Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements - October 2009

The DemoMate Team is pleased to announce that the latest version has been released (Build 873), introducing the ability to export and import your demo scripts.

You can export your demo script to the Microsoft Word .docx format, including screenshots for each step, click instructions and presenter script text. This provides a convenient way to review the entire demo script in one location, distribute it by e-mail, or include it as a project deliverable.

You can also re-import any edits you make to a demo script. Just make sure the script matches the demo (e.g., they both have the same number of Sections and Steps). All of the Click Instruction and Presenter Script text will be imported from the script back into your demo.

Here's a brief tutorial showing the process of exporting a script, making a few changes, and then importing those changes back into DemoMate:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Exporting and Importing Demo Scripts

Get Microsoft Silverlight

From the Options menu, we've also added a new setting that lets you adjust the export script quality:

This setting determines the quality of the screenshots when you export a script to the .docx format. Higher quality will allow the images to be resized if desired and improve the overall quality by reducing the amount of image compression. Higher quality images will result in significantly larger file sizes, which could make it difficult to distribute the scripts via e-mail.

On behalf of the team that worked hard to bring you this new feature, we hope it’s a time-saver for you, and that it opens up new ways to share and collaborate with your team, partners, and customers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inserting a Step

In our recent DemoMate release (Build 852), we added the ability to insert steps into a demo. This provides an easy way for you to add screenshots, PowerPoint slides, diagrams, or other content to your demos.

When inserting an image, it must be the same pixel size as the rest of the steps in that demo. For example, if your demo was captured at 1024x768, then the image you insert must also be 1024x768. Currently, the images must also be inserted in the .PNG image format.

Here's a brief tutorial showing you the process of inserting a step in a demo:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Inserting a Step Demo

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements - September 2009

The DemoMate Team is pleased to announce that the latest version has been released (Build 852), introducing several exciting new features:

Insert Steps – Now you can quickly insert custom screenshots, graphics, or other .PNGs directly into your demo.

Publishing Tutorials with Audio – Our new Silverlight auto-run player has been implemented on DemoMate.com. Now you can invite viewers to watch your tutorials online, in full fidelity, as previews or leave-behinds.

Embeddable Silverlight Player Enhancements – Our industry-leading embeddable Silverlight player continues to improve, now with even faster load times and new bandwidth efficiencies.

Thanks to the Community
We’ve been working hard to deliver these features and we want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to everyone in the DemoMate community who has contributed their time and ideas to these powerful new capabilities. We love the success stories you tell us and we’re looking forward to seeing how you take advantage of these new capabilities.

Go forth and Demo!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tips for Working with Audio in DemoMate

Here is a collection of useful tips for incorporating sound bites in DemoMate:

  • Invest in a good microphone! We tested a variety of different recording devices, and microphone quality had the biggest impact on audio quality. Check the DemoMate Team Blog for suggestions.
  • Keep your sound bites short and sweet. You don’t need continuous dialog.
  • Experiment with adding sound to a Step or a Section. Select whichever approach works best for you.
  • Use the Presenter Script box to write notes about what you are going to say ahead of time.
  • Try using a free, professional audio recording program. We’re big fans of certain packages. Check the DemoMate Team Blog for suggestions.
  • If using a professional audio recording program, normalize the volume levels of the recordings. Also, trim out any dead space at the beginning and end of your audio clips, to tighten them up. If you don’t do this, you might notice a bit of “lag” at the beginning or end of a Step or Section.
  • Advanced: If needed, you can adjust the volume levels of your audio in tutorials by directly editing the following attributes in the OBJECT embed tag: ClickSoundVolume, SoundBiteVolume, and BackgroundSoundVolume. Valid values for these three parameters are between 0 (muted) and 1 (full volume).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adding Sound Bites or Background Music to Your Demo

There are two ways to add audio to your demo: you can record your own audio using the DemoMate Sound Recorder, or you can Attach pre-recorded audio files. DemoMate supports both .mp3 and Windows Media Audio (.wma) file formats.

The benefits of using the DemoMate Sound Recorder are that it is extremely simple, fast, and easy to use. The benefits of using professional audio software are that you have the opportunity to perform post-production functions not supported by the DemoMate Sound Recorder, such as normalizing volume levels, eliminating static, and editing out dead space. Check the DemoMate Team Blog for recommended audio packages. When using professional audio, you may still want to use the DemoMate Sound Recorder for the purposes of timing and “scratch tracks.”

Adding Audio to a Step or Section

To add an audio “sound bite” to a Step or Section, click on the Speaker Button next to the Step number or Section Name in the right navigation pane. This will launch the Sound Bite dialog box, with the following options:

Play – Preview an existing sound bite.

Stop – This button serves dual purposes, and will either stop playing a sound bite if one is playing, or stop a recording session.

Record – Begin recording a sound bite.

Attach File – Allows you to browse and select an existing file.

Delete – Deletes the existing sound bite.

