San Diego, California
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.
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.