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Author Topic: What is wrong with my tutorials?  (Read 11787 times)

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CodingMadeEasy

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What is wrong with my tutorials?
« on: July 10, 2014, 12:47:45 am »
I did a search of my youtube channel name "CodingMadeEasy" and a couple of people have been saying not to follow my tutorials. They say I have no knowledge of C++ or Sfml and that people should avoid my tutorials at all cost.

My tutorials aren't designed to be the most optimized and use the newest code style that comes with c++ 11 and c++ 14 as well as using advanced algorithms to make things happen. They're there to show the basic code to get something on the screen, and enough knowledge to create a simple game. In no instance did I mention that my tutorials were to be watched over the docs. I even praise the docs in my tutorials and advise my subscribers to check it out for more in-depth knowledge of SFML.

Anyways what I want to know is what am I doing that is so crippling to the programming community. All I've seen people say is "Don't watch his tutorials" but no one explains why. I'm not looking for bashing or arguments just constructive criticism that's all.

Thanks for your time.

Strelok

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2014, 12:56:31 am »
Bad coding habits will be carried on for years and spread throughout the web. I guess that's the problem. Tutorials try to focus on a specific problem while ignoring any other design flaw that may be neglected by the tutorial creator, if that makes sense. N.B. I'm just assuming I've never seen any tutorial of yours ;D
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 01:01:28 am by Strelok »

CodingMadeEasy

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2014, 12:59:45 am »
Thanks for the input but I always mention that my code style in my tutorials are not the best or the most efficient they're just for teaching the basics of a framework/api. I guess the people criticizing don't know enough about what my channel is about I guess.

Strelok

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Re: Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2014, 01:08:31 am »
Thanks for the input but I always mention that my code style in my tutorials are not the best or the most efficient they're just for teaching the basics of a framework/api. I guess the people criticizing don't know enough about what my channel is about I guess.
What you mean by 'basics' might mean 'bad coding style' for a more experienced programmer. If I were a developer of a library and a guy on YouTube put a video showcasing a feature while introducing one or more problems by writing overly simplistic code that would result in people storming the forum with lame questions, I would not encourage such behaviour. Once again, this is not aimed at you but just my hypothesis ;)

binary1248

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2014, 01:17:24 am »
I think claims that you have no knowledge of C++ or SFML are baseless and should just be ignored. I've seen a few of your videos, and I assume that you are trying to avoid more advanced concepts in favour of keeping them simple and easy to follow.

That is where the problems begin. When people say "don't watch his tutorials" often they don't explain why, and I think this is where the confusion stems from. It isn't because they are bad in any way, I actually think that they serve as decent examples to demonstrate some key concepts in SFML. The problem is not you or your videos, it is those who watch it and what they take away.

If someone is already proficient in C++ and wants an introduction to SFML in a non-textual form, they can go ahead and watch your videos, I would even recommend to watch them. Due to the way YouTube works, you can't always be sure that everyone who watches your videos is already proficient in C++. Often you will find, in the comments and this forum, people who try to kill two birds with one stone by watching your videos. Learning C++ and SFML simultaneously is by no means impossible, just very inefficient unless you are a very gifted or have a lot of patience and systematic problem solving skills. Unfortunately, those kinds of people are very uncommon from my experience, so although your videos aren't bad in themselves, their intention is simply misinterpreted by its audience.

If you want a bit of constructive criticism, I would say don't try to feed your potential audience more than they can chew. Often they themselves don't know how much they can chew and tend to overestimate their learning capacity. Split your videos up into more dedicated series. One for basic C++ concepts and good coding habits, and one solely for SFML where you can assume (and state) that viewers should already have a firm grip of C++ and can make use of language features and/or facilities that make C++ the elegant language that it is.

I find your videos have relatively high production value compared to many other comparable series that I have seen on YouTube. It's just a pity that people misuse them or misinterpret their intention, but that is something everybody has to deal with when making videos that are aimed at teaching things. Just like how children are split up by age and learning ability in schools, optimally, your viewers should be to, but nobody is going to enforce it. That's just how the internet works.
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Strelok

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2014, 01:23:14 am »
I've had a quick look at some of your videos and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with your tutorials (at least the first parts of sfml 2.0) though I'm far from being a c++ guru :'(

CodingMadeEasy

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2014, 01:29:57 am »
@Strelok That is a very true statement and thank you. I do have a series just dedicated to C++ but I guess I need to make it clear of the requirements one should know before pursuing SFML or any other framework for that matter. Thanks so much :)

eXpl0it3r

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2014, 01:32:31 am »
Before you read the points here, keep in mind that some of the issues are not specific to your videos, but to tutorial videos in general.

