Introduction to the Site

Since this is a new blog, it probably makes sense to post an introduction. Here is my About page.

Reference Guide for Roll20 Sheet Authors

This blog’s primary purpose is to create a helpful guide for those new to sheet authoring on Roll20. The Guide will have sections explaining each aspect of character sheet design. The current plan is for this:

  1. Guide to the Guide: Everything you need to know to create a sheet apart from the actual code itself, including the Custom Sheet Sandbox, using a Code Editor, uploading to Github, and more.
  2. Guide to HTML – the most fundamental building blocks of a sheet.
  3. Guide to CSS – how to control the appearance of a sheet. You need HTML and CSS to make your sheet – everything after that is optional.
  4. Guide to Sheet Workers – JavaScript-based automation for more complex sheets.
  5. Guide to Repeating Sections – how to build sections of the sheet that build themselves.
  6. Guide to Rolltemplates – how to control the appearance of rolls to chat
  7. Guide to Translations – if you are publishing your sheet for others to use, you probably want to handle different languages.
  8. Guide to Sheet Templating – ways to make building a sheet easier
  9. Guide to Custom Roll Parsing – one of the newest features of Roll20, making more complex rolls.
  10. Guide to jQuery on Roll20 – an expansion on JavaScript to alter how sheets are presented to the player.
  11. Guide to the Charactermancer – how to offer your users a way to design characters through the character sheet. I’m a bit iffy about this right now, as technically its provided by Roll20 but it is also against their Terms & Conditions to offer character generation in a character sheet. It might only be useful to those who are publishing their own games (or, like Roll20, have a license to publish another company’s games).
  12. Guide to Custom Compendiums – creating your own compendiums. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to add a Guide for this feature, since the feature doesn’t exist yet, and there’s no announced date for it. But once introduced, I’ll add a guide for it.

My goal with the Guide is to provide the minimum information you need to use the techniques covered in that chapter. It’s impossible to be comprehensive. The topics are just too big to cover comprehensively – there are already hundreds of entire sites devoted to each of, say, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

But there isn’t a good guide showing a new Roll20 Sheet Author what they need to know to get started in each section, and techniques specific to Roll20 (where it differs from the advice you’ll get from general websites). That’s what this Guide is about.

The order of articles is so that each post builds on the earlier ones. For example, you could do parts of rolltemplates immediately after chapter 2, but there are more advanced elements of rolltemplates that might use repeating sections and sheet workers, so it comes after those.

The guide will owe a huge debt to the people who have made webdesign guides and posted articles to the Roll20 Wiki – especially Andreas, who doesn’t get enough credit for the fantastic job he does in maintaining the wiki.

Planned Schedule

I’m currently planning to release 2 articles for the guide each week, on Mondays and Thursdays (at 6PM UK time). Some chapters will take a lot of work (2, 3, 4, 8, and 11 especially). The 10 parts in the CSS chapter will start in June 2022 and be completed in July, with Sheet Workers starting the same month.

There’ll be a companion post alongside each Guide chapter showing how to build a character sheet using the techniques in that chapter’s Guide.

Of course, if Roll20 introduces any major new features I may have to change this plan (but given the pace of Roll20 development, I think you’re safe on that front).

Update: The Guide is turning out to be a lot more comprehensive than originally planned. Sometime after Step 5 (hopefully before the end of 2022), I’ll create a summarised version of the guide.

Other Roll20 Posts

While publishing those, I’ll also be dusting off some of my posts to the Roll20 Forums and making them more generally useful. I have so many posts on the Roll20 forums answering questions. I’ll also make script recommendations and general use tips.

My focus, for now, is the Guide, but I might make the occasional unrelated post at the weekend.

People looking for help should also get familiar with the Roll20 Wiki – it is a great resource. The wiki is most useful for people who already know what they are looking for and may not be as good for browsing and finding useful things. I hope this site will be useful for that.

Other Plans

As I noted in the intro section, I have my own history of playing and running RPGs, and I’ll post some of my game settings, house rules, and game designs. But those are for later on – I’m concentrating on the Roll20 side of the site for now.

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