Mastering Adobe Captivate 6

By Damien Bruyndonckx
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  1. Getting Started with Captivate

About this book

Adobe Captivate is the industry-leading solution for authoring E-learning content. With adobe Captivate one can capture the on-screen action, enhance e-Learning projects, insert SCORM and AICC-compliant quizzes and then, publish your work in various formats for easy deployment on virtually any desktop and mobile device.

Mastering Adobe Captivate 6 is a comprehensive guide to creating SCORM-compliant demonstrations, simulations and quizzes with Adobe Captivate. The sample projects demonstrate each and every feature of Adobe Captivate giving you the expertise you need to create and deploy your own professionalquality e-learning courses.

Mastering Adobe Captivate 6 will guide you through the creation of three e-learning projects including a demonstration, a simulation and a SCORM-compliant quiz. The first part of the book will drive you through the main three steps of the Captivate production process. In the first step, we will use the powerful capture engine of Captivate to generate the needed slides and screenshots. In the second step, we will enhance our slides and screenshots using the objects provided by Captivate. These objects include animations, interactions, videos and more. In the third step, we will make our project available to the outside world by publishing it in various formats including Adobe Flash PDF, video, and even HTML 5. The second part of the book will focus on the advanced tools of Captivate. These tools include the questions slides that make up a quiz, SCORM and AICC compliance, localization of your e-Learning content and widgets among others. In the last chapter, you we will unleash the true power of Captivate by using the variables and the advanced actions to create a unique e-Learning experience.

Publication date:
August 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
476
ISBN
9781849692441

 

Chapter 1. Getting Started with Captivate

Since its introduction in 2004, Captivate has always been the industry-leading solution for authoring eLearning content. At the beginning, it was a very simple screen-capture utility named FlashCam. In 2002, a company named eHelp acquired FlashCam and turned it into an eLearning authoring tool named Robodemo. In 2004, another company called Macromedia acquired eHelp and changed the name of the product one last time. Macromedia Captivate was born. A few months later, Adobe acquired Macromedia and, consequently, Macromedia Captivate became Adobe Captivate.

As the years passed, Adobe released Captivate 2, Captivate 3 and Captivate 4, adding tools, objects, and features along the way. One of the most significant events in the Captivate history took place in July 2010, when Adobe released Captivate 5. For the release of Captivate 5, Adobe engineers have rewritten the code of the entire application from the ground up. As a result, Captivate 5 was the first version to be available on both Mac OS and Windows. Captivate 5 was also equipped with a brand new user interface, similar to the interface of other Adobe Applications, not to mention an impressive array of new and enhanced tools.

As of today, the latest version of Captivate is version 6. Captivate 6 comes with a new improved quiz engine that supports partial scoring and pretests, HTML5 publishing, advanced interactions, new Smart Shapes, a new video capture mode, and tons of other (not so) small enhancements. With all this power sitting one click away, it is easy to overcharge our projects with lots of complicated sound and visual effects, lots of sophisticated interactions that can ultimately drive the user away from the primary objective of every Captivate Project: teaching.

While working with Captivate, one should never forget that Captivate is an eLearning tool. At the most basic level, it simply means that you, the developer of the Project, and your audience are united by a very special kind of relationship: a student to teacher relationship. Therefore, from now on, and for the rest of the book, you, the reader of these pages, will not be called "the developer" or "the programmer", but the teacher, and the ones who will view your finished applications will not be the "users" or "the visitors", but will be called the learners or the students. You will see that it changes everything.

In this chapter, we will:

  • Discuss the different editions of Captivate

  • Discuss the general steps of the Captivate production process

  • Tour the Captivate interface

  • Work with panels and workspaces

  • View the finished sample applications

 

The three editions of Captivate


There are three ways to obtain Captivate. Depending on the way you choose to obtain the application, you will not have exactly the same set of features available, so it is important to mention this point right from the start.

Captivate as a standalone product. This is the basic way of obtaining the software. You get all the core features of Captivate and you can start working on your eLearning content right away. This book has been designed to work with the standalone edition of Captivate.

Note

See the Captivate page on the Adobe website at http://www.adobe.com/ap/products/captivate.html.

You can download and use the standalone version of Captivate free of charge for 30 days. It should be more than enough to go through the exercises of this book. Be aware though, that once the trial expires, you will not have access to Captivate anymore unless you convert your trial version to a licensed one.

Note

Download your Captivate 30 days trial at http://www.adobe.com/downloads/.

Captivate in the eLearning Suite. You probably know Adobe Creative Suite, but do you know the eLearning Suite? Adobe eLearning Suite is a bundle of applications specially designed for authoring and publishing eLearning content. It includes some of the most popular Adobe applications (like Flash Professional, Photoshop and Dreamweaver) plus, of course, Adobe Captivate. When you get Captivate as part of the eLearning Suite, you'll have extra tools available. Those extra features enable workflows between the applications of the eLearning Suite. Some of these features will be mentioned in this book, but none of them are required to go through the exercises.

