Re: Does any other program (windows or linux) do screenshotannotation efficiently?

Discussion in 'Photoshop' started by Danny D., Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    I've tested every freeware program that was suggested, so
    I'm not an expert on the payware programs.

    However, I would be shocked if something professional,
    such as Photoshop or PSP didn't meet the three critical
    requirements for annotating screenshots for typical DIYs.

    Personally, I don't have any professional programs installed.
    Therefore ...
    May I ask of the Photoshop or PSP folks these three questions:

    Q1: When you text, must you draw a bounding box first?

    Q2: When you draw arrows, do you only need to draw the beginning
    and end points, and can you subsequently modify the curve as needed
    to create dashed lines and to flow, as needed, around obstacles?

    Q3: When you draw an open circle, is the task as efficient
    as simply sweeping out the desired area?

    If the answer to the three questions asked of all screenshot
    annotation programs is YES (which I presume it would be given people
    PAID for the privilege of ease of use), then those payware programs
    meet the three critical requirements for annotating screenshots
    Danny D., Apr 21, 2013
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  2. It seems to me that you have spent an enormous amount of time testing
    "free" software, without, apparently, any regard to the cost of your
    time. Is it worthless? I don't understand the fixation of things that
    are "free"? I believe the old adage that "there is no such thing as a
    free lunch".

    Why have you not also tested some "payware" offerings? I use Visio for a
    lot of the type of markup you mention. It's not free, but I believe it
    has a trial version. There is a bit of a learning curve and it doesn't
    do everything. ymmv
    Jennifer Murphy, Apr 21, 2013
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  3. Danny D.

    Tony Cooper Guest

    No, in Photoshop and Elements.
    No, in Photoshop and Elements. You have a wide choice of arrows
    (straight, curved, curve direction, barb style, etc), dashed lines and
    such. An arrow is like a type character and can be set to size,
    position, shape, and color. And, it can be rotated.
    Yes, and there are choices that involve holding down certain keys to
    make the circle open from the center point or simply open where you
    start it. You can also set stroke size and color.
    Did you read what you wrote? You *don't* want a YES for Q1. In Q2,
    you don't have to bother setting points in Photoshop and Elements.

    What you are using is a nice little program, but it's not a new
    religion or a cure for cancer. I'm not interested in converting you
    to an Adobe product, and I'm certainly not interested in stepping back
    to a minor program.

    Most people don't buy a program to annotate screen shots. That's one
    use, but we buy programs to do that and many other things.
    Tony Cooper, Apr 21, 2013
  4. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    That I've spent an enormous amount of time researching is true.

    I've often said the biggest expense, by far, of freeware is the cost
    of the testing required. Asking questions helps ameliorate that a bit
    because you can take advantage of other people's tests (and they of yours).

    But the same can be said of anything else in life.

    Take the well-known example of buying a car.

    I researched buying an automobile such that I knew all the internal
    code names for the vehicles being considered and the costs and
    code names for the colors and options (which helps immensely when
    talking seriously with the three types of dealer sales people
    (lot, fleet, and customer service) so that I used type of salesperson
    for what they were most useful for.

    Lot salesperson: Use him to test drive (leave your wallet at home!)
    Customer service: Use her to locate the exact options and vehicle.
    Fleet salesperson: Use them to buy the car at a hundred over cost.

    Same concept with freeware.

    Use each one for what it does best.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  5. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    While that is true, I do not believe in the old adage that
    you get what you pay for.

    Having taken economics 101 (micro and macro), it's clear you
    pay what other people are willing to pay for.

    You're competing with the rest of the world - many of whom may
    not have done the research that you've done - so they're making
    bad decisions (perhaps).
    I've been using freeware since the early 1990s, and I've concluded
    there are few programs most ever have to overtly buy. One is
    Microsoft Office - and even then, it's only because everyone else
    uses it and because the replacements (open office, star office, etc.)
    are not compatible.

    Another is a tax program.

    But, for photo editing, I've never needed a payware solution.

    Of course, I'm not CREATING content from scratch - I merely edit
    screenshots - so the needs will dictate the software.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  6. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    I've used Visio at work for creating huge flowcharts.
    It's a nice program.

    But, as you said, it's not free (and trialware doesn't count as
    it will expire or watermark the results).

    The question is whether PSP and Photoshop (or Visio) do this:

    A) Do they just text without having to draw a bounding box?
    B) Do they arrow just by clicking two points & bending as needed?
    C) Do they circle just by sweeping out the desired area?

    If PSP, or PhotoShop, or Visio can do that (which I hope they do
    since people PAID for these conveniences), then they meet the
    simplest requirement of annotating screenshot for DIYS (which I
    write a lot of).

