QuickTime Development in Windows XP

Sometimes we just have to do Windows... One of the tasks at work was to design and implement a video player that would synchronise video playback across a number of computers (under Windows XP of course...). Naturally the video player engine would be QuickTime, of course! Fortunately Apple’s Windows implementation of QuickTime came with a number of ActiveX components and controls. However, I’m still using Microsoft’s (ugh) Visual Studio .NET 2003 (VS 2003) - because it works... There is little or no information in the Microsoft documentation or website about how to install controls onto the Toolbox so I can drag and drop them into my Form.

Did some judicious websearching and came up with this link: “The easy way to add controls to the VS2005 Toolbox” - which also works for VS 2003. Just drag and drop the DLLs into the Toolbox and voila - they appear! Easy yet quite obscure... Apparently the “Add Item” command works with VS 2005 but I haven’t tried it in VS 2003.

ScreenSteps rules!

Allison from the NosillaCast mentioned ScreenSteps from Blue Mango Learning in one of her recent podcast episodes. Looked like an interesting product, and knowing that I had a project at work in which I had to build step by step instructions - I downloaded the 30 day trial.

Took me no more than an hour to get a number of lessons done, complete with annotated screenshots on the PowerMac G5 at work. These were to show novice Mac users (our company is a PC-centric organisation, like many) how to start up QuickTime Pro and extract segments of video from a .mov file. I also had a lesson to show how to connect to the NAS (Network Attached Storage) shared drives to access the original movies.

Now the trial is for the Pro version so I decided to export a manual as a PDF to see how that works as this is a Pro-only feature. Fully delighted with the results.

Finally, since ScreenSteps is a cross-platform solution, I downloaded the Windows version so I could script a couple of lessons on installing and configuring QuickTime Player for Windows XP. Worked like a charm, and ScreenSteps even had the same folder format between Windows and Mac so I could combine lessons developed on one platform with those from another.

A couple more simple lessons to script - starting up and logging in to the Mac, and putting the handwritten / PowerPoint slides for copying the video off the DTE (Direct To Edit) video drives, uploading the videos to the shared drives, and I’m done with the easy stuff. The more involved task would be to list out the steps to conglomerate four time-coded videos, from different video feeds, into one synchronised HD video for analysis.

The proof of the pudding will be when I present the document to the engineers who will be doing the video extracting and editing, probably for the first time on the Mac, and watch them take the steps next week.

I’ve since purchased the Pro version, thanks to Allison’s coupon code - listen to her podcast to get it!

And if you think ScreenSteps is only for capturing steps for computer applications - think again! I’ve used it to create lessons which list the steps I need to do laundry, complete with annotated photos of the washer and dryer taken with my iPhone (since I’m not the primary laundry person in the household, and have to do that when she’s away).