Using the Mini Audio Control Panel

There is an additional way to add an audio Sound Bite to a Step. If you have an individual Step selected in the navigation pane, you can also use the Mini Audio Control Panel, embedded in the bottom panel, to preview, record, or attach sound bites. Finally, you can right click on a step (or section) in the navigation pane to bring up a context menu that allows you to perform certain actions.

Adding Demo Background Music

To add background music to your demo, click the Music button located directly above the Capture New Section button in the right editor pane.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Introduction to Audio in DemoMate

DemoMate gives you the ability to add audio “sound bites” to individual Steps within a demo, or to Sections within a demo. You can hear the audio whenever you use one of the auto-play options in DemoMate. These options include: clicking the Play button from the DemoMate Editor, or selecting Package Tutorial on the Share tab.

When playing a demo back, audio “Sound Bites” associated with an individual Step will play first, then advance the demo, giving demo authors control and flexibility over how sound bites are used in the demo. Audio associated with a Section will keep playing as the demo progresses from Step to Step. If the audio file is longer than all the steps in the Section, then the mouse cursor will pause on the last step of the Section until the audio file has finished playing.

You can also add Background Music to your demo, which will play and loop in the background of your demo.

Note: Even in a DemoMate where audio has been added, the audio will not interfere with your use of any presenter-driven DemoMate formats, such as selecting Preview or Present from the DemoMate Editor, or selecting “Package for Distribution” or “Publish for Download” from the Share tab. In any of these cases, the recorded sound bites and background audio will simply not play when Presenting or Previewing. However, they will be included in any packaged file and available to the recipient for use in auto-play scenarios.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements - July 2009

The DemoMate Team is pleased to announce that the latest version has been released (Build 756), introducing 3 major new features that will help you save money, increase sales, and delight your customers:

Audio Support
We’re excited to release the most-requested feature the DemoMate community has been asking for – Audio Support.

Now you can attach sound bites to individual steps or entire sections of your demos, as well as add background music. By adding sound in "Bites," you maintain the ability to edit, re-order, or extend your demos as usual, without needed to re-record the audio or use complex editing software. That’s a big time-saver for you, and another industry first for the DemoMate Dev team!

Audio-enabled demos can be easily embedded into your websites, blogs, SharePoint portals, or applications, using the "Package Tutorial" button on the Share Tab. This is a great new way to enhance your solutions with "How To" content that accelerates your customers’ ROI, and sets you apart from your competition.

Speaking of embedded demos, click here to learn more about audio from the demo embedded in our blog (you can also click on the image below).

DemoMate Tutorial:

DemoMate Audio Introduction

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Package Executables
We’ve introduced a new packaging option for your auto-run demos, called "Package Executable". This lets you package an auto-play tutorial in a single executable file, suitable for running at trade shows or kiosks, or burning onto CD/DVD resource kits.

Play Button
We’ve incorporated a new Play Button in the DemoMate client, letting you run your demos in auto-play mode without the need to package them. This is a great way to preview your work while you’re building a tutorial, and also lets you quickly auto-play a demo whenever you choose.

Thanks to the Community
We’ve been working hard to deliver these features and we want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to everyone in the DemoMate community who has contributed their time and ideas to these powerful new capabilities. We love the success stories you tell us and we’re looking forward to seeing how you take advantage of these new capabilities.

Go forth and Demo!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Save Time and Money: Hands-On Labs

As the DemoMate Community continues to grow, we wanted to take a minute and share some examples of how DemoMate is being used to save time, save money, and generate new revenue opportunities. This is the last in a series of 5 short posts where we'll be sharing the latest from the community on the following topics: Sales Demos, Rapid Documentation, Paperless Training, Capturing IT Knowledge, and Hands-On Labs.

Hands-On Labs – Whether you’re training a group of users or preparing a self-guided training course, one traditional method is to create a series of hands-on labs that allow them to step through a process and interact with the software themselves. This kind of training can be extremely effective, since it gives the users a chance to interact with the software in a “hands-on” fashion. However, until now, companies had to pay $20,000 – $50,000 to develop these materials. With DemoMate, companies are creating same level of effective training experience in an inexpensive, light-weight fashion. Now, in a single process that doesn’t require technical development, customers are using DemoMate to rapidly create printed materials and interactive training experiences that customers can use prior to or in parallel with interacting with the target system. Customers are developing hands-on training in one-tenth the time, for one tenth-the expense. As discussed in a previous post, “Paperless Training” is a popular new trend. For more information on that, click here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Save Time and Money: Capturing IT Knowledge

As the DemoMate community continues to grow, we wanted to share some examples of how DemoMate is being used to save time, save money, and generate new revenue opportunities. This is the fourth in a series of 5 short posts where we'll be sharing the latest from the community on the following topics: Sales Demos, Rapid Documentation, Paperless Training, Capturing IT Knowledge, and Hands-On Labs.