As of this writing, Adobe eLearning Suite 6 is the current version.

Note

For more info on the eLearning Suite, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/elearningsuite.html.

Captivate in the Technical Communication Suite. The Technical Communication Suite (TCS) is yet another bundle of applications from Adobe. This one is designed to create technical content such as help files and user guides. The Technical Communication Suite includes applications such as Adobe RoboHelp, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Acrobat Professional and, of course, Adobe Captivate.

Note

For more info on the Technical Communication Suite, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/technicalcommunicationsuite.html.

 

The Captivate production process at a glance


Producing content with Captivate is three steps process, or to be exact, four steps process, but only three of these steps take place in Captivate. That's why I like to refer to the first step as Step zero!

Step zero: The pre-production phase. This is the only step of the process that does not involve working with the Captivate application. Depending on the project you are planning, it can last from a few minutes to a few months. Step zero is probably the most important one of the entire process as it is where you actually create the scenarios and the storyboards of your teaching project. This is where you develop the pedagogical approach that will drive the entire project. What will you teach the students? In what order will you introduce the topics? How and when will you assess the students' knowledge? and so on. These are some very important questions that need to be answered before you open Captivate for the first time and start building your project. Step zero is where the teacher's skills will fully express themselves.

Note

Blog post - Scenario-based training

Make sure you read these series of posts on the official Adobe Captivate Blog. Dr Pooja Jaisingh shares her experience in creating scenario-based training. These posts clearly stress the importance of "Step zero" and give you a first high-level approach of the Captivate production process. The first post of the series can be found at http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/2012/03/my-experience-with-creating-a-scenario-based-course-part-1.html.

Step one: Capturing the slides. When you know exactly where and how you will lead your students, it is time to open Captivate. During this first phase, you will use one of the most popular Captivate features: the ability to record any action you perform onscreen. You will simply use your mouse to perform actions on your computer. Behind the scenes, Captivate will be watching and will record any action you do using a sophisticated screen capture engine based on screenshots. This first step can be compared to shooting a movie. The goal is to acquire the required images, actions, and sequences. In the movie industry, the raw material that comes out of the shooting is called the rushes. It is not uncommon for a movie director to discard lots of rushes along the way, so that only the very best sequences are part of the final release.

Step two: The editing phase. This phase is the most time-consuming phase of the process. This is where your project will slowly take shape. In this step, you will arrange the final sequence of actions, record narration, add objects to the slides (such as Text Captions, Buttons, and many more), arrange those objects in the Timeline, add title and ending slides, program the advanced interactions, and so on. At the end of this phase, the project should be ready for publication.

Step three: The publishing phase. This is where you will make your project available to the learners, and this is where Captivate really is awesome! Captivate lets you publish your project in the popular Adobe Flash format. This is great since it makes the deployment of our eLearning courses very easy: only the Flash player is needed. The very same Flash player that is used to read Flash-enabled websites or YouTube videos is enough to read our published Captivate projects.

Captivate can also publish our project as standalone applications (.exe on Windows and .app on Macintosh) or as a video file that can be easily uploaded to YouTube and viewed on a Tablet or Smartphone.

One of the most significant new features of Captivate 6 is the ability to publish our projects in HTML5. By publishing in HTML5 format, the Flash player plugin is not required anymore to play our content. Thanks to this new technology, our students are able to take our courses not only using their desktop computers, but also their tablets (including the iPad), their smartphones, or any other internet-enabled device. The door is open for the next revolution of our industry: Mobile Learning (or mLearning).

Note

Blog post

Make sure you read this wonderful blog post by Allen Partridge: The How & Why of iPads, HTML5, & Mobile Devices in eLearning, Training & Education at http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/2011/11/the-how-why-of-ipads-html5-mobile-devices-in-elearning-training-education.html. Another interesting read is a blog post by former Adobe Evangelist RJ Jacquez where RJ claims that the m of mLearning means More at http://rjacquez.com/the-m-in-mlearning-means-more/.

 

Touring the Captivate interface


In this book, we shall cover the three steps of the process requiring the use of Captivate. You will discover that Captivate has specific tools to handle each of these three steps. Actually, each step requires so many options, tools, and features that Captivate has a very large number of icons, panels, dialog boxes, and controls available. When developing Captivate, Adobe's designers were, therefore, confronted by a very significant issue: how to display all those tools, features, boxes, and controls on a single computer screen?

To address the issue, the designers at Adobe decided the following:

  • Depending on the production step you are working on, you do not need the same set of tools at all times.

  • Some tools relevant for a given project are useless in another project.

  • Each teacher has different working habits, so each teacher should be able to display the tools of Captivate as he/she sees fit.

  • While some Captivate users have large screens, others have a much smaller display area available.

These simple considerations helped the Captivate design team create a very flexible user interface.

If you already use other Adobe Applications, you'll be on known ground as the Captivate 6 user interface works the same way as the user interface of the most popular Adobe Applications.

A first look at the Captivate interface

When you open the application for the first time, you'll get a default set of tools available. Let's check it out using the following steps:

  1. 1. Open Captivate.

