Color-coded written instructions

So I came across the idea to use what programmers call syntax coloring to help make written instructions easier to read (for some people; it’s harder for other people). I know a few people who find knitting charts difficult and also can find written instructions difficult. At least one of them leapt up and down with cries of joy at the sight of that webpage. What do you think? Would you be interested in separate versions of my patterns in this style? (It wouldn’t be difficult to make happen, I think. At least, I think it ought to be possible.)

10 thoughts on “Color-coded written instructions

  1. i’m familiar with regex’s and the like and looking at the example presented in the cited link, the colour code is in a way very good (it’s like what we already have in IDEs), but on the other hand I would suggest a word of caution in using many colours (the more complex example shown in the link is too overcrowded with colours and the structure is lost among it).
    Different knitters will have different styles and needs, so mine is only one of the many viewpoints possible. Speaking from my own perspective, I find much easier to assimilate the meaning/semantics of information when I can see its structure in a clear way (not too little, but not too cluttered either). In particular, I would like the main significant sub-parts in each row to be somehow visually distinguished.
    Just today, I was knitting a fairly easy pattern, though I kept misreading a row because I misinterpreted the subparts. It helped me to highlight in my PDF the part that was the key component, the rest is less used and can be checked if/when needed – but the key bit is immediately noticeable.

    1. From what you’re saying and from what I’ve seen a couple of other people say, it might be that people are variable enough in their needs to make it hard to anticipate all the possibilities.

      This might imply that offering a single color-coded option would be insufficient – but adding more than one would probably be overly complicated and take too much time.

      It might therefore make more sense to ensure that people know about the concept of marking up patterns, and give them ideas for how to do it to suit themselves.

      Thank you very much for your useful thoughts!

      1. perhaps some sort of meta-model for colour-code? although this may be way too much work…
        alternatively, like there is in code editors/IDEs, the user can change the display settings to best suit her/his needs

  2. When presented with a longer written instruction set, I tend to re-write in outline format (after having to tink and re-knit x times). I don’t use the outline headings (A., a., 1., etc) but the indentation and different lines are enough to keep me from merrily stitching my way into a frog pond 🙂

    (If you saw my most recent post about mis-reading the instructions, this method wouldn’t have helped. But a 2-line 5-square chart would have.)

  3. This reminds me of a conversation I overheard at In the Loop last Saturday during their sit and Knit. Someone said she always exports her pdf patterns to Word, then changes the formatting so their is a space under each instruction, so she has enough whitespace to find the next row/round instruction.

    It was good to hear people were marking up their patterns, not just suffering from them as received.

    But some people will want color, some punctuation, some charts, and some whitespace; I’ve ever heard that Comic Sans is a good font if someone has dyslexia. No one formatting will make all knitters happy.

  4. Orenburg knitting patterns are printed in this way — all designs are made up of combinations of motifs and each motif is given a different color so the knitter can look at it and say “OK, fisheyes” instead of “yo, k2tog”. I don’t know if I’m explaining well but can bring you an example if you want!

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