Mar 5 2005

You may have noticed I enjoy using the great screen capture utility, xvidcap. It is really nice to create small demos that illustrate a certain functionality of a gui app better than writing it with plain text.

The app has a lot more potential though. It could be really helpful for usability testing if some additional functionality was added. A developer could have a neat tool to identify problems users have with solving a particular task with his/her application. The functionality required for this:

  • Keyboard Status - some indicator of pressed keys should be recorded.

  • Virtual usability lab infrastructure - an easy way for a developer to set up a virtual usability testing lab. A web interface possibly being the best approach. A developer would write down a number of tasks the subjects are supposed to achieve, the xvidcap-like client should be launched by clicking a specific URI (custom schema) that would set up the recording session in the recorder. The user would simply press a “record” button and start with the task. After completion or unsuccesful try, a stop button (perhaps the very same button) would need to be pressed, displaying a simple dialog. In there, the subject would attach a simple text comment providing some additional feedback, especially since sound support (see next point) should be optional. Cancel, Save to File, Submit buttons are the likely ways to dismiss the dialog. The default Submit button would upload the file to the provided location set up by clicking on the initial link.

  • Sound support (this already exists) - the struggling user usually mumbles useful information when getting stuck with the task. Unfortunately a microphone isn’t a very common peripheral so this should remain optional.

Technical note - Xvidcap is quite a bitch to compile and pretty much requires to have ffmpeg linked statically in.