People love watching other people play games: just look at the rise of Twitch and YouTube live streams. But what about developers who want to watch someone else code? You can do that, too—but you have to know where to find the streams.
If finding them isn’t always easy, it’s with good reason. Given the number of languages in use, finding a suitable stream takes time, and avenues you’d think would yield easy results—such as the WatchPeopleCode sub-Reddit—are pretty hit-and-miss.
There’s also a pretty strong twinge of imposer’s syndrome. Code isn’t always pretty, and your process may not be the shiniest example of how to get a project done; as a result, many people are reluctant to put their skills on display, even if they’re good.
But there are still plenty of avenues. Twitch has some live coding, but as the service is about gaming, don’t expect coding to pop up on the front page. Keep in mind that most coding streams on Twitch are about making games, too.
A second option is YouTube. Like Twitch, YouTube is not designed for live coding, and the live-streaming angle of YouTube is nascent. Still, it’s a huge video portal, and plenty of streamers make their home on YouTube. In fact, many of the channels we listed in our guide for developers live stream fairly often.
The key with both Twitch and YouTube is search. The problem with Twitch and YouTube is also search. For example, searching for “PHP” on Twitch returns results for a channel called, “Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2,” which I’m not sure I should click on. (In that instance, you scroll down to the ‘communities’ sub-menu, and a web developer group appears.)
YouTube has better filtering, and a ton more video, but live streaming is still a problem. Searching for PHP (again) surfaced a ton of great content, and even some courses to check out. When I filtered live video, much of the coding went away. A more general search for “coding” brought up about eight streams, three of which were actual live coding.
It may seem like a lost cause, but there’s a saving grace: LiveEdu. Formerly ‘LiveCoding,’ LiveEdu is nothing but coding streams and videos. While it doesn’t have the scope of YouTube (it returned 67,589 videos for PHP, while YouTube surfaced over 21.4 million), it’s distilled to actual coding.
More to the point, live streams take center-stage. While it also catalogs streams, LiveEdu has a feature that shows you scheduled streams based on your search. So I can see that eight PHP streams are coming up, and there’s an option to tag your attendance so you don’t forget to catch a stream.
Where LiveEdu differs from Twitch and YouTube is monetization. If you plan on watching a ton of live streams, a Pro account might be worth splurging on. For $9.99/month (discounts apply if you pre-pay for six months or a year), you can avoid ads, download project files and videos at whatever resolution you like, and you have access to ‘Premium’ projects, which is more educational than voyeur. Streamers tell you step-by-step what they’re doing; most streams are simply a screen-share with a broadcaster chiming in to answer questions or make random comments.
Broadcasters also benefit from going Pro. They can opt-out of archiving, work in public or private team channels, make their own channel or videos private and avoid video deletion (LiveEdu deletes videos if they violate terms of service or have less than 200 views). For those interested in streaming, we suggest Suz Hinton’s retrospective on her first year of live coding. It’s a fairly comprehensive walk-through of what equipment and apps she uses, as well as considerations to make when streaming.
Live coding is around; it’s just not where you may be looking. Twitch feels like the most natural choice, but the dearth of streams for developers is evident. YouTube is still an option, but LiveEdu is the best option for viewers and broadcasters when it comes to live coding.