Capturing IT Knowledge: Companies of all sizes have proprietary processes and procedures that are critical for their ongoing operations, and sometimes, this knowledge is poorly documented, or not documented at all – it’s walking around in the heads of a few key employees who may have places to go. It’s traditionally very expensive for a company to recreate that knowledge should it walk out the door.

Customers are using DemoMate to document and codify their own IT practices. Customers are using DemoMate to capture these processes, using the Publish for Tutorial feature. Once complete, customers can save these tutorials for future reference, using DemoMate’s password-protected My Demos page, or by saving the demo files locally or on a network.

Having these processes captured as Tutorials and Printed Scripts can be especially useful when employees need to be “shown” how to do something new, such as when a process was previous done by operating the controls of a machine, and is now done using a computer interface. As the CIO of a major industrial company put it, “I have 4 generations of employee in my company, from the Silent Generation to Gen Y, some want to read, some just want to “see” what they need to do. DemoMate gives me both.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Embedding a Tutorial in a Blog

With the new DemoMate embeddable tutorial player, you can now easily create content in DemoMate that can be embedded directly into blogs, providing you a new way to not just tell your users about your products and solutions, but show them as well. This new tutorial player is a great addition to blog posts whenever you need to walk your audience through a specific task or procedure, or simply want to demonstrate how to use a software application or web site.

What blog post on embedding tutorials in a blog would be complete without an embedded tutorial actually showing you how to embed a tutorial in a blog? Without further ado, here it is:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Embedding a Tutorial in a Blog

Get Microsoft Silverlight

To embed a tutorial in a blog, first package the tutorial in the DemoMate client. Once your tutorial is ready, you’ll need to upload all the demo assets, including the .xap file and the assets folder, to a publicly available web server. This is necessary because most blogging services don’t provide a place to store media files, unless you’re hosting the blog on your own corporate web server already.

You might also need to configure your web server to support the x-silverlight-app MIME type for .xap files, since you will most likely be linking to the tutorial player across domains.

After you have uploaded your demo assets and configured your web server, you’re ready to create a blog post containing a tutorial. Sign in to your favorite blogging service and create a new post. Within the body of your post, you’ll want to paste in the entire OBJECT embed tag for the tutorial, which can be found in the sample .html file created when you first packaged the tutorial.

Two values will need to be modified in the OBJECT tag – the “source” value and the “AssetUrlPath” value. You should add the full URL path to where these assets are located on your web server. For example, “Sample Demo.xap” might become "http://www.demomate.com/Sample Demo.xap".

From trial and experience on our end with posting tutorials, we’ve also found that if line breaks are inserted in the opening OBJECT tag, the tutorial will not render on the page. Be sure to check and make sure that all line breaks are removed from this first tag. It’s still OK if the tag wraps onto multiple lines in the text editor box.

After you’ve modified the OBJECT tag with the correct URLs, you’re ready to finish your blog post and share your tutorial with the world.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Windows 7 Capture Issue Update

Good news for all DemoMate users on the Windows 7 beta – we just heard from the Windows 7 Application Compatibility team, and they let us know the DemoMate capture issue is resolved as of Build 7133!

The issue prevented users from being able to press ‘ESC’ to end demo capture when capturing both demo clicks AND hover steps in a few locations in Windows 7. Since the issue is now resolved, anyone with special access to Build 7133 should see DemoMate behave as designed, and for those without special access, the issue will be eliminated when you install the RTM of Windows 7 upon its scheduled release in a few months.

In the meantime, our recommendation when creating a demo on Windows 7 is simply to either avoid capturing hover states, or to capture your demo in very short sections, if you have a need to capture the Control Panel or Task Manager.

On behalf of the DemoMate team, we want to pass along our kudos and a huge "Thank You" to the Win 7 Team for their great work in helping us resolve this issue. We’ve all heard the great things about Win 7 in the media, and having seen their work firsthand, we agree: Win 7 Rocks!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Save Time and Money: Paperless Training

As the DemoMate community continues to grow, we wanted to share some examples of how DemoMate is being used to save time, save money, and generate new revenue opportunities. This is the third in a series of 5 short posts where we'll be sharing the latest from the community on the following topics: Sales Demos, Rapid Documentation, Paperless Training, Capturing IT Knowledge, and Hands-On Labs.

Paperless Training – With any software solution, Customer Satisfaction and ROI are directly related to the rate of user adoption. Customers who sell and implement software are using DemoMate to create and deliver Custom, Interactive training materials at a fraction of traditional costs.

As discussed in previous posts, DemoMate’s Print Script functions are great for creating custom, rapid documentation for a wide range of purposes. However, as members of the DemoMate community (and their customers) “Go Green,” there is broad interest in “paperless training” techniques. Customers are using DemoMate’s “Tutorial” functionality to deliver this new value-added service.

During the implementation process, companies work with their clients to identify the top employee tasks by role. Then, they use DemoMate to capture step-by-step tutorials of each process, using the DemoMate Publish for Tutorial feature. Once complete, customers can invite the employees to view the tutorials and by doing so, take advantage of DemoMate’s ability to provision password-protected My Demos pages for each employee. Some customers are going one step beyond this – with the new “Package For Tutorial” feature introduced with the April release of DemoMate, customers can actually embed training demos or sales demos inside the application interface, such as on a Role page.

