As a Support Engineer for SoftGrid and App-V, a question that I ask a lot from my customers is "Can I take a look at the documentation you used or created for this sequence?" Most of the time the answer is that no such documentation exists. I also know that the times where I have had documentation available, it has been invaluable for troubleshooting.
This series of articles is going to show you how to use screen recording software to create a "video recipe" to document the steps followed for sequencing an application.
Why create a video recipe?
- It is an easy way to document your process
- No stop/start grabbing screenshots and typing instructions
- Easy to follow along and reproduce steps.
- No gaps between the process followed and the documentation.
There are several applications available for recording what happens on your computer. For this series I will focus on the following four applications:
- Microsoft Office Labs Community Clips
- TechSmith Camtasia
- Adobe Captivate
- Microsoft Expression Encoder
For each of these, we will go through their basic ability to capture what happens while you sequence. I'll also have a second wave of articles that show some of the advanced features of each program. The advanced features will let you go back after the fact and add detail to your video documentation. Going back and adding the detail to a successful sequence will make it even easier for someone, or even yourself, to repeat a successful sequence when the need arises.
Although the four programs above are all different, there are some general best practices that apply to the process.
- NEVER install the screen recording software on the sequencer.
- As you all know, your Sequencer should be clean except for any required pre-requisite installs
- DO install the screen recording software on a machine that allows you to see and access the sequencer via a remote session.
- This actually improves the performance of the recording because the CPU load for recording is one computer and your Sequencer load is on another CPU.
- If you must, you can install on the same machine as your VMs, but just be sure that it is installed on the host machine, not the Sequencer.
- Start your recording with a notification of any pre-requisites installed on the Sequencer.
- This can be as simple as an open Notepad document stating, for example, that Office 2007 is locally installed.
- Let this stay up for a few seconds, and close it before you start sequencing.
- Be aware of your mouse movements.
- Sometimes we know a program cold and can fly through the installation. Keep in mind that someone else may need this video and have to follow along. When you move your mouse to something that needs to be selected or clicked, let it hang there for a second or two.
- Even if you are not recording audio, which probably isn't necessary, use a pace as if you were explaining your steps to someone.
- It's okay to pause.
- Some programs take a LONG time to install and it doesn't necessarily help anybody to watch a progress bar move at a snail's pace.
- Not every recording screen recording software has a pause option, but, for example, F9 will toggle pause/record in Camtasia.
- Save your recording in the application native format.
- This may seem obvious, but most of these recording programs are just recording to a temp file that will disappear when the application exits. If you don't explicitly save your recording, it will be gone.
- Saving in your programs native, and typically default, format will allow you to do some advanced editing and documentation.
In Part 2 of this series, we will start by using Microsoft's free tool, Community Clips.
UPDATE: The Community Clips experiment has been completed and is no longer available. The screen recording tool is still available for download here.
If you have any questions, or want to see something else addressed along the way, please be sure to leave a comment.
Steve Bucci | Senior Support Engineer