Mastering Adobe Captivate 7

By Damien Bruyndonckx
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  1. Getting Started with Captivate

About this book

Adobe Captivate 7 helps you rapidly author a wide range of interactive and HTML5-based e-Learning content with minimum programming. With Adobe Captivate 7, you can capture the on-screen action and also enhance your e-Learning projects by including animations, videos, Smart Shapes, buttons, and drag-and-drop interactions.

This book is a perfect introduction to Adobe Captivate 7. It will help you get started with the tool quickly and efficiently. This book demonstrates each and every feature of Adobe Captivate 7 giving you the expertise you need to create and deploy your own professional-quality e-Learning courses. You will be able to publish your work in various formats virtually on any desktop and mobile device.

This book will guide you through the creation of four e-Learning projects including a demonstration, an interactive simulation, a YouTube-like screencast, and a SCORM compliant quiz. The first part of the book will drive you through the three main steps of the Captivate production process. In the first step, you will use the powerful capture engine of Captivate to generate the slides and screenshots required for the project. In the second step, you will enhance your slides and screenshots using the objects provided by Captivate. These objects include animations, sophisticated interactions, videos, sound, and more. In the third step, you will make your projects available to the outside world by publishing them in various formats including Adobe Flash and HTML 5 so that you content can be played back on every desktop and mobile device. 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, AICC, and Tin Can compliance, localization of your e-Learning content and widgets among others. In the last chapter, you will unleash the true power of Captivate by using the variables and the advanced actions to create a unique e-Learning experience.

Publication date:
February 2014


Chapter 1. Getting Started with Captivate

Since its introduction in 2004, Captivate has always been the industry-leading solution for authoring eLearning content. In the beginning, it was a very simple screen-capture utility called FlashCam. In 2002, a company named eHelp acquired FlashCam and turned it into an eLearning authoring tool called RoboDemo. In 2004, another company called Macromedia acquired eHelp, changed the name of the product once again, and 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 rewrote 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 that of other Adobe applications, not mentioning an impressive array of new and enhanced tools.

Version 6 was another milestone for Captivate as it was the first version to propose an HTML5 publishing mechanism. Prior to Captivate 6, the main publishing option was Adobe Flash.

As of today, the latest version of Captivate is Version 7. Captivate 7 comes with improved HTML5 support, an enhanced interactions library, good drag-and-drop interaction, the ability to record system audio, and tons of other (not so) small enhancements. With all this power sitting one click away, it is easy to overcharge your projects with lots of complicated audiovisual effects and 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 authoring 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-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 this changes everything…

In this chapter, we shall:

  • Discuss the available options to obtain Captivate

  • Discuss the general steps of the Captivate production process

  • Tour the Captivate interface

  • Work with panels and workspaces

  • View the finished sample applications


Obtaining Captivate

There are three ways to obtain Captivate:

  • The Captivate perpetual license: This is the old-fashioned way of obtaining the software. You buy Captivate and get a serial number to activate your installation. Once activated, Captivate will be permanently available on your computer, even when you won't need it. With this option, you get all the core functionalities of Captivate and you can start working on your eLearning projects right away! This book works flawlessly with the Captivate perpetual license.


    See the Captivate page on the Adobe website at

    You can download and use this 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 unless you convert your trial to a licensed version. This can be a perpetual or a subscription license.


    Download your Captivate 30-day trial from

  • The Captivate subscription: With this new licensing model, you subscribe to Captivate on a monthly basis. This means that you pay a certain amount of money each month to keep using Captivate.

    The main benefit of the subscription model is that you automatically get all the updates as they are released. The subscription model is the best way to ensure that you always have the latest version of Captivate installed on your system. Subscribed customers also have early access to great new features. Note that the subscription is just another licensing model. With the exception of the subscription-only exclusive updates, the software is identical to the perpetual licensing model.


    More information on the Captivate subscription model can be found at

    Although the Captivate subscription model is very similar to the way Adobe Creative Cloud works, Captivate is, at the time of this writing, not part of the Creative Cloud.


