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EclipseCon Tutorial Guidelines

Thanks to Tom Watson, John Arthorne, Eric Cloninger, and Gunnar Wagenknecht from the 2012 Program Committee for the hints and advice below.

Helpful Hints

  • Keep the presentation (slide) part very short - 30 minutes or less. Attendees are there to learn by doing, not by watching. If you have lots of good slides, include them in your materials to help expand or clarify -- just don't present them all during the tutorial.
  • Make the setup as simple as possible. Put setup info into your website abstract and email attendees ahead of time to tell them what to have installed before they arrive. To request a list of email addresses of your tutorial registrants, email
  • Don't try to cover too much. Teach fewer, more focused topics.
  • Test your material! Ask a couple of people at the same level as your intended audience to try installing the software and doing the exercises.
  • Do a dry run of your exercises on the different platforms you expect your attendees to use.
  • Find the right level. "Hello world" is too simple, but creating extensive chunks of code is too much. A good example: Give the attendees a 90% complete Eclipse application, with the 10% missing part being related to the subject of your tutorial. Ask them to only code the parts relevant to your subject and have the rest of the code already in place.
  • Create an agenda so you know if you are moving faster or slower than planned; it is very common to not get through all the planned material.
  • If you are behind schedule, be prepared to skip topics.
  • Have a way for attendees to fast-forward through topics if they get behind. (See the "Advice" section for more on this.)
  • Make sure your material allows attendees to finish exercises on their own -- this will also make your posted material easy for non-attendees to follow.
  • If you type a shortcut when you demo, be sure to explain it. Your attendees may not know the ones you're using.
  • For demos, a simple desktop and user profile works best. Attendees may find your usual background image or desktop distracting.
  • Keep things active in the room, even when the attendees are focusing on their exercises. Ask the audience questions, add a pop quiz, or let the audience vote on what module you do next to keep them engaged. Give out novelty prizes to keep people's attention and add some fun.
  • Don't assume wireless will work quickly or reliably - have a contingency plan for when wireless fails or is too slow to download builds, etc.

Advice from Experienced Tutorial Presenters

  • I created cheat sheets. Cheat sheets in Eclipse really helped me out because it presented the attendee with a well-structured set of steps to click through for each topic. I was also able to use Eclipse commands from the cheat sheets to perform mundane tasks for the attendee when they were following the tasks from the cheat sheets, such as creating a new plug-in, etc.
  • For each topic, I assumed previous topics may have been skipped and organized the materials accordingly. If your topics build upon each other, make sure there is an easy way to "fast forward" up to the next topic. This allows you to skip topics if you're short on time, and helps laggers catch up quickly. Here is a link to my projects in git that includes the cheat sheets and presentation material I used (org.eclipse.equinox.adaptor.cheatsheets):
  • I highly recommend preparing different packages in advance for Linux, Mac, Windows 64-bit, and Windows 32-bit. It's a lot of effort, but worth it.
  • Here's a link to a plug-in that provides a way for people to skip steps and catch up: (This was created by Jeff McAffer and Jean-Michel Lemieux for their RCP book.)

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