Adobe Captivate and Adobe Presenter: the best of both worlds [VIDEO]

I read many
discussions on Adobe Captivate vs. Adobe Presenter, or Captivate vs. a similar
Presenter tool and I’m always puzzled by this question because frankly it’s
like comparing apples and oranges.

 

Admittedly, there
are some overlaps between the two applications, like the fact that both
applications leverage PowerPoint slides for generating Flash-based eLearning, and both include a similar Quizzing
module, but other than that, they were developed to serve two different
purposes and each has its own strenghts.

 

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Perhaps a better question is how do I effectively use both products together?

 

Adobe Presenter was
designed to enable PowerPoint users to easily generate Flash-based eLearning courses, by adding voice-over to slides, and
syncing the audio to the slide animations. It also has features for importing
or capturing video using a webcam, as well as using the built-in Quizzes to include graded quizzes or surveys in your final project.

 

There are two things that stand out in Adobe Presenter in the way of strengths, when comparing it to Adobe Captivate, namely the sleek, user-friendly navigation user interface (UI) in the final project; and the way it natively works with PowerPoint files, this is because Adobe Presenter works right from within PowerPoint.

 

Click HERE to see a short Adobe Presenter presentation, where you can experience the sleek navigation UI I mentioned above. Along the way, when you get to slide 3, you’ll notice it is an embedded Adobe Captivate simulation, which plays perfectly inside the same interface.

 

Just to recap, if your requirement is to produce eLearning based mostly on lots of PowerPoint slides, hands down Adobe Presenter is the product you need.

 

However if you need to create software simulations where you need to record the screen, or need to develop branched scenarios for soft-skills training, which requires complex branching, then Adobe Captivate is exactly what you need to use.

 

So what if you need to develop eLearning that involves PowerPoint slides and you also need to supplement the project with software simulations or complex branched scenarios created in Adobe Captivate?

 

This is where the two applications can work closely together.

 

In this video (00:28:34) I share best practices for inserting Adobe Captivate  projects in Adobe Presenter. Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

 

 

 

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Improving Documentation through Search results

Last week, Colum McAndrew published a fascinating blog post on how Adobe RoboHelp Server Reports are helping his company improve Documentation by learning from what end-users are searching and then fine-tuning the documentation in Adobe RoboHelp accordingly.  

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Here’s an excerpt from his blog:

“In our case, users might get a little frustrated if they also have to remember whether a dialog has been coded using UK or US English in order to find what they need! Searches that returned no results (e.g. “Color” instead of “Colour” and “Catalogue” instead of “Catalog”) ably highlighted the need for greater consistency.”

I asked Colum to summarize his experience and here’s what he said:

Q: Colum, last week you wrote a compelling post on how the RoboHelp Server Reports are helping you improve your company’s Online Help, especially by looking at what users are Searching. Can you summarize your experience for us?

A: Sure. In February this year we completed a full documentation rewrite of one of our product suites. We invested heavily in additional Technical Communication Suite licences but also wanted to implement a RoboHelp Server solution to host all future product documentation.

Since February we have occasionally looked at the usage statistics gathered by the RoboHelp Server but never with future strategy in mind. Then out of the blue I was asked how the statistics had helped us improve our documentation and I realised we hadn’t an immediate answer. I went back for a closer look. Even with a little more than two months data, it became clear that there were areas we could work on and this is what I have tried to highlight in my blog. One of the main areas of interest that the RoboHelp Server implementation has highlighted is the need for greater consistency between the documentation and the application’s user interface, especially in areas like usage of US vs UK English.


 

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5 Benefits of authoring in FrameMaker when Single-Sourcing with RoboHelp

I’m often asked for advice on whether to start authoring in Adobe FrameMaker or directly in Adobe RoboHelp, or use both products for single sourcing.

Considering the tight integration between these two products in Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2, and the unique strengths both of these products have, I always recommend starting in Adobe FrameMaker and then linking the FrameMaker source files in Adobe RoboHelp for generating Online output.

Here are my top 5 reasons for why I make this recommendation:

  1. FrameMaker gives you the most pristine Print and PDF output

Whether you need to provide printed documentation to your customers, or at the very least include a printable version of your Help in PDF format, FrameMaker will give you the most pristine Print and PDF output. This is one reason it makes sense to author in FrameMaker first, publish to Print and/or PDF, and then link the source files in RoboHelp in order to generate other Online formats supported by RoboHelp, including AIRHelp.

