There seems to be a growing trend of presenting information in videos instead of text. It was highly annoying when I got started with Ruby on Rails (though they seem to have improved) and now I just stumbled upon an upgrade tutorial for Drupal vers. 5 to 6. Now, the same information in text is available, but it's hidden a few links away and harder to find.

Question: why do you prefer videos, or prefer text-based tutorials? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

I can understand videos for Photoshop tutorials, and maybe marketing purposes. But a command-line video hasn't been exciting since The Matrix.


No, video tutorials should be made and available. Different people absorb information differently, so you can't cut all that out and expect everyone to learn the way you do.

However, I believe that all the information in video, audio, and other formats should be duplicated in text and other formats. This enables all people of all learning persuasions to choose how they want to consume that information, and reinforces it with a variety of methods.

You might, for instance, watch the video first, and then when you do the implementation use the text as a quick reference.

Video can be thought of as sequential access, while text is nearly random access, and each type of media has its uses.


Hector (in the comments) brings up another point, that many people are deaf, which limits the usability of video, and reminded me of my other video pet peeve: No one uses closed captioning or subtitles!

Subtitles provide the following benefits:

  • Accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community
  • Usable in places where you can't use audio
    • Work
    • Very noisy places like trains/planes, factories, etc
    • Where headphones are not allowed (safety) or they don't block out the noise
    • Where the computer simply doesn't have audio
  • Recordings with poor sound are enhanced
  • Foreign speakers/listeners don't have to struggle so much
  • If implemented correctly, they make the video text searchable - you can look for a section of the video and just watch that portion (or present it, or link to it, etc without creating a new shorter file)
  • There's a transcript available from day one of the video, giving all the text only users what they want, while still providing both video and audio tracks for other learners.



Text is way more useful. I can skip through a text document to see if it's worthwhile reading it properly. With video.. I have to wait and wait... and wait and then find they're telling me things I already know, or don't really want to know.

I would prefer all sites that put videos on to also include a transcript. That'd be best.


Personally I really like video tutorials, at least on the ASP.NET site. They provide all the code/project files they use as well. It is really helpful when working with tools like VS2005/VS2008 if you aren't that familiar with the tool itself.


There is a time and a place for everything. Some tutorials lend themselves very well to video. Others to text and photos. It just depends on the situation. The problem occurs when the creator of the tutorial either doesn't know better, or willfully ignores what is the best medium to convey the information.


Oh right, let's call for less options. Not more! Video is bad because I don't like it. I like text better so everything should be the way I prefer. Bah!

Video tutorials are another way of conveying information. They have some advantages over text-only, but it's a trade off between being able to cut & paste from digital copies of text files (which you can't do with a regular text book either) vs. communicating information with sight and sound. One does not have to be better than the other in the broadest sense. They each have their strengths.


One disadvantage of using text ( online ) is that you get the illusion of learning when you're just copy/pasting code. With videos you at least have to remember what was written/said or type what you saw. Like taking notes.


The main advantage of a video tutorial is that it is physically impossible for the creator to forget a step. If the author forgets to do something, it will become immediately clear to him/her. Similarly, if the narration is poor or vague, the student can look at the screen to figure out what the author just did.


I absolutely love video tutorials, especially when they're accompanied by a code download.

A lot more knowledge can be conveyed from a verbal explanation than by simply looking at the code or comments.


I think both are very useful. Should we get rid of video tutorials? Absolutely not. But they need to be used for the right thing.

Presenting an IDE etc... When it comes to pure codes and code only videos shouldn't be used IMHO.


Wow, like they used to say about TV: if you don't like it, turn it off or change the channel. For the Internet, that's about 10^6 times more applicable. Some folks learn better by listening to lectures, some by reading. And for some people, a combination of the two works best. Heck, if you went to college you probably attended lectures and followed that up by textbooks.


Text by far. You can skip around, go directly to the content you need to. And best of all, you can copy and paste!


There are a lot of questions here, I'll try to answer them one at a time.

Q: Can we get rid of video tutorials, please?

A: I will get rid of all of my video tutorials. I have no power over others' video tutorials.

Q: Does anyone like these videos?

A: I assume that someone, somewhere does, although I can't make any predictions about the overlap between the population of "likes these videos" and "made these videos".

Q: What's the advantage?

A: Demonstrations benefit some users, especially those who are both visual and auditory learners.

Q: Isn't text much easier to work with?

A: Not in all cases.

Q: Is there any good argument FOR these videos?

A: Demonstrations benefit some users, especially those who are both visual and auditory learners.

Q: Are people becoming illiterate?

A: Probably not, at least in the United States, where we currently enjoy a 99% literacy rate.


Text please! Because I'm on dialup at home and video is unusable... :(


Getting Rid of Video Tutorials? No Way, please MORE Videos.

Information should be available in Text form, but often, an Image says more than a thousand words, and Videos usually have 15 Images per second at least :)

The only somewhat annoying thing is if the speaker is not too good. Either unclear pronounciation or simply to slow or going over some really simple stuff that is not really within the scope of the video multiple times.

Videos are added benefit, but they should not replace Text.


I actually prefer video tutorials, but yeah, I'd really like a transcript to go along with them.


Depends on the subject matter to me. If the video is actually showing something, I like it, but I agree that if the tutorial is a straight coding concept, they can be tough to sit through.


It depends how the quality of the video is (don't judge a video by its container). The ASP.NET How To videos are the some of the best video tutorials I've seen on the Internet. Some things you just don't ever show in plain-text, such as Visual Studio shortcuts to clean up (X)HTML or XML indentation (Ctrl K + D).

They are good when used effectively.


One advantage of video is that one's voice can convey subtle nuances that are impossible to express in code or writing. Another advantage is that it can be very efficient: consider how much you can convey to someone over the phone versus an email. Someone can say more in 1 minute about (a) the code (b) current practices etc than is possible to read (or certainly write, from the author's standpoint -- screencasts aren't easy, but writing about code is very hard).

I think having downloads is a good idea, and the accessibility point is excellent.

EDIT: a friend of mine assured me that adding subtitles/captions to a video is straight-forward, so the issue here is not technical but the responsibility of the content provider.


I like video tutorials, but like some of the previous answers have said, a transcript would be helpful as well.


I think its a matter of taste!

I agree, it wouldnt make sense to have a video tutorial to list all the contents of a directory where you take screencasts of a terminal window and just type ls -a

But Its becoming like a trend to screencast anything and everything. probably aimed at technically challenged ones :)

Anyway, You have the option to choose or not to watch them and get bored!


I can't agree with you. PeepCode and Railscasts are both brilliant and have helped me tremedously.


Provide both text, graphics, and video. I'd include audio but that only works fro general topics and specifics like tutorials. The more ways you present things the better chance someone will understand. Repetition also helps. Do we ever get time to develop all of this material? Thats another question.


I hate video tutorials, never have the patience for them. At the least, a searchable textual transcript or at least enough separation into sections is necessary.


I just tried the "super easy to install" .NET blog engine. Wanted the 123 ABC super easy installation instructions to tell me where to set my database connection string, admin setting, and be on my way... but no, they give me a link to a video... and I have no sound on this PC, arghhh.


Can't use them at work (they require sound, not nice for people in surrounding cubicles.) But also, many of them show the text (i.e. if it's about coding and the video shows work in an editor) so small that you can't even read what's on the screen. Some allow making the video larger, but often the enlarged video quality is so bad that you can't read anyway - back to square one.

I've watched a few shows (demonstrations and tutorials) from dnrtv.com and more than half had impossible to read text.


My boss and coworkers (non IT/non programmer) don't like it when I watch TV.