13 Replies Latest reply on Jul 10, 2006 12:09 PM by lfhall

    Screen shot time saver

      Hi there, I am looking for opinions and input on a new approach to screen shots. My thesis is that rather than just grabbing a screen and using it in a help file, we do some work to simplify the image. The aim being to make it easier to scale and less subject to change (if the software is updated). This also has the side benefit of avoiding some localisation/language issues that you can hit with screen shots for mulitple languages.

      The topics listed below out line this approach and provide some comments from people actually using this in the field.

      http://techwritetips.wordpress.com/2006/03/28/best-practice-screen-portraits/
      http://techwritetips.wordpress.com/2006/02/21/best-practice-screen-shots-vs-screen-portrai ts/

      My question is: Is this nre to you, do you think this is something worth adding to your authoring arsenal?
        • 1. Re: Screen shot time saver
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
          Matthew Ellison did a very good review of the tools for capturing the shot in the first instance. I still use RoboScreenCapture which has long since been discontinued but it remains one of the best around. You can even capture a what is below the screen on a long page if your OS is Windows XP. That application is now effectively HyperSnap and you can read about it and the other tools on Matthew's page at http://www.winwriters.com/articles/capturetools/#hypersnap

          Once you have captured the image, then some tweaking may be needed and for that I use PaintShopPro. For resizing issues, see this topic.

          Are you involved with TechWrite Tips in some way as you have a link to that site in your signature?

          • 2. Re: Screen shot time saver
            CraigCC Level 2
            Hi Andy,

            you may also want to check out the following article published on the TECHWR-l website.
            Lots of good information on the site.

            http://www.techwr-l.com/techwhirl/pdfs/Screen_Captures_102.pdf

            Personally, I have three words to say about screen captures SnagIt, SnagIt, SnagIt. For me this tool has been a godsend. It is an easy to use capturing and graphic manipulation tool. The studio component also allows you to work with vector graphics. Like Robohelp, SnagIt is robust and easy to use giving me more time to focus on the content of the help systems/manuals.

            I've had a bit of grief with Paintshop Pro's layers feature and in the end it just became to distracting and time consuming for manipulating screenshots.

            If you have any specific questions, please fire away.

            Kind Regards
            Craig
            • 3. Re: Screen shot time saver
              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
              Hi all

              I heartily concur! SnagIt! SnagIt!

              Sorry Peter, I feel SnagIt is miles ahead of RoboScreenCapture. I've sworn by it for years.

              But then again, this is just my opinion. Before I became addicted to SnagIt, I swore by good old PrintScreen and Windows Paint!

              Happy Wednesday all... Rick
              • 4. Re: Screen shot time saver
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                Yeah but RoboScreenCapture had one huge advantage, over here they gave it away free on a magazine!

                Curious to know what SnagIt has that appeals. Also does it have a "below the screen capture"? That enables you to capture a full web page for example even though only part shows on screen or a form you need to illustrate.

                The button capture is very good too as it copes with web buttons which I found tricky with other apps.

                Next time Craig drops by our office, I'll demo RoboScreenCapture to him to see what he thinks of the two. You're welcome to the party!

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Screen shot time saver
                  Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                  Hi Peter

                  Hmmm, well let's see. One thing I'm really addicted to are the edge options. I dearly LOVE that "torn edge" effect! Yes, it scrolls to capture areas that aren't visible on the screen. It also now (in Version 8) captures hot areas and makes flash elements of them. I guess it just gives you a Swiss Army Knife of different tools to use. Overall, it just seems more intuitive than RSC does. At least for me it does.

                  However, you can't beat the price of RSC if they were giving it away!

                  One thing I'm still looking for that I've seen used, but never an option in RSC/SnagIt or other packages, is the ability to have a zoomed in area with shading that begins from where the area actually exists on the base image. This might be a PhotoShop thing, not sure. But it would be way cool if one of the Screen Capture utilities offered that up.

                  Cheers... Rick
                  • 6. Re: Screen shot time saver
                    Kathy T Casey Level 1
                    Hi there Andy

                    I still use Paint Shop Pro for most of my screen captures because most of the time I'm having to grab a capture and alter either data (because the database is full of very dodgy test data or change the appearance of the screen because I'm documenting ahead of the developers in some cases).

