Must have features for a technical writer

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I shared this during the beta for Snagit:Mac - I still very much need these features, which are available in the Windows version of Snagit.

I'm marking this as a problem - these features are critical if Snagit:Mac is going to be used by people who use it professionally, especially the Color depth reduction.

Must have features for a technical writer - color depth, trim, and cut out

As a technical writer, I do a lot of screen capture, and just about everything I produce goes online as part of a knowledge base for our customers and employees. I have used Snagit on Windows for several years, by running WinXP in a virtual machine on my MacBook. The latest version I have for Windows is Snagit 10.

What I'm missing in Snagit for Mac are three things:

1. Color depth: I need to be able to reduce the color depth of my images. This is an absolute, no compromise, complete deal breaker for me. As an example, I recently updated a user guide which had 22 images. The original, which I did with Snagit 9, clocked in at 282K with the images reduced to 256 colors (8 bit). The new version, with the same amount of images but done on Snagit for Mac, is just a few K shy of a megabyte in size. Add that up over several hundred user guides, and this could seriously impact load times and disk space usage. If this ability isn't in the final release, I will not be able to use the product.

2. Cut out - I often have to get a screen shot of an entire browser page, but need to cut out parts of the image that aren't relevant for what I need. Crop does not do what I am looking for in this regard. This is not as much of a deal breaker as color depth, but it is one of the features I use most in Snagit.

3. Trim - being able to quickly and cleanly trim the edges of a screen capture keeps my images looking professional.

What I like about the Mac beta - so far, my favorite feature is the All-In-One Capture. Very slick. That, plus the three items outlined above will keep me a happy and loyal customer.

The new UI on the Mac version is also quite nice, and very easy to use. Overall, this is a great program, but I need just a little bit more from it for it to fit my needs.
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Alan Bowman

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Posted 9 years ago

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David M. Converse

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Hi Alan, I wanted to followup on this post because I'd like to get a bit more info on how you use Snagit.

1. Color depth. Certainly this is a useful feature but the whole file size issue has really been mitigated greatly by newer computers. A one terabyte drive can be had today for under US$100. One terabyte is over one million megabytes, so you can store plenty of user guides for not a lot of money :)

Computers used to run in 256 colors for better performance but today's machines all do best at millions of colors. Networks are fast enough that moving 1MB files is rarely a problem.

You can always force a reduction to 256 colors by saving as a GIF file (which only supports up to 256) but I'm not sure its worth the bother. I'd leave everything in full color.

2/3. How would cut out work for you where cropping doesn't? Same with trimming an image- do you have an example where one tool is easier to use or gives better results over a crop?
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Alan Bowman

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David,

Thank you for the reply.

1. Color depth - All of your points are valid, provided you live in a world where page load times and file size quotas are not an issue. Also, you'll need to live in a world of ubiquitous broadband. I don't live in that world. If I put up a user guide with a megabyte or more of images, that greatly increases the page load times for someone on dialup, or on a slower broadband connection. Even for a person on a fast broadband connection, that makes the page load times slow enough to be noticeable.

As for increasing disk size, that is nice if you're only working from a personal computer, or on non-business critical systems. Everything I do lives on a server - one that just can't be brought down at any time to add larger disks if the disk space is running low. Uptime is a priority, as is conserving disk space. I suspect that my scenario is more common than not.

Also, you're forgetting two other major places where screen captures go - into Word docs and Framemaker/InDesign/Quark docs. Trying to manage a megabyte or more of images in an application such as those is not easy, and makes the overall file sizes unwieldy. Standard operating procedure for anyone managing Word or Framemaker/InDesign/Quark docs is to reduce the color depth to keep the files manageable, and to also reduce to the time the file takes to open.

2/3 - I use the cut-out feature to remove sections from an image in a seamless manner. For example, if I have a screenshot of an entire web page, it may have some material at the top, some at the bottom, and a lot of blank space in the middle. Let's say I need to show both the top and bottom information - I use cut-out to remove the middle section, which leaves me with an image that looks like nothing was removed - the edges and scroll bars and so forth are totally seamless and joined together perfectly. I also use this to remove excess vertical space from a screenshot, where I need all the information, but I need to reduce the dimensions of the image yet still keep it both readable and familiar to anyone looking at it.

