Friday, April 11, 2008

Postmortem: Contributing on ShaderX

A pretty time has been passed since I've wrote the article, "Shader System Integration: Nebula2 and 3ds Max" on ShaderX5. So I decided that it is worth to mention how it was and what one should do to contribute an article especially for whom does not use English for their primary language.

How does it start?

It is not too difficult to contribute an article on ShaderX. So don't be afraid to give a proposal when you see a line such as "Call for author..." on GameDev or other website. Mostly the sign of calling authors is shown at the end of the year. So if you have any interest to contribute, you should give attention during those season.

Letting me introduce the call for shaderx7 to you might be more helpful to understand. See the following: (also available on this )
After the success of ShaderX, the ShaderX2 books, ShaderX3, ShaderX4 (Game developer frontline award), ShaderX5 and soon ShaderX6, we are looking for authors for ShaderX7.
The book will cover advanced rendering techniques that run on the DirectX and/or OpenGL run-time with any shader language available. It will include topics on: Geometry Manipulation; Rendering Techniques; Handheld Devices Programming; Effects in Image Space; Shadows; 3D Engine Design; Graphics Related Tools; Environmental Effects.
Proposals are due by February 28th, 2008. Please send them to wolf at An example proposal, writing guidelines and a FAQ can be downloaded from The schedule is available on

As you can see the above, the due date is end of February of the year. Considering the date when the call mostly is posted is December, you really have bunch of time to preparing proposal. =)

What should I do for it?

Now, it is time to say about writing the article. If you want to contribute, you should already have not only solid knowledge on the subject what you want to contribute but also experiences with it. At this point, I highly recommend you already have tried and well tested then applied the tech on your side. If you just start to write not the article but the code for application after the proposal is accepted it might be ended up that you exceed the deadline. Two or three months are given to you for writing. But it is prefer to submitting the article as early as you can. Because the section editor should examine not only your article but also other's. Also you may need to modify over several times to finish it. So you should not write the article and any code of sample application at the same time. There is not enough time to do both at once.

There is an important issue about language if you are not a native. I'm Korean so however I try or imitate, it is hard to have nature tone and style like native in writing for me who such as even an oriental due to a big gap between two culture. But don't afraid. It is just a technical writing not for a novel or poem. You only need to write down as easy as it is possible. In my case, after get my first draft I dropped it to one of the Nebula developer in the community. As you can imagine he is not only a native but also has good technical knowledge so he could help the article to be more plain English before sending to the section editor. Yes, also the section editor is left. He has not only good technical knowledge but also is good writer. Even I really surprised he finally edited my article and give it back to me again - how does it can be changed to be read more easier. The only things what he just done are slightly replacing some words and editing several lines.

By the way, the hardest thing ever I had was not about writing but getting taxpayer id. The Publishing company provided some papers such as W-8BEN then required taxpayer id which should be obtained from U.S. Federal. When I got those papers, I were totally screwed up. Some of thing on the paper was hard to understand for me, an Korean. But you don't have to worry about it. Because you don't need to get US taxpayer id which is responsible to U.S. Federal tax law. It is only needed if your income exceeds more than two million dollars. So don't worry about that which will not happen. :-) (By the way, the total amount of maximum income needs taxpayer id can be changed at the time you may need it.)

What do I get from?

This is a story about the motivation. Which will lead you to write and contribute? What did you expected from the contribution? OK, let's be honest. Money? I already answer in the above. =)
If you expect you might change a car by contributing your article, you should NOT. I recently received a check for the royalty of the last year. Saying the amount of the money, it is possible to eat Big Mac for every lunch during a month.(assume the price of Big Mac is about $2.5) Enough rewards? :-)
After receiving the check, rush to a bank and exchange it. Do not put the check into your desk and wait till the exchange rate goes up. There is no time limitation in exchanging a check in Korea but not in US. It is only valid within six months.

One of the great experience was peer review between me and the section editor, Wessam Bahnassi who start to review right after the first draft is sent.(Find his name if you have all ShaderX series how many time you can find his name. =) He was very instructive so it make me to have an opportunity to make my subject to be even more solid.

Another thing you may get is that the invitation for a meeting for the authors from the publishing company, Charles Rivers Media(CRM). The meeting is held during GDC. So if you can go and join to meet other contributors, it would be wonderful.

Forgot to mention one more thing left. You will get a line to add on your resume. ;-)


If you have a creative and solid knowledge what you are willing to share, I guess, English should not be an obstacle. But even do not dream you can contribute if you have not been constantly writing articles or essay in your every usual days. Needless to say, you also should read lots of books. Remember, having an habit for writing makes a good article. Do you still ramble or hesitate to write? Sit down and start to write right now. Lastly, keep in mind - "Technical writing should not be difficult!"

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