Here’s more information on how you can Add Printability to Help in Adobe RoboHelp 8 using a PDF file

  1. FrameMaker 9 enables you to conduct Shared PDF Reviews and import the comments back into the FrameMaker source files

At some point in the future, RoboHelp might have a similar workflow, but for now, FrameMaker makes it extremely easy to conduct Shared PDF Reviews, where Reviewers only need the free PDF Reader to provide feedback and the aggregated feedback can then be imported back into the FrameMaker source files. This is another reasons to first start in FrameMaker, conduct your documentation review, and then link the source files in RoboHelp for online publishing.

For more information on this workflow, you can view the recording of a recent eSeminar I hosted on this very topic.

  1. With FrameMaker you can leverage the benefits of “Structured” Authoring

FrameMaker provides two main authoring environments in a single product, namely unstructured and structured authoring. The benefits of authoring in “structured” mode are many, including the ability to enforce authoring rules; a simple guided-authoring environment for authors; context-sensitive formatting; one template for multiple document types; real-time structure validation and more. This is another reasons to first start in FrameMaker, take advantage of a structured authoring workflow, and then link the source files in RoboHelp for online publishing.

To learn more about the benefits of Structured authoring in FrameMaker, you can view this recording.

  1. FrameMaker 9 users can leverage SDL’s AuthorAssistant at no cost

We have a partnership with SDL, where our Adobe FrameMaker 9 customers get AuthorAssistant at no cost. AuthorAssistant automates many of the quality-checking processes that normally require human resources, such as the use of consistent terminology, style and linguistic checks.

Click Here to learn more about how AuthorAssistant works with FrameMaker 9 and to download your copy.

  1. FrameMaker provides full DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) support

Finally, if you are migrating to the DITA standard and need a DITA-friendly authoring tool, there’s no better product than FrameMaker 9. FrameMaker has full support for DITA authoring, and generating Print and PDF is built-in, which means no manual coding or using XSL-FO is required for generating Print or PDF output.

To learn more about how to dynamically link FrameMaker files in RoboHelp using the Adobe Technical Communication Suite, I have posted two recordings on this topic HERE.

 

 

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Turning static Adobe Captivate slides into interactive Photoshop Layered files [VIDEO]

One of the reasons why we included Photoshop in the Adobe eLearning Suite and in the Adobe Technical Communication Suite, instead of Illustrator, is because of the tight integration it has with Adobe Captivate, namely the ability to natively import .PSD files and preserve all the layers.  

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With Photoshop for example, it’s really easy to edit a Captivate slide by removing unwanted areas, or moving pixels around and then bring the updated version back to Captivate. This is a fairly simple process.

However, what you may not know is that you can also use Photoshop to turn static Captivate slides into much more interactive “layered” slides.

In this video (00:22:46) I go over how to start with a static Adobe Captivate slide and then turn it into a much more engaging experience by converting various areas of the slide into Photoshop layers. I also show how to sync up audio to each imported layer using the Text-to-Speech feature. Hopefully this demo gives you ideas as to how you can use both applications together.

Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

 

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Embracing Social Media: Presentation Slides & Recordings

Today I delivered a presentation entitled “Embracing Social Media in Technical Communication” and while the link to the recording won’t be available until later, I do want to share the slides I used, in an Adobe Presenter format.  

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The presentation is self-paced, which means you can take as long as you want on each slide and then use the navigation bar to navigate to another slide. All the links to the resources are live and they launch a new window when clicked.

I have also attached a PDF version of the slides. To download a copy, click the paperclip icon, located at the bottom of the presentation.

Click the image below to launch the presentation in a new window.

Updated: The links to the recordings for part 1 and 2 are now available. Please use your Adobe ID and password to sign in.

How can Social Media create a super-role for Technical Communicators
(Part 1 of 2)
Presenters: David Farbey and Noz Urbina
How can Social Media create a super-role for Technical Communicators
(Part 2 of 2)
Presenters: Gordon McLean and RJ Jacquez
 

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Bring PDFs to Life with Adobe Presenter [VIDEO]

In a previous post, I blogged about how to embed an Adobe Captivate simulation in a PDF in order to supplement a static PDF and bring it to life using Rich Media.

Since then many people have asked if it’s possible to do the same using an Adobe Presenter project.

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The answer is yes, however the process is a bit more complicated because of the nature of an Adobe Presenter project. In other words, while Captivate publishes a single Flash file, Adobe Presenter publishes multiple files and thus the key to embedding a Presenter project is to consolidate all these files in Adobe Acrobat.

In case you are new to Adobe Presenter, here’s how we define it on adobe.com: “Adobe Presenter enables you to rapidly create high-impact Adobe Flash presentations and eLearning courses from PowerPoint.”

