February 6, 2009

Creating large modular projects using Captivate 4

Large eLearning projects are always difficult to maintain and the authoring process is inefficient because of lack of parallelism and collaboration.

Adobe Captivate 4 allows you to break up project into bite-sized modules which can be authored and maintained by multiple people.

Modular development has the following advantages:

  • Allows parallel development - many people working on the same project at same time
  • Delivers scalability – manages performance at authoring as well as delivery time as the project size grows.
  • Maintainability

I shall be discussing these three points in this blog.

Aggregator is an application which accepts the content SWF files (files which are published by Adobe Captivate 4) and creates a container SWF file which plays the content SWF files one after another sequentially*.

 

Image 1 – Launch Aggregator

Image 2 – Aggregator – Starting window

 

Now let’s see how it solves the different problems that I mentioned earlier.

Parallel Development: Let’s assume you want to develop a content which has multiple modules. The modules can be different subjects, chapters etc. and that you have multiple developers to work on it. Just assign a module to each developer and let her start developing the Adobe Captivate Content. Once all the modules are ready, publish them. Now launch the aggregator, add all the Adobe Captivate published SWF files to aggregator and publish the aggregator project. And you are ready to go live with the whole content.

Scalability: Let’s assume that your content has 5 modules. After developing publishing it, you found that one of the modules needs to be changed. If you didn’t have Aggregator, you might have had all the modules in the same .CP file. And then after changing the cp file you would have ended up publishing the whole .CP file that is all the modules. With aggregator, you just need to change the .CP file of the corresponding module, and the aggregator.

At run time (while playing the SWF file), aggregator makes sure that only current module is loaded at any time. Thus an “aggregated” SWF can deliver highly scalable performance at playback time.

Also let’s assume the complete content in aggregator is say 100 mb, and first module is say of 5mb. Aggregator does not wait for all the modules to be downloaded before starting to play the movie. Aggregator starts playing the movie as soon as the first content movie is loaded delivering a good learner experience.

Maintainability: With modular decomposition of the content, it becomes easy to develop and maintain the content compared to a monolithic one.

* – Aggregator plays the content sequentially from start to end unless user clicks on the Aggregator Table of Content.

Posted by Sunil Muthiyan7:12 PM
  • Mike Hazard

    How does this work with Connect Pro? Is it tracked as a single project or multiple projects?Thanks,mike

  • Cris

    How can I specify an overlay mode for the TOC menu in the container SWF file created by aggregator? By default, the TOC menu mode is separate. Thank you.

  • Sunil Muthiyan

    >>Mikewell, As of now, Connect Pro is not able to track Aggregated movie.But I am looking if there are any ways by which it is possible. Please give me some time to investigate and get back to you.ThanksSunil

  • Sunil Muthiyan

    >>CrisUnfortunately one can not have the overlay mode of toc in aggregator movie.

  • Denise

    You mention that “* – Aggregator plays the content sequentially from start to end unless user clicks on the Aggregator Table of Content.”I typically create software demos that can be 400+ screens. I start each project with a navigation screen with several buttons that branch to different ‘chapters’. I have recently been told that alot of the issues i experience are because of the large amount of slides.Can you use the aggregate feature and still provide the end-user with the ability to navigate to particular pieces of training?Thanks!Denise

  • Sunil Muthiyan

    >>DeniseOhhhh yes, Ofcourse,you can definitely create different captivate projects for each chapter, create toc for each project depending on which all entries you will like to have in TOC, and then just aggregate all those projects.User will have all the chapters available for lookup and navigation at anypoint in time while playing the aggregator movie.I hope I have answered your question.thanksSunil

  • Daniel Michael

    I am having a couple issues with the Aggregator. Perhaps you can help.1. As the Aggregator begins playing the first file, the preloader for subsequent files and the aggregator preloader displays in front of the presentation. This is sloppy looking and quite distracting. Can it be prevented?2. For reasons beyond my control, we don’t deliver content to our clients that doesn’t match our other software requirements. Therefore, I need to keep everything at Flash Player 9. Aggregator appears to be published at FP10. Can this be altered?3. If I remove the preloader from the individual swf folders and remove autoplay, the files pop and fill the screen with the aggregator in the background. The description may not do the problem justice and you may not be able to picture this, but if it sounds familiar…thanksdan

  • Sunil Muthiyan

    >>Daniel1. It shall be interesting for me to know more about this issue. I shall mail you to get the exact details.2. Well I am afraid, one will need to have fp10 to play aggregator projects.3. can you please explore this point a bit more ?

