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I've used Wink to create Flash tutorials for employees on setting up and using various programs. It's a nice tool, but sometimes I wish I had more options.

Have you used a tool or tools to do this type of work that you've found indispensable? I doesn't have to be Flash, but something that is easy to distribute without capability issues is preferred.

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7 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Acrobat Connect Pro and Captivate look awesome.

Many people swear by Camtasia. I used it in the past, and indeed, it's a great product. Here's an open source alternative: CamStudio.

And here's a round-up of several screencasting tools.

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This is one of those things like "What wine is the best?" or "Do these jeans make me look fat?" - but here goes...

The tools noted above and on the "round up" are solid, although I have found Captivate to be too much for the typical user to master IF all that is wanted is to bang out a quick tutorial.

Perhaps the key questions are these - and I admit the answers will vary wildly based on what you are trying to accomplish...

  • SOUND - is a voiceover (VO) actually necessary? In other words, are spoken words critical to communicating the content and ideas? If so, then you are talking about the tools already noted on this thread. Be aware however that getting the sound 'right' takes practice. Why? Using sound requires more upfront and post-production work.

Upfront work involves preparing a tight script, practicing to remove the "uhs" from your delivery, and knowing/investing enough to get a decent mic (not the crappy one in your laptop, please!). Bad sound is the #1 reason people click away from a podcast or video. (Slow pacing being #1b...)

Post-production work involve editing; getting the pacing right or combining two different tracks for the right cadence.

  • ACTION - is live action really the best way. I know we all want to free our inner JJ Abrams, but sometimes the viewer can be distracted and confused by too much motion and detail. As an example, check out InPics which does a great job educating people on Open Office using static screen shots.

Again, live action means using a dedicated tool.

NOW, if sound and action are not essential, explore using Google's free Picasa which does a great job producing a 'slide show' type presentation of a sort of kiosk nature. Powerpoint does the same, but hey, let's try to use the free stuff, right?

A picture can be worth 1k words to be sure, but that doesn't necessary mean a Moving Picture is worth any more.

PS. Contact me offline for more on this topic as this is a LOB (line of business) for me but this answer is not offered as a solicitation...

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Jing

(http://www.jingproject.com/)

Jing (Win/OSX) is pretty useful for 'fly-by' tutorials and has saved me lots of time when someone is stuck with something and can't access their computer remotely.

I just created this in less than a minute:

  1. Launch Jing
  2. Choose capture (video or picture)
  3. Upload (this action uploads the video or picture to your profile and copies the URL to the clipboard
  4. share: http://screencast.com/t/7tUvVAXR (This is what I quickly created for this post)
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ScreenFlow for the Mac is great -- worth the $100. It will let you do a screencast in one or several passes, you can have multiple video streams [such as the screen and a webcam capture of you talking], and it'll let you highlight the active window or a circle around the mouse.

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While watching an episode of Tekzilla, I learned about another free program:

BB FlashBack Express

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I have used the community clips recorder to do a quick how-to in windows. It worked very well and produced high quality videos.

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Camtasia is great for screen casts. If you want to edit later, you can do some editing, but it's not full featured. It allows simple editing, and 2 video tracks you can put together. Lots of export possibilities as well.

For training/tutorials, it's hard to beat.

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