YouTube isn't the only way to share video, and it's certainly not the way to store and share professional screencasts with hiked-up bitrates. After 18 months as a beta mewling, on Wednesday, TechSmith's Screencast.com graduated to a full-fledged release.
Version 1 of Screencast.com continues to receive screen recordings produced in the freeware Jing Project (for Windows and Mac) and premium Camtasia Studio, though it's available to anyone willing to register and pay for storage. It has come some distance from the site covered by Webware.com as part of a July 2007 review of Jing Project. Webware editor Rafe Needleman had remarked that
"the well-established Screencast.com site is the weak link in the chain. It's unattractive, and the links you need (the embed codes) are nearly impossible to find. Plus, after 60 days, the free trial service expires--so don't get hooked if you can't stomach the $6.95-a-month fee for screencast hosting."
A lot has changed since then. Screencast.com's makeover addresses most of these critiques. In addition to a revamped interface, said Dirk Frazier, Screencast.com's product manager, in an interview with CNET, "we've moved from what was a very confusing workflow to a polished workflow."
Though still simple, Screencast.com's UI is intuitive and pleasant to behold. As a new addition to version 1, a details dialog springs up with each newly created folder. A portlier Help Center features a new design with improved search and deeper answers to common questions. Similarly, a new Tools page lays out links to TechSmith tools, like a media uploader for desktop videos and the MediaRoll embed widget that shares folder content for public folders.
The navigation buttons along the left remain useful for executing uploads and managerial tasks. Clicking an entry in the visual file system similarly offers up intuitive icons to open, edit, delete, or share the recording. (P.S. Clicking "share" is one way to get at those embed codes.)
Screencast.com's developers have also been sweating over back-end changes, like adopting a multiserver architected back-end that can bear more visitors and their recordings. Over the past six months, Frazier added, "lots and lots of improvements have been made on the data center side."
Fans of the service can expect more, too, in the upcoming months. Frazier's blog shares a snippet of Screencast.com's technical road map that includes H.264 encoded playback and social tools to "create a conversation around your content." "Oops," he writes, "that might be too much sharing."