Embedded, “Paperless Training” has the opportunity to revolutionize software usability. We’re scheduling a number of specific webcasts on this topic. If you are interested in attending one of our upcoming webcasts, send e-mail to contact@demomate.com and put the words Paperless Training in the subject line.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Embedding a Tutorial in PowerPoint

With the new DemoMate embeddable tutorial player, you can easily embed your self-running tutorials into your Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. This allows you to create seamless presentations, including slide content and tutorial content. This is especially helpful in trade show kiosks or internal displays when you need to show content in an offline environment.

In order to embed a tutorial, you first need to download a plug-in for PowerPoint that lets you add web content into a PowerPoint slide. We recommend the excellent LiveWeb for Microsoft PowerPoint plug-in, which can be downloaded here.

Once the plug-in is downloaded and installed, you can embed a DemoMate tutorial file into a PowerPoint slide. This tutorial can either be content stored locally on your hard drive, or hosted remotely on a website. In either case, you need to point the LiveWeb plug-in to the URL where the tutorial .html file is located.

Be aware that if you point to a local file on your hard disk, then if you move the PowerPoint deck to a different machine you'll also need to move the DemoMate tutorial files and ensure the embedded link is still valid. This is because the plug-in does not actually embed the tutorial itself into PowerPoint, but only a link to where the tutorial player is located.

For a complete, step-by-step demonstration of this entire process, please view the following tutorial:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Embedding a Tutorial in PowerPoint

Get Microsoft Silverlight

One important thing to note is that this only allows you to embed the Silverlight auto-play tutorial format in PowerPoint. If you plan on actually presenting a click-by-click demonstration of DemoMate to your audience, you should still use the DemoMate client application. This allows you to take advantage of several important features, such as dual-screen presentation mode, viewing hover and down states for your demo, etc. In this case, you might consider doing the opposite of what is described in this blog post, and add your slide content directly into DemoMate.

This process is described in a separate blog post, located here. We feel there is a time and place for both scenarios.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Save Time and Money: Rapid Documentation

As the DemoMate community continues to grow, we wanted to share some examples of how DemoMate is being used to save time, save money, and generate new revenue opportunities. This is the second in a series of 5 short posts where we'll be sharing the latest from the community on the following topics: Sales Demos, Rapid Documentation, Paperless Training, Capturing IT Knowledge, and Hands-On Labs.

Rapid Documentation – Customers who need to deliver “hard copy” instructions for different demos or tasks, such as for Sarbanes Oxley requirements, for training materials, or for customers in the Public Sector, are using DemoMate’s Print Script functions to save time creating these documents. DemoMate automatically generates click-by-click documentation in a 3 column format including screen shots, click pointers, optional click instruction text, and optional descriptive text. This saves 3-6 hours of work per deliverable, and makes it easier to deliver custom documentation more often.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Embedding a Tutorial in SharePoint

With the new DemoMate embeddable player, you can easily add your self-running tutorials into a SharePoint web part page, allowing you to quickly and easily provide tutorials to anyone in your organization.

Here’s a short tutorial that walks you through the process:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Embedding a Tutorial in SharePoint

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Adding a DemoMate tutorial to SharePoint is very straightforward. First, from DemoMate, select Package Tutorial. From the Packaged Tutorial Settings dialog, select the “Single File” option. DemoMate will now open a folder and display your Silverlight .xap and .html files.

Next, navigate to the document library where you want to publish your tutorial, and upload both the Silverlight .xap and the sample .html file. As soon as the upload has completed, copy the shortcut for the .html file associated with that tutorial. Now you can navigate to a SharePoint page, and embed the tutorial by adding a new Page Viewer Web Part to the page. You’ll need to customize the web part by specifying the URL for the .html file, which you copied in a previous step, and possibly adjusting the height and the width so that the Silverlight player fits perfectly.

Using this method, you can quickly build up an entire document library of useful demos, training materials, or process documentation to share with your colleagues, partners, and customers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Using the DemoMate Silverlight Tutorial Player

The new Silverlight tutorial player is designed to be as easy as possible for your viewers to enjoy. When the tutorial player has finished loading, the user will be presented by a large Play button in the center of the screen, encouraging them to engage with your content and watch the tutorial. Clicking this button (or the Play button on the toolbar) will start the tutorial playing to auto-play mode.

While the tutorial is playing, the viewer has the following options from the bottom toolbar:

Play / Pause: When the tutorial is paused, the auto-play mode will pause on the current step, allowing the viewer additional time to view the content, read the presenter script text, etc. While the tutorial is paused, the viewer can actually continue to advance one step at a time, instead of watching the demo in auto-play mode. If a viewer wants to navigate through a tutorial in this manner, it is recommended that the Click Instruction and / or Click Beacon option be enabled, to make it clear where to click next.

