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10 (or more) Things that Every ToolBook Developer Must Know

  1. Use the on-line help that is right in ToolBook.  It's FREE!  It is very comprehensive, has lots of script examples, and easily searchable.

  2. Use the ToolBook Knowledgebase on the SumTotal Systems website.  It's FREE!  Chances are if you are having a problem someone else has had the same problem and called it into tech support.  A golden rule of tech support is to document solutions to problems so that others with the same problem can solve them on their own.  The knowledge base goes beyond troubleshooting and also has a lot of good articles on how to get more out of ToolBook.  Click here for the Knowledge Base.

  3. Join the ToolBook List Serve.  It's FREE!  Maybe you don't like getting deluged with a lot of list serve e-mails, but for the 5 or 10 minutes it takes to scan the list serve each day, it is time well spent.  The list serve keeps you up to date on what is happening with ToolBook, will give you ideas on how you can use ToolBook based on how other people are using it, and is a great resource for you should you have questions.  Set up a rule in your e-mail program that directs ToolBook list serve e-mails to a special folder  so that you can look at them when you want and they don't clutter your in-box.  Click here to sign up for the list serve.

  4. If you have a question, before you post it to the ToolBook List Serve, search the list serve archives.  It's FREE!  The easiest way to search the archives is to do it through Google Groups which runs a mirror of the list serve and has exceptional search capabilities.  Click here to search the ToolBook List Serve archives. 

  5. Attend the annual ToolBook conference (TBCon) held each summer in Colorado Springs.  OK, it's not free, but it is a great deal!  You only need to attend it once and you will be hooked.  You will accelerate you knowledge in the ToolBook arena by months if not years.  In addition you will be able to tip a frosty mug with some of the top ToolBook developers in the world.  This is unlike any conference you have ever attended- relaxed, fun, and jam-packed with fantastic information.  Click here to learn more about TBCon. 

  6. Learn OpenScript.  It's FREE!  You are probably thinking, "But I am developing for the web so OpenScript can't be used."  You are right, OpenScript cannot be used for program functionality...BUT, it can and should be used for development.  Simple tasks like change font colors on all pages in 10 books that could take hours will be reduced to minutes.  The best way to get started using OpenScript is get your hands on a few simple, but functional pieces of OpenScript and then, as needs arise, modify the OpenScript to do what you need it to do.  How do you learn how to do that?  Look at point #1 in this list :-)  Click here for some quick scripts to get you started. 

  7. Get yourself a couple of good reference books on ToolBook and the Action System.  OK, another one that is not free, but well worth every penny as you will realize three years down the road when you look at your well-used, dog-eared sitting on your bookshelf.  The best sources for book:  www.toolbookhelp.com, www.tcc-pub.com, www.plattecanyon.com.

  8. Use the Developer Exchange Tools that are in ToolBook (Tools, Developer's Exchange Tools).  It's FREE!  In the remote tools you will find all kinds of handy tools that will automate routine tasks.  Some of my favorites are:  Add/Remove Multiple Pages, Background AutoMerge, and the Unused Resource Remover.  Do yourself a favor and download the DevEx Tools to your local machine so that they are always available - even when you are offline.  Here are instructions for how to do this for TBK 2004.  If you have a different version of ToolBook, do a search in the ToolBook Knowledge Base on DevEx.

  9. If you like the DevEx Tools, you will love Platte Canyon's Plug-In Pro.  While it is not FREE, it will save you lots and lots of time.  Actually, it will easily pay for itself in your first ToolBook project so after that, in a way...It's FREE after that :-)  Just the option to always paste text as unformatted is worth the price, but on top of that you get a bunch (over 140 to be exact) of other utilities like sticky notes, hide and show hidden objects, the CBT question editor and lots more.  Check it out here.

  10. Check out the other FreeBees on right here on this site.  They are FREE!  Some are tips like this, some are utilities, and some are short training sessions accompanies by a utility.  Some are for beginners and others are for people who have quite a bit of ToolBook knowledge.  In any case, they certainly are worth pursuing in the event that someday you have a use for them.  All of my FreeBees are listed to the left of this page.

  11. If you deploy to DHTML, you probably need to offer your end users a Browser test. You can create your own for FREE! There are lots of Browser Tests out there thanks to the collaborative work of several people in the ToolBook Community.  Click here for a good example of a Browser Test. 

  12. While you are at the QualityTrainingPortal site you also might want to check out their Knowledge Base.  Creating your own can be FREE if you use one of the many FREE PHP Bulletin Boards.  Unlike the SumTotal ToolBook Knowledge base, this one is more for end users.  From what I understand, this knowledge base has significantly reduced call into Tech Support for help with the QualityTrainingPortal.  Robin McDermott tells me that it is easy to maintain by adding items as new support issues come in.

  1. Check out my ToolBook add-ons.  They will save you time and money.  Most of my products are under $150 for a developer license and can be used on multiple projects.  On average I spend a week to two weeks developing and testing my products.  However, because I am selling many copies of them, I can offer them to you at a price that is very affordable and far less than you would pay for comparable custom-developed tools.

  2. Bookmark this page as I will be adding to it as the spirit moves me!!

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