                    But years ago (around 1999) I think it was, I got a free copy of FullShot with the version of RoboHELP that I'd bought. I took that disc with me everywhere and have since upgraded to the latest version which is great - you can create callouts on your captures (great for training material) as well as the great image effects that Rick talks about (torn edge, shadows, etc). It does all types of captures from straight forward screen captures to buttons, menus, scrolling image captures.

                    The best thing about it is the easy interface. So while I mainly use Paint Shop Pro, I get most of our non-techwriting people in the office to use it to grab 'stuff' when they are writing the business specification for product enhancements.

                    Regards

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Screen shot time saver
                      Thanks for all the feedback. I'll have a look at those tools. Looks like snagit is one of the most popular.

                      What I am also interested in is how you manage and maintain those screen shots (regardless of what tool you use). What standards and processes do you have to ensure you can maintain what you have grabbed should it change in the software or should it need localisation in different languages.

                      The couple of posts I references on Tech Write Tips, suggest that by creating a screen representation (portrait) that depicts the screen but doesn't contain text and high detail, you can avoid alot of the maintenance problems that can make screen shots such a problem.

                      http://techwritetips.wordpress.com/2006/03/28/best-practice-screen-portraits/
                      http://techwritetips.wordpress.com/2006/02/21/best-practice-screen-shots-vs-screen-portrai ts/

                      Peter - yes I am currently working with the Tech Write Tips guys to try and pull together a useful resource of information. I understand they are looking for additional bloggers so anyone interested should get in touch with them.

                      Thanks again for the great responses.
                      • 8. Re: Screen shot time saver
                        CraigCC Level 2
                        Hi Rick,

                        quote:

                        One thing I'm still looking for that I've seen used, but never an option in RSC/SnagIt or other packages, is the ability to have a zoomed in area with shading that begins from where the area actually exists on the base image.


                        Curious, I use the spotlight and magnify effect to acheive this in SnagIt. Is this what you are after or are you looking for something more sophisticated? Just trying to picture what you are trying to do? Mail me off list if you get time today.

                        Kind Regards
                        Craig

                        • 9. Re: Screen shot time saver
                          RoboWizard Level 4
                          Hi Craig

                          Yeah, Spotlight & Magnify gets me part of the way where I want to be. What I'm talking about is where the magnified section has like perspective lines leading from the smaller area and the area between is shaded. S&M shades or blurs the entire underlying image (as well as the smaller version of the magnified part).

                          I've seen this effect on many occasions and wouldn't you know it, when you want or need to find one for reference, it's nowhere around. One of the times I've seen this had a circular area that was similar to S&M with what looked like a shaded cone leading from the smaller area to the larger. Of course, the larger area was crystal clear and unshaded. ;)

                          Cheers... Rick
                          • 10. Re: Screen shot time saver
                            RoboWizard Level 4
                            Hey Craig (and others)

                            I just put something together that illustrates what I'd like to see.

                            Click here to see the image

                            Cheers... Rick
                            1 person found this helpful
                            • 11. Screen shot time saver
                              CraigCC Level 2
                              Got you. Seen that effect a few times. The only way that I could think of doing that with snagit is to grab a screenshot, use studio to create a callout from the part of the image that you wish to zoom. Now save that image (with the empty callout). Now use the S&M feature to zoom the relevant area of the screen (making the S&M element exactly the same size as the callout box). You could then select and cut the zoomed element and pop it in the orignal screenshot in the studio image. A bit fiddly but does that kind of make sense....I'll send you a sample if you like?

                              I've also seen some nifty screen zoom tools for the visually impaired, perhaps a capture could be taken while using the screen zoom tool.......again a bit fiddly.

                              May be this is something that can be achieved in Photoshop?

                              Cheers
                              Craig
                              • 12. Re: Screen shot time saver
                                CraigCC Level 2
                                Crossed posts, sorry for the confusion. Didn't see the link before the last post.
                                Perhaps we should carry on this conversation on the snagit forums :-)
                                Will look into this at some point - nice challenge!
                                • 13. Re: Screen shot time saver
                                  lfhall
                                  Absolutely SnagIt, SnagIt, SnagIt. I love SnagIt. It's easy to use and you can manipulate the graphics easliy - even adding text. And I use the resize tool that RoboHelp offers. It's a pretty good system and my graphics are clear and neatly sized. If you haven't tried SnagIt yet, I highly recommend it. Lisa