Ari Bader-Natal

Sketchcasting (2012)

Next-generation screecasting for code

Cross-posted on the Sketchpad blog.

One of my favorite features of Sketchpad is the ability to see how any sketch on the site was created. In a P2PU course that I organized using Sketchpad in 2010, I even used this playback functionality to have participants "watch" me do a worked example. As you scan through the history of my sketch, you see me begin with pseudo-code, then slowly fill out the functionality until I have solved the problem. It was a klunky way to convey the idea, but it was the best I could do at the time. I'm happy to say that there is now a much better way to record your coding sessions to share your process and your thoughts with others: Sketchcasting!

Thanks to a Shuttleworth Foundation flash grant from Philipp Schmidt, I was able to take a few weeks off between my time working at Grockit and the Minerva Project to build something brand new. What I built — inspired by the P2PU course experience and enabled by Mozilla's great Popcorn project — functions a lot like the interactive code-casts that have recently been added on Khan Academy. Watch the code being typed as you listen to an accompanying audio narration, pause playback to fork and experiment yourself with the code at any moment, then show and share what you create. The best part is that anyone can record a sketchcast, not just me.

The idea behind sketchcasting is to support a much more natural way to explain what you're doing as you do it. When you start recording a sketchcast, you can simply talk as you type. That's it!

I'll share more details on this soon, but until then, the video above should get you started.

Here is a finished sketchcast that you can play with.