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Review: RoboDemo

RoboDemo 5.0
$399
eHelp Corporation
San Diego, California
(858) 847-7900
www.ehelp.com

A couple of issues ago I wrote about a demonstration I'd seen of RoboDemo 5.0. Now I've had the chance to actually work with the software myself, and it's pretty darned spiffy. The basic idea of RoboDemo is to make it easy for developers to make Flash movies of software running on their computer. You can select a region (one nice touch is that it will size regions for various screen resolutions, or for the PocketPC screen) or an application to record. Then just work with the software as you normally would. When you click the End key (or you can configure another key, if you need to work with End in your application), RoboDemo pulls your recording into its editing interface.

What you'll find is a series of snapshots of your screen called frames. Each one will show the track of the mouse if you moved the mouse. If you leave the AutoText feature turned on, it will also be captioned with things like "Select the Production menu" or "Click OK" to help viewers follow the important action. These captions are completely editable and formattable; you can easily add more captions, or highlights, or other goodies to the frames. While you're recording, you can also enter a full-motion recording mode that captures animations as well as mouse movements and keystrokes.

Everything is very configurable. You can control transitions and speeds easily in the RoboDemo interface. A helpful view will show you the bandwidth required for your presentation; if you're delivering it over the Internet this will tell you whether you're being too ambitious. You can add rollover regions, buttons, and text areas, and branch within the frame sequence depending on user interactions.

When you're all done, press a button and you can get your Flash movie, or a standalone executable file to play the movie, or various other formats of output. RoboDemo will also import existing content from other projects, PowerPoint slides, and more.

The whole system is very easy to use, and you will seldom if ever need to refer to the excellent help file. If you're reaching the limits of the written word in demonstrating your software, RoboDemo will let you move beyond those limits with ease.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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