On Friday, February 24, my first Pluralsight course went live - and the course is on one of my favorite subjects - Xamarin.Forms!

I wanted to give you a little "behind the scenes" of what it took to build the course... the behind the scenes are always interesting in the movies, right?

The Course

My course is on Xamarin.Forms ... one of my favorite subjects. It's not an introduction to Forms, but rather the "next step" - what you need to learn after you have the basics down - but not an expert in the whole framework quite yet.

I wanted to split the course up into 4 parts that followed a logical progression - and that would allow me to build a complete app during the course.

Pluralsight courses are broken up into modules. So the challenge for me was to make each module self-contained ... so any given one could be watched by itself and make sense ... but yet have the modules flow into each other so that when watched in succession an app would take shape.

I chose the following topics, and to break them down in this order:

Module 1: Structured data entry - and extending controls beyond their built-in capabilities with Behaviors and Triggers.
Module 2: Displaying intricate data in a meaningful manner. Tableview grouping, Grids, Binding Converters and Data Template selectors
Module 3: Styles ... making it easy to organize and display a customized look in your app.
Module 4: Accessing native controls. Effects, Platform Specifics and, of course, bindable native views from XAML.

The demo app is a recipe manager ... starting by adding the ability to enter recipes, followed by displaying them, on to styling the app, then finally giving it some pizazz with native controls.

Overall I like the way the course turned out. I think the 4 modules flowed together nicely - but yet I also think they stand on their own as well.

(You should check it out and let me know what you think.) :)

The Process

Pluralsight authors are responsible for creating their courses in their entirety. By this I mean the author has to create any demos, all the slides, write the scripts, record, edit, and produce the videos.

I was prepared for it to be a lot of work - but like everything development related - it took longer than I expected.

My biggest mistake? I created the entire app, in its finished form, and then every single intermediate demo app before I even started to write a single slide.

I think the finished app needs to be in place - but the intermediate demo apps changed shape many times - so doing all of those ahead of time wasn't the best use of my time.

The most difficult part of recording was recording the demos. It took me a while to find a process that worked for me. Once I had that down - it wasn't too bad ... but let's just say I can't talk and type!

It's also interesting the way Pluralsight QA's everything. All the slides are first sent through a review process before any recording takes place - to ensure they are up to the visual standards needed.

Then after the module is completed, there is a peer review of all the content. Finally, there is a audio/video QA review as well.

And at any time during those reviews - the slides or video could be sent back for rework - or a complete redo!

It's a pretty arduous process - but I think it's well worth it because the quality comes through in the end.

The Finished Product

Overall I'm real happy with my experience and I would definitely author another course for Pluralsight. Now that I have my workflow down ... the only thing I would change is the time I allot for working on the course ... everything always takes longer than I think.

And I'm definitely happy with the finished product! If you have a Pluralsight subscription - you should check the course out, and let me know what you think!