    If not - then that would be sad.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  7. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Good! Efficiency & ease of use is what I'd expect if I paid
    for these programs.
    Hmm... I'm going to presume that means the arrows have an ease
    of use that is expected, even though I'm not sure how they work
    if you can't set the starting and ending points easily, and then
    subsequently modify the curve to flow around obstacles.
    Good. Of the three critical annotation tasks, this was the one
    that is most often in most programs - but it's on the short list
    because some freeware (e.g., Gimp) can't do it easily, even though
    the task is considered a basic one in screenshot annotation.

    I thank you for the answers for Photoshop and Elements.
    I'm a bit confused about the arrow answer - but I presume from
    your tone that the arrows are easy & intuitive.

    It turns out that the arrows are the HARDEST feature to find
    in freeware! That, and simple texting without drawing bounding boxes
    (although all freeware does texting but not few freeware does arrowing).

    If I had to pick the ONE critical task, it's ease of arrowing that
    distinguishes one package from another - therefore it's good to know
    that Elements and Photoshop apparently do arrows easily and efficiently.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  8. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    I heartily agree.

    In fact, I hate some things about Paint.NET on Windows, such as the
    fact it is slow as a dog (compared to, say, Irfanview); but, man,
    does it do arrows well!

    I'll be the arrowing on Paint.NET is (almost?) as good as what you
    said Elements and Photoshop has. And, the texting is a simple click
    and type (which is the way it should be).

    Unfortunately, on Linux, it's bothersome that the best I can find,
    Kolourpaint, doesn't really do arrows at all (you have to manually draw
    them and you can't easily reshape them and it's nearly impossible to dash
    them and you have to manually draw the arrow points, etc.).

    Plus, you have to draw bounding boxes before you can text in Kolourpaint.

    So, I never said they were the cure for cancer - but - they're free - and,
    they're the best I can find for the task of annotating screenshots. If
    someone suggests better freeware - I'd be ecstatic to test it out.
    This thread originally did not have on it; that
    newsgroup was added to get the answer of how efficiently payware programs
    handled the three critical tasks:
    a) Texting by simply typing
    b) Arrowing by simply choosing the points
    c) Circling by simply sweeping the area

    Of course, there are other tasks (but most freeware does them well already):
    d) Cropping (especially limiting the cropping to a given ratio, such as 4:3)
    e) Saving as another format (especially with vectors, layers & transparency)
    f) Creating collages (mixing photos together as a single composition)
    I agree the professionals have harder goals. For example, one thing I've
    found hard to find in freeware is a good "magic wand" such that you can
    cut a person out of one photo and insert into another background photo.

    But you don't have that tougher problem set with screenshot annotations.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  9. Danny D.

    Savageduck Guest

    As far as a technically free (it is part of the Mac OS bundle)
    application I use for simple annotation, including arrows, is "Preview".
    So I can do stuff like this.
    < >
    Savageduck, Apr 22, 2013
  10. Danny D.

    Guest Guest

    preview does what he needs but he doesn't have a mac.
    Guest, Apr 22, 2013
  11. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    I was on Linux when I saw this, so, I had the best of the worst
    for arrows - but sometimes it's nice to have curved arrows as
    shown here for your photo.

    Does this Macintosh application curve them?

    NOTE: The Windows Paint.NET arrows are vastly superior to what I drew
    just now with Kolourpaint on Linux - but the point is the same.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  12. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    This is the USENET, so, we have all types - therefore, it's nice
    to answer the questions for all three major platforms:

    Best freeware arrows on Windows: Paint.NET (far better than all the others)
    Best freeware arrows on Linux: Kolourpaint (just so so ... nothing special)
    Best freeware arrows on Mac: Preview? (but does it text & circle?)

    Arrows are very important when screenshot anontating because you
    may wish to flow around objects in a graceful way that follows
    the inherent curves of the screenshot.
    Danny D., Apr 22, 2013
  13. Danny D.

    Savageduck Guest

    No. It is only intended for making on the fly simple annotations.

    With Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator, where you have several ways of
    going about dealing with this sort of thing using text layers and
    vector graphics all sorts of stuff is possible. Unfortunately you are
    only seeking free solutions in the Linux World, so there is little
    point in going further. However, it might be worthwhile for you to
    check "Inkscape".
    Savageduck, Apr 22, 2013
  14. Danny D.

    Tony Cooper Guest

    You place the arrow anywhere in the image and then move it to the
    specific point you want it to be located. Dead simple. If you want
    it longer or shorter or fatter or thinner, you use Free Transform. If
    you want it curved or distorted or whatever, you use Transform.

    If you want a second or third arrow, you merely copy/paste that layer
    and move the arrow on that layer. You don't have to re-draw the
    Tony Cooper, Apr 22, 2013
  15. Danny D.

