James Avery and I have just launched a new site, Tekpub.com, that is focused on helping developers kick ass in their jobs. There have been a lot of questions about this after our “soft” launch yesterday, so I thought I would address them here. more
What is it you do again?
Screencasts – or more precisely “Video Productions” – and that encapsulates our idea pretty clearly. Screencasts are OK for training and communicating ideas in summary form, but most of the time they’re not terribly detailed, perhaps a bit boring, and overall might leave you a bit short of a full picture.
Our focus is a bit different. We don’t want to just leave you with a vague summary of understanding – we want you to feel like you’ve just watched a book – a book by someone who’s trusted and knowledgeable on the subject. Really the only way we can do this is to make it our full-time focus, giving each episode the level of care that you might find in a television production (well, that’s our goal at least).
Yes, we’re charging for our deep, long-running titles, but we’re also offering free Productions of stuff that developers “should just know”. So far we have 2 free series:
Coder to Developer – a new look at Mike Gunderloy’s classic redone in video form and
Concepts – single episodes of various concepts used in programming.I’ll be adding more (probably based on feedback) but our goal with these is to give people a place to come to raise their skill level for free.
What “Experts” are we talking about here?
So far we only have one – Ayende – and that’s because there is a need for this kind of thing for NHibernate. I’ve reached out to several other people so far and I’m hoping to get commitments from them in the near future to talk about what they’re doing.
*Dave Laribee (Kanban/Lean Programming)
*Nate Kohari (Kanban with AgileZen)
*Miguel deIcaza (Mono and MonoDevelop)
*Tim Heuer (Silverlight)There are others whom I’ve contacted as well and am waiting to hear back from. The goal is to pick their brains and resolve everything into a meticulously crafted production, leaving nothing out, that conveys what they know in a concise, easy-to-follow format.
Isn’t this kind of stuff free? Why should I pay for it?
Yes, it’s free. In fact the information contained in just about every technical book out there is available on a blog, a forum, or Wikipedia. What you’re paying for is time and delivery. I’ll do the scraping part for you, I’ll get the experts to talk about the tools they know best rather than someone who just likes to write a book (and who may, or may not, be right).
I won’t settle for mediocrity. I’ll push to make sure it rocks – that’s what you’re paying for and hopefully it will show. If not, I will refund your money immediately.
Productions, Screencasts, Episodes – What’s Up Here?
Everything we do is in the scope of a “Production”. Each Production, just like television, has episodes to it. Using this concept we can keep a subject alive over time and if it changes, we just add an episode. This is a win for you because if you’ve bought the Git series, for example, and Git hits 2.0 and decides to copy Mercurial’s functionality, we’ll capture that.
In addition if users tell us we missed a feature, or request something explicit, we can add it to a Production. This helps us stay fluid and flexible and deliver stuff you want to watch.
There’s another reason we chose to go the Production model and that is because I liken what I do to producing a TV show. I honestly try to get their technically – so it keeps my mind in a good place.
How do subscriptions work. Can I just buy an Episode?
You have two choices with Tekpub – you can buy per Production (usually around $12-25, depending on the planned episode count) or you can buy a subscription. If you buy a single Production you get access to it and all of its episodes forever – download and streaming.
If you buy a subscription (monthly or yearly) you get access to our stuff, all of it, for as long as you subscribe. If you go yearly you can stream and download. If you go monthly you can only stream.
How often will you be producing new stuff?
My goal is to get new stuff out once a week or so. This depends on author’s scheduling (such as right now, Ayende is traveling so it’s hard to get time together to do another episode. He’s also 12 hours ahead of me (timezones) – the only thing that works is to carve out time on a Sunday – tomorrow. We have an RSS feed for episodes so you can subscribe and know when new stuff hits.
James and I are committed to regular drops and updates, but we absolutely will not bend on the quality of it – and that makes us bottlenecks. Good bottlenecks though :). Hopefully we’ll have the ability to involve others in the future – we’ll see how it goes.
Aren’t you just “NPeepCode”?
Peepcode is an inspiration, yes. I’ve watched a number of their videos and their level of commitment to quality is amazing. The one thing that differs us is our format – they more or less do one-off videos and try to fit concepts into 1 hour. Our focus is more about depth, so we’ll slice things up into digestible 20 to 50 minute episodes dealing with a particular subject. This allows us to get super-deep on a subject – to the book level.
Is this a Microsoft-only thing then?
No way. Our focus is on Microsoft techology right now because it’s what we know most, but we plan on covering anything and everything.
Is this why you quit Microsoft?
No. After my last day I was building a site for my brother using Rails and I wanted to sharpen up some stuff I had forgotten so I headed over to Peepcode to watch a screencast. Coincidentally I was also trying to figure out a way that I could afford to keep doing what I love to do – MVC-Storefront style learning/screencasting – and when I started watching the Peepcode thing it hit me.
I want to do this full time.
I started looking around for help and the first person I thought of was James. It turns out he was trying to do the exact same thing I was thinking about – and so we put it together.
How about a look at a Production schedule so we know what’s going on?
Yep – I’m putting this together right now. I just need to think about the best way to deliver it. I also need to be sure Tekpub.com is stable (more about that in a later post. A pretty entertaining story involving sheer panic and Rob shouting at people).
In short form: we’re not out to make a zillion dollars here. This is what I love to do and if I can do this and not lose my house (while feeding my kids) than I’m a happy, happy person. There is a void in our industry – which is the need for non-biased (platform, corporate, opinionated) material presented in a clear way. We want to fill that void and hopefully illuminate biases/prejudice out there through education.
Or as my local friends would say:
“ Akamai! Den go home already an poun’em wen pau”.