This resonated pretty strongly with people:
I’d watch a documentary series of developers giving a tour of their codebases.
— Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) January 6, 2019
I think I was watching some random Netflix documentary and daydreaming that the subject was actually something I was super interested in: a semi-high-quality video deep dive into different companies codebases, hearing directly from the developers that built and maintain them.
Horror stories might also be interesting. Particularly if they involve perfect storm scenarios that naturally take us on a tour of the codebase along the way, so we can see how the system failed. We get little glimpses of this sometimes.
Probably more interesting is a tour of codebases when everything is humming along as planned. I wanna see the bottling factory when it’s working efficiently so I can see the symphony of it more than I wanna see a heaping pile of broken glass on the floor.
Or! Maybe the filmmaker will get lucky and there will be some major problem with the site as they’re filming, and they can capture the detection, reaction, and fixing of the problem and everything that entails. And sure, this isn’t wildlife rescue; sometimes the process for fixing even the worst of fires is to stare at your screen and type in silence like you always do. But I’m sure there is some way to effectively show the drama of it.
I’m not sure anything like this exists yet, but I’d definitely watch it. Here’s a bunch of stuff that isn’t a million miles away from the general idea:
- This Developer’s Life was damn well done and ran mostly from 2010-2012, but with an episode as recent as 2015.
- The History of the Web is a blog/newsletter about… that.
- There is a subreddit for /r/WatchPeopleCode. But there is a crapload of coding videos on YouTube and Twitch and all over that are equally sufficient.
- It’s been a few years since a new episode has been released, but readthesource shows developers going through the source code of big projects they’re working on.
- Design is lucky, they’ve got a bunch of great high-budget documentaries like Objectified, Helvetica, Design & Thinking, Design Disruptors, Design is Future, and Abstract.
- Web design has What Comes Next is the Future.
I would absolutely love to watch a series of Web Dev documentaries! Are you planning to make one Chris?
There are so many paths and starting points for a “Web Dev” (what ever that means ).
Especially a documentary about self taught (no comp. sci. background) vs college taught. The struggles find work, in my experience as a self taught Web Dev are very real!
I watched the full set of videos from your CSS-Tricks v10 redesign and I felt like I learnt so much. Watching the process and how someone troubleshoots (and also realising that people Google a lot of answers along the way as well).
I’d definitely watch
Where in the link to that!!! I wana watch!
Here’s the link if anyone was wondering: https://css-tricks.com/lodge/v10/
I wonder, what about focusing on a few open source codebases? You could show the progress of the code in real time and benefit from the fact that the process, and the code, is mostly open to begin with. It would also let you bounce back and forth between massive codebases (React, WordPress) and much smaller ones.
Love the idea Chris! If you decide to do it yourself I’d be more than happy to help :)
Documentary makers do like the jeopardy factor!
It would be a great show to watch. But if it was made as a documentary for a very broad audience, it would probably be too dumbed down to be very interesting to developers.
Something like Computerphile on Youtube, but more product oriented could be great though!
Great idea. Would learn a lot with the right pacing and documentary-style storytelling. How problems were approached and why the particular solution was used.
Oh heck yes.
Re: horror stories, ArsTechnica has a web series where they interview game devs about stories from the trenches, usually involving technical and/or design hurdles. Not quite the same, but in the same sphere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFNxJVTJleE&list=PLKBPwuu3eCYkScmqpD9xE7UZsszweVO0n
But I would love to see some major open-source projects walked-through in dramatic fashion by their developers. I hate trying to read through a wall of code unguided, but if a documentary can give me an understanding of corporate fraud, I bet it can give me an understanding of how the Linux Kernel works. Especially with the human factor of firsthand testimony.
I would love this! Since I work for an insurance company our code is super private, but I would be very entertained if big code bases could share their struggles. Just thought I’d point out though you would have to do companies who were open to sharing and I’m sure the most “juicy” stories would be from big enterprises
Interesting, maybe we should chat. I’m making a doc about devs right now. Helloworldfilm.com
Sorry I missed the funding. Congratulations on the green light ! I am trying to pledge for travel and the director but the site won’t let me. Any stickers left?
We do this with game-dev code as part of the podcast Nice Games Club in a series called “Code Comment” where we have an indie dev show us their most interesting- and sometimes very hacky- code that powers their games. We wanted to show people how other devs solve problems and that sometimes you have to do unconventional things to get something to work. Not web-dev but it is similar to what you are describing!
I would love to see something similar with websites or webapps, that would be super cool!
I’ve toyed with this idea over the years, soft-pitching it to various broadcast and online video production teams. The challenge is finding the hook that makes it “interesting” to the mainstream and the peripherally interested audience. Making coding look interesting is hard because unlike design good or bad code looks pretty much the same and the understanding threshold is exceptionally high. All these conversations eventually end up being about the people rather than the work. “Find some interesting coders” or “make a documentary about building a product” etc. Video is a visual medium. Code is not.
I’m sure it can and will be done, we’re just waiting for someone to find the secret formula to make it watchable.
Do you plan to make a video series on the v17(latest) redesign? I love, love, love the “The Big v10 Redesign Project”, but it is a bit out of date.
I feel the new design I beyond awesome and uses some pretty nifty tech. We would all benefit for seeing the coding of that. I know Kylie designed it but maybe Kylie could be apart of it.
Please Please Please
Yes, I would love that. I learn so much from practical examples from people in the field.