One of the problem on the surface is, that nearly all your tutorials show code with mistakes. If you set out to make tutorials at least go over your code with the tutorials side by side and make sure it's not filled with mistakes or even better let it get reviewed by someone.
Just keep in mind that everyone watching your tutorials, will take on the same mistakes and we as community and helping hand, have to explain over and over and over again what they did wrong, or better said what you did wrong.

This leads to the next point. Videos are static content, meaning once you've uploaded a video it stays there until you delete it. Thus if you said something wrong, if you made a mistake or if SFML changes, your video won't adapt. People will watch and do the same mistakes or use the same outdated SFML "version" and again it will blow back on to the community who will have to explain many times over what went wrong.

If you barely understand a topic and you're trying to teach it to others, then you're doomed to either do things completely wrong or talk about things that aren't really true. Why do you think teachers go to universities or similar? Yes, they learn all the ins and outs about a certain subject, so if they stand in front of their pupils later, they actually know what they're talking about. A lot of information you think you know correctly is wrong and you're teaching these things to others, thus others learn wrong information and at one point will of course run into issues, issues that others have to solve/explain for you.

Don't underestimate the laziness of people. Sure, you say that your code style is not good or that one should really read the tutorials, but people are lazy. Those that are searching on YouTube for video tutorials on SFML are mostly exactly the ones that are there, because they don't want to read the tutorials. They want to be spoon fed with information and complete code examples. You can tell them over and over again to read the tutorials, but it won't help, they mostly don't want to read, they want to watch.

I haven't gone through your whole backlog of videos, but most of what you're teaching can be found in the tutorials, but without mistakes and in a generally accepted coding style, not to forget that the tutorials are always up to date with the latest stable version, as soon as there's a new stable version. From this perspective there are not many reasons to watch your videos.

To sum it up:
We don't recommend your videos, because they contain mistakes, provide wrong information and teach bad coding habits. Instead we recommend reading the official tutorials, since they teach about the same thing, but have accurate information, do not have mistakes (or get corrected if any are found) and are always up to date.

I guess, I might come across quite harsh since I've only talked about what seems wrong. Your tutorials for sure can teach some things about SFML and I'd say if executed better, we wouldn't just say one shouldn't watch them. I guess binary1248 put it quite nicely in that regard. ;)

My advice:
Really learn whatever you want to teach. Don't just sit down, code and talk about things you've once heard or think how they might work. Just read actual books about the topics, but make sure they are good books!
If you show code, make sure it has been reviewed at best by two people with a high skill level in the used programming language/library.
And if you want to provide compressed but useful information in your videos, write scripts or rather notes for them. What do you want to teach? How do you want to highlight things? What do you want to explain in details? Which links to external resources do you want to provide? Etc. So you won't get derailed or lose track of what you actually wanted to teach.

If you want me to give specific examples on where your mistakes are, I'll try to find some time to write up a few things.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 01:16:33 pm by eXpl0it3r »
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Nexus

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2014, 01:37:13 am »
My personal impression was that a lot of misconceptions in this forum about C++ and SFML were caused by your tutorials. It may be biased, since people learning good things won't come and ask here, but I noticed that when your tutorials were involved, it was usually related to something that has been taught in a wrong or at least non-ideal way.

You say your channel is about teaching concepts, not using the best possible way. This would work if people a) knew that and b) would critically question everything they see. However, a lot of people will adopt everything, including the bad habits that are so difficult to get rid of afterwards. This is even more extreme for C++ than SFML, and as binary1248 says, people who want to learn both C++ and SFML at the same time can be really misguided. That is of course not your fault alone, but in my opinion you should not encourage this way of learning -- maybe focus more on SFML and clearly state that C++ should be learned in advance. As a "teacher", you have a certain responsibility with respect to how you convey the matter.

Being more concrete, some of your mistakes are among those I'm often warning people about, for example: #define, static arrays or global variables. I'm sure I could find more if I had the time.

