My son LOVES watching screencasts of Nintendo DS games on YouTube. They are typically created by 12-year olds, and let’s just say they aren’t heavy on production values.
That said, screencasting is a wonderfully visual way to learn something new. Especially if it’s an activity that is typically performed in front of a screen like gameplay or software development.
Given that’s it’s such a fabulous learning tool, I’ve often wondered why are there so few high-quality .NET screencasts?
It seems even more unfair when you look at the wide variety of screencasts available in the Apple world.
When I began programming for the iPhone, I latched onto the following high-quality screencasts:
- Stanford iPhone Application Programming Classes: These screencasts were a god-send. They gave the big picture as well as digging into detailed code samples. By the end, you learned how to create a full iPhone app.
- Pragmatic Programmer: Becoming Productive in Xcode: When I first started with Xcode, I couldn’t help but feel that I was being unproductive because I didn’t know how to use the IDE. These screencasts helped me learn how to really get around in Xcode so that it became more of a tool and less of of hassle.
- PeepCode: While not strictly Apple screencasts, they have some stellar iPhone tutorials and their production values are insane including detailed animations illustrating iPhone features and concepts.
With the exception of the Stanford classes, these do cost money. But I’m willing to pay for high quality content because it saves me time in the long run by not having to dig through YouTube.
So, if Apple has all of these, where are all the high-quality.NET screencasts? Microsoft has started to post some on MSDN, but they are limited and in a variety of formats and quality levels.
Luckily, the call is finally being answered by some sites that take .NET screencasting to the next level:
- ASP.NET MVC Storefront: These were the first .NET screencasts that stood out to me. Rob Conery does an excellent job narrating and also being humble – sharing his mistakes and learning out loud.
- DimeCasts: Run by Derik Whittaker, this site focuses on shorter podcasts (around 10-15 minutes) and a variety of out-of-the-box technologies loosely related to .NET including: IoC, NHibernate, and Mocking
- TekPub: Just started in the past few weeks by James Avery and Rob Conery, this screencast site strives to bring a higher level of polish to the .NET screencasting world. At this point there are only a few podcast series available (like NHibernate w/Ayene, Coder To Developer w/ Conery, and Building my Own Blog w/Conery), but already this site shows a lot of promise.
With the addition of TekPub to the already strong DimeCasts, I believe that .NET screencasting has finally come of age is going to be a standard learning tool for developers going forward. Kudos to Rob and Derik for getting the ball rolling!