Scott Hanselman

Reality TV for Developers - Where is for Programmers?

January 17, 2015 Comment on this post [41] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By is basically YouTube where you can watch other folks play video games. It initially sounds ridiculous but it's actually surprisingly compelling. You can see how other people solve problems LIVE. Interestingly "watching interesting people solve interesting problems" is a good description for many of my favorite movies and TV shows.

Where is for programmers? I'd like to watch a reality TV show where a competent and interesting programmer creates something interesting. There is CodersTV but somehow it isn't quite there. Minecraft's famous creator "Notch" has used Twitch to stream some of his crash coding sessions for gaming events like Ludum Dare. There is a small "Game Development" category on Twitch but it's not exactly Must-See-TV.

While I haven't seen any videos from Microsoft of developers live coding, maybe there should be. Certainly there's been a lot more transparency around design meetings lately. There was a great tweet recently that pointed out an unusual video on Channel 9, Microsoft's "inside the cockpit" website. The video is a nearly 2 hour API Review for the .NET Core Libraries.

Drink that in for a second. A compliment on a video of a two hour meeting? And the video has over 15,000 views...folks like to be a fly on a wall in meetings like this!

The ASP.NET Team has been hosting weekly Community Standup meetings using Google Hangouts. You can watch the archives here, or join us every Tuesday (unless someone is travelling, then we'll move things a bit).

Do you like this kind of video? Would you like to watch some real coding with or without running commentary? Do you enjoy seeing design meetings and real decisions being made...complete transparency?

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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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January 17, 2015 17:32
1. I don't like this kind of video. I prefer text. There are 2 problems with such videos for me:
- You cannot adjust speed - while reading I can skip parts that are not interesting to me, I can read at my pace, in videos people tend to talk slowly so that everyone understands them - that's the case with pluralsight videos and I feel that I am wasting time watching them
- People on videos tend to speak more than write. In writing people want to be succint, in videos you can talk more than it is required to describe given topic
2. I would like to say that I really like the idea of your community standups. I would like, however, to see improvements exactly in those areas I have described above in your videos.
3. Yes, too much commentary is unnecessary. More code, less talking. That's my ideal way.
4. I haven't seen any design mettings, they also might have same problems I have described above. If that's not the case - I would like to see them.
January 17, 2015 18:45
Videos are the best option to engage with community and to deliver technical content. Sometimes is good to talk a lot, becuse most of people needs "personal" contact when they want to learn or approach to a technology. And sometimes is great to have strong technical content for the ones who look for more BYTEs less WORDs jajaja.

In my sub - Colombia - We're also delivering content in Youtube and Gooogle hangouts with great results.
January 17, 2015 19:09
I tend to watch things like Hangouts if I have a second monitor connected because a lot of the time not much of interest is happening for the viewer. So I'm nearly always working doing other things and then occasionally i'll hear something of interest and scan my eyes across. So I guess the answer is a sort of yes, I do find these things useful to a degree :-)
January 17, 2015 19:40
This a great idea. But I think it would be better to deviate from the old and common definition of video.
Take for example a live session of coding. You actually don't want to stream video for this. You want characters to appear in a timely manner and an accompanying audio of the coder. This way you wouldn't need that much bandwidth and you can actually use that piece of code effectively.
Consider for example someone writing live code. You wouldn't be able to use that code immediately. But using the "code streaming" technique, you can actually take code written in text and compile it and "experience" the results and intentions of what the coder is writing.
January 17, 2015 20:10
I really liked James Shore's Let's play TDD ( and his JavaScript series. Also the Homemade Hero is pretty awesome ( and archives on youtube
January 17, 2015 20:53
I was thinking about doing this myself, the difficulty I couldn't solve, is not showing any sensitive data when streaming myself doing my work.
January 17, 2015 21:15
I'm always searching for live coding sessions and pre recorded videos. Not really to learn a language but to get tips on coding techniques. It's also great as a background video on my second monitor when your a solo coder like me.
January 17, 2015 23:27
I think that would be a great idea. I, particularly, would like to see design meetings to learn and see how other teams may approach problem solutions. I've also seen a couple of plural-sight videos, I've like them, specially seeing the code organisation and the rationale behind why that organisation or pattern would work for a certain situation, besides, obviously, learning about the subject of the course.
January 18, 2015 1:36
It's sorta on Twitch.

