Visual QuickStart Motor Skills

It’s all coming back to me.

It’s no secret that Apple will soon — well, hopefully sometime in 2009, anyway — release an update to Mac OS X. It should be numbered 10.6 and it’s definitely called Snow Leopard. But that’s all I can say about it. I’m under nondisclosure and I take this stuff very seriously.

I’m working on a revision to my Mac OS X Visual QuickStart Guide. I just rather belatedly realized that this is the first VQS I’ve worked on in over a year and a half. The last was Leopard (10.5), which was released the same day Leopard hit the Apple stores. I think it was late October 2007. I clearly remember working on it while I traveled. I even blogged about it here, here, here, and here.

I don’t just write VQSes. I also do layout. I write and lay out in InDesign. This year, it’s a real breeze. Not only do I have all the real estate on my 24″ iMac monitor, but I also have another 24″ of real estate on the Samsung sitting next to it.

As I work, I find myself repeating the same keystrokes and mouse drags I performed all those months ago. The shortcuts and techniques have all come back to me — my hands fly over the keyboard and mouse without consulting my brain — and miraculously, they get it right. I even reprogrammed Photoshop actions using the same keystrokes I used for the last VQS project.

Is it any wonder I can completely revise typical page, with new screenshots and added page references, in less than 30 minutes?

The page reference addition is something I’m pretty excited about. Because InDesign has always lacked a good cross-referencing feature, I had to manually reference everything. As a result, I kept it simple and stuck to chapter references. For example, “I tell you more about disks and volumes in Chapter 6.” But when InDesign CS4 was released, it had one feature that made it worth the upgrade for me: cross-referencing. I think that by referencing exact pages in the book, rather than making vague references to chapter numbers, I’m making the book far more valuable as a reference tool than ever before.

At this point, two chapters are done. I’ve got 24 more to go. I’m sure you’ll read more about my progress here.

You’ll have to wait until Snow Leopard hits the shelves to read more about it.

What do you think?