Updated 2003-04-01 01:45:36

The Tcl-URL! is a weekly update on Tcl, its parts, and its community. It is part update, part synopsis, and part evangelism. The target audience may or may not know a lot of Tcl, nor may they have yet committed a lot of time investigating it. Probably the most important part of this process is the human factor; picking a few significant highlights, and introducing them in a single sentence that draws the reader. If you can get the reader interested, you have done a great job.

The post goes out early Monday afternoon. Cameron Laird does the final editing and verification Monday morning, your draft to him needs to be in his mailbox sometime early Monday morning. (Early for Cameron is 5 am CST--though I think he would let you be a bit later than that.) Because post volume generally goes down on the weekend, you may be able to do this Sunday afternoon or evening.

Here are the basic steps:

Pick good posts Read the posts from the past week. A good candidate post provides two answers. First, it answers some question that is not answered in the basic documentation. For example, a good post might be: "Strosberg hits on why you don't want to leave 'puts' calls in your Tcl code". A less than ideal example would be an individual having install issues on a known good platform. Another good example would be instructions on porting Tcl to a totally new platform. Posts can come from the comp.lang.tcl newsgroup, or anywhere else you find good material.

Find the post reference number The archives are at http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=comp.lang.tcl . Right now the easiest way to link to the messages is to find the message number, and preface it with

To find the message number, look in the "Location" bar that shows the URL. In the characters there should be an AN= with a nine digit number after it. This is the number of that message. If that doesn't work, you may see an option "View original Usenet format" below the message. Hold the mouse pointer over that link, and look in the Status Bar. The link will have the nine digit number in it.

If you want more detailed info, spend a few minutes with http://www.phaseit.ent/claird/comp.infosystems.search/dejanews.html for a good understanding of how to do this.

Once you understand it, build the draft e-mail. A good target number is 6-8 significant posts.

Write an introduction to the thread that encapsulates the intent. This is a key issue. In your phrase you want to be brief, yet give enough information so the reader can wisely judge whether or not they want to pursue that thread.

Put yourself in the place of the potential reader. If you only got one e-mail about Tcl each week, what would you want them to know about our community?

When you write the e-mail make the lines short, about 45-50 characters. This prevents whitespace gaps in the lines.

Send yourself the e-mail, and verify that the links work. Few things are as embarrassing as sending a broken link. This also gives you a chance for a final proof-reading.

And last, send it to Cameron. He will give it the final polish, add the recurring links at the end of the message, then distribute it. And he'll probably also send you a big thanks as well.

Cameron also maintains a page [1] on this same subject that largely repeats what's here.