30 May 2014

Captivate 8 - 'Responsive Project' mode overview

Even if you have worked with Captivate since version 4, starting a new 'Responsive Project' using the latest Adobe Captivate 8 may take some time to get your head (and mouse) around it.

'New Responsive Project' v.s normal 'Blank project'

For starters, you should be aware that after creating a new 'Responsive Project' CP8 presents slightly different environment and different options. For example the Responsive Project offers Mobile Palette and Position Properties.

Hardly a surprise, that CP8 is not backward compatible. You won't able to import styles from the previous versions. So, you have to start fresh.

You won't be able to 'convert' non-responsive file to responsive project -  even if you created them both using CP8. Also, opening earlier version files and 'Saving As' to version 8, won't let you to switch or convert to the responsive mode.

Remember:  'Responsive Project' mode is semi-independent; just like Video Demo is different from the Software Simulation project type. 

File>New Project>Responsive Project

CP8 creates a new responsive project based on the White theme. There are a few new themes included, but design wise there's not much difference from the previous CP versions. You can 'Save As' your previous versions in CP8 and export the theme. You can try to apply the theme to your brand new project, but you may find that many elements goes high-wire.

Themes drop-down menu in CP8
The first thing you will notice is the clever width and height dragable ruler interface offering PrimaryTablet and Mobile sizes.

Chose any Master Slide and start by clicking on PrimaryTablet and Mobile icons and observe  how various elements behave. You can also use Preview menu and see how it looks 'published' in the default browser.

So you would think that in the ideal world you  could design and position all your elements (text, images, shape and objects) on the Primary canvas, they should all automatically arrange and align properly on each smaller canvas...but only in the ideal world. I found that positioning and resizing shapes needs lot's of work and are more problematic than using images and canvas backgrounds.

The main point to remember that PrimaryTablet and Mobile screens may require extra editing. If an average module contains 25 slides it means that production wise you will be fine-tuning elements (text, images, shape and objects) in 75 slides.

You will also notice that Captivate 8 will not let you insert anything that is not HTML5 compatible; such as certain objects, shapes and interactions.

Normal v.s Responsive object drop-down
The major disappointment is that the Drag and Drop interaction is not available using Responsive mode. It is bizarre, as the Drag and Drop created in normal mode and published as HTML5, functions fine. With that in mind, Learning Interactions are available but are totally useless in lower resolutions - so in fact, all Learning Interactions are not responsive

Drag and Drop interaction is not available in Responsive mode (right)
Even more bizarre that you cannot draw lines in the Responsive mode, either. Sure, there's a quick fix using underscore text ( ___ )... If HTML5 allows canvas drawing, it is weird that such simple shape got excluded.

Lines are not available in the Responsive mode (right)

Object style manager

As mentioned earlier it is not possible to import styles created and exported using previous Captivate versions. Maybe this is because of the new text formatting features such as Break Points, but I may be wrong.
Captivate 8 Object Style Manager 
It is worth spending extra time getting the styles perfect and defining break points for all screen sizes.

Warning: be careful working with with the Object Style Manager for long periods of time  -  apply changes, close it and save the project frequently. Just like in CP7, changing, deleting and applying styles may crash CP without warning.

Captivate 8 Object Style Manager crash

New old Quiz

The biggest disappointment is that the Quiz elements. The Quiz hasn't been updated or improved at all. It is a nightmare to position the elements and with the introduction of two more  responsive screens, it is even more labour intensive.

Observations, Issues and bugs

Overall, Adobe followed the latest temporary 'flat' trend in redesigning the interface. Some menu items were moved around or grouped. CP8 is fast and responsive. After 4 days of heavy use I managed to crash it twice by previewing and applying various built-in themes and working with the Object Style Manager.

There's a slight delay when double-clicking the text box - CP8 hangs for a few seconds - showing the famous 'Not Responding' warning.

Installation Tip: once installed, make sure you set the Project Cache on your local drive (c:\). CP8 will prompt you to do so if the cache is pointing to the network folder.

Font rendering

I was hoping that CP8 may improve font rendering in flash... Alas, it's all the same... As the focus now is on HTML5, all Flash related issues and bugs will be less and less important.
Spot the difference... CP7 (top) and CP8 (bottom)

Tip: be aware, that if you have 1000's of fonts installed on the network drive - you  may have a potential crash disaster. To remedy this, remove the fonts you don't use!

Aligning and resizing

Aligning and resizing objects by entering % values somehow manages to look misaligned. For example a  smart shape rectangle, drawn and positioned on the Master slide (size: 85.7% x 98.4%/ | 13.6% top x 0.8% left) manages to look misaligned on a different slide when the exact same smart shape with exact values is placed on the top of it.


This is the major upgrade with many new features. Unfortunately, with many new features comes many new bugs as well. I hope the future updates will fix it. There are plenty of black holes in the software since version 6 and looks like Adobe is in no hurry to fix it.

3 March 2014

eLearning Captivate production calculations:

Some interesting eLearning Captivate production calculations based on experience: 

Requested project details: 
14 Training Simulations activities (approx. 25 slides each) 
1 Demo overview 6 minute activity with Audio 

People involved: 3 (Developer/Designer, ID and PM)
Technical writing: 5 days (scripts were partly written for face-to-face)
Learner Interface & Template Design: 2 days 
Development of 15 activities:  7 days
Implementing QA changes: 2 days
All up: 16 production days (130 hours) for 40 minutes of learning
+ GAP: (Client time in reviewing/QA/waiting) - 18 days