Topic: Screencasts for Review

I've been wanting to create my own screencasts for some time. However, before I fully commit to this I want to test out the waters a little bit - do you want to be my guinea pig? wink

Seriously, last night I created a few short screencasts. These are rough since it's my first stab at this - it's harder to do than I expected! If you have time, please view the screencasts below, you might even learn something!

Screencasts (Quicktime 7 required, right-click to download)
no longer available, see Railscasts

Please criticize them to your hearts content. I would like to make these as useful to you as possible. Are they too short? Too awkward? Not helpful? Too advanced? Were you able to understand what the heck I was talking about?

If this ever works out, I may start producing these on a regular basis (a couple times a week if I can). I prefer to do shorter ones, but if there's enough demand I can do longer ones as well. Any comments and suggestions are very welcome, even negative ones.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

This is a technical question, but what sort of microphone are you using and are you on a laptop or a desktop?

Josh Catone helps run this place
Rails Forum - Rails Jobs

Re: Screencasts for Review

For the microphone I'm using this cheap $25 dollar one. It's great, just plug & play.

Logitech USB Desktop Microphone

I also have a more expensive one, but it's non-USB so it's more difficult to set up.

The computer is a 20" iMac G5.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

smile.
I have a 20" iMac G5 also. I watched the first one and think it was really great. The quality is very nice and the audio is pretty good also.
I don't think these are too short. Sometimes I get annoyed with the peepcode screencasts because I feel like it is so much info that I can't take it all in at once. From what I saw, these seem more like blurbs of goodness. I totally understood what was going on the whole time which means that everyone else should. I'm still a newbie. But, really good job and I plan to watch the others when I get a little more time.

edit:
Okay, just watched them all. Very good, Ryan. I like they kept getting better and showed how to do thing better. I'd watch more...

Last edited by ldenman (2007-02-03 12:45:45)

Re: Screencasts for Review

Ryan, the reason I asked is because there's a notable background hum (I think from a case fan).  Using a headset (and even better, if possible, with a laptop!) should alleviate the problem a bit. smile

Josh Catone helps run this place
Rails Forum - Rails Jobs

Re: Screencasts for Review

They look great Ryan. They weren't awkward at all, which isn't always the case. I like that they are short but related. That should make it easy for people to find just the information they want when they want it.

For #3, you might want to discuss the relative merits of where you put the search for complete tasks.

I watched #4 first because I haven't looked much at REST yet- I've made a tactical decision to put it off for now. I think a lot of people on this site will tell me that's a big mistake and maybe it is, but I'm not convinced. I saw your video as an interesting teaser but it didn't convince me either way. I'm wondering if you can convince me through a screencast? I'm not saying it isn't a good thing to do, I'm just saying there will always be room for improvement before deployment but I'm anxious to deploy.

I totally understand the need for criticism in order to know when you've got it right (like automated tests), but these are honestly very good and I didn't find much to criticize. As I watched, I noticed thoughts running through my head such as "tell the viewer not to put business logic in their presentation." But I think it's more useful to have them be short and to the point. Or maybe there's a place for both. Before I did anything with Rails, I would have been more willing to watch a longer, more comprehensive screencast. But that willingness didn't last very long for me. Now I'm very task-oriented when I look for Rails information and it's very unlikely that I'd sit still for an hour-long screencast.

Re: Screencasts for Review

this is awesome, i've always wanted some screencast tutorials smile.  nice domain too.  haven't actually seen them yet because my computer has a hard time running quicktime for some reason, but i can convert them to .flv hopefully.  i'm not 100% sure what's on these videos, but if you could make a screencast on how to make a simple blog app, that would be great smile.

Re: Screencasts for Review

ldenman wrote:

I don't think these are too short. Sometimes I get annoyed with the peepcode screencasts because I feel like it is so much info that I can't take it all in at once. From what I saw, these seem more like blurbs of goodness.

Glad you like them short, they are much easier for me to do. smile

Josh wrote:

Ryan, the reason I asked is because there's a notable background hum (I think from a case fan).  Using a headset (and even better, if possible, with a laptop!) should alleviate the problem a bit. smile

Thanks, I'll look into removing the hum.

dkov wrote:

I watched #4 first because I haven't looked much at REST yet- I've made a tactical decision to put it off for now. I think a lot of people on this site will tell me that's a big mistake and maybe it is, but I'm not convinced. I saw your video as an interesting teaser but it didn't convince me either way. I'm wondering if you can convince me through a screencast? I'm not saying it isn't a good thing to do, I'm just saying there will always be room for improvement before deployment but I'm anxious to deploy.

I will definitely be talking more about REST in later screencasts. The concepts behind REST (such as removing multiple scopes in a controller and simplifying it) are where I see most of the benefit of it, yet this is hardly mentioned in the articles I've read on the subject.

steve wrote:

haven't actually seen them yet because my computer has a hard time running quicktime for some reason, but i can convert them to .flv hopefully.

It would be nice if I can provide these in an alternative format, but that may be difficult.

steve wrote:

if you could make a screencast on how to make a simple blog app, that would be great smile.

