2007-04-24

My must have utils - Part 1

Well, those who have paid more attention already noted a box with links to some of my must have utilities. However, every now and then I keep referring someone to one of these utils, so I decided to blog a bit about them. Every day or every other day I'll pick one of my must have utils and blog a bit about it. Most are programming related, but then, so much for the better as this blog is about my experiences with Delphi...

Just a small note before starting: I'm doing this about tools I already own, and am not getting paid to do so: I just want to spread the word, as sometimes, for not knowing, we tend to get stuck to old ways of doing things when there are so many nice tools around. Also, I've spent many hundreds of dollars/euros in less than good tools, so if I can help someone else go for the right tools instead, I'll be happy for being of service! :)

Today I'll talk a bit about one that most of you probably already use: SnagIt, from TechSmith.

You can see many examples of SnagIt in my previous blog posts: whenever I need a prtscr, rest assured that it's not the old prtscr that is being used!

You can get the trial from the link above, so I'll just give you some pointers on the features I love in SnagIt:
  1. You can have several shortcut keys for different capture profiles: I use PRT-SCR for a selection capture, SHIFT-PRTSCR for a Window Text Capture and ALT-PRTSCR for a Window Graphics Capture.
  2. Scrolling Window Captures: have you tried to capture the whole list of, say, Delphi 2007 Install Options? Or the Control Panel? "Normal" procedure would be several runs of PRTSCR and some lengthy copy/paste... Not with SnagIt as you have a profile for that! Just select "Scrolling Window", hit PRTSCR, select the window and watch it do it's magic!
  3. Easily blur/dim non-relevant areas: only a few clicks away and you get to draw attention to what you really want to focus on and/or hide sensitive information while still showing the big picture;
  4. Easily add visual clues that the image is only part of what you want to show, again, only a few clicks away;
  5. Easily add captions, arrows, callouts, highlights, stamps, you name it! And by default, they all come with a nice shadow effect that you can disable if you don't like...
  6. You can save the images in a proprietary format but keeping all those arrows, etc, so that you can later move them around, change colors, add/remove new callouts, all without needing to go grab that screen again;
  7. You can capture a full-screen DOS or DirectX application;
  8. You can capture non-rectangular areas or even multiple areas at once;
  9. [EDIT]: Almost forgot this one! You can create your own presets which may include some effects like thorn edges, scaling, color changing and more and assign hotkeys to them too...
And there are plenty other options available! :)

Also, this is one of the utils that I have managed to not-install, i.e., I installed once into my D:\Utils\SnagIt folder and when I re-install my windows in C:, all I need is run it once, register it, set it to auto-run on startup and set my preferences, that is, if I didn't save the %appdata%... :)

Here are a few examples of what can be achieved with SnagIt, but the best thing to do is to try for yourself: soon you'll get used to hit prt-scr, do whatever you need to do to the image *on the spot* and save it: no more prtscr, open graphics editor, paste, manually process image... You'll get quality screenshots in no time, be it to show your customers something or to add to your documentation or a bug report to someone...

Note: these images were done completely within SnagIt's Editor, that is, PRT-SCR, edit, save: no manual retouching in any other editor was done. Also, if I saved in it's native format, I'd be able to later edit/move/replace any of those edits...) (Click them for larger versions)

6 comments:

chas4 said...

I couldn't be without UltraEdit, Winzip, Snagit and VMWare Workstation. I would add Beyond Compare and Model Maker Code Explorer. Also EurekaLog.

Fernando Madruga said...

Agree on those 4. Haven't tried Beyond Compare nor Model Maker Code Explorer yet, but at least the first one I may be trying one day: I'm currently using UltraCompare from the makers of UltraEdit, but I find it to be a sub-product, especially when one thinks they're the ones behind UltraEdit, which has been on my software list for quite some years... :)
Thanks for pointing them out.

chas4 said...

Fernando,

We use Beyond Compare instead of UltraCompare for a number of reasons. At the time it had more options for comparison and integrated well with UltraEdit and TortoiseSVN.

Charles

mouser@donationcoder.com said...

i don't know about SnagIt, but Screenshot Captor (free and has all the features you listed above), is coded in C++ Builder :)

http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/screenshotcaptor/index.html

Fernando Madruga said...

Thks for the link, Mouser, but saying that it has "all the features" is a bit of an overstatement, no? :)

I downloaded it just to check it out and even though it's not bad for a free, i.e., donationware tool, it is still very far away from SnagIt!

To begin with, the UI is a bit more "cramped", the options dialogs alone are huge with tons of controls; there's no scrolling window capture (try to capture your services or programs in add/remove if the window does not fit your screen), there's no capture as text, there's no stamps, no callouts, etc, etc, etc...

Don't get me wrong! I'm not being paid to say anything good or bad about this or that, but, even if Screenshot Captor is not bad and certainly is a lot better than bare naked prt-scr, if you really value your time you'd see just how much more productive you can be using SnagIt! :)

If you don't believe me, do an exercise: try to replicate similar screenshots as I'm showing in the blog, using *only* that tool... It only took me a couple minutes to do them without touching any other editor: prt-scr, edit, save.

Júlio César said...

For those who want a very useful and free editor, take a look at Notepad++ on SourceForge. There is also a plugin that you can execute the command prompt inside it.
And for those who use WinZip, take a look ate 7-zip on sourceforge too. It's simple and has better compression.
Hope I have helped! :)