  2. 2. On the left-hand side of the Welcome screen, click the open icon.

  3. 3. Open the final/drivingInBe.cptx file situated in the exercises folder that you have downloaded from the Internet.

  4. 4. Your screen should look like the following screenshot:

    The Captivate user interface is composed of panels laid out around the stage (1). The stage is the main area of the screen. It is where we lay out the objects that make up each slide of the project.

    At the very top of the screen is the menu bar (2). The menu bar gives us access to every single feature of Captivate.

    Right below the menu bar, is the Main Options toolbar (3). Each icon of the Main Options toolbar is a shortcut to a feature that also exists in the menu bar.

    A special toolbar spans across the left-hand side of the screen from the top down. It is the Object toolbar (4). The Objects toolbar lets you insert new objects on your Captivate slides. This is one of the most important toolbars of Captivate and one that we will use a lot during the course of this book.

    The next panel is called the Filmstrip (5). It shows the sequence of slides that makes up your Captivate project. The primary use of the Filmstrip is to enable navigation between the slides of the project, but the Filmstrip can also be used to perform basic operations on the slides such as reordering slides or deleting slides.

    At the bottom of the screen is another important panel: the Timeline (6). As its name implies, this panel will be used to arrange the objects of the slide in time. This panel is also used to set up the stacking order of the objects.

    The right-hand side of the screen shows a group of four panels. The one that is shown by default is the Properties panel (7), while the Library panel, the Quiz Properties panel, and the Project Info panel are hidden. The Properties panel is a dynamic panel. It means that its content depends on the currently selected item.

    Such a set of panels is known as a workspace. Depending on the project you are working on, the size of your computer screen, your working habits, and so on, this basic workspace might not be exactly the one you need. The name of the workspace in use is displayed at the top right corner of the screen. Currently, the Classic workspace is the one in use.

  5. 5. Click on the word Classic in the top right corner of the screen to reveal a list of available workspaces.

  6. 6. In the workspace switcher, choose the Quizzing workspace, as shown in the following screenshot:

    When done, take a close look at the screen. The set of available panels is not exactly the same as before. First of all, the Filmstrip is displayed at the bottom of the screen, where the Timeline used to be. The Timeline panel is still there, but hidden by default, while two new panels (Master Slide and Question Pool) are shown between the Filmstrip and the Timeline panels. The left-hand side of the screen has also changed. Right where the Filmstrip used to be, a big empty panel called Quiz Properties is now displayed.

    This example clearly shows what a workspace is: a set of panels arranged in a specific layout. While the Classic workspace we explored earlier was perfect to perform some basic tasks, the Quizzing workspace currently in use is perfect when developing a Captivate quiz.

  7. 7. At the bottom of the screen, click on the Question Pool tab to open the Question Pool panel.

  8. 8. The Question Pool panel displays four question slides. Click on each question slide one by one while taking a look at the Quiz Properties panel on the left-hand side of the screen.

    As you go through each of the question slides listed in the Question Pool panel, the Quiz Properties panel displays the properties relevant to the currently selected question slide. Notice at the very top of the quiz properties panel, the type of the active question slide (True/False, Sequence, hot spot, and so on), as shown in the following screenshot:

    This tells us that the Quiz Properties panel of Captivate is a dynamic panel. It works like the Properties panel we discussed earlier. It means that it displays information relevant to the current selection. Consequently, as the selection changes, the content of the panel changes as well.

  9. 9. Reopen to the Workspace switcher at the top right corner of the screen.

  10. 10. In the list of available workspaces, choose Navigation.

    The Navigation workspace is applied, and again the panels are rearranged. This time, the Branching panel pops up and covers most of the available screen area. The Branching panel is known as a floating panel because it floats freely on the screen and is not attached (docked) anywhere.

    Branching is an important concept in Captivate. When we ask the student to perform an action, he/she might do either the right or the wrong action. Captivate allows the teacher to set up two different reactions when the right or wrong answers are performed so that the student experiences the Captivate application differently (in other words, takes different branches) based on his/her actions and answers. The branching view offers a visual representation of this concept.

  11. 11. At the top right corner of the screen, reopen to the workspace switcher.

  12. 12. Choose the Classic workspace to reapply the original default workspace.

These little experiments tell us some important things about the Captivate interface. Before moving on, let's summarize what we have learned so far:

  • The Captivate interface is composed of panels laid out around the main editing area called the stage.

  • A workspace shows a selection of panels in a specific arrangement. No workspace shows every available panel, so there are always tools that are not shown on the screen.

  • Captivate ships with different workspaces. These workspaces are available in the workspace switcher at the top right corner of the screen.

  • When we open Captivate the workspace applied is the last workspace used. When the Captivate application is executed for the first time, the Classic workspace is applied by default.

We have rapidly inspected three of the workspaces available in Captivate. Before moving on to the next topic, feel free to inspect the remaining workspaces. You will uncover some more panels along the way. Just make sure you reapply the Classic workspace when you are done.