Once I get comfortable with shorter screencasts I hope to do some longer ones. In these I will go in depth on creating interfaces for different model relationships.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and encouragement! It really helps.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

awesome.  i got them converted to .swf and watched them and they're great.  i learned a lot from them. 

on another note, do you have GTalk ryan?

edit: if your software allows you to save these as .flv files, you could send them to me and i could put them in flash and get .swf files with the flash video player.  if it doesn't allow that i'm sure i could convert .mov to .flv i would just have to learn how to.

Last edited by steve (2007-02-03 16:48:53)

Re: Screencasts for Review

steve wrote:

on another note, do you have GTalk ryan?

Nope, it's not available on OS X AFAIK. But I think it works with iChat? Would have to look into it.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

ryanb wrote:
steve wrote:

on another note, do you have GTalk ryan?

Nope, it's not available on OS X AFAIK. But I think it works with iChat? Would have to look into it.

http://adiumx.com/

you should try that if it doesnt work with iChat.  saw it on digg and it looks good.

Last edited by steve (2007-02-03 16:50:58)

12

Re: Screencasts for Review

ryanb wrote:
steve wrote:

on another note, do you have GTalk ryan?

Nope, it's not available on OS X AFAIK. But I think it works with iChat? Would have to look into it.

Adium (Google talk is just the Jabber protocol). It just hit 1.0 yesterday too so you should download it anyway smile

vinnie - rails forum admin

Re: Screencasts for Review

Hey Ryan, I think the tutorials are great.  I think it's hard to say if they should be long or short because I think it will depend on the complexity of what you are trying to show and the level of understanding of the end user. 

I think you shouldn't restrict yourself to a specific length format but use what length suits the screencast.  Beginners are more likely to watch longer screencasts beginner means someone who doesn't know anything about the area of rails you are screencasting about not necessarily a beginner to Rails.

For example, I don't anything about REST so I'd be inclined to watch a longer screencast on it to get the overall idea.  Then you could have shorter more detailed screencasts about specifics.  This could be applied to any Rails topics so I guess maybe a longer screencast about the main topic and shorter screencasts about specifics.

Plus I think getting everyones feedback was a great idea.

Last edited by sydneyfx (2007-02-03 19:00:41)

Re: Screencasts for Review

sydneyfx wrote:

I think you shouldn't restrict yourself to a specific length format but use what length suits the screencast.  Beginners are more likely to watch longer screencasts beginner means someone who doesn't know anything about the area of rails you are screencasting about not necessarily a beginner to Rails.

Great suggestion, and thanks for the kind words.

For now I'm going to be targeting the novice Rails programmer who already has a project under his belt and is looking for ways to improve his code and do things in an easier way. I see this as a niche that current screencasts don't cover very much. At the same time, I hope both beginners & experts will also get something out of it (and I think they will). I may expand into a broader audience later with some longer screencasts, but at this point I'll just be happy to get off the ground. smile

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

Great job Ryan. This is exactly the kind of stuff I need to help me refactor my existing code, and do it right next time. I definitely would like to see more of these, especially REST ones since I've just started trying it out and am getting confused with some of it.

Re: Screencasts for Review

Just got around to looking at these, Ryan. Nice work. smile You should make a home for them in the tutorials forum.

I don't think they're too short. Sometimes long screencasts get overwhelming. Sure, you can pause them and go back, etc. but I think it's easier to lose yourself in a long screencast than it is a written tutorial. I like this format for little, short bits of goodness.

I didn't notice the hum, but that doesn't mean it's not there. I had my volume down pretty low. Then again, whenever I talk to Josh on Skype, he always has a loud background hum and I know for a fact he is using ah eadset (like he suggests). tongue

Re: Screencasts for Review

The audio sounds fine coming out of my computer speakers, but when listening through good headphones it sounds like crap. I'll definitely work on improving this. I think it's a combination of too much compression, cheap mic, and some kind of power interference.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

Just listened to/watched your screen casts - they're a good first attempt! One small pointer, who is the intended audience, for example you wouldn't probably talk to beginners about polymorphic associations - but you would talk about AR associations or scaffolding.

Another approach/theme to your screen casts could be in the form of building a project, from the ground up?

HTH :-)

Re: Screencasts for Review

devonps wrote:

Just listened to/watched your screen casts - they're a good first attempt! One small pointer, who is the intended audience, for example you wouldn't probably talk to beginners about polymorphic associations - but you would talk about AR associations or scaffolding.

I'm targeting the novice who has a project under his belt but is looking for ways to do things better. I may change my focus later depending on what people are asking for.

devonps wrote:

Another approach/theme to your screen casts could be in the form of building a project, from the ground up?

That's another good idea. I'll explore this option as I get more comfortable. Thanks for the suggestions.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Screencasts for Review

Just watched a few of these and I do think they are great. I like the concise tutorials that give useful information about a specific area. The style reminds me of the way you write the Tutorials here at Rails Forum.

My only complaint really is about the format. Mark me down for a person who would love it if it was played using a Flash player of some sort.

I look forward to seeing the information you can provide in this manner. I think we all know that you are full of very useful Rails know-how wink