when describing it like that, but it works really well and I think it looks very professional.
Have you checked to make sure this will work for the people with black and white printers yet?
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:21 pm

Big Mac wrote:Have you checked to make sure this will work for the people with black and white printers yet?
Because my conversion to PDF is via a printer driver, I can simply toggle whether it prints in colour or black and white. I've tried that, and it looks okay on screen when in black and white.

I've yet to see what it's like on paper. I should print a test page from each section...

Also, changing the colour scheme for each chapter is only a couple of mouse clicks, so at even in the worst case scenario I can produce two versions of the PDF with different colour schemes - if I'm getting it printed at LULU then I could have two versions of the printed book too - a "deluxe" colour hardback and an "economy" perfect-bound black & white version. I'd want the full monty myself, but I can understand if others would rather get the cheaper version (or print their own version - but at 300+ pages it's going to take a lot of home-printing).
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:49 pm

The latest update is here, in glorious technicolour.

Let me know what you think of the new formatting...
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Ashtagon » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:20 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:The latest update is here, in glorious technicolour.

Let me know what you think of the new formatting...
Not yet it isn't :p

btw, I think it might be helpful to upload individual chapters, as well as the compiled document.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:34 am

Ashtagon wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:The latest update is here, in glorious technicolour.

Let me know what you think of the new formatting...
Not yet it isn't :p
Erm... It should have been! It was when I checked, and it is now I've just checked again.
btw, I think it might be helpful to upload individual chapters, as well as the compiled document.
That might be an idea. I started doing it when I started the project but it got to be a pain for little benefit; but now I'm collating smaller files rather than splitting a big file I have to do the work anyway - so uploading the intermediaries isn't such a big deal.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:56 am

The good news is that I have the individual chapters available for download now. The bad other good news is that I'm no longer using the Wiki.

After a lot of fiddling about trying to put the files on the Wiki, I've decided to change from a Wiki to a blog.

Wikis are fine for projects with lots of pages and lots of collaboration - and once Dark Dungeons is finished I'm hoping there will be a wiki containing its "SRD". But Dark Dungeons isn't (yet) that kind of project.

For a project like Darik Dungeons with only a single contributor and which simply needs regular updates and files for download rather than collaboration between a team, a blog format is much more suitable.

So I've transferred everything to a blog, which can be found here.

This has five advantages over the Wiki...

1) It's easier for me to do bulk uploads of chapter files, and to have them on the site for download.
2) The blog format (backed up by a number of static pages) is more suited for regular updates by a single person as the project continues.
3) There's less of a psychological barrier for someone to leave a comment on a blog than there is for someone to contribute to a wiki - so I should get more feedback from casual readers.
4) The tagging system on Wordpress will make the blog found by searches much more easily than a series of wiki pages are.
5) The blog just plain looks prettier and more professional.

I've updated the links in my signatures on various sites, and I've edited the old Wiki so that it provides a link to the new site.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Oh f***

Post by Big Mac » Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:26 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:The good news is that I have the individual chapters available for download now. The bad other good news is that I'm no longer using the Wiki.

After a lot of fiddling about trying to put the files on the Wiki, I've decided to change from a Wiki to a blog.

Wikis are fine for projects with lots of pages and lots of collaboration - and once Dark Dungeons is finished I'm hoping there will be a wiki containing its "SRD". But Dark Dungeons isn't (yet) that kind of project.
You could keep the wiki for that. The wiki might also be useful, if people want to make Dark Dungeons fanon.
Blacky the Blackball wrote:For a project like Darik Dungeons with only a single contributor and which simply needs regular updates and files for download rather than collaboration between a team, a blog format is much more suitable.

So I've transferred everything to a blog, which can be found here.
That makes sense. Last time I looked, I was the only person who did any edits, and I've been too busy to read much of your work recently.

The small downloads might make it easier for me to be involved.
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