An interesting challege. Definately a different set of skills necessary for writing tutorials.
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If the design challenges resulted in tutorials, from my perspective it seems it could be really useful, but I'm guessing that this is down to what the challengers feel is useful to blog about per week, and what they are good at.
I feel the same as Andy I think, that due to different skill-sets, some are going to be great at tutorials, while others are great at making and documenting their project. The blog posts are a major part of the decision on who the challenge winner is so I believe they should concentrate
on their strengths and create blog posts to their high quality, regardless of where they focus their effort; hardware or software. But as mentioned, from a personal level I would love it if challengers did devote some of their posts to a mini-tutorial, or other stand-alone content if they wish it,
since (personally) I find some design challenge entries hard to follow after a few weeks, because it can be easy to forget what some individuals are working on when there are many challengers.
The idea is to attract members who are good at making tutorials or want to try making tutorials to propose in the tutorial phase of the challenge, and judging of proposals would consider their tutorial credentials. Like any endeavor, quality will increase with practice.
Some members might only propose to do the tutorial phase, others might only propose to do the design phase depending on their expertise, and some might make proposals for both phases.
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I think something that revolves more around programming might be useful.
How useful will depend on the languages chosen and the type of project.
Hello World and the blinking LED should be banned outright and something more interesting as an opening tutorial.
I think these days, those two applications don't really contribute anything meaningful to a project or the learning on how to use a product.
One of the things that can make this more difficult is not getting support from the supplier on new products.
I was part of a design challenge a few years ago that included the Atmel Xplained series. The mainboard that we got
to work with was a nice board, but the software provided was greatly incomplete. I literally had to implement
a complete unix installation from the ground up to get the board working. I am talking about building a kernel from scratch, compiling libraries that provided support for the board.
Whether this was the intent or not I'll never know. I think ultimately no one used that board in the challenge as it was just too 'challenging' to get working.
So if a new dev board pops up for a roadtest at some stage, maybe some thought can go into how to make it a two part
roadtest with a development tutorial portion followed up by an implementation phase into a project.
Tutorials though can be a little difficult to write, especially when you are learning something new yourself.
As MCU modules get more complex, it strikes me that it often requires significant training to be able to use them effectively. Many of the design challenges come with an introductory video, but a more comprehensive tutorial or mini-course may be desirable.
There is good material on some products like PSoC, but others it is harder to find what you need or good examples, usually because the products are very new. I think it would be beneficial to have some design challenges where the 10 blogs are in the form of tutorial lessons.
Actually for some products I would like to see a tutorial generation challenge followed by a design challenge with the same product - not necessarily the same members involved in both.
I know the learning curve for some products appears too steep to contemplate submitting a proposal. Maybe a mini-course would alleviate some of the fears.
From the manufacturer's point of view this approach would:
- keep the focus on their product for a longer period of time
- provide better training on their product for more potential users
- give more members confidence to try the product or attempt the design challenge phase
- and likely more ambitious designs would be proposed as well - better showcasing of the product's capabilities
I could see this tutorial generation idea as a Project14 or a Road Test format as well - depending on scope or complexity of the product
Can you think of any products where you would have liked to see a tutorial series before attempting a design challenge proposal?