Having said that, I'm totally aware that teaching wrong concepts is not your intention. And the fact that you ask here shows that you're actually concerned about it, as such I would highly appreciate it if we could find a way so that I can recommend future tutorials with good conscience (the problem about past tutorials still persists however). Since you're probably investing a considerable amount of free time, I think it also deserves to be honored; and here I think you could make a huge difference if you laid a bit more focus on quality rather than quantity. On your side, this requires additional reading about good C++ practices (needn't be C++11/14, just somehow modern C++) and possibly about SFML concepts.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 01:39:08 am by Nexus »
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CodingMadeEasy

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2014, 01:54:21 am »
Thank you eXpl0it3r and Nexus although it's hard to swallow but I can't argue with 2 people on the development team for SFML. If you could give a few examples where I went wrong that would be awesome. I want to know what areas I need to brush up on because quite frankly I'm not too sure where I messed up SFML wise. As for coding style I understand that part now. I figured I was doing a good service by teaching the bare bones of SFML without putting a big emphasis on code style but I guess that not all good intentions have good results.

Also eXpl0it3r, I do get it when you say that people who watch videos are lazy and such but sometimes people need interactive learning to kind of kick things in gear. I remember when I first started learning C++; I had my book and I watched a few tutorials to see if I could get a different outlook on a certain area and for me it did make it easier to learn. Just reading a C++ book or any programming language book does nothing for you if you don't really know how to read it or how to digest it. Learning by tutorials may be crippling sometimes but I believe that they further help introduce ideas in a way that maybe a book can't. That's just my opinion on the matter though.

Anyways thanks for being so brutally honest. I want to improve and there's no better way to improve than to learn from your mistakes.

Thanks for the enlightenment :)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 02:17:38 am by CodingMadeEasy »

eXpl0it3r

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2014, 02:20:08 am »
Although it's hard to swallow I can't argue with 2 people on the development team for SFML.
You should not feel intimidated by us being part of the SFML Team. If you got strong arguments, no one can say anything against them. ;)

If you could give a few examples where I went wrong that would be awesome to know where I need to brush up on because quite frankly I'm not too sure where I messed up SFML wise.
Do you intend to bring up your website again, because it currently seems to be suspended. I don't have the time right now to go through your videos and extract the code bits from there.

Also eXpl0it3r, I do get it when you say that people who watch videos are lazy and such but sometimes people need interactive learning to kind of kick things in gear.
I've been talking too general in that aspect. Of course not everyone is the same in that regard. I just know that there are a lot of people that argue, that they can learn things waaaaaaay better by watching videos instead of reading books, but from my own personal experience this is mostly just a way to get around reading the more complex formed things in text. When you read a book, you have to actively "consume" it, if you watch a video you can "consume" it actively as well, but you might just as well do it passively. Plus when it comes down to learning C++, I strongly believe that you can't learn modern C++ with a series of two of video tutorials. C++ is such a huge monster, it can't be compressed into a few videos, plus unless you really know what you're talking about, good books will teach you things a lot better. If you now wonder why I talk about C++ while the topic is about your SFML videos, then it's because of what Nexus said. Your intentions were different, but if you're honest and look at who's been watching your SFML videos, then I'm sure a lot of them have barely any knowledge in C++ and no attempt to learn C++ and SFML at the same time.

As such yes, videos can be inspirational and give a different stance on things, but if the viewer isn't experienced enough to spot mistakes, then the videos tend to do more harm then good, because people will learn things in a non-optimal way.
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CodingMadeEasy

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2014, 02:28:44 am »
Quote
You should not feel intimidated by us being part of the SFML Team. If you got strong arguments, no one can say anything against them. ;)

I wouldn't say intimidated. I would say more along the lines of respect. I respect your knowledge of SFML and of the programming field as well but nonetheless those are wise words :).

Quote
Do you intend to bring up your website again, because it currently seems to be suspended. I don't have the time right now to go through your videos and extract the code bits from there.

Yes it should be back up sometime next week. I'll inform you once it's back up.

As for the rest of the post, I do understand what you're saying.

FRex

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2014, 02:52:44 am »
There have yet to be a concrete example... ::)
I criticized your (sub)forum (which is now down) for SFML which made absolutely no sense, threads had often 0 answers, questions were weird or basic and it was extremely small and this one isn't paid or closed or anything...
I also had you confused (in my mind for past few months) with xoax.net*, which is a really bad 'resource', I only seen a few of your videos for a few minutes and though that it's too slow paced for me long long ago.

Also, your videos are very ad hoc, I know I will never write code like the one you show features with but people who watch might not - it's not uncommon for beginners to have single shapeless blob of code in int main. The people who watch yours seem.. not that good, they are asking really stupid, basic things like 'how do I make game engine in 5 week for my school project', some are stuck setting up their IDE, compilers, whatevers...** Someone even asked for new 2D game tutorial, since 1.6 one doesn't work with 2.0 which is very idiotic since there are mainly a few renamed classes, some postfx code changes and a small letter instead of capital one in each method and that's it...

