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Show HN: Iorad - the tutorial builder (iorad.com)
276 points by sunpatel on July 5, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 99 comments

LOVE it.

I always hated screen casts. I prefer creating a Word or PDF document with annotated screenshots which user can go through at their own pace. One of the idea in my idea list was to make it easy to take screenshots and annotate them and create a polished PDF.

But what you have created is even better. It is highly interactive and user can follow the steps as they work on the actual application. Extremely well done. I think you should market the hell out of this. I think there are lot of buyers out there for this kind of software.

What kind of pricing are we looking at?

P.S.: Always great to see a team of Indians creating a software product, I wish you all the best. I hope you also become as successful as Visual Website Optimizer guys.

thanks much...we're going to follow a github type model..public tutorials are free...for premium we are going to offer pdf, ppt, doc and html export to deploy on your own servers...

Love it -- put that simple sentence up on the pricing page even if it's half baked.

Making public tutorial free is a GREAT idea. You should also create various tutorials for common tasks and host it on your website like 'http://iorad.com/tutorial/how-to-link-to-particular-time-in-...

I think it will be a PERFECT SEM strategy.

+1 to this idea, particularly cleaning up the URLs. You should also setup a "browse" type page for users to browse through the topics. So if I went to http://iorad.com/tutorial/topics/microsoft-word/ I'd get a listing of all tutorials based on microsoft word. That'll help your SEO for searches like "Microsoft Word Tutorials"

Also, while clicking around your site I got quite a few ColdFusion errors with the full debug output. At the very least I'd set restrict debug output to your local IP's within ColdFusion Administrator.

How soon for any of the exports? The FAQ says 'summer 2012', but I know people that could use this yesterday.

the .doc and .ppt is ready ...send me a email and we ll put u on the fast track spatel iorad .com

Thanks! I'll pass that along.

That is a fantastic idea.

Thanks for thinking of us as a successful product! You just made our team's day (or rather, late evening) here :)

PS: this is Paras from Visual Website Optimizer.

This is really great. I (or my employer) would gladly pay for this. I have two suggestions & critiques:

I think that by eschewing video and audio entirely, you're missing out. As apple has demonstrated, animations and transitions are important to the user experience and user understanding. I would definitely allow screenboard creators to import or upload video and audio clips. Perhaps this could be a feature for advanced/paying users.

Audio is pretty important too. Sometimes, explaining things via voice or with sounds are more efficient than writing. You can convey emotion and emphasis through voice that don't come through via a limited text palette. The web audio api part of HTML5 is getting better and I would investigate using this. Again, for advanced/paying users.

But seriously, thanks for building this. I've wanted something like this for a long time.

I read this as: You think that this alternative-to-screencasts is great, but you'd pay more money if it also made… screencasts. ;)

There's absolutely nothing wrong with liking screencasts. But if you want a screencast - a thing with video and audio clips that conveys information through voice - you want a different product, right? There are existing products that help you make screencasts.

The problem with bolting screencasting features onto this product is that it muddies the message ("we need an alternative to screencasting, one that also does screencasting!") and really threatens to overcomplicate the software, both the UX and the back-end.

Not necessarily. With this product, the user controls the pace at which they proceed through the tutorial. That doesn't mean that it needs to eschew audio and video.

Not really. I want the ability to make it into a multi-media in the truest sense of the term. I'd want it as an option, but not a requirement.

Maybe I'm just asking for a youtube-boxed sized version of hypercard. :D

good point. it'd be nice if more features were options, and not necessarily requirements. it would probably simplify things, at least.

great point!

I'm pretty sure the entire site is built on the premise of "I don't like screencasts because I think faster than they talk and get frustrated waiting for them to finish".

Given that premise, audio and video would completely defeat the point.

I'm not a big fan of the outline you used to indicate the next action. When I saw your tutorial, I couldn't see where the Login button is because of the thick orange outline hovering the login button making it hard to the "login" button. It needs to be outside of the labels and it should be easier to see.

You should research for a different way to direct users there, the outline should be optional. Maybe an arrow or other type of animation.

Other than that, it looks great and I can't wait to see it mature. I'd love to use it!

I agree, the next buttons are too invasive. I'd love to see them as left and right arrows near the edges that bold with mouseover. I think that users would be more familiar with that as well. Also love the idea to have voiceover too by another HN reader.

