Hello WebCenter Chrome Extension 1.0.1 (beta 1)

So, it’s finally in the wild, at least inside the firewall. Rich (@rmanalan) and Anthony (@anthonyslai) put the finishing touches on the WebCenter Chrome extension, and it’s now in beta testing.

I’ve been teasing these changes for a while, and it’s the culmination of a lot of work by the guys.

Here’s a rundown of the features:

  • You still have the publisher and activity stream, with the ability to post a link or an update to your personal space or any group space.
  • You can now include a screenshot of your browser window–region, visible area, or entire window.
  • After capturing, you can markup the screenshot with boxes, ellipses, arrows, and text in your color of choice.
  • You can also highlight, blur and crop the screenshot.
  • Yeah, there’s an undo too.
  • When you’re happy with the screenshot, you can post it up to your personal space or any group space, along with a link and/or an update.
  • You can also save the screenshot locally.

If you use OS tools like OS X’s native screen capture shortcuts (or Grab), SkitchJingHyperSnap, or the like, you’ll be familiar with this process.

The huge difference is that this extension brings all the screen capture functionality into your browser, no need for another application. Plus, you can immediately share the screenshot to others.

Capture tools are hugely valuable to web app developers and support because, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have a picture of what a user sees, you can skip the back and forth questions and get right to solving the issue.

And, let’s face it, sometimes a web app just looks off, and you can’t really describe why. A picture cuts through that.

Here’s what it looks like in action.

I was able to capture it right before the activity loaded, saving me the hassle of having to blur out all the confidential stuff.

Here are the screenshot options. Region is crosshair capture. Visible area captures the web page content, and it does vertical and horizontal scrolling, which is a huge win. Entire page captures the window, including the decoration.

Here’s the markup canvas, showing the lightbox rectangle option. The options are crop, rectangle, lightbox rectangle, ellipse, lightbox ellipse, arrow, line, pen, blur, highlight, text, undo and color. In the publisher at the top, you can save the image and upload it to WebCenter (personal or group space) with your update and a link to the captured page.

Here’s the save screenshot dialog.

Pretty slick, right?

There’s a lot of technical detail that I’ll leave for the guys to describe. If you’re coming to OpenWorld, you can come by our session; they’ll be showing this extension and talking details.

A few highlights I gleaned from the demo they gave me:

  • This is original code they built from scratch.
  • It’s an HTML5 app that should be fairly straightforward to recreate as a Firefox add-on, a Safari extension and an IE9 whatever-they-call-them.
  • The arrow tool required trigonometry, which is the first software use I’ve heard for that skill.
  • The extension does scrolling capture, both vertical and horizontal, which Skitch and Jing do not. Win!

Overall, I’m really please with this extension. It’s very cool, and the initial reactions we’ve had internally have been super positive.

We’re hitting a pain point that most people have.

There are a few enhancements planned that might get done before OpenWorld:

  • Background polling of activity.
  • Desktop notifications for new activity, like the new Seesmic Web has.
  • Badge notification indicating how many new items have arrived in the activity stream.
  • File upload for the publisher.

What do you think? If you’re an employee, hit me up for the download link. If not, come by our OpenWorld session and hang tight. We’re hoping to get this out to the intertubes at some point.

Find the comments.




  1. Hi Team –
    Great work – I am an early user and I really love this plugin – It makes it very easy to grap a screen, annotate it and share it with your connections or communities/spaces – I am looking forward to the features – my favorite is “Desktop notifications for new activity, like the new Seesmic Web has.”

  2. Thanks for the kind words. We'll see what we can get done prior to OpenWorld. Plus, we'll be balancing this with other projects. If you make it to OpenWorld, we should have a hack session.

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