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November 6, 2018

Diving into ActivePresenter (again)

It’s been a while since I did any work using ActivePresenter (by Atomi) but a project came up in work where it was going to be easier to create videos, instead of bulk updating several manuals intended for Admins, Users and Managers.

My thought was “Why rewrite the same sentence / page in several flavours, when a video could be used instead?”.

I remembered using ActivePresenter at a previous employer and it was a much better at doing desktop demos – as used a lot by the systems analysts. It was also useful for proving bugs (for the testers / technical authors) that would then go onto a JIRA ticket.

All in all, once we had discovered it, the existing solution using the (ancient) Windows Media Encoder was binned.

Anyway, that was way back when and we were using a much older version (v5) of it, upgrading to v6 towards the end of my time there. Back to modern times and it’s now available as an updated release (v7) with even more bells and whistles included.

What I’d never done before was to use properly the massive amount of tweaks that you can do to your initial recorded project / recording of a software simulation (*).

After a quick FB message to a former colleague, I received my old tutorials which needed to be recovered from a SharePoint page. I then needed to see how much difference there was between the older versions that I had covered in my documentation against what was included in the new v7.

Quick answer: A lot!

The interface has changed / improved a lot since my previous tinkerings, along with Atomi adding more and more features.

(However, in my defence, some of these might have been in the original package, but because they weren’t needed, they tended to be ignored. Ahem .. oops!)

It wasn’t long before a couple of test projects were created and the MP4 videos were generated. Everything was there (that I wanted) with the mouse cursor tracking, pop-up boxes galore, the status of any clicked buttons displayed and whatever I had entered into a field. All of it was detected, recorded and visible in the video. Sorted!

The only downside to this is that I’ve now spent almost a full working week creating the relevant guides on Confluence covering the basics so that anyone where I work can wander / blunder in and create their own videos.

Yes, there’s a full manual that comes with it and there’s plenty of examples on YouTube, but, as a technical author, it’s in my blood to create docs and/or pages with my thoughts and technical info.

So, TL:DR, if you want a freeware application / website recorder, with the ability to generate MP4 files afterwards, then I highly recommend ActivePresenter.

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(*) These are the two main uses that I’ve found for the freeware version of ActivePresenter, but if you buy a copy, there’s also the ability to generate tutorials / training courses with full HTML 5 and SCORM support.

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