Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 30, Issue 3

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 30, Issue 3
From: "Richard Smith" <radvas -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 10:15:16 -0700

Hi Colin,

I've only recently started doing this, and at that, it's really for an
internal audience. I've done a series of howtos for accomplishing various
internal project management tasks.

Since I'm not publishing this stuff externally, I looked around for a free
tool, and preferably one that ran natively on MacOS. I found jing, which is
made by the Camtasia people. It's dead simple to use, and produces nice
results for the sort of thing I am doing. Presently it's free, and they
describe it as a screencast sharing project (not really a product). The
videos are branded (they say created with jing at the end) so the tool may
not be useful for commercial applicaitonbut it's worth checking out.

One other recommendation, I have no idea which tool they use, but the video
tutorials that the Omnigroup does for their products are well done for
screen videos. They use some nice features like spotlight focusing, and
such. You might ping them and ask which tool they use.

You can see their video examples in this page:

As for what I think about this in our field... well, our field is a varied
one. If your aim is to educate software (or computer) users, it can be a
useful technique, especially in cases where some sequence of UI steps is not
obvious or intuitive. In my case, the internal folks are doing certain
things in MS Shrarepoint, which is pretty dang far from intuitive. For these
tasks, a 3 minute screen video is much more useful (and quicker) than
written document. Is it technical writing? No. Hell, it's not even good
video production, but it *is* technical communication; simpler and more
effective technical communication at that. That's a good thing.

Most of my external documentation is about code and embedded software
development. Screen videos wouldn't be a useful thing for much of it, but
there are parts where it would be useful.

Richard S.

> 4. Mimic, Captivate - Preferences of Screencasting? (Collin Turner)
> Subject: Mimic, Captivate - Preferences of Screencasting?
> Since screencasting, demos and tutorials are becoming a pretty consistent
> part of my job duties as a "tech writer", I'm wondering which tools all of
> you are having the best experience using?
> I personally prefer Captivate.
> I haven't used Mimic.
> I'm not fond of Camtasia.
> Preferences? And what are your thoughts about this role in our field?
> -Collin

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