Čtvrtek VI 16, 2005

Creating Good Flash Demos, Part 1

Ok, I'm getting tired of answering questions like "how did you create the flash demo I saw on the web". I'll try to summarize my experiences with creating flash demos (aka screencasting) in this series of articles. I hope you find it useful and I'm looking forward to any additional insights you may have.

Let me start by the most important thing - software. I did my little research and found out there are two really good softwares which are useful to capture features: Wink and Macromedia Captivate.

Next to these, there is also Camtasia Studio, but I didn't like this software that much as the first two. There is plenty of other small screencasting softwares but mostly from what I've read they just didn't serve the purpose of creating flash demos of features very well.

The Solaris guys are preparing an interesting completely opensource screencasting solution. Unfortunately it doesn't seem enough user-friendly as the first two mentioned softwares at the moment (you can cut there easily, shrink swf size, add bubbles with text, etc.) but I'm looking forward to see the progress they'll make in the future. There also exist other softwares to convert VNC streams to Flash, but these suffer from similar issues like the Solaris toolchain.

You may also find a software called Robodemo, but that's just an old version of Captivate. That's basicly it about the choices, if you have any other interesting tip, please let me know.

I'll compare now my top two choices - Wink and Captivate, I've been using both for quite a while:

Wink - advantages
  • It's free even for commercial use
  • Works both on Windows and Linux
  • Produces quite small swf files
  • You can add text bubbles and post-process the demo in other ways
  • Easy to use

Wink - disadvantages
  • It cannot incorporate sound (in current version, should be fixed in next major release)
  • Not as powerfull in demo post-processing as Captivate
  • Flash files produced by wink cannot be processed by flash editors, there are too many objects
  • Can't handle well bigger demos

Captivate - advantages
  • Best screen capturing tool I've found so far :-)
  • Very good sound integration
  • Very good tools for demo post-processing
  • Integrated well with Macromedia Flash editor
  • Supports two modes - recording of screens and recording of videos
  • Very small swf file sizes

Captivate - disadvantage
  • It costs 389 Euros - yes, I do have a valid license (answer for managers from Sun ;-)
  • It's a bit more complex to use than Wink
  • Works for Windows only

Which one to use? The choice is quite easy. If you do not want to pay and don't want to use speech, Wink is a good choice. However if you can afford to buy the license, Captivate is my number one. Your platform can also make a decision for you as well. Generally Wink is good for small demos, but if you want to make something bigger and really really good, Wink won't scale.

That's all for today, next time I will write how to actually create the demos. I'll also give some tips how to get best results when showing software features - to make people watching your flash demos excited. See ya.

Pondělí VI 13, 2005

NetBeans Tutorials from Vincent

Vincent Brabant has created 3 nice flash tutorials for NetBeans:
  • How to have more workspace?
  • How to navigate through sources and views?
  • How to install modules via the Update Center?
I know I'm repeating myself, but flash tutorials are in my opinion a very good way for beginners to learn how to use the IDE. It's much more interactive than reading text tutorials. I also know Vincent is preparing more of these - they're also available in French. Btw, the flash presentation page can be edited by anyone, so if you create a NetBeans flash demo, presentation or tutorial, please add it here so that we all know about it :-)

Neděle VI 12, 2005

NetBeans Test Tools Demo

I've just found out that the NetBeans testtools web has a nice Wink demo:


Nice job, Jiri!

Čtvrtek VI 09, 2005

Writing NetBeans Modules and Flash Tutorials

I've mentioned Geertjan is preparing a tutorial for writing modules:


Sergiu Funieru opened on the nbusers mailing list the idea that next to written tutorials it would be nice to have flash tutorials for NetBeans. I've actually discussed recently this topic with my colleagues and we believe this is the best way how to teach somebody how to use IDE's features. I'll try to come up with instructions how to prepare good flash demos and tutorials. I've discussed it with John from the documentation team as well and they want to create a page with list of all these flash screencasts.

The bottom line is - we invite you for participation. You don't have to use the speech (although it's better) and the flash doesn't have to be long, but let's share your knowledge and experiences with others. You'll have a good feeling about it, I guarantee, I always have it. Otherwise I would not be preparing these demos in my spare time, would I?... ;-)

For the beginning, why don't you try to play with Wink? We'll need to figure out the publishing process, but I guess just placing the flash into a blog and then linking it from netbeans.org is good for now. Maybe we could prepare some competition for best tutorial as well... another hint for the marketing people (actually this is Vincent Brabant's idea, I've just remembered who came with it).

Sobota VI 04, 2005

New GUI Builder Demo is Live

I've prepared with Tomas Pavek and others from the development team a flash demo of the new GUI builder. It was created using the experimental version of new form editor, which will become a part of NetBeans in it's next release.

The full announcement is available here:


As usual, feedback is appreciated. Watch the demo here:

Click to play the demo (includes speech)

Update: A thread about new GUI builder was started on Javalobby.

Čtvrtek V 26, 2005

A New Demo Will Be Published Soon

I've finished today work on the new GUI builder demo. I think it will create a lot of excitement among members of Java community. We'll publish the demo during this or next week on www.netbeans.org so I have to wait till it gets there with official announcement and then I'll link it. There's what to look forward ;-)

Sobota V 21, 2005

Nice Numbers

The NetBeans 4.1 presentation at javalobby.org was viewed and listened online by more than 2700 people during first 48 hours, wow. I wonder what the number will be like after a week or month.