I too dislike screencasts. This is a great concept. Good luck.

yup working on that...good thoughts

a pulse might work nicely http://moeedm.com/sandbox/pulse/

TRUE STORY: Today I walked in dreadfully into the office because this is the day we start planning, designing and building training materials for a very large $1 million+ enterprise software implementation I've been leading for over a year. Before I start my day I go online to get my daily dose of HN stories and SHAZAM! Like a miracle out of IT Heaven this amazing tool comes out out of nowhere to punch my daunting work burden in the nuts! My work just got so much easier!! When are you guys enabling the premium features to export to PPT and PDF?? I need those PRONTO!

Keep up the good work guys!

This product is brilliant for creating Methods Of Procedure (MOP) documents, which are important but highly tedious step-by-step guides that need to be done right.

Also looking for premium PPT and PDF export options. Going to play with this more to see how easily my project teams can pick this up.

The editing workflow is a bit clunky, but given it's a first launch it's definitely workable. Small nitpick: wish that triple-click selects the entire caption in editing mode.

thanks dude. email me at spatel @ iorad.com ...the ppt doc is ready just working on the premium workflow..we can try to hook you up a bit early.

cool, I'll touch base later. Have you guys put any thought to legal/privacy requirements to easy worries for companies dealing with proprietary software? NDA's and that kind of stuff?

Pricing - Comming soon (should be Coming Soon) or ideally should be listed from the beginning ;)

A lot of the examples at the bottom seem to either be blank or break your webserver seeing a lot of

Error Occurred While Processing Request Element XMLATTRIBUTES.IMAGEID is undefined in a Java object of type class coldfusion.xml.XmlNodeMap referenced as ''

The error occurred in C:\inetpub\wwwroot\iorad\app\dspHTMLPlayer.cfm: line 777

Awesome product, this is really fantastic. Creating basic tutorials/screencasts has always been such a time-consuming task, this will help immensely and is much easier for users to consume.

Here's a few usability items I uncovered while playing around with it...

- Support undo. I accidentally deleted a slide, but it was gone forever :)

- Same with on-slide elements...

- I used it to create a tutorial on modifying PDF document properties in Acrobat, but the dialog box was cutoff top and bottom and I was unable to scroll to close the dialog.

- The above issue resulted in me creating 42 slides instead of 12, because I kept clicking and scrolling to try to get to the 'OK' button on the dialog. The tutorial would have been usable, but there is no way to easily delete 30 slides at once, and clicking 'delete... confirm delete' on 30 slides is tedious.

Overall, very nice work, and best of luck!

This is a cool idea. I do screenshot-tutorials all the time and this would ease the workflow. My only concern is that I would like to have control of the produced content as an export for my own blog/site.

I understand that's not financially favorable to you as a free service, but will it be part of the paid service?

yes - we will offer download package for you to put on your own server as a premium...but we do offer an embed functionality which should meet your needs..

The instructional dialogue windows dominate the screen visually so it distracts the user from what's actually happening on the website. They won't know where to focus their eyes, and the amount of time it takes for them to orient themselves for each dialogue could make it more cumbersome than a "regular" screencast.

I disagree - the instructional dialog is the whole point.

I'm not sure if you can control it's position, but that is probably the only thing you'd need to solve any problems (though I strongly disagree this is more difficult for users than a traditional screencast)

Similar to this, I don't think you should have the user sometimes click on the dialogue box (at the beginning) and sometimes click on others elements. I kept trying to push the mouse icon the first time I went through. Or, alternatively, you could make clicking the dialogue act the same as clicking the buttons. That way even if you do that, it works.

Yeah maybe all instructions should be at the bottom , not on top of the screenshot.

press the "quick guide" button in the playbar this might be a better alternative than the screencast...itll give you step by step instructions

I agree, but I think this could be solved with a better user interface.

If this dialogue was placed in a fixed position (say in a black bar across the bottom) it would add a consistent location to refer to the content. Instead of watching the black box jump around, you could watch the content change and push at your own pace.

Great idea that could be a game changer with a better UI!

I think people who hate screencasts would also be annoyed at the slow animations between each step. Is it just me, or are they more than a second long?

Agreed - though without the slow animations I think you might be on to something. I know a lot of people who hate video/screencasts.

we're working on that to speed it up, would you prefer a mode with no animations?