Next Step: Advances the tutorial to the next step.

Previous Step: Returns the tutorial to the previous step.

Progress Bar: Shows the current location in the tutorial. The play head on this bar can be dragged, allowing the viewer to quickly move to any point in the tutorial.

Audio Button: Enables / disables the click sound.

Full-Screen Button: Switches the player into full-screen mode. In this mode, the tutorial player takes over the viewer’s entire screen, breaking out of the browser window entirely. The screenshots in this mode will be scaled up to their maximum resolution, allowing for a much larger and clearer picture than might be possible in a small embedded player. While in this mode, the viewer can press the Restore button or ‘ESC’ to return to normal browser mode.

Options Menu: Allows the viewer to adjust many of the settings for the player, including:

  • Pointer Speed
  • Presenter Script Orientation
  • Show / Hide Click Instructions
  • Show / Hide Mouse Pointer
  • Show / Hide Click Beacon
  • Enable / Disable Looping

The following keyboard shortcuts are also available when viewing a tutorial:

LEFT ARROW – Previous step
RIGHT ARROW – Next step
SHIFT + LEFT ARROW – Previous section
SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW – Next section
TAB – Show / Hide Click Beacon

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Save Time and Money: Sales Demos

As the DemoMate community continues to grow, we wanted to take a minute and share some examples of how DemoMate is being used to save time, save money, and generate new revenue opportunities. This is the first in a series of 5 short posts where we'll be sharing the latest from the community on the following topics: Sales Demos, Rapid Documentation, Paperless Training, Capturing IT Knowledge, and Hands-On Labs.

First Up: Sales Demos.

Sales Demos – Customers are using DemoMate for sales demos to reduce sales costs and make it easier for sales teams and partners to give demos to more people. Demos which would normally require virtual machines, servers, or access to hosted environments are now portable and lightweight. One customer reported that his original demo was 65 GB, but the DemoMate version was only 19MB, and much easier for his partners in remote geographies to download, learn and present.

For example, in less than 6 months from its introduction into the Microsoft partner community, DemoMate use had spread to 90 countries around the world, bringing important sales content along with it. In trade show settings, DemoMate is being used to reduce costs – saving up to $1,000 per demo kiosk where demos would normally require CAT5 cabling for online access.

In the words of a DemoMate customer at a recent trade show, "What amazed me about DemoMate was how little there was to learn. I captured my entire on-stage demonstration in a single sitting, and it worked perfectly the very first time."

In other cases, customers are using DemoMate as an "insurance policy." Sometimes bandwidth or performance issues render a live demo impractical, or no one in the board room knows the WEP key for the wireless network – having a DemoMate version of your demo keeps your meeting moving. At a recent trade show, a group of employees missed their scheduled stage time due to airport delays, but because DemoMate copies of the on-stage presentations were available, it was possible for a different presenter to be successful in front of hundreds of people.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hosting or Embedding an Online Tutorial

Hosting your own tutorials is very straightforward. In order to host a tutorial on your web site, you’ll need only a working knowledge of HTML, and access to a web server that can be used to host the tutorial assets. If you are unsure how to host a tutorial on your website, please contact your IT department for assistance.

Once you have packaged your tutorial, navigate to the location where you saved your assets. Be sure to grab all of the files associated with that tutorial, including the .html reference file, Silverlight .xap file, and assets folder, if one was generated. All these files can be moved to the location where you want to host the demo, such as your corporate website, a SharePoint document library, etc.

The .html file is included for your reference purposes, and contains all the code you need to embed your tutorial in your own website. It is not necessary to use this entire file. The portions of the file you are interested in are everything in between (and including) the OBJECT embed tag. All of this code can be copied from the reference .html file and included in any of the pages on your web site. This will allow you to embed the tutorial in your own site, with your own corporate branding and site navigation.

If you need to modify any of the default parameters after you have already packaged your demo, you can do so by editing the values in the OBJECT tag. It is not necessary to repackage your tutorial unless you have made changes to the content itself. For further information on valid values for each of the parameters, please refer to the comments in the sample .html document.

Here's a brief tutorial showing how to edit the tutorial source code:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Editing Tutorial Source Code

Get Microsoft Silverlight

If you plan on hosting the Silverlight asset files (the .xap and/or the assets folder) on a different web server from your main web server, then you might need to ensure that your media server is configured to support the x-silverlight-app MIME type. This is necessary to host Silverlight applications being served on a different domain.

You’ll notice a section at the end of the OBJECT embed tag that is displayed only if the Silverlight application could not load. The most common time this occurs is if a user does not have the Silverlight plug-in installed in their browser. You might want to consider modifying this code to customize the look-and-feel to better match the site it is embedded in. In addition, text that is stored in this section can be seen and indexed by search engines, so you might want to spend some time optimizing this with relevant keywords to your demo and product.