*xoax.net is a (person? website? ??) that does video tutorials that can be considered between not-that-good at best to #lolcontent at worst: hungarian notation, weird or wrong coding style, some errors or windows specific things in the c++ tutorial, ignoring comments telling him these things...

** yes, I know, C++ + SFML is not as straightforward or packed with ready features as some other combinations (GML + GameMaker, C# + XNA, C#/Boo/JS + Unity, Lua + LOVE, ...) but the point is that no one is forcing most of these people to even use C++, they and their small 2D ideas don't need the performance of native code, they might not care about the portability to other OSes or amount of C and C++ libraries to browse through for the features they need (and they usually have ports or bindings to other languages anyway). It makes no sense for them to use a tool that has such a steep learning curve and many many traps for oblivious programmers. Answer to why they use might often be 'because pros do' or 'because I want to'.
There is one case of 'forcing' but if someone on computer science or similar course can't set up a compiler or find someone to teach him that, he is really bad or has terrible teachers.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 02:54:52 am by FRex »
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CodingMadeEasy

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2014, 03:14:40 am »
@FRex my forum was getting spammed by bots and I didn't have the time to upgrade the website. By the time I had time the forum was flooded with spam and so now I'm scrapping the old one and putting up a new one.
As for my subscribers. I know what you're talking about, I've received plenty of "idiotic" questions in the past but how do you learn if you don't start from somewhere? To you it seems idiotic to ask how to set up a linker but in their minds it's a daunting task which is ok.

I now realize that my mistake was not setting a minimum standard for my tutorials and as a result we have people jumping into something much too large. My tutorials are dumbed down to the point where they're easy enough for beginners to understand hence the name "CodingMadeEasy", but I'm crippling them because in their minds they believe they're making progress when in reality they're copying and pasting mediocre code (which isn't the intention).

As for Xoax, I am in no way affiliated with them.

All in all, I apologize if my tutorials have stressed you guys out on the forums. Yes "stupid" questions are asked but I just see it as though we all start somewhere and I'm pretty sure when most of us started our programming journey, we had big dreams and ambitions until we realized that programming isn't an easy task.

Anyways just my two cents.

FRex

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Re: What is wrong with my tutorials?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2014, 05:03:58 am »
Quote
To you it seems idiotic to ask how to set up a linker but in their minds it's a daunting task which is ok.
I respect that because there are task that are daunting to me, but I don't jump blindly into them or ask others. Struggling teaches a lot, blindly thrashing around teaches nothing. There were quite a few cases where I gave up on something or scaled down for the time being and came back after a while to pick it up and it was easier the next time. The 'I wanna make a game quickly but don't know coding at all' approach is really bad one. And that still doesn't answer why they want to use C++. If they just want to make a reasonably complex game - there are better ways, C++ is not a must. If they want to learn it properly - it takes time and no amount of asking in comments will cut down the number of weeks or months required.

Someone saying they 'need to make a game for final project in 5 weeks' and saying they 'don't know how to code games at all' is really not ok in my eyes, something is wrong with their knowledge or way their course works.
And some question are really bad and would literally be answered by Google. There even was a question if SFML maybe has a website... This is literally 1 second in Google and even you say things about 'SFML website' in some videos.

Quote
I now realize that my mistake was not setting a minimum standard for my tutorials and as a result we have people jumping into something much too large. My tutorials are dumbed down to the point where they're easy enough for beginners to understand hence the name "CodingMadeEasy", but I'm crippling them because in their minds they believe they're making progress when in reality they're copying and pasting mediocre code (which isn't the intention).
You are being a bit too harsh to yourself, but yes - you might want to inform anyone coming that these are examples, that this is one way to do it, that it might not be best practice, that they will learn by doing not by seeing you do it once or twice, that they need some other skills beforehand.
I used to watch a series of math videos which were considered very good ones, they aren't public and they aren't in English so I can't just paste them as example of 'video done right'. They did exactly these things you don't.
  • The person making them warned that some teachers might use slightly different notation or method of solving something and that other, harder, easier or worse ways exist
  • Every video listed all prerequisites to itself and stressed them and discouraged proceeding without them
  • Every video stressed that there IS a pdf attached to it, which contains problems, and that only good way to test skill is to learn by doing problems, not by eyeballing it and thinking you 'kinda get it'

Quote
As for Xoax, I am in no way affiliated with them.
Yes, I had the two confused, that is a good thing for you.
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