REALbasic Video Training

This will probably be the last post of the year so I can spend some quality time with my family.  Have a very happy holiday season.  For those celebrating Christmas, have a very Merry Christmas.  Have a joyous and safe New Years as well.

One thing that’s come up recently (and more than once actually) is the need for training materials for REALbasic.  I’ve seriously been thinking about doing video training sessions and offering them through the BKeeney.com website as a subscription service and streaming video (physical DVD’s are a possibility but increases the initial startup expense and I want to avoid physical inventory that’s dated).

Any sort of video training will take a fair amount of time to complete.  Just covering the basics of REALbasic will take months to get something out the door.  Add in the Rapid Release Model and I will always be aiming at a moving target.  How many hours of video is needed to put the shingle out?  What’s a good price (keeping in mind that while doing the videos I’m not doing as much consulting work)?

My guess is that most RB developers reading my blog have been using RB for a while but I’d like to get your opinions on this as well:  How much of a beginner level versus intermediate and advanced material?  And even for beginner material do I even need to go so far as to explain what variables are?  In other words do I assume the student knows absolutely nothing about software development or has at least a little knowledge of some other language?

In that same light, would problem solving videos be better than a more traditional approach?  For example, I could do a video training on “How to Open files of a particular type” versus exploring the various things in the FolderItem.  Each approach has its merits and drawbacks.  What do you think?  I could argue both ways.

Regardless, the one thing I think that will happen is every video will be tagged with the RB objects used and perhaps even the object methods used.  So doing a search on FolderItem would result in a bunch of videos that use the folderitem.  If you did FolderItem.Item you’d might find videos that iterate through the items in a directory and so on.  The drawback to the tags is that any complete application examples will use a lot of different RB objects which then might make the tags worthless because a search will hit every video.

For what it’s worth, there is some existing REALbasic training.  They have 7 hours of RB training and a subscription gives you access to a LOT of other applications (which I could never offer).  I’ve watched all the free training and it seems to do an adequate job but it hasn’t been updated since 2007.  I plan on updating more often than every two years – especially if I can pay my bills from it!

I’ve also done a minor example application and recorded it.  With a little editing and speed up of typing sequences it’s at two and half hours and I don’t consider it done yet!  Add in an IDE walk-through, some Remote Debugging, and miscellaneous topics and I probably have 4 to 5 hours of relatively decent video footage.  I think I can do it, I just need some positive encouragement or negative feedback before I commit myself.

At this point, dear readers, I’d like your thoughts.  Good or bad idea?  What are the pitfalls that I haven’t thought of yet?  Will people actually pay for an on-going video series on REALbasic?  Should the emphasis be on beginner, intermediate, or advanced material?  Should I let the members determine the production order via an online poll?

9 thoughts on “REALbasic Video Training

  1. Well, I have tutorial videos on my website. I can tell you that I need normally half a day for a video. You need to write the sample project. It must work well and be as small as possible. Second you print the project and start new. You build the project in easy steps and write a script with all steps. Prepare the Mac for recording. No system sounds, some key/mouse clicks and a good screen resolution. Also hide your stuff. Now you need to start recording. Be aware that you record stuff often several times. For example if you have mistakes, you undo and redo it so you can later cut the mistakes away. Once I have my videos, I need to cut them. Than I need to write a script for the speech and record the speech portions. I use text to speech from Mac OS X as I’m not a native english speaker. Once sound is done, I need to review the video and look for mistakes, encode it to 5 formats, upload it and update the website. In total at least 2 hours for a quick video, but often 5 to 6 hours. At least I don’t get much other stuff done on a day I make a video….

  2. Last time I took some online training it was Adobe’s “Flex in a Week” (http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flex/videotraining/) tutorial and that was great. It was great because it was divided into about 25-30 chunks, each 10-15 minutes and were combined with a PDF describing the steps. With the “chunked” approach it was easy to digest and the example project kept it all together. The combination of exercise and theory was also great. Producing Flex in a week training must have taken some serious efforts.

    For new users it would certainly make sense to produce a “REALbasic in a Week” series following the outline of “Flex in a Week”. I often refresh my skills by visiting a couple of theory sections (specially on the more advanced topics). However, I don’t see the point in producing a “Learn to program Basic” type of training, spending hours on explaining for-loops, if/then/else etc, that would be too beginner focused and not particularly appealing to more advanced users.

    As Christian said – seems to be tons of work…. Drop me a line if you want to brainstorm some sample project and I’d be happy to help you with certain aspects of the project.

    Merry xmas,
    /msa

  3. Honestly, my initial goal is to get a bunch of material made so people can start looking at it (and getting some income). Reviewing the RB Forums has been useful in gleaning ideas. It’s surprising how often the same questions come up over and over again.

    Another issue with any REALbasic training is that you could spend an hours worth of video just exploring the Application class. Useful? Yes, but not for absolute beginners when there’s a number of topics that a beginner would find more useful.

    Plus I’m not sure that having some basic code explanations wouldn’t be helpful for some users. Explain why a For Next loop works differently than a While Loop, or Do Loop can certainly be instructive. If nothing else it provides good (incidental) material on how to debug in REALbasic using breakpoints and the variables list.

  4. One suggestion just to consider is a video podcast, if you can team up with someone to do it. Then you get feedback, you can address users in a back-and-forth manner, and consider doing it with a free bit of content and have subscriptions for value added content (like professional-quality video, rather than semi-unscripted 1/2 hour sessions released as a podcast).

    Not all new users will want to pay a decent bit for the compiler, then pay more for books (that are usually outdated) and more for a tutorial when there are other languages that are free or next to free to struggle through learning.

    Personally, the attitude I see from the outside in is a that RB is something that is easy for people to pick up, and that most who are using it are doing it professionally and/or should be easily able to transition to using it when familiar with other languages. Maybe your experiences are different, but that’s the perception I had; if help wasn’t forthcoming from the NUG, you could pay for examples or tutorials or other sources of help, since free nuggets weren’t forthcoming from the Internet. It’s just too niche, and people investing time in using it want to be paid for it (which I can understand, but it also limits people getting into the language).

    It’s just not welcoming to attract new users and make it new-user-friendly while at the same time creating barriers to entry. I’d far rather not deal with the hassle even if I had $50 or $25 or whatever XYZ resource will cost to pay for something when I could invest in a compiler (free or pay for) that when I run into trouble I can spend half an hour googling and sifting for an answer and get it right away rather than lose more money paying someone for a possible solution.

    I’d have loved to have a podcast where you get information, news, examples, whatnot…half hour or so at a time (or shorter)…that I could have listened to, gleaned information from, and given feedback to, and quite possibly purchased followup material or subscription services from if it’s good. It’s a labor of love to do that though. You’ll lose time. You’d gain pride and reputation and something to add to the resume when advertising your services. It’s marketing that benefits in the long run, not the short term, and that is too high a perceived barrier for most people with the skills to do something like this to jump over.

  5. @Bob Keeney
    Thanks for the info! I didn’t know about it. I thought at first that it had flown under the radar (I search through the ITMS for podcast listing on topics and didn’t see this one listed) and see on the website that this is only the third podcast, so it seems fairly new. The only one that seemed promising was the RBTV podcast that seemed to have podfaded, I think after some unfortunate run of bad luck for the host.

  6. @Bob Keeney
    Second note…I did a search on iTunes for “realbasic” and there wasn’t a hit. Search for rbdevzone, and it appears! Wonder if the keywords can be altered? Wonder if others are missing it the way I did?

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