ScreenWatcher, or SW for short, is a computer monitoring suite developed by myself and my friend Andre Wiggins. It started out as a simple program that sent images of a computer’s screen across a network and has ended up as a fully-functional software package that can monitor a dynamic number of computers effectively.
ScreenWatcher was designed with a school environment in mind but it is very flexible and could easily be used for business or personal use. It consists of a client application that runs on each computer that is to be monitored; a server application that runs on the computer that is to monitor the others; and Class Designer, a separate program designed for creating ScreenWatcher Period Files (.SWP). The client application runs in the background of the computer but does not run as a service. It communicates with the server application over a network, receiving commands and sending back the appropriate data. The server application communicates with a dynamic number of computers at once and allows a central computer to access any computer running the client application. The ScreenWatcher Period Files created by Class Designer are designed for school use but may also be used by an office. They are used to provide ScreenWatcher with a static layout of computers, such as those found in a classroom setting, thus allowing a teacher or employer to see computers on his or her screen in a layout similar to that of the classroom or office.
When designing ScreenWatcher, Andre and I looked at several other computer monitoring software suites to see what we could do better. We were surprised at the lack of a simple, intuitive, but comprehensive interface in all of the software we found. We also thought of plenty of features (and also had some suggested to us) that we had yet to see. We took all of this into account in making ScreenWatcher and added as much functionality as possible.
I was a sophomore and Andre was a senior in high school when we programmed ScreenWatcher. Our idea was to have a great learning experience, both in a programming sense and in a teamwork sense, while potentially providing our school with a free solution to its much-needed computer monitoring needs. Software similar to ScreenWatcher can be very costly and thus can be easily thrown out of a school’s budget, as was the case at our school.
Andre and I presented ScreenWatcher to our school’s Technology Committee and it was received positively. We were approved for classroom integration and ScreenWatcher succeeded in catching students playing games and decreasing the time students spent doing so.
Since 2010, ScreenWatcher has been officially copyrighted by Andre and me. Reflecting upon the great learning experience that it was, we have decided to release ScreenWatcher as open source.
If you like what you see, feel free to download and modify ScreenWatcher as much as you want, as long as you follow its license.