The Great Video Instruction Debate

Over the past year or so I’ve noted that there is a sizable sub-group who feel that our How Do I videos are of marginal or negative value. This was crystallized by a series of emails that I’ll condense in the hope we can begin a discussion.

HDIVideo(This image is live, click to see the video on Data Validation)

The strong version of the argument is this:

Please avoid screencasts, especially if for developers as screen casts won’t be watched, won’t be searchable, don’t allow the user to jump to the important parts.  For some things screencasts are useful (like illustrating a particularly tricky UI task), but for many, they are just lazy. MSDN and particularly have been producing too many videos.


I would open the discussion in response by agreeing that correctness is paramount, and that not all videos are information rich or engaging, but suggested that the audience probably follows something approximating a normal distribution:


In short, we are producing a lot of videos because our download numbers indicate that they are very popular. Given that I occasionally cover the same material in any of three formats

  • Video
  • Mini-Tutorial
  • Full Tutorial

and that videos almost always swamp the others in number of downloads, I think there is empirical evidence that some folks do find them a useful approach.

That said, the raised concerns that they are not searchable or indexable is more than legitimate, and we have creative ideas about fixing or ameliorating that problem that we’ll be talking about soon.

In the interim, I suggested taking a look both at:

Thanks and I look forward to a lively discussion.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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