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Jolt Awards: Utilities

, July 24, 2012 The Jolt judges combed through more than 40 products to find the very best developer utilities. We now reveal the Jolt Award winner and the runners-up.
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Snagit v. 11

Having critiqued so many pieces of software over the years, people occasionally ask me whether there is any software that I truly find superior in all ways. My consistent answer for years has been Snagit, the screen capture program from TechSmith. Screen capture in and of itself is no terribly hard feat, as demonstrated by the numerous free utilities available that provide the service. However, SnagIt provides so much additional functionality that I am happy to pay for licenses and upgrades as they come out. The most notable aspect is the ease with which you can select a portion of the screen to capture. SnagIt makes this simple by highlighting in an magnification window where exactly the cursor is (see image) so that you can line it up perfectly with an edge or a corner. If the part you want to copy is a drop down menu, you can set a timer so that you can drop down the menu before the snapshot is made.

Another key feature is that once the capture is made, your image pops up in an image editor, which has all the basic functionality you need. Sizing, cropping, color palette editing, plus markup (such as adding call outs, text, or stamps). I find the image editor so intuitive that I sometimes use it to touch up images, rather than waiting forever for a heavyweight product, such as Adobe Illustrator, to load.

Finally, SnagIt also offers video capture, which I frequently use during vendor demos so I can reproduce feature usage. The capture results in an .avi file that can then be edited with other tools. Among the several useful new features in this release are the ability to load images and videos directly to social networking and photo-sharing sites.

When developing new products, if you want an example of an optimal UX and of how to provide many intuitive features without cluttering the UI, I suggest you look no further than SnagIt. It represents, in my opinion, one of the finest software products of any kind available today.

— Andrew Binstock

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