Why we’re creating a fresh movie format for code – scrimba – Medium
Why we’re creating a fresh movie format for code
Online movie has been around since before Justin Bieber, but unlike Bieber it hasn’t truly switched much. It has more or less stayed the same since April 2005, when the very first YouTube movie ever was uploaded.
Video’s influence on society has however switched drastically. It has grown to become significant part of communication, business, online marketing, health, education and many other verticals.
Here’s an up and to the right graph to make you believe me.
For the most this growth is a good thing, as movie works well in many areas.
But it has also eaten its way into spaces where it’s not as well suited, like the learn to code space, where it has become the superior device for tutorials (all the thickest online learning platforms are based on movie).
This is sad, because movie is actually a big step rearwards if you compare it to an in-person learning practice. There are many reasons for this, and in this article I’ll look at the two of the most significant ones.
I’ll also explain how Sindre, Magnus and I are working to solve this problem by creating a fresh and interactive movie format tailored specifically towards communicating code.
Movie kills interactivity
The very first big problem with movie is that it demolishes all possibilities for interactivity, as the code is diminished to dead pixels.
This means you can neither copy, edit or run the code. All you can do is observe it.
This is a step rearwards from the in-person learning practice of having a teacher explain you something on a computer, where you’d be able to take over at any point, edit the code and see how your switches affects the output.
Especially as this type of interactivity is fully possible in online learning as well, however not as long as we stick to the old fashioned movie format.
This problem only affects students, however let’s also look at the movie format from the teachers point of view.
Movie is a hassle to create
The 2nd problem with movie is the frustrating creation process. Explaining code through screencasts is a lot more hassle than doing it in-person, because you have to go through a bunch of steps in order to create the movie:
- Download a screen recording device
- Setup your system (editor/console nicely, font-size, cleanup desktop)
- Do the instructing/recording
- Screw up, swear loudly, and redo clip(s)
- Edit the clips together in e.g. iMovie
- Export it
- Upload it
- Wait for YouTube to re-encode it
As a result, what would have taken you five minutes to explain in-person, can often take an hour to explain online.
I’m 100% sure that this soul crushing process prevents thousands of developers from sharing their skill online. It also makes it a hassle to demonstrate your coding abilities through movie, which could be relevant in e.g. job interviews or assignments at code schools.
There are other problems with the movie format as well, i.e. its yam-sized file size and the fact that you can’t search in movies. However, let’s stick to the two most pressing ones.
A better solution
As mentioned, I’m writing this article because we’re working to solve these problems at Scrimba. We are reinventing the movie format for explaining code. The concept can be a bit tricky to understand at once, so I’d recommend you to see this one minute screencast to get a capture of it.
Technically, the fattest difference inbetween Scrimba and normal movie is that we record events instead of pixels.
Creating a Scrimba screencast is super effortless. There’s no downloading, exporting or uploading involved. You simply open our web based editor, click RECORD and embark talking while you code.
When someone sees your screencast, we recreate exactly what you did when you recorded it (in the same environment). This enables the viewer to copy, edit or run the code if she wants.
Why we’re doing it
So why are we doing this? Well, there are many reasons. But at its core, it’s about improving the online skill sharing bandwidth. The global scale of the web is a fantastic enabler for training and learning, however the in-person learning practice got lost in the transition from classroom to the web.
So our purpose is to make online learning better than in-person learning.
This simply won’t be possible if we stick with the traditional movie format, due to the problems I described above.
We’re kicking off off with a niche (client side code) but will expand to other areas as we stir forward, both more programming languages and other technical subjects, like maths and physics.
If done right, this can make it lighter for millions of people to learn fresh abilities.
Want to talk?
If you have any thoughts or input, please let us know! Especially if you’re a training or studying code.