props file, quality and reduction or size

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props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby csoto on Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:52 am

Using Capture 7([not sure why my first post did not work]

1. Is there a way to reroute the .props file? So instead of automatically saving the file with the same image, it can be saved to any other specified directory, and it will access that directory every time one opens the image?

2. When creating a capture file, the elements seem to be vector with good quality, but when used in Flare its looks bad; blurry or jagged text and lines? This occurs with the props file in default place, but wondering what effect it has if the props file is changed.


3. Is there a way to reduced the image dimensions while keeping the same text size. In large images, when I reduce, it reduces the text and then it is unreadable.
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby trent the thief on Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:46 am

I don't believe there is anyway to change the default location for ,props.

For the jaggies issue, could it be the capture format? Some types size better than others. I usually use .PNG and have not noticed anything more than some blurring if the image size changes drastically.
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby csoto on Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:01 am

trent the thief wrote:I don't believe there is anyway to change the default location for ,props.

For the jaggies issue, could it be the capture format? Some types size better than others. I usually use .PNG and have not noticed anything more than some blurring if the image size changes drastically.


Hey Trent

Thanks for the reply.
We are capturing and all our images are pngs. The callouts and items look good in Capture but not really good when output in Flare. By good, I mean they do not look like vectors with nice lines/edges.
When you say image size, do you mean , you resize in capture AFTER doing callouts/text and items?

The only way I can think of resizing somewhat and not effecting the other items is by resizing first. Deleting the props file and THEN adding the stuff. Or resizing in another program then bringing that image into Capture and adding stuff in.

It is so confusing that I can't do this kind of basic stuff, with out a lot of jumping around .....
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby SteveS on Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:43 pm

Welcome to the forums :D

The props file contains the information used to create the final image and can be moved or deleted once you have your final image. If you keep it, however, you can go back and make changes before saving an updated version.

PNG files are not vector images. Like most screenshot based image formats they are raster images. So each 'dot' from your screen is described in RGB values and, depending on the raster format, compressed. Vector images, however, use algorithms to recreate an image on demand. And there's the rub, raster images do not resize well, while vectors do it seamlessly.

If I have to resize an image I prefer to do it using some form of graphics program, rather than just resize it in the final application. Graphics programs will resample the image and usually make a better fist of it. I then use an unsharp mask (an image sharpening tool) to try to make the image sharper.

If I must resize images I try to stick to percentages such as 50%, rather than going for an exact pixel count. Sometimes trying a size a few steps each way of ideal can create a sharper image.

Its also worth checking the image in the final document. Sometimes things that look blurry in an editor can look better in the final output.

The last thing to check, particularly for online type use, is image resolution. Make sure it is still 96 dpi, the native windows resolution the screenshot would have been captured in. If the resolution is higher (say 300 dpi) the image should be approximately 1/3 the size when viewed. People then try to make the image the original size (say 5" wide) but because it is an imprecise process they end up with blurry images as the image rendering process has to guess what RGB value to use for each dot in the image matrix.

HTH
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby csoto on Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 am

SteveS wrote:Welcome to the forums :D

The props file contains the information used to create the final image and can be moved or deleted once you have your final image. If you keep it, however, you can go back and make changes before saving an updated version.

PNG files are not vector images. Like most screenshot based image formats they are raster images. So each 'dot' from your screen is described in RGB values and, depending on the raster format, compressed. Vector images, however, use algorithms to recreate an image on demand. And there's the rub, raster images do not resize well, while vectors do it seamlessly.

If I have to resize an image I prefer to do it using some form of graphics program, rather than just resize it in the final application. Graphics programs will resample the image and usually make a better fist of it. I then use an unsharp mask (an image sharpening tool) to try to make the image sharper.

If I must resize images I try to stick to percentages such as 50%, rather than going for an exact pixel count. Sometimes trying a size a few steps each way of ideal can create a sharper image.

Its also worth checking the image in the final document. Sometimes things that look blurry in an editor can look better in the final output.

The last thing to check, particularly for online type use, is image resolution. Make sure it is still 96 dpi, the native windows resolution the screenshot would have been captured in. If the resolution is higher (say 300 dpi) the image should be approximately 1/3 the size when viewed. People then try to make the image the original size (say 5" wide) but because it is an imprecise process they end up with blurry images as the image rendering process has to guess what RGB value to use for each dot in the image matrix.

HTH



SteveS, thanks for the welcome.

Had been using Flare earlier this year but we just started using Capture and this props file is creating havoc on our production line. Trying to understand the purpose and what it holds. Another file to keep tabs of, not a good idea...anyway
(We do a nightly build for some of our documentation and have to move the props files to a different directory, then manually move them back if we need to edit an item like callouts and arrows etc)

Thanks for the information. I am aware of the difference between vector and bitmap, been doing graphics for a while, (1)but what I don't get is why does Capture uses vector information(arrows, callouts and other items are crisp and nice) but when the images are placed in Flare, they are pixels? Shouldn't Flare see the .props file and "combine" the information so these same Capture items look also crisp in Flare? Is this props file worth keeping?

