Mostly automated screenshots for ubuntu-help

Jeremy Bicha jbicha at
Mon Apr 9 03:09:18 UTC 2012

I spent the weekend writing a bash script to make taking ubuntu-docs
screenshots more automatic.

This has a whole bunch of benefits:
* It's much faster and easier to update screenshots (for instance, the
default wallpaper just changed)
* It's much faster and easier to submit translated screenshots
* It's basically the source code for the screenshots
* It allows for screenshots to be more precise and consistent

The scripts do need a bit of manual setup. You'll need to install both
shutter and xdotool and tell shutter to delay a few seconds before
taking pictures. You'll need to open Shutter and tell it whether to
include the mouse cursor in the screenshots or not. That's why I split
the screenshots into two scripts since I felt some screenshots were
improved by having the cursor visible and some were better without.
You'll need to clear your "Privacy" before the without-mouse
screenshots since I'd rather take the Dash screenshots with specific
items in the Recent Apps & Files sections. There's a few other notes
listed at the top of the files. I also think you'll need to open the
Emblem pdf and close the sidebar manually the first time; evince
didn't seem to want to hide the sidebar automatically for me.

The scripts probably don't work every time. I've seen occasionally
where screenshots aren't cropped like they're supposed to be. Perhaps
I just need to add some more pauses (sleep 5) to increase the
reliability. So be sure to check the screenshots before submitting

Working on the scripts was fascinating, although unfortunately it
takes a fair amount of time and trial and error. I think an
interesting follow-on for someone else would be to write similar
scripts to test Unity or other user interfaces. Running the entire
Unity checkbox suite takes a long time and having the computer do some
of those actions which the tester just needs to verify could improve
the testing quality and save testing time.

Maybe we could even do like some Windows Help topics which have a
"Show me" feature. That may be a bit tricky to implement but it could
be very useful if it were perfected.

The two scripts and a .zip of the extra files ("props") for the
screenshots are available at for
now. I went ahead and updated the English (C), French, and German
screenshots but there


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