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Adam Machanic

Adam Machanic, Boston-based SQL Server developer, shares his experiences with programming, monitoring, and performance tuning SQL Server. And the occasional battle with the query optimizer.

Acknowledging great software: SnagIt

Sometimes I feel like quality just doesn't matter as much as it used to.  How many times have you heard that something just isn't made as well as it used to be?  Software is no exception, with quite a bit of mediocre and good software on the market, but few products that really qualify as amazing -- so although I don't plan on making a practice of reviewing software on this blog, when I find a product that really goes well beyond my expectations, I feel that I should give credit where credit is due.

A company called TechSmith deserves serious accolades for SnagIt Screen Capture, which is, simply put, one of the best-designed software products I've ever used. SnagIt is a piece of software designed to solve an age-old problem: How do you get a good screen capture? Sure, you could hit the print screen button, paste your screen shot into MS Paint, and crop it from there... but you could also forego knife, fork, and spoon, eating every meal with your bare hands. As a recent ad campaign says, "tools make you feel human."

But I digress.  SnagIt solves the screen capture problem simply and cleanly, with an intuitive yet powerful interface that hides a surprising amount of advanced functionality.  In its simplest mode, you start the thing up, hit a button, and region capture mode spins up. SnagIt gives you a very handy magnification of the area your cursor happens to be in, so that you can select your area to be captured with great accuracy, without having to use a magnfying glass or blow up your image later.  You drag, you drop, and SnagIt fires up an image editor so that you can tweak your selection.  You can crop it, color it, move stuff around -- all the usual image editing features you'd expect -- then save it in any of several output formats.

Things get even more interesting if you throw SnagIt into one of its other capture modes. The capture a window on the screen and capture an object on the screen modes are quite impressive, the latter even hooking in to Web pages that you're browsing, allowing you to automatically capture, e.g., a table or a frame on the page, with no cropping.  That translates into serious time savings if you need to grab a bunch of screen captures for documentation or some other purpose.

Another very cool feature I've just recently discovered: You don't even have to save the image to a file to send it elsewhere.  SnagIt helps you automatically e-mail or IM a capture to someone--taking a whole step out of the process and therefore saving even more time. Another excellent time-saving feature became apparent when I needed to convert a bunch of images to a different format. SnagIt ships with a utility that lets you convert any number of images in just a couple of clicks. Much better than opening and converting each file one-by-one!

Working with SnagIt, I really feel as though TechSmith's design engineers have thought of everything, and that their software developers have implemented a very solid product.  I'm not aware of any gotchas or workarounds, and I've been clocking a large amount of time with this product recently.  All in all, I'm glad to have found the product, and really can't imagine going back to capturing images any other way.

Published Tuesday, September 26, 2006 3:19 PM by Adam Machanic

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Joe Webb said:

I absolutely agree; SnagIt is a great product. I've used it for a couple of years now and would be hard pressed to put together an article, book, or even presentation without it.

One of the little side features I like is the edge effects (drop shadow, torn page, etc) that you can have it create for you.


September 27, 2006 5:54 AM

Farley Balasuriya said:

I agree, and used it when I was working for some company who used it in their desktop build. Now for SQL doumentation I use the very simple, very good, very easy to use HoverSnap. Best of all, it's free.

October 1, 2006 2:20 AM

Farley Balasuriya said:

I agree, and used it when I was working for some company who used it in their desktop build. Now for SQL doumentation I use the very simple, very good, very easy to use HoverSnap. Best of all, it's free.

October 1, 2006 2:20 AM

Nidhi Gupta said:

I also think that Snag It can do it all. It can even create those roll over graphics within seconds. The magnifying glass that opens up while you're trying to capture an image is really exciting!!

But when we export an image to Powerpoint. Say 5 images one by one...then why does'nt it create new PPT slides for each one?? :-( Sadly it places all of them in single PPt slide.

I wish they could work on it.

But over all I must say its an amazing tool. I am using it extesively for documentation purpose!!!

May 2, 2008 12:19 AM

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About Adam Machanic

Adam Machanic is a Boston-based SQL Server developer, writer, and speaker. He focuses on large-scale data warehouse performance and development, and is author of the award-winning SQL Server monitoring stored procedure, sp_WhoIsActive. Adam has written for numerous web sites and magazines, including SQLblog, Simple Talk, Search SQL Server, SQL Server Professional, CoDe, and VSJ. He has also contributed to several books on SQL Server, including "SQL Server 2008 Internals" (Microsoft Press, 2009) and "Expert SQL Server 2005 Development" (Apress, 2007). Adam regularly speaks at conferences and training events on a variety of SQL Server topics. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for SQL Server, a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and an alumnus of the INETA North American Speakers Bureau.

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