I've learned that the props file has other info that is very important, especially if wanting to edit, but this could be dangerous:
2. props files keep size information, but if I edit the image in a graphic program (psd, GIMP, Krita), save it, then open the file in Capture, it still holds on to the old unedited image information, which would be completely WRONG! I would have to delete the old props file and then reopen in Capture, then it would have the correct info! Then I could do my callouts and stuff. If I had already all my callouts and stuff, this method would not work. What are folks doing out there to solve this issue.


Thanks for the info on unsharp mask, will try this, it i can solve this props file dilemma/limitations.
Yes, now we are keeping dpi to 96.
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby atomdocs on Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:24 pm

Can you give a bit more detail about why you have to move the props file for your nightly builds? Is there a CMS or change control system involved?

I think the props file is an internal function of Capture. Although it is XML based, I think only Capture knows what to do with it, so if you edit a Capture-managed image in another editor, I think problems are inevitable. I solve it in my workflow by avoiding extensive pixel edits in Capture altogether. If I see that such edits are needed when I am sourcing or creating an image, I do that first in a proper image editor, then bring it in (or back) to Capture and start my callouts/captions workflow. Capture is always the final part of my overall image workflow.

Capture is a pretty bad image editor, but its integration with Flare is really good, and that it why I use it (and like it, as long as I also have Photoshop). The props file is important for being able to go back and edit callouts and captions easily. Although I also don't like "sidecar" files, they don't bother me too much. But it seems that they are more evident in your workflow, which is why I ask if there is another process happening with your nightly builds that the props file interferes with.

Capture supports vector objects inside its editor, but it only support bitmap outputs, and it needs to output an image before sending it to Flare. So, yep, that is a limitation, and our Capture images in Flare will always be pixels until Capture supports e.g. SVG output (but ultimately, what counts is whether the image displays with acceptable quality in your final Flare outputs). But at least you can take an image back to Capture and edit those vector objects cleanly, so that is a plus. I think lack of vector support in output is a symptom of Capture already being pushed beyond what was initially expected of it. Although we have v7, I don't think the image processing engine has been overhauled for a while, and that is what is really needed. The good news is that Flare does already support SVG, and SVGs are brilliant (here is a nice demo from the Flare help: http://help.madcapsoftware.com/flare12/Content/Images/About_Images.htm?Highlight=svg), so you can definitely use vectors in your Flare output. If you want to do that, you need to use something other than Capture. Bear in mind though, that just putting callouts on a screenshot in Illustrator and then saving it as SVG won't turn the screenshot into a vector. What Capture does offer right now is convenience, which is why I use it.

I don't think Flare understands props files, It just knows to keep them with the image, but I think that is really just a convenience thing. I think your proposal to have an option of storing all props files for a project separately is a good suggestion, but I have no idea of the software development needed to get that working in Flare and Capture. Sounds like a good feature request.

Good luck with finding a workflow. The key is understanding Capture's limitations (I think you already have a good start on that :) ), and going outside of Capture whenever necessary to prep your images. Pushing Capture back to the final stage of your image editing workflow helps a lot, even if you do still use it for the initial capture.
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby SteveS on Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:49 pm

Try this...

If you create an image in photoshop it saves it as a .psp file. You can return to the psp file at any time and continuing editing the image. When you are happy with the result you export the image from photoshop. If you need to modify the image, you go back to the psp file, make the edits, and export the updated version. The psp file and the exported image can live independently of each other.

The props file is similar, it contains the original image and all the stuff you have added. The png (or whatever) is just like the export file from photoshop. Capture just hides what is going on. It also explains why the callouts etc are vector like in the editor but not in the final image. All of that is held in the props file, the export is the final, compact, put it wherever you want, version.

If you want to edit the image after the initial edit you will need to have the final image and the props file in the same folder. I haven't tried to see what happens if you edit the image outside of capture before trying to edit it again with Capture, my guess is it will undo the edits made by the other program.

So you can move or delete the props file and it will not affect your output. If you want the maximum flexibility when re-editing you will need the props file. If you are using a sound naming convention you could move all the props files to an archive and only 'reunite' them if you need to make a change.
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Re: props file, quality and reduction or size

Postby csoto on Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:51 am

Tom/Steve

Thank you very much for your help. I guess the main issue is to understand the Capture limitation("great marketing" for Madcap if they are listening :) )

Yes, we are using CMS and source control and that is the reason I am trying to understand the props file. We are preping for a large team in the use of Flare /Capture on different documentation, manuals, and html outout. I am in charge of setting the graphic standards and solving the props file situation. Although all will have access to Capture , they will also have access to GIMP and Krita, or any other open source software. Some of us have Photoshop, but most will not have access to this.

I guess the workflow will include putting away the props file in a different directory and pulling it back when needed. That does have some limitations as we have figured out. Somehow the recapture coordinates are not kept. Not a deal breaker, but not sure what other stuff we will come to in the future. If you ask me, it should of all been done in Flare instead of another app that places other files....just me talking here. :)

Right now got to figure out why certain font sizes are looking blurry, or not so good, when output in Flare. I will keep you updated if I find out...unless someone else has some nuggets of info...

Thank you very much, once again, for all your help.
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