Time-saving Tools and
Techniques for
Capturing Screens
Matthew Ellison
Matthew Ellison

 Consultant and trainer for User Assistance


tools and technologies
Technical Director of annual
UA Eu...
What we’ll cover in this session

 Recommendations on when and how to







use screenshots in user assistance
Pot...
When/why should I use screenshots?

 Identify the appearance and/or location of





a control
Show and explain the l...
Show and explain the layout of a screen

Numbers clearly identify
main regions of the screen
Provide a visual instruction

Image provides same
instruction as text
Refer to a tool or button within text
Show the result of an action
Confirm that user has displayed correct dialog box

Screenshot confirms
success or shows what
dialog box looks like
(unnec...
When screenshots can cause problems…

 Developers make late changes to the

screens
 The screens need to be localized fo...
Example: Blurred text

Original screen
capture

Localized text is
selectively blurred –
other dialog elements
remain sharp
Example: simplified screen
Another potential pitfall

Users may not
notice scroll bar
and assume they
are seeing entire
topic

Instructions are out o...
Possible solution: thumbnail
Another solution: DHTML dropdown
Capture a window

1. Press <ALT>+<Print Screen>
2. Paste the Clipboard contents into

an image editor
3. Optionally: resiz...
Capture a control or region

1. Press <ALT>+<Print Screen>
2. Paste the Clipboard contents into an
3.
4.
5.

image editor
...
Capture a cascading menu

1. Press <Print Screen>
2. Paste the Clipboard contents into
3.
4.
5.
6.

an image editor
Crop t...
Resizing screenshots for on-screen presentation

 Reasons to decrease the

dimensions of a screenshot
• Reduce screen spa...
Resized screenshots
Original
Image

Smart
Resize



Pixel
Resize


Raster vs. Vector
Raster vs. Vector
Websafe vs. Non-Websafe
Annotated screenshots

1. Capture to a lossless raster format
2. Add annotations and captions using a
3.

vector-based ima...
.bmp

 Windows BitMaP
 Typically uncompressed and therefore


very large
Non-Web-Safe
.jpg






Joint Photographic (Experts) Group
Lossy compression
Great for photos, but not for screenshots
Web-Safe
.gif






(Compuserve) Graphic Interchange Format
Lossless compression
Maximum of 256 colours
Web-Safe
.tiff

 Tagged Image Format
 A container format that supports many



types of compression, layers, and different
colo...
.png







Portable Network Graphics
Lossless compression
Alpha layer for transparency
Does not support CMYK colour
...
Screen resolution at capture time

 You are capturing pixels
 The number of pixels that make up a

screen element does n...
Size of windows and dialogs at capture time

 If possible, reduce the size of a window or
dialog as much as you can witho...
Example: Resized window
Original
dialog

Resized dialog
shows all UI
elements
Capture only as much of the screen as the user
needs to see

 Always aim to minimize the dimensions of


the screen capt...
What I look for in a screen capture tool:

Minimum requirements

 Include the cursor





(or easily add it post-capt...
What I look for in a screen capture tool:

Nice to have

 Re-capture a rectangular region
 Save capture to a file withou...
Screen capture tools
Let’s look at:
 FullShot – Inbit
 Jing - TechSmith
 MadCap Capture – Madcap Software
 RoboScreenC...
FullShot (Enterprise Edition)
FullShot’s capture method

 Capture buttons automatically added



to active window
Each button activates a different
c...
FullShot's Capture Settings dialog
General
settings
effecting all
captures

Typespecific
settings
FullShot summary

 A popular tool with a good track record
 FullShot Standard Edition automates the




screen captur...
FullShot summary

 For:
• ease of capture
(using title bar buttons)
• wide range of capture shapes and effects
• minimize...
Jing

Sharing
button
Jing summary

 A simple and fun to use utility
 It enables you quickly to capture and


share windows, objects, and reg...
Jing summary

 For:
• free
• support for sharing screen captures quickly
and easy through a hosted website
• ease of acce...
MadCap Capture

Profiles Editor
MadCap Capture summary

 A very interesting and innovative screen



capture tool
Focuses on streamlining the screen
ca...
MadCap Capture summary


For:



Against:

• integration with MadCap Flare, and support for
"single-sourcing" screen- an...
RoboScreenCapture
Rasterbased
image
editing
tools

Complex
but wellorganized
UI
RoboScreenCapture
Capture Settings dialog

Can be useful for
capturing dropdown menus and
pop-ups
RoboScreenCapture summary

 A well-designed package that enables easy




and very precise capture of regions,
buttons...
RoboScreenCapture summary

 For:
• wide range of capture options including
capture of individual buttons and repeat last
...
SnagIt
Each profile
contains a specific
combination of
settings

