Behind the Scenes of Our Video Tutorial

Our Full Stack Engineer summarizes Particle’s brand new tutorial videos, and how they’ll help users get started.

If you’ve recently signed up for our Developer Portal, then you’ve probably watched our NEW tutorial video series. You can also catch Part 1 here:

The full playlist is on YouTube! Below is an edited chat with Edem Attikese, our intrepid narrator and Full Stack Engineer, exploring what happens in these videos and why they’re so useful.

Question: What does this video series do?

The videos teach people how to get started with Particle Health. The goal, the dream, is that we’re helping people as they hopefully onboard onto our product. 

I wanted to do this when we’re still growing. I think it’s about looking forward to when we have a larger userbase, and more responsibilities to our customers, to help them get through the things that they’re trying to work through.

Can you explain to a general audience what goes on during these videos?

To build with the Particle API, there’s effectively a 3-step process in the context of this tutorial. 

You basically start off by getting authenticated with Particle, so that’s Step 1. There are a couple of calls and steps that require you to get authenticated. If you’re not familiar with FHIR as a concept, or how OAuth may work as an API product, both of those are separate things.

Step 2 is that you execute this Person query, which searches for some data across the networks. The bit of talking to a FHIR server and how you navigate setting up that request is one part. Another part is kicking off that query from a react frontend using React Hooks.

Step 3, once that’s all done, is when you fetch the files and do something with them. That last part is parsing the data structure so you can get the relevant information and show it off to someone else. 

How does this fit into Particle’s existing documentation?

We do have some sample code pieces already that exist in our charm repo. A couple months ago we built out some sample text apps in C#, in Node, in Python, and in Go. Those show you the end result of doing some backend implementation, but it was good to walk through it.

So, these videos are a great way for developers to start?

If you have a program that spits out some strings, that’s a little less useful to someone who needs to figure the API out by taking a hands-on approach.

Some people like digging through the actual source code; I feel like the YouTube format is one way to get people into information mapping. Videos are the kind of things we want to build out so that there are different kinds of resources for people who learn differently. 

There’s always going to be a stumbling block - you can always write your way out of gotchas and loopholes - but in some way you want someone to show you what they did. 

I feel that any time that you are walking into some documentation or any new product, there’s only so much that can be communicated in text format. You have to look where to find things, and if you don’t know, you don’t know. 

Tutorial videos aren’t going to be perfect, but if someone adds “yes and” beyond our normal text documentation, it will have a different feel to users than knowing the rules on paper. 

Did the videos lead you to think differently about Particle’s platform?

When I had initially run through building this whole thing, I actually had split up that step of executing the person query into two separate steps. I realized that halfway through doing Part 3 of the series, I was like oh - I have to go back and change this - because this the way I was doing it was actually really inefficient.

When I caught myself at that moment, it meant more work for me because I had to go back and re-do some stuff. But overall that was actually a very satisfying moment for me personally because my understanding was growing, and it was happening in real time.

For me, I have a little bit more of an understanding of how Particle works. I'm familiar with many parts of the Particle ecosystem, but I don't interact with Particle API as an end user frequently. This project helped fill in some blanks. I feel like it was good for me - like “aha, I understand a little better about how FHIR works, and how APIs work in the wild, by trying to teach people how to do this thing”.

What decisions did you make to put the video together?

Thinking out the video was a lot of the work.

In general, planning was like, “OK, when is a good time to stop and explain a key concept? When is a good time to continue on moving?” Or “OK, how do I explain what I’m doing to the audience that I may or may not be talking to?” 

That’s probably the trickiest part for right now - am I talking to beginners who don’t really know much about FHIR or development? Am I dealing with people who know a lot about FHIR stuff but who aren’t super familiar with using Node or Golang?

So being able to talk to different segments at an approachable level was the challenging part about pacing the script. I had the code in front of me, and it wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t know how to build the thing, but it’s more like could I explain it to people where they’re at in an effective manner.

What other lessons did you come across while filming the tutorial?

This is a thing that happens no matter what project or field you try to teach someone else about. What you think is the hard part is rarely ever the hard part of what someone new will struggle with.

So I tried my best to address common pitfalls, but I think it’s a situation where you can’t explain everything. At some point you have to say “this is good enough”, and trust that you’ll do better next time with some more feedback.

I didn’t realize how tricky it was to code something and talk at the same time. It’s hard because your brain is on one track and then you’re like "here is how to do the thing”. You have to override that and do something different.

Now that I know it’s something that I need to work on, I appreciate doing it.

Last question - what was the best part about making these videos?

The short answer is making something I’ve never made before. It’s fun being new at things with the freedom to try things out and see what sticks.

The longer answer…I think whenever you’re creating something, there’s a mix of artistic and technical elements that come together to make. In this case, it’s a short video series, but the same line of reasoning could apply to cooking a dish or playing a song by ear. I know how to program, but the fun was learning what goes into making it a production. I’m a bit of a ham - that’s the part that makes it fun.