There is always this:

And this:

Related but not related, I've streamed myself practicing Drums here:

It's interesting that Twitch *is* sorta starting to be used for other things besides watching gameplay. But I agree that for coding, a more focused community might be better. A platform that supports it more, such as being able to post snippets using a non-chat room type UI.
January 18, 2015 3:00
Add me to the list of people who hate wading through vídeo/audio for technical information
January 18, 2015 3:17
In my 15 year dev career I don't recall my fight-or-flight instinct ever kicking in and amping me up on adrenaline like Red Alert 2 did. Though, some code reviews definitely came close.

I remember watching a competition like this about 5 years ago, it was an all-day affair edited down into an hour or so of a couple teams writing an ASP.NET website. The producers really tried their best to create some drama and climax between the teams, but in the end their raw material was just not up to the task.

There is a small project called Peer to Peer ( created by Drew Neil, the hjkl God behind the incredibly well-paced and content-rich I haven't watched any of them yet but I'm sure they are well-done and most of the problems seem just complex enough to be interesting but small enough in scope that they would be bearable to watch.
January 18, 2015 3:23
I love videos like these. I think actual coding videos are a great addition to all of the talks and demos published online.
January 18, 2015 6:23
There's a guy on twitch who runs little live streamed programming competitions: devwars. It's only frontend stuff, and he does two teams of three, with one member of each team responsible solely for JS, HTML, or CSS. He uses a cloud IDE and I think his own server for audio. It's pretty fun to watch but video is definitely not the best medium to see what's going on.

I would love a dedicated solution that lets me as a viewer look at the desktop of each competitor one at a time for as long as I want, maybe have my own copy of each team's code that I can run and edit for a more interactive experience.
January 18, 2015 8:51
I love this kind of thing. Code reviews are some of my favorite things to do when working and I always learn something. I would love to be able to jump into one at any time. Cool idea.
January 18, 2015 10:11
This was a pretty interesting attempt at Developer Reality show from several years ago.
January 18, 2015 13:44
Those Videos can ne interesting as you also get input on other peoples way to work, organizr, solve problems.

Btw: Playing the Channel 9 Video above causes my lumia 930 to go to lockscreen and show playback controlls. What a funny bug. :)
January 18, 2015 13:45
Watching me doing live coding would be rather tedious. Every thirty lines I'm off to Stack Overflow, or refactoring everything I just did, or trying to find a library that already does it all anyway, or furiously massaging my stress ball as the modern equivalent of the egg timer taunts me. I've been a developer for 30 years but every day I still feel like a newbie.
January 18, 2015 17:24
My good friend Erik Onarheim ( does live coding sessions occasionally where he makes a game or works on stuff. Twitch works fine for coding but you do need some software setup... we use OBS (Open Broadcasting System) so you can set up away messages, PIP, etc.

The thing about coding, I think, is that people feel self-concious. Or we work on stuff that we don't want to broadcast (closed source projects). If we are doing "actual work" then we think it might be boring for people to watch us mess up and do real work. If you are doing a specific themed session (i.e. "Live-coding game from scratch") then you want people to watch but since coding (again) can be boring, you may not have enough subscribers to warrant streaming anyway. With games you can stream almost every time you play--if you did that with coding I'm not sure it'd be the same...
January 18, 2015 19:09
Scott, there is a real gem of a live programming video example on twitch, with hand made hero,

The live streams are kept to an hour and archived on YouTube.
January 18, 2015 23:31
I think that kind of videos where real experienced programmers share with community how they build programs, from stem to stern, are really priceless.

From something like Let's Play TDD by James Shore newbies like me could learn a lot.