Working with panels

Captivate has a very flexible interface. You can move the panels around, open more panels, or close the ones you don't need. You can enlarge and reduce the panels or even turn them into icons to gain some space on your screen. Perform the following steps to reduce/enlarge the panels:

  1. 1. Double-click on the Filmstrip tab at the top of the Filmstrip panel. This collapses the Filmstrip panel.

  2. 2. Double-click on the Filmstrip tab again to expand the panel, as shown in the following screenshot:

  3. 3. Do the same experiment with the other panels of the screen including the Timeline (at the bottom) and the Properties panel (on the right-hand side).

  4. 4. When you are done, reset the Classic workspace to its original state by going into the Window | Workspace | Reset 'Classic' menu.

As you can see, collapsing and expanding the panels is very simple and is the first tool at our disposal to customize the Captivate interface. The second tool we will discuss is the very small double arrow icon that is displayed on top of every panel or groups of panels. For the Properties/Library/Quiz Properties/Project Info panel group, this very small icon is located at the far right-hand side of the interface, as shown in the following screenshot:

Perform the following steps to expand/collapse the panels:

  1. 1. Click on this very small double arrow to reduce the Properties/Library/Quiz Properties/Project Info panel group to a set of four icons.

  2. 2. Click on the Properties icon to reveal the Properties panel. Click on the same icon again to hide the Properties panel.

  3. 3. Reveal and hide the Library, Quiz Properties, and Project Info panels by clicking on their respective icons.

  4. 4. Click on the double arrow to toggle the panel group back to its original state.

    If you have a small screen, you probably want the stage to cover most of the available area. Reducing the panels to icons is a very simple and effective way to gain space on your computer screen, so this very little double arrow might be a great tool for you!

    Notice that such double arrows are also available at the top of the Objects toolbar. Clicking on that one puts the icons of the Objects toolbar in two columns while a second click on the same icon toggles the Objects toolbar back to a single column display.

    Another possible customization is to enlarge/reduce the panels present on the screen. This is particularly interesting when working with the Filmstrip. Perform the following steps to reduce/enlarge the Filmstrip panel:

  5. 5. Place your mouse above the vertical line that separates the Filmstrip from the stage until the mouse pointer turns to a double arrow.

  6. 6. Click-and-drag the vertical separator to the right until the Filmstrip covers more or less half of the screen.

The Filmstrip now displays (more or less) all the slides of your Captivate project in columns, as shown in the following screenshot:

This layout is very practical if you have to work with a large number of slides as it helps you see the "big picture" more efficiently. This view of the Filmstrip can be compared to the Slide sorter view of Microsoft PowerPoint.

Of course, the other areas of the screen can be resized the same way. Take the Timeline for instance. Resizing Timeline might be very interesting if you have a large number of objects on a given slide using the following steps:

  1. 1. Open the Window menu and click on the Workspace | Reset 'Classic' command. This resets the current workspace to its default state.

  2. 2. In Filmstrip, select slide 15. It should appear on the stage.

    Slide 15 contains a large number of objects. If you take a look at Timeline, you'll notice that it is not high enough to display every object of the slide and that a vertical scrollbar appears on the right-hand side of the Timeline panel. In order to have a clearer view on the objects that compose this slide and of their timing, we will now enlarge the Timeline panel.

  3. 3. Place your mouse above the horizontal separator that spans between the Timeline panel and the stage until the mouse pointer turns into a double arrow.

  4. 4. Click-and-drag the horizontal separator towards the top of the screen until the Timeline is high enough to display all the objects of the slide, that is, when there is no more vertical scroll bar in the Timeline panel.

The Timeline panel now displays every object present on the slide and we have a much clearer view of the stack of objects present on slide 15.

Adding and removing panels

So far, the panels that we have manipulated were already displayed in the Classic workspace. But what if we need to access tools situated in panels not present in the Classic workspace? How can we add more panels to the interface and how can those panels be arranged to fit our needs?

The Window menu holds the answer. If you open it, you'll see a list of all the panels that exist in Captivate. When a checkmark is displayed in front of a panel name, it means that the corresponding panel is currently displayed on the screen, as shown in the following screenshot:

Perform the following steps to add the Slide Notes panel:

  1. 1. Open the Window menu.

  2. 2. Click on the Slide Notes to add the Slide Notes panel to the workspace. It should appear at the bottom of the interface right next to Timeline.

    It is the first time we see this panel. This illustrates the fact that some panels are simply hidden from the default workspace unless you explicitly ask Captivate to display them. If you are looking for a tool that you cannot find on the screen, there is a good chance that the tool you are looking for is available in a panel that is currently hidden. In such a case, simply open the Window menu and select the panel you want to see.

    Of course, the same is true when you want to hide a panel.

  3. 3. Open the Window menu again.

  4. 4. Click on the Filmstrip menu item to hide Filmstrip from the screen.

    The Filmstrip panel is now completely gone. To reopen it, the only solution is to go back to the Window menu and select the Filmstrip entry back on.