Logical
organization
of controls

Easy-to-use
Wizard for
...
SnagIt Editor
SnagIt summary

 A full-featured package with a logical

workflow that is likely to address the
needs of even the most de...
SnagIt summary

 For:
• exceptionally well-designed interface and
workflow
• comprehensive options for capturing,
standar...
Gift for TCUK 2013 attendees

 Free download of all slides from
UA Europe 2013 in Manchester
Go to:
uaconference.eu/TCUK
...
Questions?
matthew@uaeurope.com

Matthew Ellison
TCUK 2013 - Matthew Ellison - Time saving tools and techniques for capturing screens
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  • Excellent screen capture slide deck. Tips are all great reminders and a few new ones too! Thanks
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TCUK 2013 - Matthew Ellison - Time saving tools and techniques for capturing screens

  1. 1. Time-saving Tools and Techniques for Capturing Screens Matthew Ellison
  2. 2. Matthew Ellison  Consultant and trainer for User Assistance  tools and technologies Technical Director of annual UA Europe conference
  3. 3. What we’ll cover in this session  Recommendations on when and how to       use screenshots in user assistance Potential pitfalls The basic procedure for capturing screens Image file formats Tips for capturing screens successfully How screen capture tools save work and add value Survey of popular screen capture tools
  4. 4. When/why should I use screenshots?  Identify the appearance and/or location of     a control Show and explain the layout of a screen Provide a visual instruction Show the result of an action Confirm that user has displayed the correct dialog box or screen (in tutorials)
  5. 5. Show and explain the layout of a screen Numbers clearly identify main regions of the screen
  6. 6. Provide a visual instruction Image provides same instruction as text
  7. 7. Refer to a tool or button within text
  8. 8. Show the result of an action
  9. 9. Confirm that user has displayed correct dialog box Screenshot confirms success or shows what dialog box looks like (unnecessary for onscreen Help)
  10. 10. When screenshots can cause problems…  Developers make late changes to the screens  The screens need to be localized for many different countries Possible solutions:  Blur or obscure the text  Draw simplified version of screen
  11. 11. Example: Blurred text Original screen capture Localized text is selectively blurred – other dialog elements remain sharp
  12. 12. Example: simplified screen
  13. 13. Another potential pitfall Users may not notice scroll bar and assume they are seeing entire topic Instructions are out of view beneath screenshot
  14. 14. Possible solution: thumbnail
  15. 15. Another solution: DHTML dropdown
  16. 16. Capture a window 1. Press <ALT>+<Print Screen> 2. Paste the Clipboard contents into an image editor 3. Optionally: resize the image (only necessary for onscreen presentation) 4. Optionally: reduce the color depth to 256 colours 5. Save as a file Demo
  17. 17. Capture a control or region 1. Press <ALT>+<Print Screen> 2. Paste the Clipboard contents into an 3. 4. 5. image editor Crop to the required region, optionally applying edge effects Optionally: Reduce the colour depth to 256 colors Save as a file
  18. 18. Capture a cascading menu 1. Press <Print Screen> 2. Paste the Clipboard contents into 3. 4. 5. 6. an image editor Crop to the cascading menu Carefully remove the background Reduce the colour depth to 256 colors Save as a file
  19. 19. Resizing screenshots for on-screen presentation  Reasons to decrease the dimensions of a screenshot • Reduce screen space • Avoid confusion with real screen  For best quality of resulting image:     • Use millions of colours (24- or 32-bit) before resizing • Use an anti-aliasing resize method
  20. 20. Resized screenshots Original Image Smart Resize  Pixel Resize 
  21. 21. Raster vs. Vector
  22. 22. Raster vs. Vector
  23. 23. Websafe vs. Non-Websafe
  24. 24. Annotated screenshots 1. Capture to a lossless raster format 2. Add annotations and captions using a 3. vector-based image editor Store and edit combined image in vector format 4. Use “Save As” to create raster format as required
  25. 25. .bmp  Windows BitMaP  Typically uncompressed and therefore  very large Non-Web-Safe
  26. 26. .jpg     Joint Photographic (Experts) Group Lossy compression Great for photos, but not for screenshots Web-Safe
  27. 27. .gif     (Compuserve) Graphic Interchange Format Lossless compression Maximum of 256 colours Web-Safe
  28. 28. .tiff  Tagged Image Format  A container format that supports many   types of compression, layers, and different colour modes including CMYK Popular for printed publications Non-Web-Safe
  29. 29. .png      Portable Network Graphics Lossless compression Alpha layer for transparency Does not support CMYK colour Web-Safe
  30. 30. Screen resolution at capture time  You are capturing pixels  The number of pixels that make up a screen element does not alter when you change the screen resolution
  31. 31. Size of windows and dialogs at capture time  If possible, reduce the size of a window or dialog as much as you can without: • losing vital information • making it unrecognizable to the user
  32. 32. Example: Resized window Original dialog Resized dialog shows all UI elements
