Napkin: A Surprisingly Powerful Communication Tool
Going through my news reader early this morning I came across this one sentence post by John Gruber at Daring Fireball. It referenced a Mac app called “Napkin” and Gruber said that it’s a “great update” so I thought I’d check it out.
Wow. How did I not know about this app? Napkin allows you to essentially create a mashup of media that you can annotate and quickly share.
“Huh?” you may ask. What do you mean by “annotate and quickly share” Borsch?
My workflow consists of communicating with people every single day that are not in my office and some I’ve never even met personally. I have to communicate concepts to people at our clients, on my team, to subcontractors, and to friends and family. If I write up a bunch of text about a concept, often people just don’t get it. Creating a quick screencast is very time consuming so I only do that when my communication to one or more people absolutely requires it.
For my high value concept communications, let me tell you about the steps I went through before, and then after, I used Napkin.
My “pre-Napkin” workflow was this:
- Take a screenshot
- Open the screenshot in Photoshop
- Open Keynote (or one could drag-n-drop the screenshot in to Keynote, but I find it gave me less control and didn’t save any steps)
- Select various vector objects like an arrow to point at stuff on the screenshot and copy-n-paste it in to the image. Rinse and repeat for various callouts
- Save the image and use in email, on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
My “post-Napkin” workflow looks like this:
- Launch Napkin
- Use its tools to do everything above.
Yep. It saves three steps and jumping around to other programs. Now I can communicate faster and with richer content. While the program is $49.95, a rough ‘back of the napkin’ estimate on time saved for the 6-12 “concept communications” I perform daily is 30-60 minutes per day.
If you’re not busy or don’t have money, don’t buy Napkin. But if your time is only worth a McDonalds-sized hourly wage of $10/hour—and you communicate as frequently as I do—your return on investment will be 1-2 weeks. Even if you only use Napkin 1-2 times per week, within a few months it will have paid for itself and, most importantly, will have made your entire process of communicating richer, higher value, and more fun too.