I've spoken recently about apps which I've been testing to aid the day to day running of a new web design business and today I've got a special treat - the very kind people at Real Mac Software have kindly offered to give away two full copies of LittleSnapper to two commenters of this post!
Slowly but surely I'm putting together what you might call a list of the 'ultimate' applications for a new web design company. Applications that aren't just pretty to look at - but are seriously useful too. The very first introduction to that list which I'd like to make to you, is LittleSnapper. I use a Mac for all my design work, so these are all going to be Mac based applications.
The best way that I can describe LittleSnapper to you is that it is to screenshots, what iTunes is to your music collection. Think about that.
Essentially its a way of capturing and filing screenshots of websites in an extremely elegant, extremely sleek and effective manner. You visit a site, you think "hey I love that header, I'd like to save that for later", you press 3 keys on your keyboard.. and you're done. LittleSnapper has saved it, along with it's essential data - and you can rate it and file it whenever you want. But let's look at all this in a little more detail.
Above, you see the primary LittleSnapper screen. Remind you of anything? iTunes 8 for example? The way in which it mirrors a user interface which people are already used to is superb! On the left you have your categories (or playlists) on the right your meta data (or genius sidebar) and in the middle your screenshots in thumbnail format (or album artwork). You can search, switch to a larger view, edit meta data, and even use the integrated browser all right here from the home screen.
If you double click on a thumbnail, you're taken straight into the zoomed in version, you can set what resolution you'd like LittleSnapper to ..snap.. at (I use 1,440px), so you can have as much or as little width as you like. Either way the app captures the full height of the site.
Along the top of the window you can see a whole host of annotation tools, I'm not going to go into these but if you are interested in reading more detail on those tools in particular you can have have a read on the AppStorm blog here.
One of my biggest frustrations whith keeping a collection of screenshots in the past has been that each time I'd have to save the screenshot, then go back, copy it into how ever many folders it was relevant to, and store the url in the filename. This took a good couple of minutes for each one and was a realy pain.
One of LittleSnapper's finest features is it's ability to append meta data to each and every screenshot.. easily.
With the meta panel open, upon taking a new screenshot I can quickly click on a star rating (currenly I only have two 5star rated sites, I'm fussy), and add a tag. Everything else is filled in automatically for me and I don't have to add anything if I don't want to. It's all optional to simply make the filing process even easier.
The 'published' box indicates that it's been published online to my QuickSnapper account, which is essentially a Flickr-type app for LittleSnapper users. You take your screenshots, and then you can also share them online with friends and colleagues.
One of the very coolest things about LittleSnapper is its use of Smart Categories which autopopulate based on filters which you make up yourself. Not sure what I'm on about? Read on.
You can organise your screenshots into collections, for example by default a 'Five Star' collection exists which only displays screenshots which you have marked as having a five star rating. As you can see on the right, I've gone further than this to add a Four Star category, as well as a Wordpress and WooThemes category.
This is great for lots of reasons but mostly because I can instantly go through all my screenshots of wordpress based sites, and can then refine that further and go through all my screenshots of modified WooThemes. I also plan to add some categories that filter by colour, clean/grunge, and number of columns.
The way the filter is set up is extremely simple - as you can see from this screesnshot of the filter-setup menu where I've created a new Smart category called 'custom' which shows any websites which are red, tagged with VIP, and have a 3 star or higher rating.
Why It's Good For Web Design Businesses
I constantly gather reference material. Constantly. One thing which I hate is when a client asks me something, I can think of a perfect example of where I've seen what they're asking about... but I didn't save or bookmark it - so the chances of me finding it again are slim. LittleSnapper eliminates this completely, keeping a full and organised database of reference material that is so easy to browse through.
It is without a doubt an application which I wish I'd been using for the last 5 years so that I could have saved all those sites which I've long forgotten about.
Could it be improved? Sure, stuff can always be improved - here's some of the stuff on my wishlist:
- Autosyncing with Quicksnapper - you set a time of day to upload all your most recent snapshots
- Sharing your library - just like iTunes, would be great to have a LittleSnapper library on a network which lots of designers could contribute to and maintain
- Quicker snapping - taking snapshot takes about 5 seconds at the moment, would be great to see that halved in the next version - but that's a very very small issue
Win A Full Copy of LittleSnapper For Yourself!
I currently have two copies of LittleSnapper to give away to you! My loyal(ish) readers! So to make it fair I'll do the usual old blog thing of selecting winners from the comments. BUT.
There are conditions.
"What is this madness?" I hear you cry. It's nothing too shocking, but there's no point in me giving away 2 copies of a really great application to 2 people who don't really want it but just entered for the sake of free stuff. SO - go to the LittleSnapper official website HERE - download the trial version, try it out, and tell me why you want a copy! The two best answers will be given serial numbers to upgrade themselves to the fully licensed versions free of charge! (comp will run for one week until mid-day next tuesday)