    Captivate and the Creative Cloud

    If you already have a Creative Cloud subscription, you'll need another separate subscription for Captivate.

  • Captivate in the Technical Communication suite: The Technical Communication Suite (TCS) is yet another bundle of applications from Adobe. It 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.


    For more information on the Technical Communication Suite, visit


A glance at the Captivate production process

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

Step zero – the preproduction 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 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? These are some of the very important questions you should answer before opening Captivate for the first time. Step zero is where the teacher's skills fully express themselves.


Blog post – Scenario-based training

Make sure you read this 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 the first high-level approach to the Captivate production process. The first post of the series can be found at

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 on-screen. You will simply use your mouse to perform actions on your computer. Behind the scenes, Captivate will be watching and recording 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 needed images, actions, and sequences. In the movie industry, the raw material that comes out of the shooting is called 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 narrations, add objects to the slides (such as Text Captions and Buttons), arrange those objects in the Timeline, add title and ending slides, develop advanced interactions, and so on. At the end of this phase, the project should be ready for publication.

Sometimes, the Captivate project you will be working on will not be based on screenshots. In such a case, you will create the slides entirely in Captivate or import them from Microsoft PowerPoint. Importing PowerPoint slides in Captivate will be covered in Chapter 9, Using Captivate 7 with Other Applications.

Step three – the publishing phase

This is where you 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 your 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 your published Captivate projects.

Captivate can also publish the project as standalone applications (.exe on Windows and .app on Macintosh) or as video files that can be easily uploaded to YouTube and viewed on a tablet or smartphone.

When Captivate 6 was released, one of the most significant new features was the ability to publish projects in HTML5. By publishing in HTML5 format, you make your eLearning content available to mobile devices that do not support the Flash technology. The door is open for the next revolution of our industry: Mobile Learning (or mLearning).


Blog post

Make sure you read this wonderful blog post by Allen Partrige, The How & Why of iPads, HTML5 & Mobile Devices in eLearning, Training & Education at


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 the three steps. Actually, each step requires so many options, tools, and features that Captivate has a very large numbers of icons, panels, dialog boxes, and controls available. Therefore, when developing Captivate, Adobe's designers were confronted with 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 that:

  • 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

  • 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 much smaller display areas

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

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

The first look at the Captivate interface

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

  1. Open Captivate.

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

  3. Navigate to the final/drivingInBe.cptx file situated in the exercise folder.


    Downloading the example code

    You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.

  4. Your screen should look similar to what is seen in 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 you will 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 you 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. This is the object toolbar (4). The object toolbar lets you insert new objects on your Captivate slides. This is one of the most important toolbars of Captivate, and one you 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 it can also be used to perform basic operations on the slides such as reordering or deleting slides.

    At the bottom of the screen is another important panel: the Timeline (6). As its name implies, this panel is used to arrange the objects of the slide as per 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 five panels. The Properties panel (7) is displayed by default, while the Library panel, the Quiz Properties panel, the Project Info panel, and the Swatches panel are hidden. The Properties panel is a dynamic panel. This 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 fit your need…or not. 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. Click on the word Classic in the top-right corner of the screen to reveal a list of available workspaces.

  6. In the workspace switcher, choose the Quizzing workspace.

    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 panel is displayed at the bottom of the screen, where the Timeline panel 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 panel 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 you explored earlier was perfect to perform some basic tasks, the Quizzing workspace currently in use is perfect when developing a Captivate Quiz.

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

  8. The Question Pool panel displays six 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. Note that at the very top of the Quiz Properties panel is the type of the active question slide (Matching—as shown in the next screenshot—Sequence, Hot spot, and so on).

    This demonstrates what a dynamic panel is. The Quiz Properties panel displays information relevant to the current selection. As the selected item changes, so does the content of the Quiz Properties panel. Many panels of Captivate (including the Properties panel) work the same way.

