New free/pay what you want resource: Sketchnotes 2013; also, Emacs Dired rocks


Get your copy of the Sketchnotes 2013 collection

Since people found my collection of sketchnotes from 2012 handy, I’ve put together a categorized collection of sketchnotes from 2013 as well. Enjoy! =)

Behind the scenes

This was how I made the 2012 collection:

  1. Create a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation. Fill it with high-res images. Resize and position all the images. Use AutoHotkey to save myself time and avoid going crazy.
  2. Create a spreadsheet with titles and page numbers. Add captions with liberal use of AutoHotkey.
  3. Create a manual table of contents and link to all the images. Mostly use AutoHotkey, except for the part where if you create a link to a slide number that consists of repeated numbers (ex: 55 or 66), you have to select it a different way, because typing “55″ gets you #51 (and “555″ gets you #52, etc).
  4. Save as PDF.

There was a lot of manual fiddling around involved in making that collection, so I’m experimenting with a different approach that may be useful. For Sketchnotes 2013, I wanted to see if there were ways I could simplify the packaging process while enabling people to do other things with the files.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I used Emacs dired-mode’s C-x C-q (dired-toggle-read-only) to go into editable mode, which allowed me to easily edit all the filenames to include #keywords. I used C-x C-q to save the changes.
  2. Then I used Emacs dired’s % m to select multiple files by regular expressions and R to move the files into a specified directory.
  3. Tada! Neatly organized files. I packaged it up as a ZIP and put it on Gumroad.
  4. Since Dropbox also allows you to share folders, I created a public link to the folder that had my organized sketches. That way, people can download a single directory if they want to, instead of downloading all 250+ MB.

It still might be interesting to make a PDF, especially if I can make one that can be published through something like CreateSpace. More packaging… =)

  • Marcin Borkowski

    Hi Sacha! If you have the files organized and e.g. named with consecutive numbers, why don’t use LaTeX to automatically produce a pdf? This should be rather straightforward, assuming that one would streamline the resizing/positioning. (I’ll be glad to talk to you and help you with coding it in LaTeX or writing a script in Elisp or something to produce a LaTeX file for that, if you want!)

    • Sacha Chua

      You’re right, I should revisit LaTeX now that I’m more comfortable using Vagrant to have a Linux VM in my Windows environment. =) Much more elegant than the ImageMagick + Word + PDF hack I have at the moment. Let me see how far I get with that, and then I’ll ping you if I need more help. Thanks!

    • sachac

      Excellent idea! I’ve figured out most of what I wanted to do with LaTeX, and I’ll post an update once I get the printed proof from CreateSpace. =D