Part of my job as a system administrator for Macs, PCs, and Linux machines is to create instructions for other users.
The Mac makes it a simple task when you use ScreenSteps, which is about as simple as taking a picture of part of the screen, then typing something about it.
As with many elegant Mac utilities, ScreenStep reduces the time and the steps required to create instructions, software documentation, or browser-based navigation lessons.
If you’ve done that before, you know it can be a pain. You need screen shots of the application or web pages. Then you need to assemble them, add appropriate text to match the images.
Instructions tend to be sequential in nature, and that’s how ScreenStep approaches the creation of software documentation. Step by step.
Just as important as the screen snapshots from your Mac, is the abilityt to annotate—actually draw or type over the screen shot to highlight specific areas of the page.
As anyone who has created documentation on computers is aware, the final output needs to be effective, and transportable, so others can benefit from the instructions. ScreenStep outputs finished documentation or lessons in PDFs or HTML pages.
What can you do with ScreenStep that can’t be done the old fashioned way?
Everything you could do the old fashioned way, but much easier, and much faster, with better results, and in a more logical step-by-step process.
For example, if you need a software tutorial for a client, use ScreenShot to snap graphics of the software’s major features and functions, annotate where necessary to focus on special aspects, then publish as a web page or a PDF document.
Duplicate and send to dozens or hundres who many need the tutorial.
The same holds true for employee training. Software changes rapidly these days. So do processes. Trainers and documentation specialists need ways to update documents and lessons quickly, and accurately.
ScreenStep lets you assemble the pieces in graphic format, complete with text annotation, so they can be popped into PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.
The process is very straightforward for Mac users. Capture images using the built-in tools, edit the image as needed with the Sequence Tool, adding annotations where necessary.
ScreenStep even pulls images from QuickTime moves and lets you drop them into a document.
What’s one of the toughest problems to solve when updating lessons or documentation? Fixing the Table of Contents. ScreenShot lets you output the document to a file folder of HTML files, complete with a Table of Contents and navigation links.
How much time can you save by having such critical functions handled with a point and click simplicity? ScreenSteps provides a variety of templates in different colors for use as HTML documents.
The publisher, Blue Mango Learning Systems, also provides an online ScreenSteps manual, which walks you through the steps to get started, create a document with ScreenSteps, and publish the finished product as a PDF file or the HTML files needed for online publishing.
Lest you think that Mac users get all the goodies, ScreenStep is also available for PC users in Windows Vista, XP, and 2000.
ScreenStep is nifty but not perfect—it simply makes easier that which other utilities handle with ease. For example, the Mac version of ScreenStep has a clinky interface which requires you to study the manual to become proficient.
It’s not intuitive or elegant, but it is effective once you devote a little time to figuring out and implementing the “stepping” process which combines images from screen shots, with text, and annotations.
Academic pricing is available which shaves about 25-percent off the top of ScreenSteps price tag.