What about a toggle to set the animation speed before publishing?

Even with configurable animation speed, I think the default should be either no animation or very fast, since this is supposed to be an alternative to screencasts.

My hunch is no animation is better, but since I haven’t actually seen that I don’t know if some animation is necessary to provide a cue for where the next step is.

speeding up complete..let me know what you think

What is that meta and form between your doctype and <html>? A coldfusion specialty?

And please, fix the SQL injection you may have and the debug mode too! Try searching for something like: " (a double-quote only)

  SQLSTATE	  42000
  SQL	   SELECT * FROM module WHERE name like "%"%" AND is_deleted <> 1 ORDER BY name
  DATASOURCE	  dsn_iorad
Wow... also, how are user passwords stored? I'd query the schema myself, but that would be wrong. :)

Really really impressed. But a question about the choosing the technology. While everybody is on the rails/express bandwagon ... its interesting to see someone using cold fusion to build cool stuff. Lesson for my inner voice: Stop telling me, "all cool kids are doing rails/node, so I have to learn rails/node/django/...".

I read somewhere just go with the tech you're most comfortable with - would it be wrong to assume the same here?

(Probably this should be directed to Binamra. And awesome frontend by Susrut and Amar!)

Congrats to you and the entire team!

DAMN! This has been my million dollar idea I'll build one day for 2 years. Oh well, at least someone else did a good job of it.

Pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I even wireframed the same interaction. Frustrated but happy. At least someone did it.

How long did it take you guys to put this together? It's quite slick. I hadn't though of using a java applet to record stuff. That locks in the IP and helps with some things, but I was imagining more of a browser extension approach.

Awesome! get some pricing info up there so those of use that want to use it can get in early on a good deal.

feedback: Have a native English speaker (english major, english professors, someone that likes to debate the finer points of our pitiful English language) read through all text facing the user. I have found several type-o's that are distracting and take away from the quality of product.

an example: "the caption text will be _empt_ and you will" should be _empty_ .

awesome job!

This is awesome! I hate screencasts too so I hope this tool will be adopted widely. Just the name... How should it be pronounced? Does 'iorad' mean something? (I'm Swiss German) In any case thank's a lot!

pronounced i -o- rad

While I absolutely love your app, I think the name is horribly chosen.

It's just one of these names that doesn't stick (if not prominent enough) and can't be derivated of its purpose.

All the Javascript on the site is broken when your browser locale is set to Japanese, it seems like cfmessage_ja.js is corrupted: http://imgb.mp/ipz.jpg

I really like this. Makes explaining things very easy. One critique, the first step allows me to click on the main screen to advance, but from there I have to move to the navigation bar below. Is this configurable? I only went through the linked example.

EDIT: I didn't catch that you could actually execute the actions laid out to move forward. This wasn't clear, but makes sense now that I've seen it.

yes i guess my example is a bit confusing, you actually have to follow the directions in the caption, if it says click login you have to click login...its interactive

This is amazing, thus guaranteed to sell to one of the large screencasting/training companies quickly (good for the team!). What happens to all the free public stuff then?

Example buyout -> shutdown: http://philbradley.typepad.com/i_want_to/2010/06/screentoast...

I like it. A VERY MINOR piece of feedback: the font is ugly as sin. I don't know why, but it kept distracting. It feels... off balance.

Yeah something about it made me feel like I was looking at a "GET A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO AWESOME MAGAZINE" sort of sign up. Also even though the text was stating that NO credit card info was needed, my super quick initial scan of the page saw the words "free" and "credit card," and the brain got confused.

Overall, I love the idea. Potentially solved an issue I didn't know I had.

taken..i wasnt to crazy about it either

It looks really cool, but clicking on one of the newly created projects[1] gives me a 500 error and a coldfusion stacktrace, you might want to turn those off.


yeh thats an older module..we'll have to fix this...thanks for pointing it out

Is it down? I'm getting: 500 - Internal server error.

Overall though very optimistic this could replace Adobe Captivate and some use of Camtasia for me. Please add support to generate a simple list of actions (including or based on edited captions). I'm dying for something that will let me produce: 1. Demo script 2. Handouts 3. Video

All in one run.

yes this is already there...quick guide, interactive video all in one shot...