    Another way to close a panel (or even an entire panel group) is to use the small menu associated with every group of panels.

  5. 5. Click on the small icon associated with the Properties/Library/Quiz Properties/Project Info panel group.

  6. 6. Choose Close Group from the available options.

    This operation removes the whole group (four panels) from the interface. The following screenshot shows how to close a group:

  7. 7. Go in the Window | Properties menu item to turn the Properties panel back on.

Notice that this operation restores the entire panel group (four panels) back on.

Moving panels around

The last thing we will discuss about the panels is how you can move them around. The Slide Notes panel is currently displayed at the bottom of the slide. It is its default-predefined location. Perform the following steps to move the Slide Notes panels:

  1. 1. Place your mouse on the Slide Notes tab at the top of the Slide Notes panel.

  2. 2. Click-and-drag the Slide Notes panel away from its current location.

  3. 3. Release the mouse when the panel floats in the middle of the screen.

    Your screen should look like the following screenshot:

    Unlike the other panels that are docked, the Slide Notes panel now floats in the middle of the screen. This is known as a floating panel. Captivate allows the panels to be either docked or floating.

  4. 4. Place your mouse on the Slide Notes tab again.

  5. 5. Click-and-drag the Slide Notes panel toward the left-hand side of the screen until you see a blue line spanning across the entire height of the window.

  6. 6. When the blue line shows, release the mouse.

  7. 7. The Slide Notes panel should now be docked to the left-hand side of the screen, where the Filmstrip used to be.

    As you can see, docking a panel is very easy. Feel free to move other panels around before going forward to the next topic. For example, take the Properties panel at the right-hand side of the screen and make it float. Then, try to dock it at the bottom of the screen before moving it back to its original location. When a panel is moved above a possible docking location, a blue bar appears on the screen. Releasing the mouse at that moment docks the panel at the location highlighted by the blue bar.

  8. 8. When you are done, reset the Classic workspace to its original state using the Window | Workspace | Reset 'Classic' command.

This concludes our exploration of the Captivate panels. Let's make a quick summary of what has been covered in this topic:

  • Double-click on a panel tab to open, expand, or collapse it.

  • Use the very small double arrow icon to turn a panel or a set of panels into icons. This saves a lot of space on the screen and is especially useful if you have a small screen.

  • The Window menu shows a list of all the available panels. Use it to display a panel that is not present on the screen, or to completely remove a panel from the interface.

  • The panels can be either docked or floating.

  • To dock a panel, move the panel around with the mouse and release the mouse button when a blue line shows.

  • If your screen becomes messy, use the Window | Workspace | Reset 'XXX' menu item to put the current workspace back to its original state.

Creating a custom workspace

By hiding and showing panels on the interface and by moving them around the screen to lay them out as you see fit, you actually create new workspaces. Captivate allows you to save these new workspaces. So when you come up with a workspace you like, save it, give it a name and you will be able to reapply it later on.

Make sure you have reset the Classic workspace to its original state before doing this exercise:

  1. 1. Open the Window menu and click on Slide Notes to display the Slide Notes panel. It should appear at the bottom of the screen, right next to the Timeline.

  2. 2. Click on the Timeline tab to make it the active panel of the bottom panel group.

  3. 3. Double-click on the same Timeline tab to collapse the Timeline panel.

  4. 4. Click on the very little double arrow associated with the Properties panel. This will turn the Properties, Library, Quiz Properties and Project Info panels to icons.

  5. 5. In the Window Menu, click on Align. This will add the Align toolbar at the top of the screen.

When done, your screen should look like the following screenshot:

Let's pretend that this new panel layout is something we are very happy with. In such a case, we can save it as a new workspace. Perform the following steps to save the new panel layout:

  1. 1. Click on the Window | Workspaces | New Workspace menu item.

  2. 2. In the box that pops up, give the workspace your first name and click OK.

    Once this is done, take a look at the workspace switcher, at the top right corner of your screen. Your name should be written there, indicating that the workspace currently in use is your very own customized workspace!

  3. 3. Click on the workspace switcher to reveal the list of available workspaces.

  4. 4. In the list, choose any workspace, but the one that bears your name. The chosen workspace is applied and the screen is rearranged.

  5. 5. Open the workspace switcher again.

  6. 6. Click on your name to reapply your custom workspace.

Awesome! We now have a way to create custom workspaces and make Captivate look exactly the way we want.

If you need to rename or delete a custom workspace, perform the following steps:

  1. 1. Go to the Window | Workspace | Manage Workspace menu item.

  2. 2. In the box, choose the workspace to delete/rename. In this case, only one workspace is available for renaming/deletion.

  3. 3. Click on the Rename or Delete button. In this example, click on the OK button to close the box without doing any changes.

  4. 4. Open the workspace switcher one last time to reapply the Classic workspace before moving on to the next topic.

Note that there is no menu item to update an existing workspace. If you want to update an existing workspace, you must use the New Workspace command and give the new workspace the name of the existing workspace you want to update.

