Aviary is a suite of editing applications accessible via the Web. The suite includes not only a standard image editor, but a vector graphics editor, sound editor and more. In this article, however, I’ll be highlighting the Aviary extension for the Google Chrome web browser that integrates them in ways that make screenshots of websites incredibly easy to take, modify and download.
Having said that, however, it did have one glaring issue, but I’ll cover that in a bit. First, the good.
Once the Aviary extension is installed, you’ll see a new icon in the toolbar. Clicking the icon shows a menu with all your options. You can capture the visible portion of the web page you’re currently visiting, or the entire page (including everything you would normally need to scroll down to see). Click which option you want and you’ll see a quick pop-up informing you of capturing progress, and then a new tab or window that shows you the progress of uploading the image to Aviary.
The Aviary extension preferences allow you to choose a default editor, so when you take a capture, you’ll automatically be sent to it. If you want to use another, you’ll need to change your settings.
Once you’re on the Aviary website and the editor has loaded, your file will also be loaded and you can get to work. If you haven’t experienced any of Aviary’s editors, do that (I won’t be going into editing specifics in this article), but Aviary has a great suite of editors perfect for when you just need to do some light editing and the computer you’re on doesn’t have a suitable program for graphics editing installed.
Two things I love about the Aviary extension:
1. I don’t take a ton of website screenshots, but when I’ve needed to, it was a huge pain to get the whole page, since I’d have to take a screen shot, scroll down, take another screen shot, scroll down, and continue the process until I’d captured the whole page. I’d then need to take those chunks and combine them in Photoshop or GIMP in order to get the full view. The Aviary extension takes care of that for me.
2. It’s all one step. If I used my standard desktop screenshot utility to snap a web page, I’d still need to start up the Aviary website, choose my editor, and THEN upload the image I’d captured. It’s fantastic to be able to click a couple buttons and have the whole process done for me. It’s very streamlined and much more efficient this way.
However, there are a couple things that I don’t love:
1. It would be great to be able to switch editors on the fly. If the Image Editor is my default, and I want to upload a particular screenshot to the Image Markup editor, then I first have to go to the Preferences and set it as my default. I’d much rather have the two options (Capture Visible Portion Of Page and Capture Entire page), with each having a little submenu containing all the appropriate editors. This way I could send the image to the editor I wanted. No fuss, no muss.
2. Huge pages don’t always work correctly. I went to the ESPN website and snapped the complete page. I then did no editing and saved it as a TIFF file. It turned out to be 879×1600 pixels, which is real size. I took a snapshot of a blog with dozens of comments, but when it was saved, ended up with an image only 122 pixels wide, which is far from real sized. It should have been (I found out from a different option) more than 1000×18000 (which is, admittedly, huge!). I suppose it’s possible something is weird with the website, but I believe something strange happens with the extension when the page is so long. Maybe it’s “too big” for the upload or screen capturing process, but it would be nice to know the page has been shrunk.
Those two quibbles aside, the Aviary extension for Google Chrome is fantastic. The efficiency and speed is fantastic, and I like having the different tools available, even if I have to make them the default in order to use them. Hopefully the quirks will get ironed out and a few new features will see their way to making it even more usable. It’s nice now, but it could be great, and I hope that’s what the developers are striving for.