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

  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 you ask the students to perform an action, they might do either the right or the wrong action. The teacher can make Captivate perform one action when the student does the right thing and another action when the student does the wrong thing. As a result, students experience the Captivate application differently (in other words, take different branches) based on their actions and answers. The branching panel offers a visual representation of this concept.

  11. At the top-right corner of the screen, reopen the Workspace switcher.

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

Thanks to these little experiments, you have been exposed to some important basic concepts about the Captivate interface. Before moving on, let's summarize what you have learned so far:

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

  • A workspace is 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 seven different workspaces. These workspaces are available in the Workspace switcher in the top-right corner of the screen.

  • When you open Captivate for the first time, the Classic workspace is applied by default.

You have rapidly inspected three of the workspaces available in Captivate. It is a good idea to take some time to inspect the remaining workspaces. Just make sure you reapply the Classic workspace when you are done.

Working with panels

Captivate has a very flexible user 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:

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

  2. Double-click on the Filmstrip tab again to expand the panel.

  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. When you are done, reset the Classic workspace to its original state by navigating to Window | Workspace | Reset Classic.

    Collapsing and expanding panels is very simple, and is the first tool at your disposal to customize the Captivate interface. The second tool you will experiment with 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, and Swatches panel group, this very small icon is located at the far right side of the interface.

  5. Click on this double arrow to turn the Properties, Library, Quiz Properties, Project Info, and Swatches panel group into a set of five icons (see the following screenshot).

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

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

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


    The Swatches panel shown in the preceding screenshot is a new feature of Captivate 7.0.1. If the Swatches panel does not appear on your screen, make sure you have applied the latest available update patch for Captivate. More info on how to download and install the latest Captivate updates can be found at

    If you have a small screen, turning panels into icons is a very simple and effective way to optimize your screen real estate. Note that a similar double-arrow is available at the top of the objects toolbar. Clicking on that one toggles the objects toolbar between a two-column and a single-column display.

    Another way to customize the interface and optimize the screen real estate is to change the size of the panels present on the screen. This is particularly interesting when working with the Filmstrip panel.

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

  10. Click-and-drag the vertical separator to the right until the Filmstrip panel covers more or less half of the screen, as shown in the next screenshot:

    The layout shown in the preceding screenshot helps you see the big picture more efficiently. It can be compared to the Slide Sorter view of Microsoft PowerPoint.

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

  11. Open the Window menu and navigate to Workspace | Reset Classic. This resets the current workspace to its default state.

  12. In the Filmstrip panel, select slide 16.

    Slide 16 contains a large number of objects. If you take a look at the Timeline panel, you'll note that it is not high enough to display all objects present on the slide. A vertical scrollbar appears on the right-hand side of the Timeline panel. In order to have a clearer view of the objects that compose this slide and of their timing, you will now enlarge the Timeline panel.

  13. 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.

  14. Click-and-drag the horizontal separator toward the top of the screen until the Timeline panel is high enough to display all the objects of the slide.

You now have a much clearer view of the stack of objects present on slide 16.

Adding and removing panels

So far, the panels that you have manipulated were already displayed in the Classic workspace. You will now use the Window menu to add new panels on the screen:

  1. Open the Window menu.

    The Window menu is 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 already displayed on the screen.

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

    This is the first time you 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 tick the panel you want to see.

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

  3. Open the Window menu again.

  4. Click on the Filmstrip menu item to hide the Filmstrip panel 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 turn 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. Click on the small icon associated with the Properties, Library, Quiz Properties, Project Info, and Swatches panel group (see the following screenshot).

  6. Choose Close Group from the available options.

    This operation removes the whole group (five panels) from the interface.

  7. Navigate to Window | Properties to turn the Properties panel back on.

Note that this operation restores the entire panel group (five panels).

Moving panels around

The last thing to learn about panels is how you can move them around. The Slide Notes panel is currently displayed at the bottom of the screen. In the Classic workspace, this is its default-predefined location:

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

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

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

    Your screen should look similar to what is shown in 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 panels to be either docked or floating.

