Very slick Web-based tool makes short work of creating online screencasts.
The just-launched Screenr product isn't the only easy Web-friendly screencast tool out there, but among the competing products I've tried, including ScreenJelly and Jing, it is the best option for creating screencasts fast and getting them posted immediately. All you do is let the Java-powered recording app load from the Screenr Web page and hit a button to record a screencast of up to five minutes.
Screenr's special power is its slick Twitter integration. As with TwitPic and TwitVid, once the service collects your media, it posts it on a page for you and can send a description and a link out directly from your Twitter account. The screencasts can also be embedded on any Web page.
There's no editing option or other fancy features like picture-in-picture recording. If you want to go that route, look at apps like Camtasia for Windows, or ScreenFlow on the Mac. However, you can set the size of your image-recording window before you start recording, to make sure you don't include distracting interface elements in your presentation.
I like Screenr a lot. Here's a sample:
But where's the business?
Screenr is a production of the New York company Articulate, which makes e-learning tools, primarily for corporations. CEO Adam Schwartz told me Articulate has about 20,000 paying customers for its software and services. Screenr, he said, is a first step in the company's creation of a new group of e-learning products, which he compares to the popular software-based screencast products from Camtasia. But with Artculate's focus on education, the tools will be "more about interactivity, branching, learning, and simulation." His fully developed screencast tools will have the capabilities for grading and quizzing, and will be integrated into more fully formed educational suites.
Which leaves the free version of Screenr as a little marketing expense. (A paid version may follow, with options for branding, longer recording times, and so on.) Lest you worry about the company shutting down the non-revenue-generating free product (see "URL shortener Trim gets cut off"), take some comfort in what Schwartz says on the topic: "This is really cheap for us. We're hosted on the Rackspace cloud, and the cost for doing this is like two orders of magnitude less than it was when we looked at this two years ago. It would cost more as a marketing fiasco to shut this down than it would to keep it running." Take that as you wish, but at least the company behind this cool free service seems to be on solid footing.