Adobe Captivate 4- The final countdown

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.

38 Responses to Adobe Captivate 4- The final countdown

  1. Rich says:

    Any chance Adobe will release a Mac version of Captivate? It doesn’t seem to make much sense that Adobe would build such an awesome multimedia tool and not make it available to us on the Mac….

    Thanks for your continued insight,

    Rich

  2. Jerry Huyghe says:

    Will Captivate accept ActionScript 3.0 Animations? Will it be possible to communicate with AVM1 swf files?

    Jerry Huyghe
    http://www.hotdigital.net

  3. preran says:

    Jerry: AS3 animations are supported as are AVM1 SWF files.

    Rich: Thank you for appreciating the product. Will get back on your question soon.

  4. Cullyvan says:

    Any idea when it will be commercially available? And what the upgrade cost will be?

  5. preran says:

    Cullyvan: Unfortunately, this is confidential information, and I have no clue about the pricing. About the release date, suffice to say that you do not have to wait too long.

    Rich, Mark: From the info I gathered, Adobe is fully aware of the request for Captivate on Mac and the company is seriously pursuing this idea. That is all that I can say for the moment.

  6. Paul J says:

    I really hope the ‘widgets’ work well. I’ve seen the pie chart widget and its very flat (was hoping for an animated pie chart). If Captivate can create some soft-skills type interactions like Articulate does it’ll be superb.

  7. Vangelis says:

    Can you handle the results within the quiz so for example change an image in results page (smile graphic for success and ungry with fail) foe example….

  8. Barbara says:

    What file format options are there for output of the final product? Are there compression options?

  9. preran says:

    Paul: The widgets provided with the product are mostly a teaser about the possibilities of the feature. I think what will happen with this feature is that a lot of developers will share their widgets on the Adobe Exchange website. The product will definitely ship with some.

  10. preran says:

    vangelis: We can now use variables within Adobe Captivate to do the kind of things you talk about. Have not done it but think it should be definitely possible.

    Barbara: With this release, there are more, and I am guessing, better compression options available.

  11. Pieter says:

    Rather than expiring a project based on a date, will the new version include an option to expire a project based on a number of run times or plays?

  12. preran says:

    Pieter: I am afraid there is no such option. Will definitely pass this on as a feature request.

  13. Phil says:

    Thanks for info. Will Cp4 link into Flash CS4 seamlessly? Cp3 to Fl3 was never stable. Also, will there be the ability to create a truly single SWF output instead of multiples and skins? Thanks.

  14. Mark says:

    Will Captivate 4 be able to easily publish directly to a flash (.flv) file? Also, it would be great if all my flash animations and video that I insert into the project could all get published in a single .flv file. Thanks!

  15. preran says:

    Phil, Mark: Much as I would like to answer those questions, I would rather that you wait for the product, and see whether your questions are answered. I need to test some of what you have asked myself, and I will post the answer the moment i have the go ahead from marcomm to do so.

  16. Chuck says:

    Will Captivate 4, please please use relative links to open local files?

  17. Kathy says:

    Will Captivate provide a means to convert the flash file to an MP4 or another file for portable players?

  18. Molly says:

    Please consider exporting quiz scores to excel or access with learner ID feature (learner can enter name).

  19. Molly says:

    One more request: pixilation in image editing.

  20. Leslie says:

    We really need Captivate 4 to output in other formats besides .swf. Unfortunately our campus does not have a server that they will allow flash videos. The only thing I can load is windows media, avi, etc. I’d purchased the “SoThink” software that one of your Adobe help pages suggests but that is tons and tons of work to get it into a single .swf file because it’s necessary to remove all full action video and create “empty” slides, then put the content from that .swf published slide back into the empty slide, etc. etc…. The entire problem we have would be solved if an array of other output options were made possible in Captivate 4…. PLEASE put this in the 4 upgrade!

