What are people's experiences of Live Coding?


(Greg Robson) #1

I registered on LiveCoding.tv a while ago, and I’ve been thinking about starting to stream on there (I’ve also registered on Code Mentor - part of me wants to get a bit more self-derived income generation!).

Now, I don’t know whether I’ve missed something, because I’ve been looking at lots of other feeds and I’ve yet to find any stream that looks remotely professional! (I’m trying not to be judgemental!) Examples:…

  • Streaming with loud techno/dubstep/rap playing in background
  • The presenter gives no “internal monologue” of their decision making or how they’re using the application. It’s just 5 minutes of silence then they say “this doesn’t work” then five minutes more of silence then “okay it works now”
  • 50 tabs and 20 applications open, the desktop is super-busy visually.
  • They’ve left the editor font size too small (or it’s a bad typeface).
  • If they’re visible via their webcam
  • I could not care less what your RAM/CPU usage is - get your system dashboard off the screen!
  • Unmade bed in the background!
  • Overlays of Github/personal website URL on the screen
  • I’m not a vim-god, but the amount of mouse-clicking and lack of IDE shortcut usage is annoying.
  • I’ve yet to see anyone make a commit into source control (but then I am scanning through some of these videos)
  • At least make the editor full screen and not half off the viewport!
  • Dropping the F-bomb frequently (i.e. London-levels of F-bombing)

Questions:

  • Do any of you have some examples of good live coders?
  • Are there other sites apart from LiveCoding.tv that have better presenters?

(Steve Jalim) #2

Bit of a tangent but: do Londoners swear more than Brummies?


(Marc Cooper) #3

Producing quality video takes a lot of effort. I used to do a fair amount of post-production work as a sideline. I even wrote the first book about a popular post-production software package. In addition, I produced three multimedia packages containing 8 hours of content on each. Each one took over a month to produce (and many more months developing the expertise on the content).

It’s not hard, particularly, but it takes time and effort.

Although it’s not code, I’d take as a starting point Scott Manley’s Kerbal Space Program videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/szyzyg Scott knows exactly what he’s doing.


(Jon) #4

From a teacher’s perspective, I think videos are not a good medium. If a mistake is made it is extremely time-consuming to reshoot, and most tutorial authors (who are just looking for “likes” on social media) do not bother. I have tried getting in touch with authors of low-quality web development material, who are promoting all manner of insecure practices, and rarely get a reply.


(Greg Robson) #5

@stevejalim Yes - some Londoners use the F-bomb as punctuation!

There’s a definitely a “polished” screencast experience - an obvious example that springs to mind is Jeffrey Way’s Laravel/PHP screencasts on laracasts.com.

I can understand that without a script or clear goals you might end up with something akin to The Hobbit (the whole story and then some, but with some unrequired padding as well). It strikes me as odd that it would be compelling to watch (and learn from) somebody who uses the mouse a lot and doesn’t use elementary keyboard shortcuts such as “highlight line”, “delete line” or “wrap selection in a tag”.

I could forgive the backtracking if they said something like “right, I can see that this code won’t be dry and I’ve got a tight dependency, so let’s rethink this and abstract X from Y - I’m going to be re-using X a lot later on”.

I think a lot of people don’t really understand what goes through a coder’s mind (it’s not like the movies after all!) and that sort of insight would be useful to people on the start of their journey.


(Marc Cooper) #6

A video of Sandy Metz’s 99 bottles might be something to consider. There’s a lot of learning in it that’s won’t be obvious to many folk.


(Greg Robson) #7

I think I’m going to have to start recording my own Live Coding videos… so far I’ve yet to see a coder commit into any version control system. The indentation styles are somewhat “quirky” (3 spaces on some lines, 4 on others? Braces, not following any standard), and the line length can be anywhere up to 200 characters in places. :fearful:

I’ve just seen one guy put on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and light up a cigarette. I kid you not. - 1:46 in the video!

Also, let’s have two webcams on the coders face, because we want to you from both angles as well! :laughing:

You know what this reminds me of? When all the office workers were told to use PowerPoint for the first time… it’s Comic Sans, animations and Word Art in screencast form! :laughing:


(Greg Robson) #8

Although in fairness, there are some good channels were you can see people actually learning and vocalising their thought processes:

All is not lost!


(Daniel Hollands) #9

Having watched various coding tutorials, it’s the little things which make all the difference. Like, a block of code not being indented correctly sticks out like a sore thumb. It shouts for your attention and distracts you from what is being taught.

I can forgive things like typos in the code, especially if they’re then found and fixed, as this helps teach people to learn how to debug, but something like indenting should be immediately obvious to the person coding that it’s wrong, and is easy to fix (In RubyMine, for example, I’m able to hit [alt]+[cmd]+[L] and it auto-formats my code for me).


(Greg Robson) #10

Yes, the re-indent tool in Sublime Text is handy for that!

Typos are fine (or forgetting to include a namespace or package) - if they say “oh here’s an error compiler error” and then follow it with “here’s what the error is telling me - here’s where I should look” then I’m fine with that.

I’m just hardwired to write PHP to PSR2 these days. My editor will highlight anything that isn’t!