TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
>I am one of two tech writers working on software documentation manuals for a
small company. Our dilemma has been quality screen capture. We have tried
several methods. Our software is cross platform, so we are able to capture
using workstations, PC's or MAC's. The captures are pretty good, but when we
bring them into Framemaker, they get distorted, fuzzy and the text looks
terrible (stairstepped). What are others out there using to get quality screen
I don't think the capture tool makes a difference (I usually use PaintShop Pro
for WinDOS). The problems you mention sound like they're either due to some
setting in Frame, or the nature of bitmaps.
To avoid distortion, don't apply unequal scaling to bitmaps. I'm not a Frame
user, but make sure that the frame you're placing your screen capture into is
not scaled differently on each axis, e.g., width 110%, height 80% (or whatever
To avoid the fuzzies, try to make your captures in either black and white, or
experiment with screen colors until you get something that prints well, or use
a good image processing program (I prefer PaintShop Pro for WinDOS) to dither
the colors down to B&W. I do my captures in plain 16-color VGA, white
background, black text. Of course, if you can run higher resolution, capture at
the higher resolution. I did some at 1024x768x256, and they printed nicely on a
600dpi Postscript 2 printer. (I think Postscript does a better job with
greyscale or color screens than PCL.)
The "stair-stepping" (the technical word is "jaggies") is inherent in the
bitmap format. Resizing the image makes it worse -- for best results, use the
screen capture at actual size. There's a utility program available (I forget
its name right now!) that can antialiase most bitmap formats. Antialiasing will
reduce jaggies, but it also makes sharp edges (such as text) fuzzier.
Despite all this, you'll probably find some of the problems still occurring. I
don't recommend this as a habit, but I've drawn sample screens using CorelDraw
when the original images just couldn't be used. Time consuming, and not for
something that requires any real updating.
David Jones, Technical Writer
David_Jones/KSBEISD -dot- KSBEISD -at- Datahub -dot- com
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate
"I do not speak for my employer, my computer, or any other living thing."
TECHWR-L List Information
To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
E-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send administrative commands
ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-