A special note on embedding tutorials into blogs: Many blogging services on the Internet do not allow you to upload assets directly to their services. You will need to host the Silverlight .xap file and demo assets folder on a public web server you have access to. You can then take the OBJECT embed code and add it to your blog post. In the OBJECT embed code, be sure to change the source value to point to the location where you are hosting your .xap file, and the AssetUrlPath, if necessary. You should also be careful that the OBJECT tag is all on one line of code – some blogging services will insert extra carriage returns if the tag spans multiple lines, which will prevent the Silverlight application from loading correctly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tips for Packaging Tutorials

The all-new DemoMate Embeddable Player is here, and with it come new opportunities for you to increase revenues, decrease cost, and delight your customers. With the latest version of DemoMate (Build 690), you can now “package” your tutorials in a new Silverlight player that can be embedded in websites, blogs, and SharePoint portals. We worked hard to give you a great deal of flexibility and control of the first-run experience for your tutorials. You can view your options on the new Tutorial Settings screen:

Here are some useful tips for packaging your tutorials:

Title: The name of the tutorial as it will show up in the player. By default, this is simply the name of your DemoMate file, but can be changed if you desire. Generally speaking, short names work best. You can use the length of the Title field as guide for when your Title gets too long.

Output: There are two different output formats available:

Multiple Files - Creates one small Silverlight file (.xap) and a folder containing all tutorial assets. Best for online (streaming) scenarios.

Single File - Creates one large Silverlight file (.xap) containing all tutorial assets. Best for offline or high-bandwidth scenarios only.

Width: Determines the width of the demo player, in pixels. Changing this value to 0 will default the player to 100% of your browser width, and allow it to flex as the browser window is resized.

Height: Determines the height of the demo player, in pixels. Changing this value to 0 will default the player to 100% of your browser height, and allow it to flex as the browser window is resized.

Lock Aspect Ratio: If this box is checked, then when you change either the Height or Width, the other value will be automatically calculated based on your screen resolution to determine the best possible fit and reduce the amount of letterboxing in the player.

Pointer Speed: Determines how fast the mouse pointer moves between steps, and thus how fast the tutorial progresses.

Start Screen: Determines which player elements are shown when the player is first loaded. The options are to show the Play button and the Title, just show the Play button, or show neither. If both of the elements are not shown, then clicking anywhere on the first step will start the tutorial; this allows you to customize your Tutorial experience by using the first Step of your Tutorial as the Start Screen, branded however you like.

Show Presenter Script: Determines the default location for the presenter script pane in the tutorial player. Options are to dock it to one of the sides of the player, or have it as a floating box that can be dragged around the screen by the viewer. You can also choose not to display a presenter script pane at all by selecting Off. For demos that you intend to embed in small spaces, consider not using any presenter script text whatsoever, and having short descriptions of your actions contained just in the Click Instruction field.

Show Click Instructions: Determines if the Click Instruction bubble is displayed.

Show Mouse Pointer: Determines if the mouse pointer that moves between steps is displayed.

Play Click Sound: Determines if a subtle click sound is played before advancing to the next step.

Start Demo Automatically: Determines if the demo automatically starts playing as soon as it is loaded, or if the user must click a Play button.

Show Click Beacon: Determines if the click beacon is shown for each step. This beacon can be useful as an alternate method of indicating where to click to move to the next step in your tutorial.

Loop Demo: Determines if the tutorial will loop after it reaches the last step. You can also set a time, in seconds, that the player stays on the last step before starting to play the tutorial again.

All of the player control settings can be changed by your customers once they start viewing a tutorial, through the Options menu in the player. When you are through selecting your defaults, click the OK button to package your tutorial. By default, tutorials will be placed in a My Tutorials folder in your Documents folder (Note: this is different from your My Demos folder).

Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the new Package Tutorial feature and let us know if you have any questions!

Friday, May 1, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements - May 2009

You asked for it … you got it! The all-new DemoMate Embeddable Player is here, and with it come new opportunities for you to increase revenues, decrease cost, and delight customers.

In this release of DemoMate (Build 690), we’re proud to introduce a powerful new feature – requested by the DemoMate Community – that dramatically expands what you can do with your demos. Now, at the touch of a button, you can package your demo in an embeddable Silverlight player similar to a YouTube player. This new features is called “Package Tutorial.”

Once packaged, your demos can be hosted on a web site, run from your desktop, or even embedded in blogs, SharePoint portals, PowerPoint presentations, or other applications that support Silverlight.

