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Have you ever live streamed your coding process?

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I've been wanting to try out streaming my coding process on a site like Twitch, but I'm a bit intimidated! I've streamed video games before, but never something with multiple windows. If I'm streaming front end web work, for example, I'd want my audience to see my editor and my browser at minimum, and ideally also the design I'm following. I've watched streamers code before, but they're usually doing work that only happens in an editor and a terminal.

I'd love your thoughts!

Have you ever watched a coding live stream? What did you like about it, and what do you wish they did differently?

Have you ever live streaming your coding process? What tips do you have?

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My gripes with watching live coding:

  • Font size too small / too big. I should be able to read code without going fullscreen (basically 720p-ish)
  • Throw your mechanical keyboard out the window. I don't want to hear clacks when I'm deciphering your message. Try using a directional microphone that doesn't pick up ambient noise.

More for conference talks/tutorial videos:

  • Explain process. Copy/pasting snippets without context is a no-go. You don't have to hand-write and explain every function, but talk people through your thinking behind the process. That's why we tune in to you vs any other dev doing the same stack. It's easy to assume someone knows how something works, but it could be their first time even doing an npm install.
  • Try to fit everything in one scroll. When you scroll up and down, it's easy to lose information.
  • Waiting for stuff to install/compile. This needs to be like a cooking show - do the setup process to show how it's done, but have a product at every stage of development ready to quickly show. It sucks watching someone fumble with errors.
  • Timestamps or short-form videos. I want to scrobble through the video, but it can be hard looking hundreds of frames of code. Having clear break points helps people (like breaking an article up into chapters).
 

These are some really helpful thoughts! What font size do you think would be best?

 

I've done a lot of live coding streaming.

My first tip is to be aware that it can be stressful. Even if nobody is watching live (likely for the first shows), you'll feel as though they are. Little mistakes start to balloon in your mind, and you worry about everything. Not only do you worry about the code, you start worrying about whether you're entertaining the viewers, making enough progress or not.

It's important to have the streaming settings setup correctly. Viewers need to be able to read the code. This involves a fairly high resolution broadcast, I do mine at 1920x1080. I also use 30FPS to limit the bit-rate to 6Mbps and still have a non-blurry image.

Getting audio acceptable is a bit annoying. You need to eliminate echo in the room, or at least enough so it doesn't sound like you're inside an empty chamber, or hallway of some kind. Eliminating keyboard noise is very hard, and I'm still not successful. Even with a semi-directional mike it picks up the noise. I use the quietest membrane keyboard I could find and it's still a problem. An option might be to use a clip mike and turn down the gain, but I don't want to wear a clip mike.

 

I used to do some coding streams streaming to YouTube, HitBox, Twitch and livecoding.tv (now liveedu.tv) all at the same time. I loved it. I usually had a split 4 way terminal with each chat to interact with chat. If you're interested in streaming to multiple places at once check out my tiny GitHub repo:

github.com/justintime4tea/nginx-rt...

The cool part about letting a VPS split the stream is it is less work for your PC and you can make sure your at the right bitrate and encoding for all services.

 

Thanks for sharing that. Which microphone do you use? What kind of coding do you stream?

 

I was just using the microphone on the web camera I had for the longest time. I now use an Auna condensor microphone -- mainly because I wanted to improve audio quality for non-live videos and podcasts. The webcam worked fine though, and I don't think I limited my audience because of it's quality.

You can see a lot of my old streams on my YouTube channel. I've done Rust AI Bot programming, Fuse UI/UX mobile programming, some comp sci algorithms, game programming in my Leaf language, and other miscellaneous stuff.

I don't do a lot of live code streaming anymore. It's not calling to me that much. This is important, if I don't feel up for streaming I don't think my viewers will like it.

 

It's definitely not for everyone, but there are lots of folks who find it interesting or helpful!

I personally enjoy watching someone else code who's doing an interesting project that I kinda understand, like code for games or front end or fun hardware. It's neat to see their thought process and hear them explain how they work, which helps me learn. It's honestly soothing to even just have on while I'm doing other things, hearing the person talk and type.

I personally also love explaining what I'm doing as I code. Similar to talking while pairing, it helps me think and I end up with great work at the end.

Like I said though, it's not for everyone and it's okay if you're not into it!

 

Have you ever watched a coding live stream? What did you like about it, and what do you wish they did differently?

I've watched people coding live on Twitch and ...
😀 LIKED: Interactivity
😞 DISLIKED: Can't watch it at 2x speed & you can't figure out what the streamer is thinking unless everything is said (just like in remote interviews)

Maybe I am missing out the whole point of live coding as the focus should be the communication.

Have you ever live streaming your coding process? What tips do you have?

I tried a few times on Twitch but my computer & internet speed wasn't able to handle the software (OBS Studio or XSplit).

The comprise I did was run the software on PC & remote into a laptop for coding. Still didn't work out.

So the only tip I can provide is to use a fast machine (could be subjective depending on your configurations).

 

Code streams are dope!

I watch them mostly for seeing how others think about solving problems rather than canned solutions. If I want something canned and prepared, Ill read an article or watch a tutorial.

The most second most important thing to remember when streaming anything is Interact With The Chat Constantly!

If you're not reading the chat all the time, it might as well not be live.

Oh, and the most important thing is Have Fun! Of course!
Its not work unless you're getting paid, and sometimes its not work even when you are!

 

I watched some streams few years ago. To learn something or to help somebody. And they do it also for those two reasons. So what is your reason?

Problems:

  • bad timing (waiting for start)
  • go away from computer
  • to long streams (hours)
  • small font size
  • quick switching between files

What I liked:

  • progress of skills
  • showing craft
  • thinking loud (but only if it makes sense and at right speed)
 

It doesn't matter if it is gaming, drawing, or coding. The most important thing is interaction. Even if noone is writing or you have zero viewers at the moment you have to be interactive yourself, for quite a long time. So try expressing everything, not only thought process but also feelings.

I tried gaming and creative streaming. It's not meaningful or worth it if you can't do it daily, and very interactively. Otherwise it is a waste of time for you and any viewers, stalkers, passing by-ers. In this case just posting your results to github is more efficient for everyone.

 

I've been contemplating starting a stream, but instead of twitch, I'm considering Youtube (unless there are better reasons to stream via Twitch).

Do you have any thoughts on what you'd like to stream specifically?

 

I can’t code if someone is watching. Seriously though, I don’t understand watching others playing a game when I can do it myself, let alone watching them code. Kind of reminds me of pair programming 😅

 
 

I have done live coding. The issue, for me at least, is that there is a ton of long pauses with nothing happening on the screen. I don't imagine staring at a blinking cursor is very compelling.

 

Plus Twitch always flags my music for copyright. So screw it.

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