I learn something new every time I watch a developer work. Sometimes it’s the little things, like a new command-line trick or a method I’ve never used. Other times it’s the big things that you can only learn while watching them “in the zone”: their thought processes, how they refactor code, when they choose one technique over another, how they troubleshoot problems along the way, and so on. Indeed, the best way to get inside a developer’s head is to watch him work. So I try to shoulder-surf as much as I can because it helps me find ways to improve my development workflow.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet experienced developers working with a number of different languages and tools. Unfortunately, I can’t always sit next to them as they build applications. So I did the next best thingI asked them to record what’s going on inside their head while incrementally building an application. And I took on the role of development editor so they could focus on showing you how they work. That turned into a bigger project than any of us imagined.

It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m excited to announce the launch of our new screencasts project. To start with we have episodes in the following four series:

Building a Dynamic Website with ExpressionEngine with Ryan Irelan Creating a Compelling User Interface with Core Animation with Bill Dudney Erlang By Example with Kevin Smith Everyday Active Record with Ryan Bates

Each series has a few 20-30 minute episodes to start the season, and more episodes are on the way. You can follow along with each twist and turn as they add new features to shape the application over time. For $5 per episode, you can download and watch DRM-free episodes in QuickTime and iPod/iPhone format when and where it’s convenient for you. These folks have put a ton of work into creating these screencasts, and I hope you’ll support their time and effort.

This is very much an organic project. We’ll be releasing new episodes every couple weeks or so, and we’re planning to release new screencasts on other topics, as well. (Let me know if you’re interested in becoming a screencast creator.) Make sure to check out the free previews, and we hope you’ll join us for the full season!