This week’s unpleasant surprise was being told by Microsoft Press that the complete text of my Exchange 2010 SP1 book had to be revised. Two issues were identified. First, I had created an environment to run multiple Exchange 2010 servers and test the software. The environment is based on VMware workstation and runs four Windows 2008 R2 servers quite happily on my HP Elitebook 8530w running Windows 7 Professional with 8GB of memory. I had built an Exchange organization and populated it with mailboxes, groups, and all the other objects involved in an email system. It worked well but it didn’t use the approved fictitious names that Microsoft Press requires for its books. They have good reason for this because some people complain when they see their names in print (John Doe and Jane Doe must be really annoyed at times). They also didn’t like the domain name that I used and wanted it changed to one of their approved names such as the famous contoso.com, much beloved of Microsoft documentation writers and registered by Microsoft for this purpose.
The solution was to rebuild the entire environment to use contoso.com and recreate all of the user mailboxes to use names from the approved fictitious name list (which is actually composed of names of Microsoft employees who have agreed to allow their names to be used). Apart from the sheer effort of rebuilding the systems and recreating all of the Exchange objects, I also had to go through every word of text to remove any trace of my old environment and replace the references with contoso.com. Such fun!
The second problem was that I had taken 450 screen shots for the book that were deemed unsuitable by the nice people who take care of graphics for Microsoft Press. The root cause is that I had started writing well before making a deal with Microsoft and had used the methods that I had employed for previous books. In short, I was blissfully unaware of Microsoft’s standards for graphics. They want to have screen captures in BMP format with no compression used (no problem there) and no wider than 1024 pixels (I had a couple of these but no great issue) . The big killer was the requirement to take screen captures with font smoothing turned off. The default for Windows is to use font smoothing (aka turn ClearType on). Every single screen capture fell foul of this requirement meaning that I had to reproduce every screen! Some of the screens that I had included in the book illustrated transient conditions that are hard to recreate so being asked to recreate 450 screens did not fill my heart with joy.
So I have spent the last few days rebuilding servers and recreating a complete Exchange 2010 organization to allow me to begin the process of recapturing all the screens. This has caused a little stress all round and I have not been too communicative at times. The good news is that some light is appearing at the end of this particular tunnel and I think that I should get over the speed-bump caused by the extra work next week to get back on schedule.
The lesson that I have learned is that you shouldn’t start writing until you know how text will be published…