Also notice that you cannot delete or rename the default workspaces of Captivate.

Before moving on to the next topic, these are the key points to keep in mind when creating custom workspaces:

  • When you make changes to your interface, you actually create new workspaces.

  • Use the Window | Workspace | New Workspace menu item to save the current panel layout as a new workspace.

  • Use the Window | Workspace | Manage Workspace menu item to rename or delete your custom workspaces.

  • To update an existing workspace, use the New Workspace command and give the new workspace the same name as the workspace you want to update.

  • The default workspaces of Captivate cannot be deleted or renamed.

 

Exploring the sample applications


Now that we know a bit more about the Captivate interface, we will take a look at the sample applications that we will build together during the course of this book. These applications have been designed to showcase almost every single feature of Captivate. Use them as a reference if there is something unclear during one of the exercises.

Experiencing the Encoder Demonstration

The first application that we will explore is a typical Captivate project. It uses the screen capture engine of Captivate to create a screenshots-based movie. Perform the following steps to view a project:

  1. 1. Use the File | Open menu item to open the final/encoderDemo.cptx file situated in your exercises folder.

  2. 2. The file opens as a separate tab in the Captivate interface.

  3. 3. In the Main Options toolbar, right next to the slide navigator, click on the Preview icon.

  4. 4. In the drop-down list, choose the Project item to preview the entire project as shown in the following screenshot:

Take a closer look at the Preview icon (as shown in the previous screenshot). It will be one of the icons we'll use the most during the course of this book. It has five options to control which part of the project we want to preview. Note that each of these options is associated with a keyboard shortcut that depends on the system you work on (Mac or Windows). The options are the following:

  • Play Slide: This option will play the current slide in the Captivate Interface. It is the only Preview option that does not open the Preview pane. Consequently, this preview option is not able to render all the features of Captivate. Previewing a single slide is a good option to quickly test the timings of the objects.

  • Project: When choosing this option, Captivate generates a temporary flash file and plays the entire project in the Preview pane.

  • From this Slide: Captivate opens the Preview pane and plays the project from the currently selected slide to the end. This option generates a temporary Flash file, so every single feature of Captivate is supported in this preview mode.

  • Next 5 slides: Captivate opens the Preview pane to play a temporary flash file containing five slides starting from the currently selected slide. It is a great option to quickly test a specific sequence in the movie.

  • In Web Browser: Captivate generates a temporary flash file as well as a temporary HTML file. It then plays the entire project in the default browser. Using this preview option, you will see the project in a context very close to the one that will be used by your learners.

  • HTML5 output in Web Browser: When using this option, the project is published in HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, and images. It is then played in the default web browser. HTML5 publishing is a brand new feature of Captivate 6 and not every single Captivate feature is supported in HTML5. So it is important to test your projects in HTML5 in addition to testing them in Flash.

Note

Floating and Modal panels

In Captivate, a panel can be floating or docked. When a panel floats, the tools and switches situated on other panels are still active. But when the Preview panel is open, only the buttons of that panel are active, while the tools of the other panels are not active anymore. The Preview pane is said to be a Modal floating panel, because it disables every tool situated on other panels. Also, notice that the Preview panel cannot be docked.

In this case, we clicked on the Preview Project option. Captivate generates a temporary Flash file and opens it in the Preview pane. Follow the onscreen instructions to go through the project. This puts you in the same situation as a learner viewing the eLearning course for the first time.

This project begins with a Pretest of three questions. The Pretest is made to check if the student really needs to take this particular training. If the student fails the pretest, he/she has to take the entire course, but if the Pretest is a success, the student can choose to skip the course or to take it anyway. The pretest feature is one of the new features of Captivate 6. To fully understand this feature, it is necessary to take the course twice. Try to answer the questions of the Pretest correctly the first time and incorrectly the second time and see how you experience the project in both situations.

The second part of this first sample application (after the Pretest) is known as a Demonstration. As the name suggests, a demonstration is used to demonstrate something to the learner. Consequently, the learner is passive and simply watches whatever is going on in the Captivate movie. In a Demonstration, the mouse object is shown. It moves and clicks automatically.

This particular demonstration features some of the most popular Captivate tools. You have seen Text Captions, Highlight Boxes, a Zoom Area, and so on. You have also experienced sound in the Captivate demonstration as well as the ability to close-caption the sound-enabled slides, but the most amazing thing featured in this demonstration is probably the ability to insert video files in the Captivate slides.

Experiencing the Encoder Simulation

We will now open another sample application. Actually, it is not a real other application, but another version of the Encoder Demonstration we experienced in the previous topic. Perform the following steps to open the application and to view it:

  1. 1. Use the File | Open menu item to open the final/encoderSim.cptx file situated in your exercise folder.

  2. 2. Once the file is open, click on the Preview icon in the main toolbar and choose to preview the entire project.

  3. 3. The Preview pane opens and the Encoder Simulation starts to play.

    When the animation reaches slide number 4, the play head stops moving, and waits for the learner to do an action. This is the main difference between a Demonstration and a Simulation.