If you want to experience what is like to watch an Adobe Presenter presentation, I recently posted this how-to entitled Using the Acrobat.com plug-in for Outlook for Sharing Large files.

Enough said. In this short video (00:13:10), I go over the steps to properly embed an Adobe Presenter project in a PDF using Adobe Acrobat 9. Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

 

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Adding Printability to Help in Adobe RoboHelp 8

One frequently asked question I get is “how do I include a printable PDF in my Help system?

There are two new features in Adobe RoboHelp 8, which make this task particularly easy, namely: 1) Master Pages and 2) Apply Master Page to all Topics.

 

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Essentially, Master Pages in RoboHelp enable authors to design the overall look-and-feel of topics, for example what css to use, whether or not to include a miniTOC or breadcrumbs placeholders, and in this case, include a link to a PDF document.

To illustrate the steps, I have created a “try-it” Adobe Captivate simulation. Click the image below to launch the simulation in a new window. Oh, and happy Friday!

 

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The time for Rich Media in Technical Documentation is Now!

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a RoboHelp customer inquiring about AIRHelp. The customer wrote, “Our users want more from us…more interactive, rich documentation experiences.”  

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This seems to be a recurring theme in my conversations with our customers. It also emerged in the keynote address I attended at the WritersUA conference in Seattle last month. During that session, every member of the audience received a voting device. The moderators conducted a series of polls, and the audience cast votes with the device in response to each question.

Of all of the questions they asked, this one was the most compelling for me:

Which of the following would you most like to be able to offer to your customers?

The audience was given five choices. Here are the results:

  • Animations/simulations – 56%
  • Videos similar to YouTube – 19%
  • Line drawings and flowcharts – 12%
  • Cartoons – 8%
  • Audio – 5%

These results relay a strong message: Technical communicators see the value of rich media in documentation, and this is something to be optimistic about.

Another illustration of this growing trend is an interesting webinar presented by Larry Kunz entitled, “Why Your Information Isn’t Reaching Your Customers.” During this webinar, he makes a bold statement, “People don’t read any more.” He continues by saying, “We have to master new media, like video and interactive graphics.”

For a long time, I have advocated leveraging Web 2.0 technologies in technical communication to ensure the experiences we deliver meet the expectations of today’s most demanding customers. One of the easiest ways in which we can inject life into our technical documentation is through the use of rich media, such as software simulations, video tutorials and compelling images.

Finally, with the launch of Photoshop CS5 with features like the new content-aware fill, the ability to include rich media in technical documentation is getting easier, as users don’t have to know much about graphic design.

So, let me say it again: The time for rich media in technical documentation is now!

How are you leveraging rich media in your technical documentation? Please share your ideas with me by sending me a Tweet @rjacquez.  

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Contributing Editor:
Cheryl Landes

Cheryl Landes is a freelance technical, marketing, and travel writer based in Seattle.
She’s also an avid hiker and amateur photographer. View her LinkedIn profile at http://twt.tl/TF9NXvs

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Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5: Before & After

Like the rest of the Photoshop world, I can’t get enough of reading what people are saying about the new content-aware fill feature in Photoshop CS5.

I also can’t stop trying it on different images, so I decided to use this post as a place where I will showcase before and after images after applying the content-aware fill command.

 

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In case you missed it, yesterday I posted a video showing how this feature can be used in eLearning and Technical Documentation with Adobe Captivate and Adobe FrameMaker.


BEFORE: Image from NationalGeographic.com

AFTER


BEFORE: Image from NationalGeographic.com

AFTER


BEFORE: Image from NationalGeographic.com

AFTER


BEFORE: Image from NationalGeographic.com

AFTER


BEFORE: Image from NationalGeographic.com

AFTER


BEFORE:

AFTER:


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Content Aware fill in Photoshop CS5 for eLearning and Technical Documents

In every new software release, there’s always that one feature that is Jaw-Dropping and everyone talks about. I think it’s safe to say that Content-Aware Fill is that feature in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  

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The new Content-Aware Fill enables you to easily remove unwanted areas from an image, by filling in the space left behind using surrounding pixels, it even matches lighting, tone and noise.

The real beauty in all of this is that you don’t have to know a whole lot about Photoshop or graphic design to be able to use it. Simply make a selection, press Shift+Delete and voila.

Having said that, I have recorded two short demonstrations on how I see this feature being used for eLearning and Technical Documentation projects.

I hope you like the new Content-Aware feature and if you think of ways in which you’ll use this feature in your own projects, please share with me sending me a Tweet @rjacquez.

Click the image below to launch the video in a new window.

 

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