Screen Captures

Certainly this is nothing new to write about, but I started looking into this because I needed to create some back up screen captures for websites. I had a few things that I wanted to be able to do…first, I wanted to capture full pages with the links…second I wanted to be able to capture by domain (so all of the pages in the hierarchy) at one time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do the second item…but I did look at a number of software in the process. In the end I used SnagIt, which I already had installed on my computer. There is a small fee for this program, but I also looked at a free option called PDFCreator. While PDFCreator had a number of useful features, it didn’t save links (at least not that I could figure out). This post covers SnagIt and PDFCreator, but it should be noted that there are a lot of other options out there…these are just the two that I liked the best.

SnagIt 10 from TechSmith
Price: Free trial, $50 for a licensed version
Available from: http://www.techsmith.com/snagit/default.asp

This is a great program. As with other apps, you can choose exactly how much of the screen you’ll shoot. One of the thing I like best about SnagIt is there are easy short-cuts for capturing either the whole screen, a window, a region, or a scrolling area, with just some considered cursor placement and a single click. The capture profiles are a real time saver. The profile I use the most is the Webpage profile (keep links). With this, I can easily make a back-up image of a wegpage that saves the links and then save it into either PDF, SWF (flash), MHT (web page with Image), or SNAG (the SnagIt Capture file).

In addition to snagging images, Snagit has separate capture settings for copying text and video. It’s pretty cool that you can record your screen’s action in the AVI format. Snagit’s editor has some additional editing tools in this version that allow for further manipulating the text. Snagit image editor stores screenshots in an icon library which makes it easy to review past screen captures.

Though Snagit’s editing tools aren’t as professional as some other high-end editors, it does provide a satisfying array of tools to annotate, resize, recolor, and otherwise manipulate images with hyperlinked hot spots, tags, and visual effects, like the newly introduced page-curl effect.

I think what’s called for here is taking a PDF snapshot of each page.  And luckily, if I recall correctly, our page-naming-convention will come in handy here because each page name is in a hierarchy, so just accepting the default name for each file will result in a set of pages nicely representing the structure of the Website as a whole. This image shows the menu options available in the SnagIt 10 program:

PDFCreator

Available from: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/
Price: free

A colleague recommended PDFCreator as a great freeware that takes PDF Snapshots. This program creates a virtual printer on your Windows computer. When you select it as a printer, it creates a PDF of whatever you’ve selected to print. One nice feature is that it works on any windows application and not just your browser (SnagIt wroks on other apps as well).  One thing I liked best about this program was the ability to merge multiple files into one PDF.

Here is what it looks like when you print a document, you just select PDFCreator as your printer:

Some of the features of this program include:

  • Create PDFs from any program that is able to print
  • Encrypt PDFs and protect them from being opened, printed etc
  • Digitally sign PDFs to ensure that you are the author and the file has not been modified
  • Create PDF/A files for long term archives
  • Send generated files via e-mail
  • Create more than just PDFs: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS

The one feature that I would absolutely love that I could not find is to be able to save all web pages in a domain all at once, instead of file.

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