    Savageduck Guest

    BTW: here are a couple of curved arrows, a circle and some text done in
    Photoshop on to of what has become my annotation demo.
    < >
    Savageduck, Apr 22, 2013
  16. Danny D.

    Alan Meyer Guest

    On 04/21/2013 02:20 PM, Jennifer Murphy wrote:

    Doesn't commercial software require the same amount of reading reviews
    and testing?

    There are a few commercial products that are so well established
    (Windows, Office, Photoshop, Acrobat, Flash, etc.) that you may not need
    to test them, but there are a lot of freeware programs in that category
    too (Linux, Apache, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, MySQL, Python, Perl, Java,
    Emacs, vim, etc. For image viewing or editing IrfanView [viewing] and
    the GIMP [editing] have been around forever and are really good.)

    Free has some financial benefits that go beyond initial purchase price,

    Put it on all of your computers at no extra charge.
    Update to latest version at no extra charge.

    If you have 3-4 computers in your household and new versions of the
    software come out every 3-4 years, over 10 years, the cost advantages
    add up.

    I also like the security you get with open source programs. Security
    holes get found and plugged. If you're running Linux, the security and
    stability updates will happen automatically, not just for Linux itself,
    but for all of your applications. On Windows, Microsoft will do that
    for Microsoft's products, but for the rest you're dependent on whatever
    update policies the vendor provides. Oftentimes you get very
    inconvenient demands from 3 or 4 different programs that clamor for
    separate updates - where Linux applies all of them automatically and at

    The authors of open source programs don't have the same motivation or
    the same opportunity to bury spyware in their products. Even if they
    wanted to they know that other programmers would spot it and blast them.

    Besides the spyware issue, open source programs are often better behaved
    with regard to not installing third party toolbars, not running
    services, not grabbing file extension handlers without permission, not
    putting stuff in the Windows registry that doesn't go away during an
    uninstall, etc. I'm not saying that all commercial programs are
    offenders in those areas, or that no open source programs are, but my
    impression is that the track record for open source is better in these

    And if you install a free program and two weeks later learn about a
    better one, you're not out any money for the product you no longer want
    to use.

    Alan Meyer, Apr 23, 2013
  17. Danny D.

    Eric Stevens Guest

    Here is something is something as an annotation demo that I did a
    couple of years ago. 1.jpg
    Warning: an A3 original.
    I notice some of the thinner lines have suffered slightly in the
    multiple translations from the original 'PSPImage' (or may be a form
    of aliasing on my screen?)
    Eric Stevens, Apr 23, 2013
  18. Danny D.

    Guest Guest

    Doesn't commercial software require the same amount of reading reviews
    and testing?[/QUOTE]

    the point is he only looked at free solutions, ignoring a whole class
    of apps just because he's too cheap to spend a couple bucks on quality
    software. how much did he really save by wasting so many hours without
    finding a solution?
    emacs and vim? seriously? the gimp is not 'really good', it's roughly
    where photoshop was a decade ago. openoffice might be ok by itself but
    it won't work particularly well for those who exchange files with
    others who use the real thing. apache, mysql, perl and python are not
    apps people run. java is a security nightmare, as is flash.
    depends on the apps.

    many paid apps work the same way. all apps from the mac app store do.
    depends on the apps.

    meanwhile, using software that does exactly what is needed is usually
    well worth whatever extra expense might be incurred.
    again, depends on the apps.

    some paid apps auto-update, and on a mac, all apps from the app store
    update automatically (unless disabled). also, linux updates don't
    necessarily affect apps.
    the authors of open source programs don't have the same motivation to
    make their products not suck either, namely money. money is a very big

    that's why commercial software is usually significantly more capable
    and more reliable than open source solutions. it's why pros use
    photoshop instead of the gimp. there is the occasional exception, but
    it's rare.
    depends on the app and what options the user picked in the installer.
    often, avoiding that extra stuff is nothing more than deselecting a
    that's why you use the trial version first or do more research before
    Guest, Apr 23, 2013
  19. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    Exactly! Those arrows are beautiful!

    I especially like the variable width of the streamlined arrows
    (although I would have made the point a lot smaller!). :)

    And the text is fine ... as is the circle and ellipse.

    Those three things are the hardest to find in freeware, done well:
    1. Text (just typing without having to define an area)
    2. Arrows (you draw them and the arrows are automatically put in)
    3. Circles, boxes, ellipses, etc. (often used to isolate something)

    I presume they were all easy to add in both Photoshop & Elements?
    Danny D., Apr 23, 2013
  20. Danny D.

    Danny D. Guest

    That's a very nice feature, especially when you have tiered arrows,
    as shown in the Bugatti picture.
    Danny D., Apr 23, 2013
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