This is the almost official talk on Adobe Captivate 4. For the past few months, I have been busy documenting the new features for this release, re-hauling the previous content, and generally trying to assuage all those people who have been wanting better content in the Help. When the product is out, I am hoping that most of those complaints about content will be addressed. If not, you can always tell me areas that need improvement. And with our new help system, you will not have to wait for the next release to see your comments addressed. The actual time might vary depending on the severity of the complaint, but I am hoping that I will get the corrections updated in a month’s time at the latest.
I have been using the product for creating the Getting Started Tutorials, and am pretty much aware of the ecstasies and agonies that users could face when using Adobe Captivate 4. There are workarounds I have devised for myself as I am sure most of you will eventually, but if there is further help you need, feel free to ask. The development team is a few seconds walk from where I sit. And they are more than willing to lend an ear to our problems.
So much about the help. Getting down to Adobe Captivate 4, am I excited enough about the product to sell it to all of you? You bet! And that is not because I work for the company that makes it or that I earn a living writing for it. Adobe Captivate has some really really cool features that most of us have been waiting for. In its latest avatar, Adobe Captivate gets more self-sufficient and more independent. It does things that we always wanted it to do, and some more. In my blog, I will speak of things I am excited about, and I will leave it to you to come up with the not-so-thrilling ones. Some of them I already know but surprise me nevertheless.
Till the product is officially released, I might not be able to answer probing questions, but the day I get the signal, I can tell you almost anything, including the behind-the-scenes mania that went into this release.
Let me list down my favorite features in no particular order:
Better recording features: The recording interface not only looks better, it is also more intuitive, and gets you going in no time. In addition to all that recording offered before, you now have options for panning. When recording large screens, I cannot tell you enough about how much of a blessing this can be. Do go through the getting started tutorial and the help before you record. Like most beautiful things in life, not all the promised pleasures are immediately apparent.
Project templates: Create a project template by inserting placeholders for various types of objects and slides. Set preferences for the project and its skin and save the project as a template. Users creating a project can insert the required objects into the placeholders. In a collaborative environment where the designers work separately from people creating content, designers use templates to ensure consistency across projects. Content developers do not have to worry about the workflow of the project, the various standards involved, or creating a layout. All they have to do is follow instructions in the template and fill the required content into the relevant placeholders.
Commenting: You can now send Adobe Captivate projects for review much like in Adobe Acrobat. When the file to be reviewed is posted on a shared location, comments posted by reviewers are visible to all reviewers that are part of the review. The comment file can be opened in an application based on Adobe AIR.
Reviewers do not need to have Adobe Captivate installed to review the file. Reviewers without access to the shared network can export their comments to an XML file using the application. When the author imports the XML file, comments are displayed at the exact location where the reviewer added them.
Customizable widget: Create more compelling learning experiences by including widgets such as games, question types, and more. Widgets can be created in Adobe Flash Professional software, easily shared via Adobe Exchange, and customized to meet your content needs.
Enhanced PowerPoint workflow: Edit PowerPoint files directly within Adobe Captivate. The PowerPoint file can be referenced by the project, or embedded into it. Most of the PowerPoint features are retained after import.
Table of content and aggregator: Create a table of contents instantly and save it along with the skin as a theme. The table of contents helps users navigate easily through the project and track their progress. You can use the aggregator to combine multiple SWFs and SCOs. The SCO file can be directly published as a zip file and uploaded to an LMS.
Variables and Advanced Actions: Use variables to provide a customized learning environment using user-provided data. Advanced actions help you define action or a sequence of actions after the user completes entering the data.
In-line editing: At last, the answer to our prayers! You can edit text captions inline. The editing toolbar breaks itself free from the properties dialog box, and parades itself in full splendor on the toolbar. I always had a problem with superscripts in Adobe Captivate till a developer whispered the secret into my ears. The Ctrl+Shift+ “+” it is, he said in hushed tones without adding any disclaimers. And now that I have spread the word, or rather, the shortcut key, I am hoping not to be sued too much.
Drawing: The drawing toolbar helps you create some basic shapes in Adobe Captivate. You will not have to open a high-end graphic software application to create ordinary graphics.
For more on Adobe Captivate 4 features, keep coming to this blog. You will not be dissapointed.