Screen Capture with AIR 2 NativeProcess

Prior to AIR 2 the only way to capture the screen was to use something like Marapi Java Bridge that acts as a conduit between your application and the native system.

However, with AIR 2 Beta and the upcoming AIR 2 release, you can now use the command-line tool “screencapture” that comes with Mac OS. Nothing extra needs to be bundled with the application for this to work on a Mac, but on Windows, you need an additional piece of code to execute the screen capture process.

The process of doing a screen capture is pretty easy. You first create a File object that points to the location of the “screencapture” command line on the Mac:

var file:File = File.applicationDirectory;
file = file.resolvePath("usr/sbin/screencapture");

Then create a NativeProcessStartupInfo object that will be used when we start the NativeProcess.The arguments property of the NativeProcessStartupInfo takes a list of arguments that will be passed to the command line tool when its started. For a complete list of arguments used by the screencapture command line tool, type “screencapture –help” in the terminal window. For this example I wanted to push out a file named “screencap.png” to the desktop from a selection of the screen. Optionally, you could capture the image to the clipboard and paste it directly.

var nativeProcessStartupInfo:NativeProcessStartupInfo = new NativeProcessStartupInfo();
var args:Vector. = new Vector.();
args[0] = "-i";
args[1] = "screencapture.png";

nativeProcessStartupInfo.arguments = args;
nativeProcessStartupInfo.executable = file;

Now we can start the native process:

process = new NativeProcess();
process.start(nativeProcessStartupInfo);

The screencapture command tool will be launched and you will see the selection cursor on your screen. After you make a selection, the file will automatically be saved to the desktop as “screencapture.png”.

Here is the complete project code:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:WindowedApplication xmlns:fx="http://ns.adobe.com/mxml/2009"
                       xmlns:s="library://ns.adobe.com/flex/spark"
                       xmlns:mx="library://ns.adobe.com/flex/mx"
                       creationComplete="init()">
    <fx:Script>
        <![CDATA[
            private var process:NativeProcess;
           
            private function init():void
            {
                launchNativeProcess();
            }
           
            private function launchNativeProcess():void
            {
                if(NativeProcess.isSupported) {
                   
                    var file:File = File.applicationDirectory;
                   
                    if (Capabilities.os.toLowerCase().indexOf("win") > -1) {
                        //file = file.resolvePath("bin/mylocalexe.exe");
                    } else if (Capabilities.os.toLowerCase().indexOf("mac") > -1) {
                        file = file.resolvePath("/usr/sbin/screencapture");
                    }
                   
                    var args:Vector.<String> = new Vector.<String>();
                        args[0] = "-i";
                        args[1] = "screencapture.png";
                   
                    var nativeProcessStartupInfo:NativeProcessStartupInfo = new NativeProcessStartupInfo();
                        nativeProcessStartupInfo.arguments = args;
                        nativeProcessStartupInfo.executable = file;
                        nativeProcessStartupInfo.workingDirectory = File.desktopDirectory;
                   
                    process = new NativeProcess();
                    process.start(nativeProcessStartupInfo);
                   
                } else {
                    trace("Native Process not supported");
                }
            }
        ]]>
    </fx:Script>
   
</s:WindowedApplication>

Don’t forget to include support for extended desktop in the application xml file:

<supportedProfiles>extendedDesktop</supportedProfiles>

To get something like this to work on Windows, you need to know a little bit of C or C# so you can call your own service and launch the screen print functionality on Windows. For more about using the NativeProcess in AIR 2 for both Windows and Mac, you check out this Adobe article.

-Mr

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2 thoughts on “Screen Capture with AIR 2 NativeProcess

    • Adobe air programs can be created with Flash, Flex, or HTML. So this should work if you build your application with AIR and any of those languages.

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