Skip navigation

Rethinking the Windows Phone Book TOC

Rounding the half-way point, a reevaluation of the book structure

With apologies for the amount of navel-gazing this project has caused, I’d like to quickly explain some changes I’m making to the Windows Phone Book table of contents. These changes are aimed at getting the book “done” more quickly, of course, but also to align it better to the task-based approach I belatedly adopted last month.

I wrote about the change to a task-based approach in Windows Phone Book: A Second Update to the Music, Videos and Podcasts Chapter. Long story short, if I had continued with the writing style I used with the first few chapters of this book, it would have been about 1000 pages long when completed. Worse, it would have taken a year to write.

No one wants that.

Experimenting first with Xbox Music Book, a much smaller and more manageable topic, I latched onto what I think of now as a task-based approach (rather than the more narrative approach used with Windows Phone Book originally). That is, rather than blah, blah, blah, just get to the point: Here’s how to do this. Here’s how to do this. Here’s how to do this. Get it done.

There’s still some exposition, of course. There has to be. But I like the task-based approach for many reasons. Best of all, perhaps, it’s really easy to plug in a task if you miss something. This makes the book easier to update and manage over time.

The problem with Windows Phone Book, however, is that it didn’t start out like that. The first few chapters I wrote—Messaging, Bing Search and Maps, PC Integration, and so on—were written in the original narrative style. So I’ve known all along that these chapters, once considered “finished” from a first draft perspective, would need to be changed, perhaps significantly, to match the task-based approach I later adopted.

(Related: Some of these chapters need to be updated for other reasons. I’ve got a lot more content to add to the PC Integration chapter, for example, and the release of Nokia’s HERE apps will significantly alter my discussion of Maps. More on this in a moment)

I’ve put off updating those original chapters so I could forge ahead with new material. But this is something that needs to happen eventually.

Related to this is today’s topic, which is that the structure of the book needs to change as well. More specifically, some of the chapters I penciled in for the TOC (table of contents) don’t lend themselves to tasks at all. And since I’m going to make some changes anyway I felt I should reevaluate the content coverage to see if I could whittle down a bit to the essentials. I want the book to be manageable as well as useful. And it’s worth noting that any content I remove now can be added later, after the book is “done.” After all, it’s a living document. I intend to keep updating it going forward.


Originally, the first chapter of the book was something called Why Windows Phone?. And the last chapter was something called Migrating from iOS or Android. I’m removing both of these chapters from the book—at least for now—artificially lowering the chapter count from 20 to 18. (Some content from each could make it into other chapters.)

I’m also (temporarily) going to remove Chapter 13, Other Windows Phone Productivity Apps. This was a bucket chapter collecting built-in apps that don’t appear elsewhere, like Alarms and Calculator, plus some Nokia apps. Not exactly exciting or interesting, but in interests of completeness I’ll get to it eventually. Just not now.

Go figure, but I’m also adding a chapter. I’m going to split what was called “Bing Search and Maps” into two chapters, Search and Maps + Location. The former will focus on the Bing Search experience and the latter will focus on the built-in Maps apps plus the Nokia HERE location apps, which I feel is integral to the Windows Phone 8 experience.

With the removal of Chapter 13 and the addition of a new Maps chapter, that’s still 18 chapters.

So while the goal here is to shorten the book and the TOC, overall, it’s still going to be well over 500 pages long in Word (with images), something I see as a sort of vague goal. And again, the exorcised material is stuff I can add later. I want to get this thing “done” as quickly as possible, with the content that makes the most sense for the topic.

And since I’m already mucking around with the thing, I may as well move around some chapters so that the book flows more naturally. I have a section called “More Than a Phone” that includes a chapter about Phone, for example. There’s more, but suffice to say some shuffling is taking place.

All of these change will obviously and unfortunately trigger a chapter renumbering, which is a pain because I reference other chapter numbers pretty frequently throughout the book. So at some point this week, probably, I’ll edit each chapter with this in mind and reissue each.

In the meantime, the edited TOC now looks like so.

Getting Started

1. Getting Started

2. The Windows Phone User Experience

3. Apps

4. Search

Phone + More

5. People + Me

6. Phone

7. Messaging

8. Maps + Location


9. Email

10. Calendar

11. Internet Explorer

12. Office + OneNote


13. Music, Videos + Podcasts

14. Photos

15. Games

Taking It to the Next Level

16. PC Integration

17. Security + Networking

18. Windows Phone at Work

From a chapter count perspective, I have 8 chapters “completed” (though again, some need to be changed to a task-based layout) and two that are half completed (Maps + Location and PC integration). And I have two chapters, People + Me (which I just issued the first update for) and The Windows Phone User Experience, that are in progress. So it’s over half done.

My goal is to bang out a chapter every week to 10 days when possible but we’ll see whether/how this reorganization temporarily mucks with that schedule. Hopefully not too bad.

Enough navel-gazing. Back to work… :)

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.