ScreenShot Direct: Conversation with Mark Sicignano

Created: Wednesday, June 13, 2007, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 3:16 pm

Updated: at



Mark Sicignano (pictured to the left) has been developing software for over 20 years. In addition to creating ScreenShot Direct he is also a co-founder of SoftwareTime which creates software tools that encourage children to use the computer wisely. In this conversation, Mark discusses ScreenShot Direct, a screen capture product that directly inserts screen captures as new PowerPoint slides.

Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself and ScreenShot Direct.

Mark: ScreenShot Direct resulted from a conversation I had with a friend. He was looking for a utility to capture screenshots into PowerPoint, and he complained that everything he found either required too many steps, such as having to manually save and import screenshots into PowerPoint, or was focused on creating special effects. He was unable to find an application that streamlined his workflow.

I’ve created numerous PowerPoint presentations in my career, but they never consisted of many screenshots. My friend’s challenge sounded like a fun project and I like to help people! I’m a software developer and I enjoy solving usability problems. I’ve worked in Clinical Information Systems, Document Management and Retail, but lately I’ve enjoyed solving smaller problems for people I can relate to directly.

My friend needed an easy way to snap lots of screenshots into PowerPoint. Every day he was creating presentations for demos and training. We talked over breakfast and while he described the features he wanted, I focused on hearing his actual problem. During the screen capture phase of creating demos or training materials, he wanted to focus on the application or process he was documenting in PowerPoint. He didn’t want to have to “multitask” by constantly Alt-tabbing between a screenshot tool, PowerPoint, and the application or process.

So I asked, “What if I could give you a tool that gets your screenshots into PowerPoint with a single keystroke, and during that process, PowerPoint and the tool would both stay in the background, out of sight allowing you to focus on your applications or processes.” He was ecstatic and said, “That would be a beautiful thing!”

So off I went to create it…

Geetesh: Tell us about some case studies where the use of ScreenShot Direct has resulted in quicker and more efficient workflows.

Mark: Case #1 is my friend who uses ScreenShot Direct every day for his demos and training material. As soon as I gave him a proof of concept with the basic functionality, he called me to rave about how efficient the tool made him. He suggested some basic improvements, but said the basic design was what he needed.

I never doubted that the tool would save time because it eliminates so many unnecessary steps. After picking which presentation to insert screenshots, you simply hit the PrintScreen key (or Alt-PrintScreen)… No switching to PowerPoint, no need to create new slides, no need to manually paste or scale the image. Simply focus on the primary task you want to document, and stay in the “flow” (or “the zone”) while you snap away.

Once I refined ScreenShot Direct a bit more, I passed it along to others who, in Case #2, use it to collect customer requirements. The benefit in this case is that as customers demonstrate their systems to explain their business process, users can capture screenshots into PowerPoint without any distractions. This makes discovery sessions much more efficient and productive for all involved.

After seeing these niches for ScreenShot Direct and the excitement people had for it, I decided to release it as shareware. To be clear, it isn’t a general purpose screenshot utility. ScreenShot Direct addresses a specific need: lots of screenshots… directly into PowerPoint… fast. I have a few more enhancements for future updates, but I want to keep the tool simple and it should always be about snapping screens into PowerPoint as fast as possible.

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