Using Google Slides and icons to diagram the Google Android API Intro

Earlier this week, I went to the San Francisco Write the Docs meetup and heard eleven great lightning talks. I heard many ideas I want to try out (like playing with Twine, for example), but I am very visual, so the icons John Mulhausen used in the Kubernetes Case Study caught my eye, and I decided to play with those first.

Briefly, John is using GitHub to allow other tech writers to help him with the Kubernetes documentation. It’s open source, so anyone can contribute by making pull requests. John particularly needs help creating diagrams, so he demonstrated how to use an obsolete Google style guide to create new diagrams.

It happens I was researching Google Android APIs today. I decided to turn the developer guide introduction into diagrams, using John’s style guide. The result is the Google Slide Deck above. (I did create one icon, using the same color and style, so it meshes with the rest of the icons. See if you can figure out which icon I created.) 

You probably figured out I created the “activity” icon on the first slide. It’s quick-and-dirty, but gets the idea across, and I didn’t have to pay $1 to download an existing icon. (Which is a pretty good option, if you need something more professional.)

I also researched typical screen widths (320 dp, 480 dp, etc.) and actual dimensions for various device types. I used the screen widths to label the different XML documents and used the phone dimensions to scale the existing Android phone icon to represent the different devices. This information may be obvious to Android developers, but not to me, and it helped me better visualize the content.

Clearly, this slide deck barely scratches the surface of even the introduction to the Android API, let alone the API itself. But it was a good exercise in working with Google Drawings and Google Sheets, including publishing the slide deck so I could embed it in this post. (Because the slides automatically update – which I already inadvertently tested – I can edit the slides or add new ones without having to change the post. I like that.)

And a bonus: Using John Mulhausen’s style sheet reminds me of the iconography I created and used years ago and inspires me to create a graphic style sheet of my own.


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