Our technology firm Kickdrum has been working with hybrid onshore and offshore teams for many years. Our people are distributed geographically and across many time zones, working on very large software projects around the clock. Most of the work is done by people that are not in the room with us - people who are awake when we are sleeping. This gap makes it critical to communicate vision, requirements, status and bugs as clearly as possible, or else we’re stuck having to wait until tomorrow to try again.

We set out to design something that is a game-changer for remote team communication. We needed HYFY to be as powerful as video conferencing but not require everyone to be online at the same time. Our goal is to make HYFY the simplest way to record your screen & voice and share instantly so the team just “gets it.” With a single click, you can narrate a video story of your work and share it immediately wherever your team works. In our case, that's JIRA and HipChat.

What it does

HYFY is a Google Chrome extension that records your screen and voice along with your mouse cursor. You just click the extension button, select Tab or Full Screen recording and select Start Recording. When you're finished, HYFY gives you a video link that you can copy and paste anywhere. Viewers can see the video without installing any software. HYFY also offers direct integration with HipChat and JIRA for sharing into your team's workspace.

The FREE version can record a single browser tab for up to 4 minutes. The PRO version ($5/month) lets you record your full screen or any individual window for up to 60 minutes. Both versions integrate with HipChat for direct sharing to any group or channel, while the PRO version adds a JIRA integration that allows you to create new JIRA issues or update existing JIRA issues with videos right from within HYFY's share dialog.

Here is a sample HYFY that shows you how to get started: Getting Started with HYFY

What is it good for?

Here are some great uses we’ve discovered for HYFY within JIRA and HipChat:

  • documenting customer complaints, bugs and feature requests
  • providing support assistance back to customers
  • sharing feedback on a live application or set of comps/screenshots
  • narrating a peer deliverable/code review
  • recording sprint reviews and status reports
  • explaining product roadmaps or demoing competing products
  • sending feedback to designer and UX pros
  • HOWTOs, walkthroughs, help articles and product demos
  • practicing video broadcasting for upcoming demonstrations
  • training videos
  • task list capture/bookmarking

How we built it

The extension utilizes Google Chrome's desktop capture API for initial screen and voice recording. We then use Chrome's native client capabilities to run native C++ code that encodes the video in a compact WEBM format. A view link is immediately generated by HYFY servers while the videos are uploaded to AWS S3 buckets where they are transcoded to multiple common formats for optimized desktop and mobile viewing. For sharing, users can copy/paste the link or use one of our integrations to HipChat, JIRA or Slack. The HipChat integration uses the new connect framework to generate custom glances, cards, actions and dialogs. The JIRA integration users JIRA's APIs to construct and auto-complete form fields specific to the JIRA project and allows users to create new issues or update existing ones with HYFY videos. Videos within JIRA include debugging information like the original URL and browser and OS details to assist with debugging.

Here are videos that demonstrate the integrations:

Challenges we ran into

  • Google Chrome extensions have lots of restrictions, particularly on what you can do in the UI
  • Using the native client and encoding video in C++ is non-trivial
  • It's so easy to clutter and complicate a recording UI with tons of settings
  • Creating a good interface that works with every JIRA installation is time consuming

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We think HYFY is the simplest way to record your screen and voice. Our design has been through dozens of iterations and real-world tests with our distributed teams. Now we think it's ready to be used by teams all over the world. We're also the only screen recorder on the market that integrates deeply with HipChat and JIRA.

What we learned

Everything takes twice as long as you think it should.

What's next for HYFY Screen Recorder

The next release of HYFY will bring it to the Enterprise by adding video privacy features. You'll be able to limit access to HYFY videos to individual emails, entire email domains, JIRA domains and HipChat groups!

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