  33. 33. Capture only as much of the screen as the user needs to see  Always aim to minimize the dimensions of  the screen capture Exclude screen clutter that will distract the user from the main focus
  34. 34. What I look for in a screen capture tool: Minimum requirements  Include the cursor     (or easily add it post-capture) Capture windows, objects, cascading menus, and rectangular regions (with precision) Automatically add border or edge effects Automatically use a specified file format when saving file Add editable callouts and other objects on a separate layer
  35. 35. What I look for in a screen capture tool: Nice to have  Re-capture a rectangular region  Save capture to a file without user     intervention Capture individual buttons Convert to a specified image resolution automatically Capture non-rectangular regions such as ellipses and polygons Capture scrolling windows
  36. 36. Screen capture tools Let’s look at:  FullShot – Inbit  Jing - TechSmith  MadCap Capture – Madcap Software  RoboScreenCapture – Adobe (Bundled with Adobe RoboHelp)  SnagIt – TechSmith
  37. 37. FullShot (Enterprise Edition)
  38. 38. FullShot’s capture method  Capture buttons automatically added   to active window Each button activates a different capture type (Window, Region, etc.) Hotkeys can be used as an alternative
  39. 39. FullShot's Capture Settings dialog General settings effecting all captures Typespecific settings
  40. 40. FullShot summary  A popular tool with a good track record  FullShot Standard Edition automates the    screen capture process very successfully Uses a different capture mechanism and workflow from most of its competitors Interface is fairly complex Difficult to capture screen regions precisely
  41. 41. FullShot summary  For: • ease of capture (using title bar buttons) • wide range of capture shapes and effects • minimizes file sizes by optimizing the colour palette  Against: • no magnified view of the pointer area for precise selection of capture regions • does not enable you to set the colour depth of a captured image to a specific value • no support for capturing buttons in the Standard Edition
  42. 42. Jing Sharing button
  43. 43. Jing summary  A simple and fun to use utility  It enables you quickly to capture and  share windows, objects, and regions of your computer screen It is available for both the Windows and Mac OS
  44. 44. Jing summary  For: • free • support for sharing screen captures quickly and easy through a hosted website • ease of access and use • support for simple video capture  Against: • basic • no edge effects available • no vector based annotations
  45. 45. MadCap Capture Profiles Editor
  46. 46. MadCap Capture summary  A very interesting and innovative screen   capture tool Focuses on streamlining the screen capture workflow rather than necessarily competing on feature-count A compelling choice for users of MadCap Flare
  47. 47. MadCap Capture summary  For:  Against: • integration with MadCap Flare, and support for "single-sourcing" screen- and print-oriented image formats • ability to reproduce the position and dimensions of previous region captures • powerful and multi-layered vector-based image editor • reliance on Flare to exploit certain features fully • steeper learning curve than some of the other tools • edge effects (such as torn edge) perhaps not quite as well implemented as some of the other tools
  48. 48. RoboScreenCapture Rasterbased image editing tools Complex but wellorganized UI
  49. 49. RoboScreenCapture Capture Settings dialog Can be useful for capturing dropdown menus and pop-ups
  50. 50. RoboScreenCapture summary  A well-designed package that enables easy    and very precise capture of regions, buttons, and other screen elements Bundled with Adobe RoboHelp versions 7, 8, 9, 10 and has been well integrated with these products Not available for purchase as a standalone product A little out-dated
  51. 51. RoboScreenCapture summary  For: • wide range of capture options including capture of individual buttons and repeat last capture • high level of control over color depth, resolution, and compression • precise selection of capture region using arrow keys  Against: • no support for special edge effects • can’t save capture settings as named profiles • no support for true freehand region
  52. 52. SnagIt Each profile contains a specific combination of settings Logical organization of controls Easy-to-use Wizard for creating new profiles
  53. 53. SnagIt Editor
  54. 54. SnagIt summary  A full-featured package with a logical workflow that is likely to address the needs of even the most demanding of user assistance developers
  55. 55. SnagIt summary  For: • exceptionally well-designed interface and workflow • comprehensive options for capturing, standardizing, and adding effects to images • bundled tools include powerful vector-based image editor and file management utility • flexible All-in-One capture profile (similar to Jing)  Against: • may offer more features than required by some user assistance specialists • rather lame capture sound effect
  56. 56. Gift for TCUK 2013 attendees  Free download of all slides from UA Europe 2013 in Manchester Go to: uaconference.eu/TCUK …and enter your contact details to receive username and password
  57. 57. Questions? matthew@uaeurope.com Matthew Ellison

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