    In Captivate, a Simulation is a project in which the learner is active. In a simulation, the mouse object is hidden, as the learner will use his/her own mouse to click around the screen in order to progress towards the end of the movie. The very fact that the user is active implies a whole new level of complexity: the learner can perform either the right or the wrong action. In each case, the application must react accordingly. This concept is known as branching, that is, each student experiences the application based on his/her actions.

  4. 4. Follow the onscreen instructions and try to perform the right actions. The application has been set up to give you two chances to perform each action correctly.

When you are through, close the Preview pane.

In order to experience the branching concept hands-on, preview the entire movie again, but this time, give yourself a break and perform the wrong actions at each and every step of the simulation (don't worry, it is not graded!). You should see that the application reacts differently and shows you things that were not shown when the right actions were performed! That's branching in action!

This particular simulation features pretty much the same Captivate objects as the demonstration we experienced earlier. Only the mouse had to be replaced by the interactive objects of Captivate. An interactive object is an object that has the ability to stop the play head and wait for the learner to interact with the movie. Each of the interactive objects of Captivate can implement the branching concept.

The Media Encoder Demonstration and the Media Encoder Simulation are both based on screenshots. To create these sample applications, the first two steps of the production process described earlier have been used:

  • In step one (the capture phase), the actions have been performed for real in the real Adobe Media Encoder as they were recorded by Captivate behind the scenes.

  • In step two (the post-production phase), the movie has been edited in Captivate. Sound and closed captions were added, video was imported, the title and ending slides were created, the timing was adjusted, and so on. We even imported a slide created in Microsoft PowerPoint!

  • Step three (the publishing phase) has not been performed (yet) on these files.

Experiencing the Driving in Belgium sample application

We will now open and preview the third sample application. Normally it should already be open in Captivate as a tab in the main area. Click on the file tab to make it the active file, as shown in the following screenshot:

If the file is not open, use the File | open menu item to open the final/drivingInBe.cptx file situated in the exercises folder you downloaded from the Web.

When the file is open and active, use the Preview icon to preview the entire project. Follow the onscreen instructions as a student would do when viewing this project for the first time. When done, close the Preview pane, then, use the Preview icon again to preview the entire project a second time. Answer the question differently from the first time. You will have yet another experience of the branching concept.

This third sample application is very different from the previous projects we have seen. It is not really a demonstration, nor a simulation. It is none of it and a bit of both at the same time. As you can see, the borderline between a demonstration and a simulation is sometimes very difficult to spot!

When it comes to sound, this movie makes use of the Text-to-Speech engine of Captivate. Text-to-Speech is a great alternative to quickly create the sound clips you need, but the quality of the speech is not as good as when a real human being speaks in front of a good old microphone!

This application is not based on screenshots and does not teach software related skills. Instead, each slide has been created one by one, right in Captivate or imported from an existing PowerPoint presentation.

This application is also much more sophisticated than the Encoder applications. Advanced actions and Variables are used throughout the project to power the dynamic features, such as the name of the student appearing in a Text Caption. It also features the certificate Widget on the last slide (only if you pass the quiz!) and uses the new collection of Characters to spice up the training with a human touch! But the most impressive feature of this particular project is probably the Quiz, one of the biggest and most appreciated tools of Captivate.

The project contains eight question slides. Four of these are stored in a question pool. Each time the project is viewed, three questions are asked to the student, while a fourth one is randomly chosen from the question pool. That's why, the second time you previewed the application, you did not experience the very same quiz as compared to the first time.

Experiencing the Encoder Video Demo

Video Demo is a brand new feature of Captivate 6. A Video Demo generates a .mp4 video file that can be uploaded to online services such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Daily Motion for playback on any device (including iPad, iPhone, and other Internet-enabled mobile devices). Perform the following steps to view a Video Demo project:

  1. 1. Use the File | Open menu item to open the final/encoderVideo.cpvc file situated in your exercises folder.

    First of all notice that a Video Demo project does not use the same .cptx file extension as a regular Captivate project. It uses the .cpvc file extension. For us, it is the first indication that this project is not going to behave as the other ones we have experienced so far.

    In addition to a specific file extension, Video Demo projects also have their specific Captivate Interface, as shown in the following screenshot:

    In the previous screenshot, notice the absence of the Filmstrip. A Video Demo project is not based on slides. It actually is a big video file, so the Filmstrip makes no sense in a Video Demo project.

    In a video file, branching is not possible. The file can only be experienced from start to finish in the order defined by the teacher. To use proper words, we said that a video file proposes a linear experience to the learner while the branch-aware projects we experienced earlier, propose a non-linear experience. Consequently, no quiz is possible in a Video Demo project and the Quiz Properties panel has been removed as well.

  2. 2. Take some time to inspect the rest of the interface. Try to spot the other differences between the regular Captivate interface and the interface used for Video Demos.

  3. 3. When you are ready, click on the Preview icon

    Surprise! Only two options are available in the Preview icon!