Do you want to help NetBeans? We need to spread the word about 4.1, it's not your mother's NB 3.x, we've really moved forward. Let your friends know about the presentation. Yes, there are people who might say "I don't need J2EE or webservices, I use other frameworks" or "my favourite editor feature is missing". I've got only four words for them: Wait for next release!

Úterý V 17, 2005

NetBeans 4.1 Presentation at www.javalobby.org

I've created a presentation of new features in NetBeans 4.1 and it got just published on www.javalobby.org. The presentation's length is 30 minutes, so it doesn't go too much into details, but I think it's very good to get an overview on what's new in NetBeans 4.1. Enjoy my speech and demos here:

Choose "NetBeans 4.1: What's New & Improved" from Spotlight Features

The following demos are included:
  • J2EE support
  • Web services development
  • Project system improvements
  • Navigator introduction
  • Editor improvements
  • New J2ME features (thanks to Lukas Hasik who helped!)
I've written before that I would also create a demo of the new and experimental GUI builder, but unfortunately it didn't work out, because the recording tool didn't record the drag&drop operations properly (many operations were not visible), the demo I've created didn't look too good. I'll work on solving this issue and we'll create a demo with the developers, it is agreed to be announced at www.netbeans.org - please be patient.

I am looking forward to your feedback. If you're a native speaker I will gladly welcome all comments to my pronounciation or other mistakes I might be doing during the speech. I hope to get rid of all of my "czechisms" in my English one day.

Neděle V 15, 2005

You Wanted More Refactorings?

... here they come! The refactoring team is working on many experimental refactorings at the moment. You can download them from the development update center of 4.2. You can try these features out and file bugs, send recommendations, etc. They're not for production use yet - no quality is guaranteed at them moment (it's the bleeding edge development).

The new refactorings are:
  • Pull up - pulls the selected method to the parent class of current class.
  • Push down - pushes down the selected method to the class subclassing current class.
  • Extract method - creates a method from selected lines of code and calls the method.
  • Introduce variable - introduces a new local variable to simplify a complex expression.
  • Copy class - creates a copy of current class.
  • Convert anonymous class to inner - converts selected anonymous class to inner class.
More refactorings are being prepared, for details take a look the following page:


Issues for these experimental modules should be filed against refactoring module with status whiteboard "experimental".

External contributers wanted! Do you want to learn more about NetBeans and take the challenge to develop a refactoring feature? Contact refactoring team at dev-AT-refactoring-DOT-netbeans-DOT-org. They'll guide you through the development and you will be able to show off that you created your own refactoring in NetBeans.

Flash demo of new refactoring features (incl. speech)

Čtvrtek V 12, 2005

NetBeans 4.1 Presentation Teaser

I am almost ready with the presentation of NetBeans 4.1 for Javalobby. I will speak about the newest features in 4.1 and I will show 6 short demos as well (update: the gui builder won't be presented this time). Here is a teaser for the presentation - one of the demos:

Short demo of Web Service support in NetBeans 4.1

Make sure to turn on your speakers. As usual, feedback is welcome. More will come during next week.

Pátek IV 29, 2005

New Code Completion - Flash Demo

I made another live demo - this time it's about new code completion which is currently being developed in NetBeans 4.2. It's in experimental state so it's not in the daily builds yet. I've blogged about the improvements before.

The demo contains some of the highlights of new features. To play it you need a flash plug-in. It includes my speech - make sure to turn on your speakers:

Click to open the flash demo!

I need your feedback. Is my English well understandable? Should I slow down or make pauses between individual parts? Or it is ok and slowing down would mean loosing some of the dynamics? Any other suggestions? Write me your comments so that I can improve my demoing skills :-) Thanks.

Pátek IV 15, 2005

Fastest Way to Open a File in IDE

I started to play with Wink, freeware software which can capture screens and makes very good flash demos. For the beginning I chose something very small - I'll show you how Go To Class works in NetBeans.

Go To Class is very useful if you want to open a file fast. The old, slow way is to go to the project explorer, search for your file inside project and then doubleclick to open it in editor. That's probably fine when you are working on small projects, but as the project grows you may have big tree hierarchy. You also may forget in which package is the class you want to edit (it won't happen to you because unlike me you have perfect memory ;-).

Instead of browsing the trees to find the java class you can open the file by invoking the Go To Class dialog (Alt-Shift-O). You just type in the name of the class - or even it's first letters. Then press enter and voila - there you go.

Click on screenshot for action!

Update: I've just added speech to the demo. It is completely out of sync with the flash demo and takes twice as much time. I need to find a way how to get the sound into the swf file, Wink doesn't support this. To play sound you need wav support in your browser. In Firefox this is done by Quicktime, it Internet Explorer it works out of box using Media Player (with controls). But you don't use IE, do you?

Update no.2: Woohooo! Speech is now integrated into the flash demo! Check it out. It will be much easier to explain NetBeans features with this.

Úterý IV 05, 2005

NetBeans MVC Demo

Although I would like to avoid becomming a blog spammer (which I am already) - I can't resist posting this:


We seriously need to take a look at the tool the guy used to create the demo. Now I don't mean NetBeans, but the recording tool :-)

Roman Strobl


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