Re: "Ripped" borders for screenshots?

Subject: Re: "Ripped" borders for screenshots?
From: Ben Kovitz <apteryx -at- CHISP -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 01:19:07 -0700

At 3:12 PM -0800 2/2/99, Wayne Douglass wrote:
>Geoff wrote:
>>> The easiest way to create a "ripped" border for a portion "ripped"
>>> out of a larger screenshot is to use some of the clipart borders
>>> available from Imageclub ( and other third-party
>>> suppliers.
>David M. Brown replied:
>>Maybe so, but the *cheapest* way :) is to use the spray tool (in
>>Paintbrush or any other paint program) to spray white along the edge you
>>want to look "ripped." After a couple of practice runs, you can get a
>>pretty convincing effect.
>This strikes me as an instance of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.
>Why use any "ripped" effect at all? The end user will know that a
>particular image is part of a larger screen without these cues.

Indeed I just made such a screen shot earlier today. I didn't want to fool
around, so I just cropped the screen shot, including a large section from
the upper left corner. The fact that the window contained all the usual
window paraphernalia--borders, title bar (off-center due to the cropping),
menu bar, and toolbar--made it plain that this was a partial screen shot,
without the need for any "ripped" effect.

However, I wouldn't propose that as a general rule. This screen contained
nothing but text and vertical and horizontal lines. If it contained, say,
a photograph, then cropping it straight, without a ripped effect, might
well look awkward or undeliberate or even misleading. And then again,
without seeing it, I couldn't say for sure. But those are some factors to
look for when examining it.

Another important factor is that a rip *draws attention to itself* and
therefore away from the content of the screen shot. The same applies to a
dashed border and even to a fake one-pixel border (which sound like
especially bad ideas). I'd try to reserve those fancy ripped effects for
places where the "ripping" is actually part of the idea that you want to
communicate to the reader.

In Darren Barefoot's original message, he mentions that this is a partial
screen shot of Control Panel. I'd have to see the image on the page to be
sure, but it does indeed sound like a place where *no effect at all* would
leave the focus of attention where it belongs.

Ben Kovitz <apteryx -at- chisp -dot- net>
Author, _Practical Software Requirements: A Manual of Content & Style_

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