  • Belinda

    Is there any way I can display a custom preloader within an aggregate project? I have a custom preloader set up for individual modules but the standard Captivate preloader overrides these when creating an aggregate project.Thanks,Belinda

  • Sunil Muthiyan

    @BelindaNo, as of now its not possible to have custom preloader for aggregator.

  • Captivator

    Hi SunilWhen I publish an aggregator project the background is always white, even if I told Captivate to use another background color in the skin settings. Is there any possibility to change the background of aggregator projecs, especially for standalone projects? Btw: Is there a way to redesign the aggregator/TOC (like the playbars)?ThanksCaptivator

  • Judith Gingrich

    I have added 2 modules to a Multiple-SCO project in Aggregator and uploaded to LMS. The first module plays fine, but when I complete it, the second module doesn’t show up. What do I need to do?

  • Gina

    Can I link 10+ recording together to play as one using the Aggregator?

  • Jen

    I am just trying out Aggregator for the first time and when I try to aggregate a course and a quiz into one aggregrated project, it is not sending the score to my LMS. The settings are the same as the existing course we have on the LMS, I just broke them into 2 sco files and aggregated. Am I missing a step?

  • http://www.rebelcoaching.com Annemarie

    Hi Captivate Developers Team!I am encoutnering a bit issue, I have problems with scorm compliance… I have published my course with the AS3 setting and it is not communicating with my scorm compliant LMS, I tried it out on the Rustici Test Track, however no luck here either.The problem doesn’t seem to be with the course, since once I publish to AS2 the scorm communication is fine!So I was just wondering what can be done to make the course with AS3 scorm compliant?Thanks so much for your assistance, it is greatly appreciated!Best regardsAnnemarie

  • Stephen Noga

    Suni… How you describe the Aggregator’s operation is just what I need. I have a 50MB SWF containing 17 Training Modules. Each is comprised of a set of slides and an audio track. I have broken them out into SWF’s by module and used the Aggregator to re-assemble them in order. The list of modules apears with their times to the left of the presentation on execution. Hower, while I am able to see the first slide after a few minutes, there is no sound until the file is fully loaded with all Modules showing the amount of time they require in the list to the left of the presentation. The file is posted on a remote server which makes performance a big issue (about 20 min to dowload for a Learner training from home). Any ideas on what I may be missing? Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated.

  • Stephen Noga

    Regarding my previous post. My issue turned out to be the use of Advanced Project Compression. I removed this and all appears to be working.

  • http://marine-marchande.com/ eric

    thanks for the Aggregator function, I never realized that it was here.Eric From France

  • Jonathan

    Can the Aggergator’s TOC be shown as an overlay. I need the full resolution of the screen for the project.

  • Patrick

    Hello, I would like to combine multiple projects (SCO) but use custom navigation that would NOT display the aggrigator TOC. Is that possible?

  • Jim Tushinski

    While Aggregator is a great idea, it doesn’t seem to work well when on a Web server and my client is not happy with the project navigation because of it. Here’s what’s happening: I created an Aggregator project (ActionScript 2) that links 15 Captivate SWF files in sequential order. All the projects, except the first one, have no preloader and do not Auto Play. It looks looks beautiful on my desktop machine, but when I load it on our Web server, the TOCs for the individual projects load only AFTER the entire swf file for that project has loaded. That means the TOCs appear very slowly well after the course has started and the client is very confused because they can’t navigate anywhere until the entire course loads. That makes Aggregator completely useless for 2-3 minutes. In addition, the screen jumps around and bits of different projects appear and disappear rapidly while the first project loads. Very very sloppy and unprofessional. Has anyone encountered this? Is there any work around. It’s very frustrating and completely disappointing.

  • Sue Day

    I too would like to use the aggrigator but the TOC covers so much of the screen that the project becomes unplayable. Can you aggrigate without the TOC bar?

  • http://www.seo-in-singapore.coms Seo in Singapore

    Hey having a hard time reading your site on my blackberry is there a reason for this? I love reading blogs on the boat but this prohibits me from it.

  • http://www.bitecp.com/ Integrated Agency Bite CP

    Only just seen this and have forwarded it straight in to the design team thanks :).

  • michael bian

    Thank you for this one..

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