Developer Training, videos are the best way to learn!

Over the last few months I have decided it was about time to kick start my development skills and move away from Visual Basic.

In the past this has meant me going out and buying a book:

But this time I decided to go a little more high tech and looked for some online training in the form of training videos.

The options

Training videos are nothing new, but there where more options than I thought there would be. The ones that came up with are:

Lynda.com

This website has been around for as long as I can remember video being on the web. It has training videos for nearly everything from how to use QuickBooks to programming concepts.

Price: from $25/£16 per month.

Verdict: Although the videos are highly polished and professional, I found the videos where aimed at the none technical people or someone just starting out. A reasonable price for what you get but not developer specific enough for me.

TekPub.com

This is a real developer focused set of training videos created by some of the leading developers in our industry.

Price: $15pm or $179pa (you can also purchase individual videos from $15 each)

Verdict: This was a strong contender for the place where I would spend my money and I even purchased one of the C# videos. But in the end it seemed to have a very limited number of courses.

Treehouse

This is slightly different take for online training videos. The training is structured into different courses with each having a predefined path for you to follow to help you reach your training goal. Completing a course will earn you a badge visible on a public profile.

Price: from $25pm or $250pa.

Verdict: Although it looked like a good resource, the courses where mainly aimed at web design technologies such as HTML, CSS and WordPress with the programming section being pretty basic. Although the Web Design section was interesting to me, it did not fill my requirement for Developer Training.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight was a pretty new website for me, I never heard of them but when I saw the list of courses I thought I had died and gone to nerd heaven. It had almost every topic I was looking for and some I had not even heard of. Their tag line is ‘hardcore developer training’ and on the most part they live up to that claim. If you pay a little extra you can take assessments and gain certificates.

Price: From $29pm or $299pa.

Verdict: Although this was the most expensive it seemed like the best value for money. The pure number of developer courses already on there and the new courses getting added each month (13 in Jan 2013 and 10 in Feb 2013) really impressed me.

But books are cheaper and I get to keep them!

You will notice that all (but TekPub) only offer monthly or annual subscriptions to view their courses. This can of course add up financially and if you stop paying you suddenly lose access to what you potentially have paid hundreds of pounds on!

This is an obvious downside to all subscription based services, but I think this is less of an issue with training videos for Developers. Technology and especially programming skills move so fast that most books become obsolete very quickly and they sit on your shelf gathering dust, never to be read again. Worse still, sometimes you will buy a book and before you get chance to read it, there is a new version and your version is out of date (see my picture above with MVC 1.0 and MVC 2.0).

Training videos do also suffer from becoming obsolete but they offer the potential to replace old videos with new one’s pretty quickly. I say ‘offer the potential’ because you will be hard pressed to find a training video on Entity Framework 5 (released Aug 2012) on any of the services I have listed above. I know the author (Julia Lerman) has recorded one for Pluralsight but it seems there is a backlog to getting it live! Hopefully this will improve.

Certification

Some of the services listed above allow you to take assessments and earn a type of certification which can be made public so you could show potential employers in the future.

Now a certification is only worth something if you believe the company giving out the certification is trustworthy. So whether you (or more importantly an employer) see value in the certification is down to whether you trust any of the above companies.

That being said, for developers who do most (if not all) of there learning self-taught, your CV can look a little bare even though you are skilled in many technologies, these types of certification can be a cost effective way to boost your CV with a little bit of credibility.

Where’s all the FREE stuff?

Don’t get me wrong, I like free stuff just as much as the next guy. Below are a few resources I use for free training videos. They will be mostly aimed around Microsoft Technologies or just web because that is what I am into:

Microsoft Virtual Academy – This is relatively new to me and I actually found it via a post by Scott Hanselman. This has instructional videos and tutorials on many Microsoft Technologies.

Channel 9 – This shares alot of the content from the above link but in a less formal way. I would highly recommend the ASP.NET Jump Start series with 6 Hours of Footage.

YouTube – I find this a bit hit and miss when it comes to good quality content but can sometimes be surprising.

These are all my thoughts and resources on Developer Training Videos, please share yours below.