Scott Hanselman

Learn How to use NHibernate with the Summer of NHibernate Screencast Series

July 22, 2008 Comment on this post [19] Posted in Screencasts
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I'm a huge fan of screencasts for learning. There are an increasing number of increasingly sophisticated tools and libraries that we as developers have available and I'm leaning on screencasts to learn them. I really like the screencasts that Rob Conery is doing and I've got really positive response from the ASP.NET MVC Screencasts.

I'm starting to think that all technical books should come with a accompanying screencast series. You typically have to watch closely and pay attention, and it's hard to watch a screencast in double speed (unlike a podcast) but a well-done screencast is the next-best thing to letting an expert take over your computer and show you.

There are many tools that support the fundamental tenets, beliefs, and preferred processes in the ALT.NET space. Certainly ALT.NET isn't "all about the tools," but there are certainly preferred tools.

One of those is NHibernate, a sophisticated Object Relational Mapper. I used NHibernate as my Data Layer recently when I got ASP.NET MVC running under .NET 2.0 using NHibernate examples from Davy Brion (who has an NHibernate Category on his blog).

NHibernate is very flexible, but it's a little overwhelming (for me, at least) to get started. Davy has a good "code-heavy" walkthrough of the concepts. Some NHibernate write-ups assume too much, IMHO.

Perhaps to combat this, Stephen Bohlen has created the Summer of NHibernate Screencast Series as a learning tool to educate engineers at his company. Stephen says:

"Often, our strategy for bringing people up to speed on [NHibernate] has been to rely on word-of-mouth and osmosis (often via pair-programming) to get the points across, but now we have a planned staffing ramp-up of a magnitude that will likely make that approach unwieldy."

He's releasing these screencasts to the public and you can check them out at or subscribe to the feed and get them downloaded automatically like podcasts! Stephen's also including Code Downloads with each screencast.

If you like them, remember that Stephen's doing this for free, while bandwidth isn't, so you can donate via Paypal to help him out. You can visit Stephen's blog with comments and suggestions. My primary suggestions to him would be to drop his resolution to 1024x768 or even 800x600 (what I do) and raise his font size to Lucida Console 16. Right now, you'll need a high-res (1280) monitor to watch his screencasts.

These small nits aside, I think it's great that NHibernate is getting more screencasts that really help folks get started and augment NHibernate's excellent documentation.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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July 22, 2008 22:17
Thanks Scott! I've been wanting to venture into NHibernate land but the scope of the project seemed too big to wade through it on my own.
July 22, 2008 22:21
This is totally what I needed for NHibernate...thanks for the eagle eye!
July 22, 2008 22:28
Awesome, I was going to get into learning NHibernate so I have an alternative OR Mapper to Monorail's Active Record implementation. Cheers for pointing this out :)

Also if you see Phil Winstanley around, say hello from me :)
July 22, 2008 22:42
These movies are awesome. I have been watching them as they are released and Steve has a great grasp on the topic as well as an excellent teaching technique. Not only does he teach you the basics of nHibernate, but he uses CodeRush/Refactor Pro!, MbUnit & Test Driven.NET in the process.. so it's a great primer on those tools as well.

Check his blog for a list of tools he uses in his IDE.
July 22, 2008 23:17
Does NHibernate have LINQ?
I feel like NHibernate takes too long to train everybody in. Also, the queries are much harder to read than LINQ.

July 22, 2008 23:27
sure there is an implementation of linq to nhibernate check out this post on Ayende's blog
July 23, 2008 1:26
Question maybe out of the current post but...

Scott, what do you use to make screencast? Any good recommendation?

It would a formidable asset for teaching new employee with new technologies.

So? What about the MVP at Microsoft? What are you using?

The screencast of Rob Conery are also really well done, I'll ask him too what software he's using. :)
July 23, 2008 1:41
I use Camtasia for all screencasts.
July 23, 2008 2:22
Great find Scott. NHibernate has been on my list of things I have to learn, and this screencast series will make it much easier for me to accomplish. I put my money (okay its only $10) on the line to help defray the cost of hosting. We need to support these guys who create this kind of valuable content.
July 23, 2008 3:00
I have heard such good things about this series that I have thrown him a $20 donation just in case I want to watch them one day, or want to tell someone else to watch them.

I can't see any harm in supporting such a community-minded gesture with a few of my own dollars. Hopefully more people can be encouraged to do this sort of thing. (I have just started trying to do it myself and the more the merrier!)

Screencasts truly are the best way to learn rapidly. Particularly for those who develop in isolation as individuals or as part of a small (or under-skilled) team
July 23, 2008 13:29
I've been following this series form the start, and it got me up and running in no time. There was no one place that I was able to find that would not only provide beginner's examples, but also describe the concepts. This series does both. Stephen has an excellent teaching method, and does a great job of incorporating other best practices, such as unit testing and refactoring along the way. That is a rare thing when you watch someone building a demo in most cases.
July 23, 2008 18:41
This is a great intro series. I have been watching it while I have been in my over relaxed stages of my vacation. My *only* gripe is that it wasn't in a format that I could play back at 1.5 speed which is my standard for watching all my screencasts.

Another good series is Ben Scheirman's series "A Journey With NHibernate" at - this was recommended to me by MHinze while discussing the Summer series on twitter. It is a good read as well!
July 24, 2008 18:27
Does NHibernate have LINQ?
I feel like NHibernate takes too long to train everybody in. Also, the queries are much harder to read than LINQ.

Ayende is working on Linq to NHibernate -

Yes, NHibernate is somewhat harder to use, but it is also a lot more complete, and has quite a different focus. Linq2Sql is primarily about making your SQL Server database queryable through LINQ, whereas NHibernate focuses on being an O/R mapper.
July 24, 2008 21:11
Thanks for sharing this Scott. I agree that screencasts are the best way to learn our craft (and I'm a big fan of all of yours over at ASP.Net, so keep'em coming). NHibernate has thwarted my before - I was able to get up and running w/ SubSonic so much faster so I went that route. I'll give this series a shot though, to see what I've been missing (or not?).
July 24, 2008 21:20
The Foundations of Programming series also has a Learning Application that leverages NHibernate to showcase some core aspects of DDD (including, obviously, NHibernate):
July 25, 2008 18:35
I also enjoy screencasts for learning. However, I think most screencasters could improve their content even more. While I am watching the screencast, I usually do it one of two ways. 1. Just sit and watch it straight through. 2. I want the sample code available throughout the video so I can pause it and build it, tinker with it, while going through it. Then when I am finished with the video, I usually don't want to watch the whole thing again to get to the material in it. At this point I want two sources of information, the sample code and the content of the video in textual form. A good example of what I mean is on a howto site I came across They have a "wiki guide" accompanying most videos. Just my 2 cents...

July 26, 2008 9:31
Do people in the Southern Hemisphere have to wait for December to view these webcasts?
<mutterUnderBreath>the UN should do something about hemispherical prejudice</mutterUnderBreath
July 27, 2008 16:07
Thanks for sharing this information. The video's look realy good
July 28, 2008 18:28
Hey Scott,
I agree screencasts are a great way to provide learning material for developers. My employer Falafel Software announced the release of Telerik Trainer at TechEd this year which is a WPF application that delivers screencasts on steroids. Falafel developed it for Telerik and it's available for free download here.

Telerik Trainer incorporates screencasts that have live code links and can launch you into VS.NET on the currect code example while the video is playing among other features.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.