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.
Comments:

I like Camtasia to do Video demos, it's a very powerful application, never tried it for flash. Got to get me a demo if captivate did not know of that product tried robodemo once eons ago did not like it because of the video output. Keep those Flash demos comming.

Posted by Daniel MD on červen 16, 2005 at 03:18 odp. CEST #

Yes, I will keep them comming, I want to do the next one for new CVS support... but I'm just too busy now with NetBeans day and Java One. I'll prepare it probably during next month.

Posted by Roman Strobl on červen 16, 2005 at 03:58 odp. CEST #

Thank you for your email with the links to these pages. I will give the Captivate trial version a try.

Posted by Matthias on prosinec 03, 2005 at 10:42 odp. CET #

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