To package a tutorial, simply create or open your demo, switch to the Share tab, and select Package Tutorial. Better yet, just press Play to watch this Tutorial below. Be sure and check out the full-screen mode to see how clear and easy-to-follow the demo screens are at their full size:

DemoMate Tutorial:

Packaging a Tutorial

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Here's an example of how you can embed a tutorial in a SharePoint portal:

We’ve worked hard to bring you this new feature, and we’re looking forward to seeing the many different uses you find to showcase your demos, solutions, and training materials. Keep an eye on the Tips and Tricks section of this blog over the next couple weeks, as we’ll be publishing a series of articles on how to embed the new tutorial player in different kinds of content, such as SharePoint portals, PowerPoint presentations, and more.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Capturing Hover and Down States in DemoMate

Did you know that you can capture both hover AND down states for buttons and other page elements when creating a demo? It’s easy and looks great. How does it work? For each step in your demo, you can also capture a hover state that displays when you mouse over the click region, and a down state for when you actually click the mouse button. This can be extremely useful for increasing the realism of your demo. To capture a hover state, tap the Left CTRL on your keyboard when the mouse is over the button you intend to click. Once you have pressed down the left mouse button to click, you can tap the left CTRL again to capture the down state of that button. Be sure to do this while you're still holding down the left mouse button, and not after you've released it. Once you’ve done this for a few steps, press Preview and check it out. Good selling!

Friday, April 3, 2009

DemoMate Twitter Feed

Want the fastest notification of new DemoMate releases, blog posts, and other DemoMate news? We've added a new Twitter feed to keep the community up-to-date, which you can find here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hiding the Click Here Bubble in a Tutorial

Sometimes, when you are building tutorials where you have inserted graphics or slide content from PowerPoint, you may find it helpful to “Hide” the “Click Here” bubble on certain screens, so it doesn’t interfere with your nice-looking graphics. To do this, simply delete the placeholder text from the Click Instruction box before publishing your tutorial. When you publish and view your tutorial, the Click Here bubble will not be displayed for the steps where there is no Click Instruction text.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements – March 2009

We’re happy to announce the March 2009 release of DemoMate! In this release (Build 660) we're proud to announce a powerful new feature – requested by the DemoMate community - that makes it easier than ever to present perfect demos to an audience: Dual-Screen Presentation mode.
From Dual-Screen Presentation mode, you can view all your click instructions and presenter script text on your primary display, while your audience sees only the demo on the secondary display or projector.
Here’s an example of what you see on each screen when presenting with two displays:
Primary Display
Secondary Display
To enable Dual-Screen Presentation mode, simply press the ‘HOME’ key while presenting or previewing a demo, which will activate Training Mode. From Training Mode, click the Dual-Screen button in the right pane to begin presenting your demo on both screens.
To make sure your computer is set up properly for use of a secondary display, check out our blog entry on the subject here.

Configuring a Secondary Display in Windows

In order to take advantage of the dual-screen output mode in DemoMate, you first need to ensure that your Microsoft Windows computer is configured correctly.
For Windows Vista, follow these steps:
  1. Connect the secondary display (projector, flat-screen TV, monitor, etc.) to your computer.
  2. The following dialog box should appear once the display is connected:

  3. Select the second option, to extend your desktop, and click OK. You’re done!

For Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties.
  2. Switch to the Settings tab. You should see two monitors displayed here, labeled “1” and “2”.
  3. Right-click on the monitor labeled “2” and ensure there is a check next to the Attached option.
  4. In the main Display Settings pane, place a check in the box labeled “Extend the desktop onto this monitor”.

  5. Click OK.

Now you’re ready to present your demos in dual-screen mode. To enable dual-screen presentation mode in DemoMate, simply press the ‘HOME’ key while presenting or previewing a demo. This will switch the demo to training mode. Here, click the Dual-Screen button in the right pane to begin presenting your demo on both screens.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Come See Us at the Convergence 2009 Conference in New Orleans

We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at Convergence 2009, the premier conference for Microsoft Dynamics Partners and Customers, from March 9th through the 12th. You can find us at Booth #22 in the Microsoft Pavilion in the EXPO area. We’re looking forward to the meetings we have scheduled to discuss how the DemoMate platform is helping organizations reduce training costs, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. We also have some great events planned on Monday and Tuesday evening, to enjoy New Orleans’ world-famous cuisine … come join us! If you do not already have a DemoMate meeting on your calendar, search for “DemoMate” in the Convergence Connect system to schedule a meeting, or send e-mail to contact@demomate.com and you’ll be put in touch with our representatives at the conference. See you there!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Working With DemoMate Files

By default, DemoMate files are stored in a "My Demos" folder that is created inside your default Documents folder. You can save the demo files to another location by using the File->Save As option from within DemoMate. Here's an example of what you'll see in a typical My Demos folder: Each demo actually has two items associated with it in this folder: the .demo file that defines the demo structure, and the demo asset folder of the same name. If you decide to delete a demo, you can do so by deleting both of these items. If you wish to move a demo to another location on the same computer, be sure and copy both the .demo file and the asset folder. You can transfer a demo to another computer by packaging the demo using a licensed version of DemoMate, and then running the new packaged demo installer on the computer you wish to transfer the demo to. This installation process ensures that all demo assets are correctly installed on the new computer. When installing a packaged demo on a computer, the new demo will be deployed into an "Installed" directory under your My Demos folder. Here is what you might see in the Installed folder with three different demos installed:
Each of these folder names is a unique identifier for that demo, to ensure that a demo with the same name does not overwrite it. Installed demos are locked for editing - this guarantees that the original demo is unchanged when being used by demo presenters. Users with licensed versions of DemoMate can always make copies of Installed demos and make any changes they desire.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Optimizing Demo File Sizes

