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I love companies that take a product or niche and just nail it. Every time. Three examples of companies that have done this, at least for me, are Scooter Software, makers of BeyondCompare,  IDM Computer Solutions, makers of UltraEdit and Techsmith, makers of Snagit and Camtasia. These companies focus and get it right. At least until Snagit’s latest release. Unfortunately TechSmith has stumbled for the first time, with its latest release, 12. It’s a small stumble, but it’s there none-the-less. I believe it illustrates what happens when you drop the idea of “do no harm” in what you present to your customers. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Techsmith and their products. They provide enthusiatic support and try to work with you. They are probably the most diligent company at actively finding ways to be helpful and informative to their customers than any with whom I’ve interacted. They care.

 

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Snagit is a screen capture tool. No big deal you say, Snipping Tool does that right out of the box, no extra cost, and comes with Windows. Agreed and for casual use, it’s a fine tool. However, if you ever need to incorporate screen captures for documentation, whether that’s for a user manual, documenting an error or simply incorporating something from your computer screen in a note, Snagit is a much more sophisticated, yet intuitive  tool. A few releases back, they came out with the all-in-one capture which allows you to dynamically determine what you’re capturing on the scree. Even if there are parts of a window that aren’t visible on the screen, it makes it easy to capture the scrolling window. So, before I go off on the challenges, here’s a brief overview of some of my favorite features: Snagit 12 Features

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UPDATE: Techsmith provided some ways to mitigate the difficulties with workflow. See the updates here.

If it’s so fabulous and functional, what’s the issue? It was more fabulous in its previous release and some additional work has been added to the same tasks. This is, in my mind, a user experience (UX) no-no. Now, all UX choices optimize some things over others and Techsmith choose to optimize for new and casual users. That’s fine and understandable. However provide a way to configure the experience to be optimized for power users. Also  all UX changes to beloved (or otherwise) tools bring a learning curve and require a willingness to change. For example, starting with Windows Vista and carried forward, access to files and programs was optimized for search rather than selecting through menus. A lot of folks had challenges moving to the new motif; I loved it. Another example is the ribbon in Office; I think it was a brilliant move that made tasks more efficient, but the hue and cry was “where’s my menu?” Windows 8 Modern UI has some challenges but really works well with some willingness to change. While I anticipate transition time with the new release of Snagit (although it’s been brief with previous upgrades), I don’t think the issues I have a transitional in nature.

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The new UX for Snagit, I believe, made challenging captures harder. The ability to attempt a capture, it not work and to experiment until it works is diminished. Yet that is exactly where Snagit shines over Snipping Tool and other image capture tools. Where others fail, Snagit says “bring it on.” Why make that harder by making me use pre-established profiles.

To see what I mean, here’s a way to capture a drop-down menu in Snagit 11 

 

Now here’s that same task on Snagit 12

 

Now, admittedly, once you establish the profiles, 12 would be only a bit more convoluted than 11 and even creating the profiles isn’t a huge effort. The point is that all of the UX choice points to this date have been fluid, natural and made the experience better. This one does not.   Why not provide a way to set the configuration to allow for dynamic changing of capture settings? (I would also love a setting to change the default behavior for the “red button” method of capture, but that’s a nit since I can remap the Print Screen key.) It seems that they’re trying to enforce profiles; I dislike being boxed in by the way I “ought” to use it. They seem to make life a bit harder for the power user. Don’t diss your customer base looking for new sales.

So it’s I don’t hate the release (like I did initially) but after such a near perfect records of flawless, easy and intuitive upgrades, this was quite a surprise. From most other companies, I would just suck it in and move on. Techsmith set themselves a very high bar; I don’t think they cleared it this time.

I do want to note that, initially, I had some other issues with the upgrade which Techsmith addressed quickly, one was a technical install issue and the other a workflow issue. They were johnny-on-the-spot

By the way, these hastily captured examples where done with Techsmith’s Camtasia.

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