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Interview with Matt Balent: Making PowerBuilder videos for the SAP Database and Technology Academy

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As the social media marketing manager for some of our database and technology channels, curating content for my editorial calendar is one of my regular tasks. One of my favorite places to look for content is the SAP Database and Technology Academy YouTube playlist.  With over 1600 views and over 140 videos, what amazes me is the fact that the content here is 100% crowdsourced. Developers voluntarily create and post instructional videos for the sake of sharing their knowledge and helping others. What motivates them to do this?  Given the opportunity, I’d like to know.

Jason Lovinger and John Strano have made my wish come true by introducing me to Matt Balent. Based in Charlotte, NC, Matt Balent is a senior software engineer at McKesson Provider Technology. He has been using PowerBuilder over the last 15 years and is one of our regular contributors at the SAP Database and Technology Academy. A soft-spoken and unassuming man, Matt Balent recounted the genesis of this endeavor and shared tips in creating instructional videos based on his experience.  Below are the details of my interview.


Interviewer: Nancy Uy @nancy_uy (Nancy)

Interviewee: Matt Balent @mattbalent (Matt)

Interview Audio Clip:

Nancy:  Thank you for developing Powerbuilder instructional videos for the SAP Database and Technology Academy.  It’s amazing you are doing this voluntarily and sharing this with others in the community. Why did you do it in the first place?  How did it all start?

Matt:  I have been involved in various forums and user groups regarding Powerbuilder for a number of years. Mostly to find information and expand my knowledge of the use of the tool.  What I found as time went on was I was seeing less and less information available. So I decided one way to assist others is to create my own blog and start contributing back to the community that helped me so much over the years. Creating instructional videos for the SAP Database and Technology community is just an extension of that and an additional way to contribute back to the community. On how I got started, I was asked by John Strano that I had come to know professionally through Powerbuilder when it was still part of Sybase, He asked me if I was interested in this project.  I agreed and welcomed to help in any way I could.

Nancy:  It’s funny when you share with me how this all started.  It started with you wanting to have more information and expand your own knowledge, It eventually turned into a give and take relationship with the community.

Matt:  Yes, like most things in life, you get out of things what you are willing to put into them. I have always felt that one way to get more out of something is to try to contribute and help other people who are interested in doing the same kind of things that you are. 

Nancy:  Very well said. Do you have a favorite PowerBuilder video?

Matt:  The one I particularly liked is the one on Datawindow Expressions.  It’s a very powerful feature of PowerBuilder. The datawindow technology, the ability to dynamically change both the presentation and the data itself through the use of expressions.  ,

Nancy:  Is there something about that video that made it an effective instructional video?

Matt: The approach I took was to show a variety of methods of using expressions within the data window. It’s not just one simple way. Quite often, when you see examples, you are shown one simplistic way of doing it.  Although that’s great when you are first starting out, if you have a little bit of knowledge and looking for that extra push, sometimes it’s nice to have two or three more in-depth examples. 

Nancy:  Different people approach things differently. With folks coming from different contexts of trying to solve something, I can see how beneficial this is to a number of people.

Matt:  Yes.

Nancy:  In closing, what tips do you have for developers out there creating videos for the SAP Database and Technology Academy based on your experience?

Matt:  First, you need to make an outline and decide what you are going to cover. I’m not the kind of person who would need an entire script. I am good at explaining things on the fly. Having an outline so you stay to the particular talking points to the technology that you are demonstrating.  Second, I would say is when you are actually making the recording you have to force yourself to deliberately pause your speaking throughout the recording process. That way, if you need to edit the video, when you made a mistake or something of that nature, it’s much easier in the editing process to have pauses when you can cut and go on from there.  Those are probably the two tips that I would recommend everyone utilize when they are doing it.

Nancy: It sounds so simple, yet when you put it into practice you have to be quite intentional about it. It makes a whole lot of difference.

Matt:  Oh yes.

Nancy:  Thank you for your time and for contributing to the SAP Database and Technology Academy. 

Matt:  You’re quite welcome. 

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