Wink is a free, easy-to-use tutorial and presentation creation software. It can be used to create software presentations that guide users through a specific task, for example creating a mail merge in Word or sorting data in Excel. As the author, you can add comments or explanations to help users as they navigate through the presentation.An example presentation showing how to subscribe to RSS feeds in Thunderbird can be viewed at: www.ucl.ac.uk/learningtechnology/communication/rss-thunderbird.html
There are two main parts of creating a presentation: capturing the screenshots and editing the presentation.
Before starting the ‘capture’, you need to designate the capture area. This can be the whole screen, a specific window or a fixed rectangle. It is important to make a note of the settings you have chosen in case you need to go back and capture additional shots after the initial capture.
There are three main ways of capturing the screenshots:
- Manual – In this mode, the author chooses which screenshots to take and presses a ‘hotkey’ to take the screenshot. An advantage of this method is that the author is in control of which screenshots to take, however it is important to remember to take a screenshot after every action. It can be easy to forget to take a screenshot, but it is possible to capture additional shots and incorporate them into the presentation.
- Timed – This mode captures screenshots based on a specific capture rate over a period of time. Once the timer has been started, any actions will automatically be captured until the timer is stopped. One issue with this mode of capture is that it can generate a large number of screenshots and you may then have to go through and delete unwanted shots.
- Input-driven – In this mode, Wink will automatically take a screenshot when there is an input from either the mouse or the keyboard (or both).
Once the capture has finished, the screenshots will open in a new project window (Figure 1) and then the author can start editing the presentation.
Editing the presentation
Figure 1: Wink project window
Editing is done on a frame by frame basis, with each screenshot representing one frame. All the frames are displayed as thumbnails along the bottom of the project window (Figure 1). The frame properties are displayed on the right hand side of the screen (Figure 2). The following items can be added to a frame:
- Audio – Add either an existing audio file or use Wink to make a new recording.
- Buttons – There are three types of button available:
- Next and Previous – these buttons allow the author to stop the presentation so the user must click to move on. This is very useful to add after a piece of text so that the user has control of their navigation.
- Goto Frame – in this case, users do not have to move through the presentation sequentially; ‘Goto frame’ buttons can be used to move users to different frames depending on their selection.
- Goto URL – the ‘Goto URL’ buttons can also be used to open up webpages, for example to provide further information or to link to another presentation.
- Cursor – The author can modify the type of cursor displayed on the screen as well as move the location of the cursor. Wink will automatically animate the cursor movement so it is only necessary to identify the start and end points for the cursor.
- Image – Add an image to a screenshot, e.g. this could be used to enlarge a part of the screenshot in order to show more detail.
- Shape – A selection of shapes, such as arrows and rectangles are provided. These are very useful for drawing the user’s attention to items.
- Textbox – This is perhaps the most commonly used feature as it allows the author to give information to the user. You can change the shape of the textbox to one of the many pre-designed shapes or design your own shapes.
Figure 2: Frame properties
The navigation of the presentation can either be controlled by buttons or by setting a time limit for each frame. A progress bar can be added to the presentation to give an indication of how far through the presentation the user has progressed. A preloader can be added to the beginning of the presentation to show how much of the file has been loaded. Templates can also be used to provide consistency in your presentations.
Wink is freeware available for both business and personal use. Wink 2.0 is currently only available for Windows; however, Wink 1.5 is available for Linux. Wink can be downloaded from: www.debugmode.com/wink/. Presentations can be converted to a Flash file (.swf) with a corresponding HTML file or to an executable file for distribution as a standalone object. In order to view the files, users would need to have a Flash player installed on their computer. Presentations can also be exported as HTML, PDF or postscript files to provide a printable document for the users.
Support is available in the form of a detailed user guide which accompanies the software and user forums on the Wink website.
At UCL, staff have created presentations for teaching students how to perform specific tasks in software applications, such as SPSS, and for demonstrating how to use library catalogues as part of information skills training. Tutors at UCL have found that they can get to grips with using Wink very quickly. However, creating long or sophisticated presentations can be time consuming requiring planning to establish the screenshots that need to be captured and to add all the relevant information to the presentation.
Staff with experience of version 1.5 found that the software could be tedious to use and expressed concern about updating existing presentations. One issue with the previous version was the lack of an undo button, which caused a lot of frustration when editing presentations. An undo button has been added to version 2.0 and this has vastly improved the usability of the software. One member of staff investigated a commercial product but felt that it did not provide any more functionality than Wink.
The Wink website has a showroom of presentations/tutorials created by users. The majority of the presentations in the showroom are for demonstrating software, but Wink has been used for some more unusual uses including:
Wink is easy to use and despite being freeware it enables you to produce quality presentations fairly quickly. It can be quite time consuming to create presentations but version 2.0 provides more flexibility and functionality than previous versions. Wink can certainly compete with the commercial products available and we would recommend it to anyone wanting a free solution for creating software presentations.
Learning Technologies Support Officer
Learning Technologies Support Co-ordinator