Sharing New Software Features via the .gif

When building new features the time will arise when you would like to get early feedback from stakeholders or even customers. So early in fact the feature may only live in your local environment. You can always tunnel your local machine to let people get your hands on it, but that’s for a different day. d[-_-]b

A great way to get feedback with the team is making a quick .gif. What makes this useful is all people will need is a browser to view it. No cryptic url. No username or passwords. No screen sharing. Easy.

Easy not only for others to consume but also share themselves. Just forwarding an email or sharing a post and even more people can be involved.

The Technology

I promise it will be simple. It really is. Unfortunately Windows and Linux folks are going to have port this process to their environment. I’m sure you can, but I’m a Mac guy and I’ll leave that to others.

The great news is for recording the screen, you are already set. You can actually use QuickTime. More to follow on that.

All that you need to install is gifify.

Open up Terminal or iTerm2 or your terminal of choice and run:

Install gifify via homebrew.

Yup, that should be it. At least it was for me. If you haven’t been keeping homebrew up to date you may need to do a little housework. If you haven’t used homebrew, it may be time to look into it. It is an essential OS X app.

The Workflow

  1. Create a Screen Recording
  2. Convert the Video to a .gif
  3. Share

let’s dive in!

1) Pop open Quicktime

A little gifception here. A screen recording on how to do a screen recording. For you, that third menu item will not be disabled.

Drag out the area you would like to record and get started. When you are done, save it to a directory you will find later. I put it in “~/Desktop/gifs”. That is where we are going to convert it too.

2) The Terminal

$ gifify <your-movie.mov>

You can ignore that Cloudapp error. I’m not using that feature of gifify.

3) Share it

I don’t need to tell you about the millions of ways to share a gif. The method that is most useful for me is via email. Where I work, we all use Gmail. So you just insert it in the email and boom! Animated gif of your awesome feature going to sales, management, whoever.

Bottom line you just made an asset that is flexible enough to work with the tools your company already uses.

The Value

I’ve really gotten a lot of value out of this. It is easier for people understand a feature via an animation compared to a wordy description.

Nothing is lost in translation. People consuming it on mobile devices will have a way easier time then reading emails on the go.

Probably my favorite part though is its flashiness. Stakeholders will share really cool features in the pipeline. You just gave them one of their most interesting emails of the day.

fwiw

I’d be willing to bet there are some apps out there for OS X that will do this all in one. This way just happens to work for me really well. Also it is free. :) But if you have an alternative I would love to hear about it.