No Linux support for a web application?

our applet doesnt play nice with linux...but its in the works

Thanks for mentioning that only after I registered....

Really cool. Feedback: The outlines on the buttons to be clicked obscure the buttons. An optional sound track would be great as well.

Design details make this work or not work - put some effort into figuring out how to guide the user's eye to keep their attention where it needs to be.

"Password has to be atleast 6chars and atmost 15chars." - why the 15 max character limit?

The only critique: Pricing - Coming soon => you should start charging for your product right now. You will get better feedback, you will get customers which work with you and help you improve product, etc.

Otherwise - excellent. You have a customer :)

thanks. Any chance for a phone call to find out your needs?

This responds to a very real and ubiquitous need. And fills its niche very nicely. It doesn't just make you a passive watcher: it immerses you in the very centre of action. Splendidly executed -- I definitely will be using it. Kudos!

Having English as a second language I am always reluctant to make a screencast. My spoken English would be distracting, if not for the brokenness then at least for my lack of confidence when speaking it.

This looks like a great alternative! Thanks :)

Most people are uncomfortable with their voices. My boss, who has a great deep speaking voice and is a very confident extrovert has been recording the same 3 minute screencast over and over this week (I assume it is because the sound of hearing his own voice has made him very self conscious).

Record a screencast even if you have an accent. Silent screencasts with just clicking (or even worse - music) seem pointless.

the main point of our app is to give something to users that is easy to follow. Screencasts are difficult to follow as in you have to play/pause/play pause.

Very nice. Does it record audio? I am thinking of suggesting this to a local ruby users' group that currently records using video cameras. If it did audio, this would be perfect for them. And I have more use cases in mind.

audio is on the drawing board, using text to speech, but wont be till September...but thanks so much for getting the word out..much appreciated

It's a good idea. Nice job.

I have some issues with the usability of the presentations, specifically around the prominence of the next action. The green highlighting isn't visible enough, and the annotations look like buttons themselves.

If this had audio capabilities my company would also gladly pay for it to create tutorials of our web product offerings for our user base. Looks amazing, I'll be following this project closely, keep up the good work!

I totally avoid any kind of tutorials for our products because I'm using Camtasia and it takes me all freaking day to do a 2 minute recording. This is a way better solution for me. Going to give it a try for sure!

Thank you so much for this! I have clients who can't figure out how to use certain web apps and typing it out just isn't the same as being there in person. This is the next best thing.

Awesome, I love it. I think needs an "auto-play" function though, so people can just sit back and treat it like a video. When I click the "play" triangle, I'm expecting video.

yes - this was our thinking ..for people that want just the video they would prefer just the step by step document version like when you press the "quick guide" button in the playbar...agree? disagree?

What would you think about prompting the user to sign up after they make their own tutorial (so they can save it or what have you), rather than before they start?

thats a good idea

Is there any way to make the capture window full screen or make it dragable so that it could be moved over top of the task bar for or icon tray for instance?

Paid version, where all the sharing features drive traffic to my site and there is no Iorad branding would be worth the upgrade I think.

here's a demo we made using for salesforce on how to create a new lead http://www.iorad.com/?a=app.htmlplayer&accessCode=GUEST&...

You should definitely focus on URLs and content on the landing page to help your search engine ranking. The current URL structure is not optimal.

Is there a email I can reach you at? Alternatively, please contact me at me@solutionyogi.com. Would love to share some more ideas.

would love to hear spatel @ iorad .com

Looks nice, one thing I spotted was the FAQ section heading is 'Frequently Asked Qeustions'

Amazing. I could really see myself using this.

Although language and UI elements could use some polishing.

It looks really great. I will tell my support guy at my startup to give it a try.

thanks Jim - if he has any problems spatel at iorad . com

> "so I made this app instead"

Is this really the work of a single individual? How long did it take you? It looks like something a team built.



It was a team. I would have upvoted this in heartbeat if hadn't been for the misleading title.

Please don't be so pedantic. It adds nothing to the conversation.

title fixed...yes it was a team effort and it took a long long time to make...sorry about the confusion

I think it was just a grammatical slip-up, versus being misleading.

Quick guide is also a very good feature! I really liked this app.

Has lots of potential. Congrats you are onto something here.

Getting ready to try this out on my app!

Very impressive.

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