  21. Mike says:

    Please, Please, Please allow us to export quiz scoring information to csv, Excel or Access.
    It would increase the value of this program exponentially!

  22. eLearningDeveloper says:

    Where is the best place to find information about creating widgets?

  23. preran says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I have passed your requests to the product team, and will get back with the answers as soon as I get them.

    As for the widgets thing, isn’t it a tad early to be asking for documentation? The product is not yet shipped, remember! Hang in there.

  24. Dan Linstedt says:

    I use captivate to manage professional recording. I’d like to see the following:
    * Captivate importing MP3 audio, LEAVE THE AUDIO ALONE – don’t automatically expand it to WAV, then re-compress at publish time. this is horrendous waste of time
    * Captivate single-background, create a background in powerpoint, bring it in as an asset – then re-use it in multiple frames (every slide). Shrinking the size of the SWF.
    * Allow animations to be imported as separate animations from PPT.
    * Import PPTX formats (2007)
    * Provide an “apply” button to publishing settings, so that I can SAVE them without physically publishing.
    * Allow “publish each slide as a SWF” option, then have the automatic code playback and play bars load it
    * Provide a “SWF Obfuscator” built in to protect the SWF code from reverse engineering
    * provide basic access to the action script of the playbar, and the movie without having to use FLASH to get there.
    * provide more editable objects and control over basic animation (like powerpoint) for simple text objects.
    * Allow multiple projects to be open at the same time, so cut/copy/paste is easier.
    * fix the RESIZE HEIGHT problem (when increasing the pixel height, then tabbing out, it resets the height)
    * Allow import of EACH slide to be set for “image” or “animation” – don’t make this an import wide option.

    Hope this helps,
    Dan Linstedt

  25. preran says:

    Dan, thank you! I have passed your requests to the product team. Some of the features are already there in Adobe Captivate 4. The rest, we will surely look into.

  26. Paul says:

    Ditto on the Mac version. Need to know a release date for the Mac. Otherwise have to load ugghh windows on my mac

  27. Leah says:

    Any chance I will be able to add multiple audio files to a single slide? For example, background music and narration playing at the same time but not necessarily recorded together.

  28. Accountant says:

    Can we produce the file in avi formate in this version?
    In earlier versions, there was a problem in emailing quiz resulsts, has this problem resolved?

  29. preran says:

    Paul: I have no definite answer for your question. I wish I did though.

    Leah: You can have a background file and an audio fiel for a given slide. You cannot have multiple files playing on a single slide.

    Accountant: You can definitely produce files in the AVI format in CP4. If you can let me know the problem you faced while emailing quiz files, I could help you.

  30. Kathy O'Neill says:

    looking for a MAC version of Captivate

  31. Jessica says:

    I created a file in Adobe Captivate 4, but I need to save it as a Captivate 3 version. There is no ‘Save As’ Captivate 3 version in 4. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  32. preran says:

    Jessica: Maybe you could try asking the experts at the Adobe Dev Center

    http://www.adobe.com/devnet/captivate/

  33. Adriana says:

    Could really use this program, but I’m a on a Mac PowerPC and can’t install it, since I don’t have a PC. Any hope for the Mac users?

  34. Adriana says:

    Could really use this program, but I’m a on a Mac PowerPC and can’t install it, since I don’t have a PC. Any hope for the Mac users?

  35. Using a USB logitech headphone and micrphone set to narrate slides in captivate 4. The slides sound fine after recording but after publishing or previewing the slides the sound is slightly distorted (drainpipe effect) and different from left to right. Does anyone have a suggested fix for this. We are developing online curriulum and this is causing some anxiety.

  36. Using a USB logitech headphone and micrphone set to narrate slides in captivate 4. The slides sound fine after recording but after publishing or previewing the slides the sound is slightly distorted (drainpipe effect) and different from left to right. Does anyone have a suggested fix for this. We are developing online curriulum and this is causing some anxiety.

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