Why should developers include logs with their screen recordings?

When developers record their screens, especially during debugging, testing, or explaining a concept, logs can provide invaluable context. Here are some reasons why developers might choose to include logs alongside screen recordings:

  1. Detail and Clarity: The logs can provide precise details on the operations being executed, especially if the screen recording is not of high resolution or if the details on the screen are too small to be discerned.
  2. Errors and Exceptions: Logs usually provide exact error messages and stack traces, helping developers pinpoint issues faster than just visually observing misbehavior in a UI.
  3. Reproducibility: If someone else (e.g., another developer, QA, or a customer) needs to reproduce a problem, logs often give the step-by-step flow of what the system was doing at that time.
  4. Correlation: Logs can provide timestamps and other data that can be used to correlate events shown in the screen recording with internal system events.
  5. Non-Visual Events: Not all important events have a visual representation. Network requests, database operations, or background tasks can be crucial to understanding an application’s behavior. Logs provide insight into these non-visual operations.
  6. Additional Context: Logs might contain additional diagnostic data or meta-data that isn’t evident from the visual behavior of an application alone.
  7. Performance Metrics: Logs can also contain performance-related data, which is essential for understanding bottlenecks or delays in the application.
  8. Synchronicity: While a video will show you when something happens from a user’s perspective, logs can give you insight into asynchronous operations that may be occurring in parallel.
  9. Data Flow: Developers often want to see the actual data being processed (e.g., JSON payloads of API requests/responses). Logs can provide this raw data for further examination.
  10. Debugging and Analysis: For post-mortem analysis or debugging, having both the visual context of a screen recording and the detailed context of logs can be extremely helpful. One can see exactly what the user was doing and how the system was responding behind the scenes.
  11. Comprehensiveness: Sometimes it’s easier to scan through text logs to find specific events, errors, or anomalies than it is to scrub through a video.
  12. Documentation and Training: When creating educational content, logs alongside screen recordings can be useful for learners to understand the complete picture.

While logs and screen recordings each provide valuable information, when combined, they can offer a more comprehensive understanding of an application’s behavior, making it easier for developers and other stakeholders to diagnose, debug, and learn.

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