Reference card formatting

I need your opinion to help improve things.

As I try to grow and improve the reference card I’m hitting several physical limits.  It is becoming more difficult to squeeze more content in, and I can only reduce the size of the font so much before it become illegible.  There are some other tricks which I still have up my sleeve, e.g. line spacing, but there is only so many letters that can be displayed without them bleeding into each other when you print.

There are other sections which I just can’t cover at the moment, e.g. vMA, more command line options, converter, orchestrator, patch management, backup, etc.  This is just the core stuff as well.  There are plenty of new VMware related products which would also be interesting additions – think SRM or View.

So, I’d like to get your opinion on what I should do next.  I’ve created a little poll on the right hand sidebar, which will help me get an indication of the direction you guys would like me to go.  As I’ve said many time before, this card is for everyone and I’d like your feedback on how I can make things even better.  If you have any other suggestions not included in the poll, then please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear it.

Poll options:

  • Reduce font, 4 columns

Currently the card is a 6pt font, but I could reduce this further (to say 4.5pt) and make the card fold into 4 instead of the traditional tri-fold layout.

  • Reduce the current detail

I could cull some of the current content (e.g. the command line stuff), and try to concentrate on higher level stuff.

  • Second page

With a second page we could slip some content over, increasing the margins slightly and provide more room for additional content.

  • Two separate cards

I could try to split the card into 2 cards.  The split could either be on products or technical level.  So we could keep the basic card for just VCP level stuff, with another for Advanced or Design type work.  Or we could have one card on the core stuff (hosts, VC, networking, storage), and then a second card on things like MSCS, FT, HA, resource management, backups, converter, etc.

None of these are ideal, as I personally like everything on one card (that’s really the point isn’t it), but how small can we make the font?

In addition to the problem of how to fit more in, I’m also interested in how I can make card universally printable.  The card has always been designed to be printed (as opposed to an online guide or referenced within a PDF reader).  Especially when the font is so small, it is important that everyone’s printer can cope with the format I provide.  The page has to be able to print on both A4 and letter (or legal?) paper, and should be accepted at a default size by all print drivers. Otherwise the PDF software or your print driver has to re-size things which can make the card “fuzzy” looking.

When I created the first reference card a couple of years ago, I was living in Australia and so it was designed as an A4 sized piece of paper.  These days I live in Canada, so everything I print is letter.  Now I don’t want to start a turf war on the benefits of an international paper size (and North America’s inability to follow any sort of standards 🙂 ).

I realize that as I have grown the section sizes towards the margins, they are probably less printable.  However I have no idea how much of an impact these changes make on everyone else.  I’d be really interested if you could tell me if the current size can print OK, or if it cuts bits off or re-sizes strangely.  I’ve had a couple of people write to me with advice on how to make things more universal, but I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got experience in making things fit for both A4 and letter.

8 thoughts on “Reference card formatting

  1. I would go for two cards. There is enough stuff in vSphere to organize it well as two separate cards and still be easy to refer to.

  2. Is there a constraint to work with A4 or letter? Why not A3(not sure what the equivalent of letter is)? Then we can fold it like a map – half then into thirds. Or like the other guys suggested, 2 sheets

  3. Reducing Font will not help as it will make it difficult to refer and with it the basic purpose of the Reference card.

    Two cards is a great idea . May be we can look at ESX and vCenter Stuff on the first card and all other stuff on the second card . This way we will be able to push more information also.

    Commands and important KB links are really good and please retain them !!

  4. I agree with JLobster on the 2 cards. Besides the concentration on VSphere, one would not have to look for a magnifying glass while in the server room.

  5. IMHO 2 cards would be great. The basic/advanced set would be a mess, having to look in 2 places to get all the info on one subject. Core/Supplemental would work out great, central facts on the first, add-on stuff on the second. maybe you could use the VMware vSphere Editions to decide what goes on which card.

  6. Man, I tell you these vCards are great, I had them enlarge (28×48) and put in my office while I study for my VCP & VCPX. Having to 2 cards would be great! Thanks for the information, it really help me.

Leave a Reply