Again, what I'm asking for is part of the Snagit:Windows application. I'm not asking anyone to reinvent the wheel, I just want to be able to use Snagit:Mac in the same way I used the Windows version. These features, especially the color depth feature, are needed by professionals, provided you want professionals to use your product. The lady who is taking screenshots for her bridge club newsletter may not know or care, but the guy who is managing several hundred user guides for a web hosting company on a server with finite space and serving customers all over the globe certainly does.
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Alan Bowman

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A follow up:

I recently created a new user guide, using Snagit:Mac for all the screen captures. The total was 39 images, clocking in at a staggering 2.5 MB.

I copied those images to my WinXP Pro virtual machine with Snagit 10, and reduced the color depth of all the images from 32 bit to 8 bit (256 colors). The result: the same image directory now clocks in at only 991 KB, an almost 1.5 MB difference. This will make a HUGE difference in the page load times for the user guide. If I need to create a printed version of the user guide in Word, this will make a difference in the how easy it is to manage the document.

Again, this is a must-have feature. This is essentially "Screen Capture 101". If it wasn't, it wouldn't be in the Windows version, which has been around forever. Please add this feature to Snagit:Mac.
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Kelly Mullins, TechSmith Employee & Helper

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Hi Alan,
I understand your concern for getting the smallest image size. In the past, I too have had to eek out every KB from the graphics I was creating - especially if I was compiling a help file since the images would really bloat the file.

I would be interested in knowing what your process is for sharing your user guides.

Here at TechSmith, we also have a lot of User Guides, tutorials, help files, PDFs etc. that are often translated into several different languages.

We have typically used Microsoft Word to create the document and then created PDFs from those. We never distribute the Word files and we always link our images - we don't paste them in the Word document. I can see if you are sharing Word documents with pasted images you might have lag time while the images load. Even in the larger manuals that may have over 600 images, we have not had any issues with images loading when sharing the PDFs.

Now.. on to your original post... As I mentioned, in the past, I worked really hard at getting small capture file sizes without the image being degraded. You don't mention what you are capturing, but if it is just normal screen captures, a workaround MIGHT work well for you.

** I premise this by saying that I don't know if this exact option is available in Snagit Mac... but this will for sure work with Snagit Windows version. **

So.. I took a very large capture of the Get Satisfaction homepage. It has lots of gradients in it. I then saved it as several different file formats including 256 colors in JPEG and PNG. I also saved the files as a JPEG where I changed the Subfile type to Progressive YUV 4:4:2.

This setting saves the file even smaller than it would by just reducing the color depth. PLUS, you don't get any degradation of the color gradients.

I have created an image that shows the different file sizes along with snippets of the capture I took showing the end results.

http://screencast.com/t/ymYDe9qs

Thanks for your detailed feedback and thanks for using Snagit.

Kelly
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David M. Converse

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Alan, I'll reitterate that in today's world, 2.5MB is a very small file and easy to move around on networks and cheap to store. You can save to GIF if you must have 256 colors but often that does a poor job of showing a full color screen correctly.

Not all software will correctly read progressive JPEG files so watch out for incompatibilities if you use that format.
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Alan Bowman

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Kelly and David,

I appreciate the replies, but the bottom line is that I'm simply looking for the same workflow I had in Snagit:Win - take a screen capture, reduce the color depth to 256 colors in order to keep the file size small and page load times down, and move on.

This is something I can do in Snagit:Win, in Paint Shop Pro, and even in The GIMP, which is free. But I can't do this in Snagit:Mac, and that is a major issue for me. Telling me that a certain file size isn't that big, or giving me a work around that only works in Snagit:Win doesn't get me the end result I need: I need to be able to reduce the color depth of a screen capture in Snagit:Mac.

If this is something that isn't going to be implemented, then please let me know and I'll find some other option to solve the issue. However, the fact that this feature is standard in pretty much every program that manipulates images, including the Windows version of your own product, should be all that is needed to convince you that this should be available in Snagit:Mac.
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David M. Converse

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Alan, at present your exact workflow is not possible with Snagit for Mac. TechSmith does not discuss unannounced products and I wouldn't want to give you bad information by making promises for future development that may not happen.