@Scott I will gladly see you do something similar in .Net :)
January 19, 2015 1:33
We're working on it. At we're working hard to deliver the platform, that there clearly is a demand for. We need a place we can call our own, and one that focuses on community interaction, and discoverability. These rogue streams, and live YouTube broadcasts just aren't cutting it. We hope we'll be able to provide this when we launch. :)
If you have any questions, you can chat with us on Twitter.
January 19, 2015 2:58
Hello Scott,

I'm the lone developer of CodersTV.
I'm really happy that you mentioned the site here. For real. You just wrote what I'm trying to achieve in few words. I know that it could be much better but I don't find people that want to code live for free (I particularly don't have enough money to pay them). There are some heroes out there, but it's hard to get them.
Why is hard to get them? Well, I have some hypothesis that I'm trying to figure out:
1- I'm a nobody. It's hard to talk to high level developers and ask them for making videos.
2- I'm a developer, coding the site most of the time and not doing the ask job for real.
3- It's not interesting making videos and showing people how non-perfect "I" am (ego stuff).
4- They do not know what to talk about, don't have a guideline and feedback from the community.
Since I'm doing everything alone, I'm taking a lot of time to figure all out, getting feedback etc.
I live in Brazil, work 8-9h per day and waste a lot of time in traffic here. I spend less time that I would like. I continue building the site because I just love it as I love watching gamers at TwitchTV.

Well, if anyone wants to help in anything, can get in touch with me: contact _at_ coderstv _dot_ com or making pull requests to the site:
And probably you are THE guy that could me help a lot with your feedback. I wait for you contact! :D

Best Regards,
January 19, 2015 5:28
I've actually found myself wishing I had the time (and need) to cast programming sesions the way you describe. I really enjoy the standup meetings as they're a very up-to-date look at what's going on.

So, like most things - I'm 100% picking up what you're putting down Scott ;)
January 19, 2015 6:06
I watch twitch and always thought it would be kinda fun to code stuff up live. Wasnt sure if anyone else would be interested.
January 19, 2015 13:06
I would be more interested on live coding video then a meeting video.

Although, I think that if I had some case that I find interesting I would like to see how it also.
January 19, 2015 15:05
It's great idea but... e.g. I am from Poland, in totally diffrent time zone. It is a problem to watch live coding sessions no matter how much I want to see event like this.
By the way I really like . Specially League of legends live streams. And it's totally true that you can learn much more from something like this than a standard tutorial/video.
January 19, 2015 17:55
Uncle Bob introduced a Java Case Study Serie parallel to his other informational videos.
I really like this format, learn from other people how they discuss and work on problems together.
January 19, 2015 18:46
This is a terrific idea! I had no idea the ASP.NET team was doing stand-ups like this. I will definitely be listening every week from now on. This kind of thing is great to listen to in the background while you work... gets the creative juices flowing.
January 19, 2015 19:08
I tried to watch it in the weekend. But it looked like... know... I was in a working meeting.

And the "working" part in the weekend didn't work well for me.

I prefer to read about it. Even in the weekend. Like those notes in the Roslyn Project. Withdraw and Done things. Why design like that.
January 20, 2015 1:29
Yeah watching and doing live coding is a great idea, I have been doing sometimes now and are planning to do it more in the future on

Actually I have kind of "laughed" at my smaller brother (21y) because he have been watching live stream of games on Twitch some years now or so. I did'nt really got how it could be fun. For reasons I can't remember, late in 2014 I started to watch something on Twitch, and discovered that it actually CAN be pretty interesting to just sit and watch other people play games.

Therefore, after finding a really great role-playing girl, playing DayZ (, I thought about doing the same with code.

I found the "Game Development" channel Scott mentioned and started both to stream a little and watch a little.

I discovered that it can actually be pretty interesting to watch someone code, but I also discovered that I stay on "game" streams much longer than on "coding" streams.

