A good screen ruler

A good screen ruler

Some tools fall under the category of utility for me. By that I mean that they aren’t cool, they don’t provide anything novel and so long as they work reliably then I never really notice that they’re there or not. It’s sort of like electricity and natural gas. You don’t really think of them as being great unless you don’t have them. Other things like a big screen TV are cool and grab your attention.

What a lead in for a screen ruler… Bu the fact is that I often use a screen ruler to figure out exactly how many pixels something is. An aside would be my complaint that something like the dimensions of a file that contains images, like a video file, should contain meta data that tells you the width and height. Anyhoo, I use a screen ruler a lot.

The first screen ruler I got was probably emailed to me by someone and I didn’t realize until years later that it was commercial software. It was made by a company called microfox and when I realized that it was commercial software I went to purchase it. Much to my disappointment they were charging $24.95. I just couldn’t justify paying that for it. Even though I liked it, that was too steep. If it had been $10 I probably would have purchased a license (might still purchase at that price), but I didn’t buy it because $24.95 for a screen ruler was just too much.

Like any red blooded American programmer, I immediately went looking for an open source (read cheap/free) alternative for my screen ruler needs. I found two right off (thanks Google for relevant results) that would fit my needs, and despite perhaps being less powerful than the commercial version, ended up doing everything I needed.

The first scree ruler is made by Spadix. From a functional perspective this did exactly the same thing the commercial option did, except that it cost 100% less. Thank you Spadix.

However, true to my American “I need options” nature, I clicked on the next link down and found the this screen ruler. I was turned off by the wood grain and the bulky look, but right before I bounced off the site, I noticed the embedded youtube video. Usually these are pretty boring (and so was this one), but I clicked on it just to see what the ruler could do. It actually turned out to have a lot of worthwhile features. Because of the video I downloaded and tried his ruler. Here’s the video the guy put on his site:

In the end I went with the Spadix ruler because it updates all the time showing on the ruler exactly how many pixels to the side I am of the ruler end. I’m not sure that’s better, but it’s what i’m used to and that ruler does it’s job just fine.

Wouldn’t this be a boring post it all I talked about was a comparison between screen rulers? The reason for writing this up on my site is to point out that an informative, easy to watch video might make the difference between someone bouncing off your site and staying a minute longer to dig a little deeper. In the case of this second ruler, they guy probably spent 20 minutes recording, tweaking and then uploading this video to youtube. Since he used youtube he has not hosting, no players, no bandwidth or anything else. I’m not sure what he used to make the video, but it was probably CamStudio, so he didn’t even have any overhead costs.

If you haven’t done it yet, why don’t you make a video to showcase some of the reasons why someone should stay on your site for a few minutes more. Then check your bounce rate in a few days and see if you succeeded in capturing a few of the more lazy folk that might have previously written you off. Then come back here and post a link to your page so can watch your video.

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