When creating a DemoMate, it's useful to be aware of the factors that can influence the size of the demo file. This is especially important when creating a demo for use as an online tutorial, where download speeds can affect how long it takes your customers to load the demo. The following four factors can influence the size of your demos:
  1. Screen Resolution - The higher your screen resolution, the larger your demo file will be. This is because DemoMate will be recording more pixels of information for each step. Reducing your screen resolution before capturing your demo will dramatically reduce the file size. This has the added benefit of making your demo viewable on a wider range of displays, and making text more readable when presenting your demo.
  2. Color Depth - This refers to the maximum number of colors Windows can display on your desktop at any one time. Typically, this is set to 32-bit to ensure the highest fidelity when watching videos and viewing photos. Reducing this setting to 16-bit can help minimize DemoMate file size, and usually has only a minimal impact on the quality of the screenshots in your demo, because most business applications don't display enough colors on the screen at once to take advantage of 32-bit color.
  3. Image Complexity - Capturing demo screenshots that contain highly complex images takes up considerably more disk space than screenshots with simpler images. When capturing demos, you might want to consider removing that fancy beach photo from your last vacation that's being used as your desktop background, and using a simpler, single-color background.
  4. Number of Steps - Of course, the number of steps in your demo will also affect the size of the demo. It's always a good idea to review your demo and see if there are unnecessary click steps that can be removed to tighten up or shorten the demo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Capturing Demos in Windows 7 Beta

It has come to our attention that when capturing demos in Windows 7, there are certain situations where DemoMate will end up in a state where pressing 'ESC' to end demo capture does not work properly. The easiest workaround is to capture your demo in short sections, pressing 'ESC' frequently to end demo capture. After you are done capturing your demo, you can then use the Merge sections option in the DemoMate editor to organize your sections how you want them. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any other issues you might encounter while running DemoMate on Windows 7. We appreciate the feedback, and are working diligently to ensure we provide full compatability by the time it ships.

Presenting Demos in Windows 7 Beta

We've been testing DemoMate with the public beta of Windows 7, and have observed an issue where clicking the Present button results in the first step of the demo being a completely white screen. We're currently investigating this issue, but the easy workaround for now is to simply click the Preview button instead of the Present button, which works just fine. Update: This issue has been resolved in DemoMate Build 660.

Editing Demos at Different DPI Scales

We are currently tracking an issue where it is difficult to edit demos captured at different DPI scales than the Windows default of 96 DPI. Adjusting this setting is typically done (especially on laptops) to make text and icons larger and easier to read. The current workaround for this issue is to set your monitor back to 96 DPI before capturing or editing a demo. To do this, right-click on your desktop and select Properties. Select the Adjust Font Size (DPI) link, and set it back to 96 DPI. We anticipate having this issue resolved in the next release of DemoMate.

Friday, January 30, 2009

DemoMate Tip: Screen Resolutions for Demo Capture

We were recently asked what monitor resolution would be best to capture a DemoMate demo in, and wanted to share our thoughts with the entire DemoMate community. In our experience, it’s best to capture and record a demo at a fairly low resolution, such as 1024x768, or the widescreen equivalent, which is 1280x720. Here are some reasons why it’s best to capture at a low resolution: 1. Capturing in the lowest common denominator guarantees that when you share your demo with other people, they’ll be able to present it without any problem on a wide variety of different displays. 2. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it can be to read text in demos captured at high resolutions. For example, demos captured in 1280x1024 make it difficult to read text on a screen unless you’re just a couple feet away. Thus, capturing at a low resolution makes it easier for people to view your demo content from further away. This is especially important at large trade show events and when presenting in front of clients with a projector.

3. Capturing your demo in a lower resolution also reduces the overall size of your DemoMate demo files, makes it easier to distribute your final demo later.

Monday, January 26, 2009

DemoMate Enhancements - January 2009

Happy New Year to the entire DemoMate community! To kick things off right, we've got a great new release that introduces a much-requested new feature - the ability to print a presenter script of your demo.
Printable Presenter Scripts
This new release (Build 580) allows you to print out a three column presenter script of your software demos, containing all the screen shots, click instructions, and presenter script text. This is a great way to review your entire demo at once, or for use as a quick-reference guide while you are practicing your demo. This can also be a time-saving tool for quickly using DemoMate to capture and output training materials for use in hands-on labs environments.
Here's an example of what a presenter script looks like when printed from DemoMate:
New Shortcut Keys for Rapid Demo Navigation
We've also added new shortcut keys in present / preview mode that allow you to rapidly advance through sections in your demo. SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW will advance to the next section, and SHIFT + LEFT ARROW will return to the start of the previous section. These new shortcuts make it possible to quickly navigate through your demo without having to enter training mode.