YTT Tech

YTT Tech is a curated database of instructional YouTube videos, with an inviting interface that encourages the user to explore a catalog of skills and dive into quality content. Supplemental information about the tools and materials used is also provided.

It's made with React, Styled Components, AWS Lambda/SAM, and DynamoDB.


I love learning how to do things on YouTube. It's amazing - empowering, really - that we can instantly look up how to do so many things. We're literally (basically) Neo in The Matrix. Video is a great format for learning many skills and techniques that might otherwise require in-person instruction. When I looked around for a site dedicated to organizing and curating this content, I didn't find much, so I took a stab at it.

After implementing the basic experience and authoring tools, I spent weeks combing through videos to get the collection started, and I've only scratched the surface. Many areas of interest remain to be added, and to that end, users can submit videos to the database and make other contributions. If the idea resonates it could grow into a useful resource.


  • The main interface, called the Explorer, was designed to encourage browsing and discovery. Considerable screen space is given to the department and section lists that might otherwise be implemented as dropdowns. This allows the user see the options and quickly try them out.
  • The tools window appears when clicking on a tool or material, providing additional information and resources.
  • Users can submit videos and send feedback or suggestions for other videos and tools/materials.
  • Submitted videos are reviewed by Editors before being activated. Editors can edit videos and tools/materials, and add departments and sections.


I thought it would be nice to add a window with information about the various tools and materials used in the videos. Only after implementing it did I begin to realize that this would amount to compiling a mini-encyclopedia.

For the feature to feel complete and worthwhile, every video has to be combed through to identify everything used, and every tool should have at least some bit of useful information. My perhaps wilfully naive assumption had been that it would slow down once I had "covered the basics," but of course the number of parts and pieces out there is immense (a Home Depot store contains about 30,000).

So I ended up cumulatively spending weeks researching and summarizing the 600+ tools and materials used in 300 videos, and I've only covered the tip of the iceberg.

The concept of "base" tools and materials is used to help consolidate things. For example, 2" screws and 3" screws share a base of wood screws.

Another issue that comes up is, do you list "pencil" under every video where someone uses one? Are there things that can be assumed to reduce clutter?


  • Curation is an important part of the project; we want users to trust that every video will be worth their time. Each video is thoroughly reviewed and compared to similar videos. Videos with someone talking clearly and doing the movements of the task on camera are preferred, as well as information-dense videos that get to the point and don't waste time.
  • The title of videos may be edited to enforce a consistent style across the database. The starting position may be changed to skip a long intro.
  • Another challenge is determining a sensible hierarchy of departments and sections, and placing videos within them. Ultimately subjective judgment calls will have to be made, and the list will adapt and respond to the growth of the database. More search and filtering capabilities will become necessary, and potentially a third level of hierarchy.
  • If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Reach me at

james rowen 2021