I can say that our developers are busy working on the next update to Snagit for Mac and that your feature request has been noted.
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Alan Bowman

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David,

Thanks. I understand that what I want isn't available now, so I'm lobbying hard to make sure that someone, somewhere, is aware of the fact that this feature is very much missed in Snagit:Mac. I know more than a few tech writers who'd love to move from Windows to Mac, but rely so heavily on Snagit that they're delaying the switch until the Mac version of the product catches up with the Windows version in terms of functionality.

I was asked earlier how I use the Cut-Out feature. Here is an example:

I had this screenshot - Original

I needed this screenshot - Modified

In Snagit 10 on Windows, I opened the image in Snagit Editor, and in the Image menu, used the Cut-Out feature to seamlessly remove the parts of the image that were not needed. Notice that the three listings in the middle of the screenshot are gone, leaving only the listing on the bottom, along with the headings at the top. Is there a way to do this on Snagit:Mac? I can't find it if it exists.
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Suella Palmer

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I too use this frequently in Windows, & love it. I've just been hunting for the option in Mac, & found it missing. Please try to develop it for us!
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Daniel Foster, Snagit strategy lead

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Hi Alan, sorry that we overlooked your question in the final part of this thread. The answer is that there's not currently a cut-out-the-middle feature in Snagit on Mac. Your list of most-needed features is helpful, though, and I'll send a link around to the product team to make sure they see this if they haven't already. Please let me know if you have other questions that remain unanswered.
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corbette

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I would echo the comment about the cut-out-the-middle feature. I have long had both a Mac (use Skitch It) and a PC (Use Snag It). I just replaced the PC with a Mac and am currently testing Snag IT for Mac, even though I have the paid version of SKitch. The main thing I use that Skitch lacks is the Cut-out-middle feature. Until Snag It adds that to the Mac version, I will probably stick with Skitch. It's too much effort to create multiple crops and past on the canvas!

But Snag It is a much better product! Please add cut-out-middle soon!
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Mike Curtis, Employee

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I agree that the cut-out feature can be really powerful and a great time saver. I have leveraged it many times myself. :) Since there are multiple things going on in this thread I want to keep this very much in place.

Another customer requested cut out for the Mac version of Snagit here: http://feedback.techsmith.com/techsmi...

You may wish to paste your comments there or vote that thread up as well. I am also going to make a link from that post to this one, so none of this great conversation goes missing in upcoming development cycles.

(There's no great way to "fork" a thread so although a bit messy, I think this is the best I can do at this time.)
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Mike Beek

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I'll put in my vote for cut-out. I use it to forward UPS shipment notices I get from a drop-ship company whose products I sell. I forward them to my customer, but omit any text that displays the drop-ship company's name--on UPS notices, this is in a paragraph that I was able to cut-out using Snagit for Windows.
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rghdrft

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I too greatly miss the cut-out feature since moving from PC to Mac version. Cut-out allows for quick efficient use of Snagit. Not having cut-out available increases exponentially the time I have to spend working on any given capture! Please please move it up the priority list for the next upgrade. Thanks
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Carmen Cerino Jr

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Hello!

I just wanted to let you know that the cutout tool has arrived in Snagit 2. You can see what else is new here: http://www.techsmith.com/snagit-mac-w...

Keep the awesome feedback coming, so we can keep on making Snagit great!
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Jason Eagleston, Employee

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We just wanted to also mention that the trim feature that was requested earlier in this thread has also been added to Snagit for Mac 2. You can find it under the edit menu in the main menu.

And just so everyone is aware, this is where you can find the cut out tool in Snagit: http://screencast.com/t/URK5Mkev.

Thanks again for all of the feedback!
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Alan Bowman

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Thank you for adding the cutout and trim features. I updated to Snagit:Mac 2.0 yesterday.

Any word or an ETA on adding the "reduce the color depth" feature? This is still a big issue for me.
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Jason Eagleston, Employee

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Hi Alan,

At this time we don't have an estimate on when this will be added, but we greatly appreciate your feedback on this feature.

Thanks,

Jason

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