Code, Camera, Action!: How Software Developers Document and Share Program Knowledge Using YouTube




MacLeod, Laura

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Creating documentation is a challenging task in software engineering and most techniques involve the laborious and sometimes tedious job of writing text. This thesis explores an alternative to traditional text-based documentation, the screencast, which captures a developer’s screen while they narrate how a program or software tool works. This thesis presents a study investigating how developers produce and share developer-focused screencasts using the YouTube social platform. First, a set of development screencasts were identified and analyzed to determine how developers have adapted to the medium to meet the demands of development-related documen- tation needs. These videos raised questions regarding the techniques and strategies used for sharing software knowledge. Second, screencast producers were interviewed to understand their motivations for creating screencasts, and to uncover the perceived benefits and challenges in producing code-focused videos. From this study a theory was developed describing the techniques used by devel- opers in screencasts. This thesis also discusses YouTube’s role in the social developer ecosystem, and presents a list of best practices for future screencast creators. This work lays the groundwork for future studies exploring how screencasts can play a role in sharing software development knowledge.



Screencast, YouTube, Walkthrough, Software Development