Software Presentation Tool -- Wink (version 1.5 build 1051)
Wink Screen Shot (click on the image to enlarge)
Whether you call it ScreenCasting or Demo Movie Recording, Wink records movies of your computer desktop as you demonstrate a computer program. It is primarily used to create tutorials on how to use software in a visual presentation. It allows you to create presentations by capturing screenshots, mouse movements and entering comments by using various types of annotation that are called “callouts” in the program. Wink presentations are geared for placement on web pages and use the Macromedia Flash Player. The Flash Player is a free download and already installed on most computers. Wink is free to use for business or personal use. The button above accesses some examples of presentations that can be created using Wink.
Some similar programs simply record screen shots in a timed sequence. While this method works, it tends to produce large files. Although Wink has a timed screen capture mode, it also has what is called “Input Driven Capture”. This screen capturing mode only records screen shots during mouse clicks and pressing keys on your keyboard. When the final presentation is rendered, cursor movement is animated by the program. The program does not record your actual cursor movements. Using this method produces fewer screen shots and translates into a smaller file size. A smaller file size means the presentation will load faster on an end user’s computer. I saved presentations for two of my previous freeware reviews, WordWeb and Audacity, using the “Input Driven Capture” feature of this program. My WordWeb presentation has 14 screen shots. If each of the screen shots are saved in *.jpg format, the file size is about 60 kb for each screen shot and a total size of 840 kb for all 14 screen shots. The file size of the final WordWeb Flash presentation is only 109 kb. I found the presentations load very quickly. These presentations can be accessed by clicking on the button in my review that says, “click here to see demo”.
Projects are saved with a file name of your choosing and the extension *.wnk. When you have completed a project, there are two output files the program can produce through a rendering process. The main output is a Flash file with a *.swf extension. At the same time, it produces a companion *.htm file that launches the Flash file when you open the *.htm. It is not possible to edit the Flash file with Wink. If you want to make changes to the presentation, you need to edit the *.wnk file and then render the Flash presentation again (so it is a good idea to keep the *.wnk file). I used this option for all my presentations. Saving the files to a web page is a snap. You just save both *.swf file and the *.htm file to the same folder and then create a web link to the *.htm file. Wink can also render a Flash file with an *.exe extension. The presentation runs simply by double clicking on the *.exe file. I haven’t found a useful purpose for the *.exe file type of presentation. You might add comments to this article if you find a use for it.
Flash presentations cannot be printed. So to accommodate this, the presentation may also be saved as an Adobe pdf file or htm file. This would allow you to create a “Printable Version” for your web site.
As good as it is Wink does have a drawback. There is no “undo” function. The biggest problem I encountered is deleting a screen shot I thought I didn’t need and then later realized that I needed it. It is possible to recreate screen shots but I didn’t find it very easy. I found the best process to use is to record all screen shots, and then save the project as a *.wnk file. Then delete any undesired screen shots and render the Flash file. If after viewing the Flash file I decided I needed a screen shot that was deleted, I closed the project without saving changes to the *.wnk file. Then I reopened the *.wnk file which would open with the deleted screen shots. Only when I knew I had the right screen shots did I save the *.wnk file and then proceed to add the comment annotations and “callouts”. This is a little inconvenient but it works.
All Flash presentations need to fit inside the area of a web browser, so the presentation needs to be as small as possible yet large enough to read. Wink has a function where you can resize all screen shots in the presentation, but the end result is a little blurred. You are better off reducing the screen resolution on your computer before you start recording screen shots. This is done by opening the “Display” option of your “Control Panel” and clicking on the “Settings” tab. You will want to set the screen resolution to its lowest setting (probably 640 by 480 pixels).
I must say the program download includes a very good user’s guide that is accessed through the program’s Help menu option. It is very comprehensive. Anyone should be able to read it and understand how to use the program.
Even without an “undo” function, Wink is still a very good program that I recommend highly. I especially like the way it keeps files sizes down of the Flash presentations so it loads fast. I posted a request to add an “undo” function on a Wink forum. The author, Satish Kumar. S, posted a reply that it would be included in the next release.
I recommend that you compare Wink with CamStudio (see my review) which is a similar program. Wink produces smaller file sizes than CamStudio. Wink produces Flash files of ½ a megabyte in size or less where CamStudio’s files are usually 4 or 5 megabytes in size after being compressed. CamStudio has an advantage over Wink in that it records your voice where Wink does not.
Wink runs under Windows 98, ME, 2000 and XP. The download consists of a single compressed file, wink15.zip. When unzipped, it produces a single file, wink15.exe, which you double click to install. After installation, shortcuts are installed to the executable, Wink.exe.