Supporting HotShots – screenshot capture tool

A few days ago I have come across a blog post on LFFL (read post – italian) about HotShots, a screenshot capture tool developed by xbee (home page).

I take lots of screenshot, both at work and when writing blog posts so any feature-rich yet light tool to accomplish the task deserves a “test run”.

HotShots (initially tried in v1.0) soon showed to be worth the time spent testing it. It also runs both on Windows and Linux (compiled from source or downloaded from ppa, more detail below) so it seemed really good for my mixed OS environment (good ol’ XP at work, brand new Kubuntu at home).

There might be literally thousands of similar tools, but few of them have an integrated image editor that allows quick and easy annotation of captured images. I find it quite annoying to have one software that takes screenshots and then a different one to add even the simplest shape or a bit of text. Instead with HotShots, whether you want to use an arrow, a numbered tag, a circle or a magnifier to pinpoint a detail, add some text or blur sensitive data (and more annotation tools are available), you might have found your all-in-one choice.

In addition, its editor can also open existing pictures for “improvements”. And, did I mention that all the objects you add stay on separate layers, so you can move/modify/delete them until you save the picture? That’s great! 😀

Annotations gone wild
Annotations gone wild

Point your browser to its project page on Sourceforge and give it a try! It can do lots of things!

I did so and, in addition, I created the Italian translation and mailed it to the developer along with my comments and a little “user experience”. Xbee not only answered but also took my “requests” into account to develop the now available v1.1.0rc, that fixes some bugs and adds interesting features.

Summarizing: a tool that does what I need, runs on both my OSes, is free and open source. Do you need more? No, I don’t! 😀

Compiling Hotshots for Linux

Fellows Linuxers, compiling a software from source is something any Tux addict should do at least once in his lifetime. I have had my geeky moment compiling Hotshots v1.1beta, supported by xbee, so here is how to do it:

  1. Download latest .zip file containing source code and unpack
  2. Install following packages (Debian / Ubuntu), if you don’t have them: [Upd. 20/05/2013 – v1.1.1]
    qt4-qmake qt4-linguist-tools libqt4-dev-bin libqt4-dev g++ libqxt-dev
  3. Follow instructions in the INSTALL.TXT file enclosed in the source code package:
    $ cd build
    $ qmake -recursive
    $ make
    $ sudo make install
  4. After a successful compiling (it takes a couple of minutes) HotShots executable will be located in /usr/local/bin/hotshots. Run
    $ which hotshots

    to verify.

An alternative way to get HotShots is to add the ppa:dhor/myway (might be behind latest version).

Why it all started

A word from HotShots developer about why he started the project:

Basically, there are three important points for my “house” projects:

  • a need (because working on a project not directly relevant isn’t a piece of cake)
  • a manageable amount of work because I don’t want to climb Everest (I’ve got a social life! :-))
  • parts of Qt not yet well known because I really like this development environment.

Here I needed annotated snapshots for the documentation of my other projects and working with programs like Photoshop is tedious. I was not the first to do this kind of program so I did not have to reinvent the wheel.


Open source is not only getting the code and free software; community contributions play a key role, also as an act of gratitude to those who make their work and skills freely and openly available.

As agreed with xbee, all users, whatever operative system they use, are very welcome to contribute

  • code (patches, additional features,…)
  • translations and reviews for additional languages (currently available are English, Italian, French, Lituanian and Japanese) on Transifex
  • testing and bug reports: all supported platforms (including compiling on OSX) and features (anyone with a multi-monitor setup?)
  • feature requests
  • usage experience and suggestions for improvement

I am glad to be helping fix bugs and contributing the Italian translations for HotShots (I can’t code, no way!) and I hope Italian users will appreciate :-).

For sure out there many more people can help, providing feedback from different software and hardware setups: 32/64 bits OSes (Windows and any Linux), multi-monitors, brave geeks compiling on some exotic platforms and any other possible combination of those.

HotShots 1.1rc might still be a little “rough around the edges” and needs your support: do you feel like you can accept the challenge?


Ora tocca a te / Your turn now

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