Citrix GoView Has Promise but the Beta Is Lacking

Click here to see screenshotsWhen it comes to demoing a new piece of software, training users on a new application or teaching employees how to follow a business process, there's no substitute for showing them how to do these things directly. But it isn't always feasible to be face to face in all of these situations. So the next best thing is to be able to create a video of how to use an application, Web service or process and make that available to anyone who needs to see it. There have long been products, such as Adobe Captivate and Camtasia, that can capture a recording of an application session, record voiceovers, and add educational icons and directions to videos that can then be distributed to anyone who needs them. But these products aren't inexpensive and, since they are geared toward high-end training and testing, can be a little too complex for staff just looking to make a quick application recording.

Click here to see screenshots
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When it comes to demoing a new piece of software, training users on a new application or teaching employees how to follow a business process, there's no substitute for showing them how to do these things directly.

But it isn't always feasible to be face to face in all of these situations. So the next best thing is to be able to create a video of how to use an application, Web service or process and make that available to anyone who needs to see it.

There have long been products, such as Adobe Captivate and Camtasia, that can capture a recording of an application session, record voiceovers, and add educational icons and directions to videos that can then be distributed to anyone who needs them. But these products aren't inexpensive and, since they are geared toward high-end training and testing, can be a little too complex for staff just looking to make a quick application recording.

At Demo 09, Citrix debuted a product that hopes to fill the niche for simple and low-cost application recording. Citrix GoView is a sort of hybrid SAAS/installed application product that makes it possible to create simple recordings of application or Web sessions and then share the links of these recordings with others.

I gave Citrix GoView, which is now in closed beta, a test run, and while I think the product has a lot of potential, the current beta is very limited and isn't useful for more than the most basic recordings. Right now, those looking for low-cost screen recording would be better served by looking at open-source options such as CamStudio.

Getting started with GoView is very simple. After logging into the Web site, I was given a link to download the GoView recording application, which is currently a Windows-only product.

Right off the bat I had some problems with the install. First, GoView set itself up to run at startup, which got me thinking, does anyone need to make application recordings so much that they need the app running all the time? Second, GoView insisted on using Internet Explorer as the associated browser to load after recording sessions, even though IE wasn't the default browser on my system and I was using IE 8, which didn't play well with the GoView Website. I couldn't find any option to change the browser used by GoView.

The GoView application runs as an icon in the lower right Windows tray, and to start a recording I simply clicked on the icon and chose Record Screen and Audio. Unlike other applications, which can record just specific windows or sections of a screen, GoView will only record the entire Windows screen.

Once started, I could record my actions as I worked through an application or Website and create an audio voiceover as I did this. After finishing, I again clicked on the icon in the tray to stop recording. As soon as recording stopped, the application automatically began uploading the video of the recording to the GoView Website. This can take some time depending on the length of the video recorded, and even after successfully uploading, not all capabilities (such as video editing) are available on the Website right away.

From the GoView Website I could view all of the recordings that I had made and could define basic settings such as the option to require a password to view the video. To watch videos online, all that is required is a browser and Flash.

GoView includes a very basic Web-based editing application that allowed only the most simple edits to uploaded videos, basically just simple cuts. Luckily, GoView provides the option to automatically convert the video to the MPEG-4 format and download it to your system, where more advanced edits are possible.

However, once this is done the video must be distributed in more traditional ways as there is now an option to re-upload the video to the GoView site. For sharing, GoView basically just provides a link that can be e-mailed or posted so that others can view the video.

Right now, while I'm intrigued by GoView and think it has a lot of potential, this beta will need a lot of work before it becomes a tool that will be useful for more than the most basic recordings. If Citrix can address some of these problems, GoView will be a welcome new option for those looking for application recording capabilities.

Based on my discussions with Citrix representatives at Demo 09, it is unclear what the future pricing plan for GoView is. It could remain free, could have tiered offerings or could be offered for a price.