Survey: "Screen shots"

Subject: Survey: "Screen shots"
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 10:34:48 -0500



1) Do you create your own "fake" screen-caps with
a vector-drawing tool?

2) Can you think of any reasons not to do so, from
the user's perspective?

3) Would I be wrong in assuming that cosmetic aspects
of windows and dialog boxes are not that important,
and that as long as the text is there and readable,
and the surrounding elements are similar to the
originals, then that should be "good enough"?

I got tired of bitmap issues related to screen-caps,
so I've started drawing my own windows and dialogs
and message boxes, using Visio. I still take screen-
caps, but the only parts I use are the icons and other
identifying pieces (like that computer and some other
bits in Install Shield, for example). I'm making
some decent, but not exact, versions of dialogs from
Windows (various), Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, Linux, when
there happen to be graphical interfaces involved.

As I build up a library of grey boxes and white boxes
and scroll bars, etc., my production is getting faster,
and I've eliminated much of the futzing that was
demanded by insertion of full bitmap screen-caps.

I have NOT bothered to attempt exact matches with fonts
and colors from Windows, CDE, and other environments,
nor have I bothered with decorative fades and color blends.
I do try to match the shapes, the positions and appearance
of buttons and check boxes, etc.

With those provisos, the resulting windows and dialogs
are crisp, clear and legible onscreen and in print. The
text elements have the correct words, they break in
the same places, and they are arranged very much like
the original, with respect to the surrounding graphic
elements... some of which *are* captured bitmaps, and
the rest of which are faked.

Do others do this? (From the perennial bitchin' and moanin'
about the problems of bitmap resizing, I'm betting that
large numbers do not.) I hoped to get a feel for
how many of you now "roll your own" screen shots.

Would anyone care to suggest disadvantages to this approach?

Do you think it likely that a user would be confused or
offended or distracted if the parts that I consider cosmetic
are not exact matches for what they see onscreen?

So far, no screams, but we've only just released the first
product in which I did my "screen-caps" that way.
"HEY! MY Windows 2000 dialog boxes have a left-right
color blend in the title bar. This picture in the book
CAN'T be right! I'm so confused..."

PROVISO: Most of my stuff gets re-used, so the effort I
made to create a particular "shot" is going to
be re-used in several versions of a given manual,
often with little or no tweaking. I might feel
differently about doing it this way if every
document was a one-time deal.


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