  4. 4. In the Preview drop-down, choose the Full Screen option.

  5. 5. Watch the whole movie as if you were viewing it on YouTube!

  6. 6. When the movie is finished, click on the Edit button situated at the bottom right corner of the screen to return to the Video Demo editing interface.

  7. 7. Use the File | Close All menu item to close every open file. If prompted to save the changes, make sure you do not save the changes to these files.

After viewing these four sample applications, you should have a pretty good idea of the tools and general capabilities of Captivate. Before moving on, let's summarize what we have learned from these movies:

  • Captivate is able to capture the actions you do on your computer and turn them into slides using a sophisticated capture engine based on screenshots.

  • A Demonstration is a project in which the learner is passive and simply watches the onscreen actions

  • A Simulation is a project in which the user is active.

  • PowerPoint slides can be imported into Captivate and converted to Captivate slides.

  • Sound and video can be imported in Captivate. The application also features a Text-to-Speech engine and closed captioning.

  • Question Slides can be created in Captivate. These question slides can be stored in Question Pools to create random quizzes.

  • Other objects that can be included in a Captivate project are the Text Caption, the Highlight Box, and the Zoom Area, among others.

  • Captivate supports interactive objects. An interactive object is able to stop the play head and wait for the user to interact with the movie.

  • Captivate 6 introduces the Video Demo project type. A Video Demo is not based on screenshots, but is a big video file instead.

  • Video Demo projects use the .cpvc file extension and have a specific user interface.

 

Discussing the sample apps scenario


In the exercises folder you downloaded from the Web, you'll find the scenarios of these sample apps in PDF format in the scenarios folder. Feel free to read those documents and compare them to the finished applications.

When working with Captivate, the scenario is a very important document. Its goal is to guide you during the whole production process. Thanks to the scenario, you'll always have the big picture of the entire project in mind. The scenario will also help you stay within the scope of your project.

That being said, the scenario can, and probably will, evolve during the production process. And this is a good thing! Every teacher knows that his/her own understanding of a given topic increases and changes while teaching it. What is true in a classroom also is true in a Captivate Project. After all, working in Captivate is all about teaching and consequently, your scenario is nothing more than a guide.

 

Summary


In this chapter, we have introduced the four steps of a typical Captivate production process. We toured the application's interface and learned how to customize it to fit our needs. Thanks to the workspace feature, we were able to save our customized interface as a new workspace in order to reapply our custom panel layout anytime we want to. Finally, we toured the sample applications used in this book, which gave us a first look at the rich set of features of Captivate.

In the next chapter, we will concentrate on the first step of the Captivate production process: the capture step. We will discuss various techniques used to capture the slides and discover the inner working of Captivates' capture engine. We will also discuss tips and tricks that will help us make a critical choice: choosing the right size for our project.

Note

To see and experience more Captivate applications, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate/showcase.html.

 

Meet the Community


The title of the book you are reading is "Mastering Adobe Captivate 6". In order to truly "Master" a piece of software, I'm convinced that one must be introduced to the community that supports it.

At the end of each chapter, I'll add a Meet the community section in which I'll introduce you to a key-member of the community. By the end of the book, you'll know the names, blog addresses, twitter handles, and so on of the most influential members of the Captivate and eLearning community. I hope these resources will jump start your own Captivate career and, who knows, your own involvement in the community.

Dr Allen Partridge

Bio

Dr. Allen Partridge is an eLearning Evangelist for Adobe. In addition to his work for Adobe Systems, he continues to serve on the doctoral faculty in the Communications Media and Instructional Technology program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Allen has written several books and a host of articles on topics ranging from 3D game development to Instructional Design for new technologies. He is active in explorations of Immersive Learning as well as traditional multimedia enhanced eLearning and rapid eLearning. Allen works closely with the eLearning Suite and Captivate teams at Adobe, providing a channel to customer needs and concerns and helping facilitate communication among team members.

My personal note

Allen Partridge is the ultimate key member of the Captivate community. As an Adobe Evangelist for Captivate, he is one of the main contributors of the official Captivate blog and animates the official Captivate page on Facebook. Allen also participates in virtually every Captivate-related event around the world, so chances are that you'll have an opportunity to meet him not far from where you live.

You definitely want to bookmark his blog and follow him on Twitter.

When I asked him to author the foreword of this book, it took Allen exactly 29 minutes to reply to my email and to accept.

Thank you, Allen, for supporting this project and for your outstanding work with the Captivate community.

About the Author

  • Damien Bruyndonckx

    Damien Bruyndonckx is the founder and the CEO of One2Learn, a Belgian company specialized in content development, instructional video, virtual classrooms, and training on the leading eLearning content creation tools. Active in the eLearning industry for over 15 years, Damien has worked with many different customers and LMS implementations. He is a long-time Adobe partner and serves as an instructor for the official Adobe Captivate certification program. Damien is the author of over 30 video courses for LinkedIn Learning and is the coauthor of the Mastering Adobe Captivate series by Packt Publishing.

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Mastering Adobe Captivate 6
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