The reason is, the watching someone code in-real-life, often isn't THAT interesting, as it's not a presentation as such, as you see on various conferences etc. At the same time, it's great to see that other people are just as "stupid" as yourself, and don't always have the answer (an impression you might get by only watching planned conference sessions and the like).

So my conclusion...well, I think I will keep watching streams and I will try to do it more my self as I'm building my next game in Unity3d.
Something I will try to do, because that's what the good programming streams I have seen does, is that I will TOL (Think-Out-Loud, yeah Scott, that's the new thing ;) ), it's hard to do, but viewers of cause gets much more out of it.

PS: Talking about streaming. I'm doing an iPhone/iPad game in Unity3d, which means I work in OSX and damm, the software for streaming from OSX is just terrible!
OBS is what most people use and the Windows version is awesome...the OSX version very new and you can see and feel that. It's really a pain sadly.
So if you know C++ (I don't sadly, stay on C#), please give the guy and the community behind OBS some help, guess we are many people who would love OBS becoming better -
January 20, 2015 8:31
Hey Scott,

This sounds a lot like what Rob Conery did at Tekpub, and are now available on Pluralsight. He called them "Play by Play" videos.

He would get an expert or someone "interesting" in to do a live session on specific things. Ayende doing a trouble shooting session was great. Brad Wilson doing TDD using xUnit was also great. There are others too, but I can't recall the details. The videos were kept at about an hour, and moved very quickly, but the good thing was that you could easily back up and watch things over if you needed to.

I think this type of thing really worked well for Tekpub, and Rob was well suited to the production of these.
January 20, 2015 12:36
"Do you like this kind of video? Would you like to watch some real coding with or without running commentary? Do you enjoy seeing design meetings and real decisions being made...complete transparency?"

Answer: Yes! You are absolutely right that there is not enough content like that on the internet. And it bothers me. I would love to have this look over the shoulder on dozen of topics.
January 20, 2015 21:44
I like to watch videos like this while I'm working on other things. My favorite right now is Cooking With Unity:

Max is really good at explaining what he knows. He also does a shorter Breakfast With Unity approx. 5 days a week.
January 20, 2015 22:16
I use code videos alot when I want to learn some new technology fast , my first MVC1 ,2 ,3 and webapi was all learned from videos .
January 21, 2015 8:20
Do you really think people want to see me sitting on my couch in my gym shorts & t-shirt with my headphones on all day?
January 21, 2015 14:51
>> There is a small "Game Development" category on Twitch but it's not exactly Must-See-TV.

See that's why there's no Twitch TV for programmers. You ask for live programming on Twitch, but when those who are already doing it are doing it, you pooh-pooh it as though it wasn't worth watching. What do you expect? Game development is more interesting to the masses than framework development, web programming, etc., perhaps not to you, but you are the exception.
January 23, 2015 7:37
Paul Betts actually did this a few times when he was still at GitHub about a year, year and half ago, I think. He would do a bug fix or implement a feature for one of his many awesome open source frameworks like ReactiveUI, and code it live on a webcast. It was actually pretty interesting, as he would talk through his thought process as he was coding. It was cool to see how a talented guy like Paul approached whatever problem he was trying to solve.
January 23, 2015 13:22
I believe that everyone can benefit from watching programming videos, especially beginners. And by beginners I mean anyone who's learning a new language or technology. It's very interesting to see how other programmers approach a problem and how they go about finding the right solution. Very enlightening and I'm always learning something new. I would encourage the community to get a dedicated channel and hopefully established developers will be willing to contribute some of their time and show us how to do it right. The ASP.NET stand-up videos rock btw!
January 23, 2015 23:01
I don't think people would want to watch me code, they'd probably just think gee that guys drinks a lot of coffee and smokes too many cigarettes.
January 24, 2015 13:40
Hey Scott,

There's also

It is still being developed but it seems to have goals similar to what you're describing.
March 23, 2015 23:12
I've just discovered this site that fits the bill. Having problems viewing videos though, so if it's not something wrong at my end, the site may be having teething issues serving up the content.

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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.