An Essential Part of My Workflow

A couple of days ago, on of those reminders about how reliant we are on various pieces of technology was forced upon me: Jing died on me….

For those of you who don’t know it, Jing is a screencapture/screencasting tool that is integrated with flickr (free version, for screenshots) and Youtube (pro version, for screencasts). It’s producd by Techsmith, who also publish the more comprehensive SnagIt and Camtasia tools, so the technical underpinnings of the app are excellent.

Anyway, I’ve been using the free version of Jing for what seems like forever, using it to grab screenshots at will and send them direct to flickr, then typically pasting the embed code that is magically popped into my clipboard directly into my WordPress editor. But I’ve decided that I really need to do more screencasts, and whilst Jing automates video uploads to, I really wanted the ability to post screencasts direct to Youtube. So on Sunday I upgraded, and after a couple of battles getting the upgrade to take, uploaded a couple of test screencasts to Youtube, easy as anything.

And then, on Tuesday, late on Tuesday, at a time when Tuesday had bcome Wednesday and I really wanted to call an end to the day, save for finishijng off a post with a couple of screenshots, Jing died. Every time I restarted it, it claimed I was no longer a Pro user, and died.

So I reinstalled, and tried again. Same thing. Reboot my Mac, and try again. Still no joy, Crate a new, free account, and whenever I started Jing, it crashed.

Superstition kicked in and I blamed the upgrade, trying (maybe successfully, maybe not) to send a help request to Techsmith. (Finding the help was a nightmare, I think I had to create a new account on a help system somewhere along the way, and on posting a help email, I couldn’t tell whether it had been submitted or not.) The typical online help rigmarole, essentially. Even if you don’t start off angry, you’re likely to end up furious. (Plus I was really flagging by now and maybe not thinking as clearly as I might!)

A search on Twitter turned up a @techsmith account, and the contact details of someone at Camtasia, who I emailed. But it was passed days’ end, even in the US, so I went looking for an alternative. (I could of course have just used the Mac screengrab tools to do what I needed, and then uploaded the images to flickr using flock, but I was looking to punish to Camtasia by finding an alternative to Jing that worked just as well!)

In the end, I settled on Skitch, and it sort of worked okay, but it was nothing like as painless as Jing. For every screenshot I took, I just wanted Jing back…

…anyway, I picked up a friendly email from Techsmith yesterday saying there had been problems, and a tweeted prompt from Techsmith last night asking if Jing was now working for me again (it was/is). The problem, it seems, was at the Techsmith end, an issue that caused Jing on Mac Tiger to crash (I’m intrigued as to how a problem on the webservice end and kill an app running on the desktop? This is a harbinger of things to come more generally with web apps, maybe?)

So what do I take from this experience? Firstly, Jing is part of what I do, and it does just what it needs to for me. Secondly, without twitter I’d have had a really crap customer experience trying to understand what was going on (had something gone bad with my Pro upgrade? Was it a Jing problem or my problem? and so on..).

As it’s turned out, rather than writing a ranty post saying I’ve now changed my screencapture tool because of blah, blah, blah, if anyone asks what tool I use for screencaptures, I’d still say Jing. And from the ease of use in uploading screencaptured videos to Youtube, I’d also recommend the upgrade to Jing Pro if quick’n’easy raw screencasts are your thing.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

2 thoughts on “An Essential Part of My Workflow”

  1. “This is a harbinger of things to come more generally with web apps, maybe?”

    In my opinion Tony, most definitely, and a point that I’ve been labouring for some time regarding proprietary software and cloud computing.


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