I’ve been a big fan of Jon Udell‘s screencasts of various products and hacks for as long as he’s been doing them. Screencasts can be curious oddities but are more often extremely helpful. For example, this screencast covering the setup of Ruby [quicktime] adds a ton of value to the HOWTOs and install documentation on the Ruby on Rails site.
That’s why I was especially excited by this flash screencast by Dan Winship demonstrating the basics of Stetic, a Mono-based Gnome GUI designer. After viewing the screencast, I noticed that he produced it with a program called vnc2swf:
Vnc2swf is a screen recording tool for X-Window (X11), Windows and Mac OS Desktop. Vnc2swf captures live motion of a screen through VNC protocol and converts it a Macromedia Flash(TM) movie (.swf).
The program is available in source and binary form for OSX and a few flavours of Linux. It’s defeinitely not a program polished for end users (it looks like installation may be tricker than many casual Linux users would be comefortable with), but it’s great to be able to produce quality screencasts using open source tools. SWF isn’t the most open format on the planet, but let’s look past that for now. I’m sure that you could convert it over to mpeg or something a little more “open” if you really wanted to.
I see screencasting as a possible “next big thing.” I don’t think it’s going to be the next weblogging or podcasting, but it has tons of potential. I’d love to see little thumbnail screencasts fly by my aggregator when I read the freshmeat feed.