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

  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. When the blue line appears, release the mouse.

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

    Feel free to move other panels around before proceeding 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. When you are done, reset the Classic workspace to its original state by navigating to Window | Workspace | Reset Classic.

This concludes your exploration of the Captivate panels. Let's look at a quick summary of what has been covered in this section:

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

  • Use the small double-arrow icon to turn a panel (or a set of panels) to icons. This helps in optimizing the screen real estate if you have a smaller screen at your disposal.

  • 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 either be docked or floating.

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

  • If your screen becomes messy, navigate to Window | Workspace | Reset XXX to change the current workspace back to its original state.

Creating a custom workspace

By hiding, showing, and moving panels on the interface, 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 reapply it later.

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

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

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

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

  4. Click on the small double arrow associated with the Properties panel to turn the Properties, Library, Quiz Properties, Project Info, and Swatches panels to icons.

    When done, your screen should look similar to what is shown in the following screenshot:

    Let's pretend that this new panel layout makes you so happy that you want to save it as a new workspace.

  5. Navigate to Window | Workspaces | New Workspace.

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

    When done, take a look at the Workspace switcher at the top-right corner of your screen. Your name should appear there, indicating that the workspace currently in use…is your very own customized workspace!

  7. Click on the Workspace switcher to reveal the list of available workspaces.

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

  9. Open the Workspace switcher again.

  10. Click on your name to reapply your custom workspace!

Awesome! You now have a way to create custom workspaces and have Captivate look exactly the way you want.

Renaming and deleting custom workspaces

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

  1. Navigate to Window | Workspace | Manage Workspace.

  2. In the box, choose the workspace to delete/rename.

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

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


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

Also, note 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

  • Navigate to Window | Workspace | New Workspace to save the current panel layout as a new workspace

  • Navigate to Window | Workspace | Manage Workspace 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 you know a bit more about the Captivate interface, take a look at the sample applications you will build 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 you will explore is a typical Captivate project. It uses the screen capture engine of Captivate to create a screenshots-based movie:

  1. Navigate to File | Open to open the encoderDemo_800.cptx file in the final folder, situated in the exercise folder you downloaded from the Web.

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

  3. In the main options toolbar, right next to the slide navigator, click on the Preview icon.

  4. In the drop-down list, choose the Project item to preview the entire project.

Take a closer look at the Preview icon (see the preceding screenshot). It will be one of the icons you'll use the most during the course of this book. It has six options to control which part of the project you want to preview and how you want to preview it. Note that each of these options is associated with a keyboard shortcut that depends on the system you work on (Mac or Windows).

Let's look at the Preview icons in detail:

  • Play Slide: This option plays the current slide in the Captivate interface. It is the only preview option that does not open a floating 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 of the project.

  • 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 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. Note that some features and objects of Captivate are not supported in the HTML5 output. If you plan on publishing your project in HTML5, make sure you use this preview option to ensure that the features, animations, and objects you used in your project are supported in HTML5.


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, note that the Preview panel cannot be docked.

In this case, you clicked on the Preview project option. Captivate generates a temporary flash file and opens it in the floating Preview pane. Follow the on-screen 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 short welcome video followed by a pretest of three questions. The pretest is made to check if the student really needs to take this particular training. Students that fail the pretest must take the course, while those who pass can skip the course if they want to. 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 to 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 such as Text Captions and Highlight Boxes. You have experienced sound in the Captivate demonstration as well as in the close-captioned sound-enabled slides.

Experiencing the Encoder simulation

You will now open another sample application. Actually, it is not a real "other" application, but another version of the Encoder demonstration you experienced in the previous topic:

  1. Navigate to File | Open to open the encoderSim_800.cptx file in the final folder, situated in your exercise folder.

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

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


    Slide 4 contains a YouTube video. This video will not work in the default Preview pane of Captivate. If you want to see this slide playing correctly, you must ensure that the following two conditions are met. First, you need to be connected to the Internet. Second, navigate to Preview | In Web Browser instead of Preview | Project.

    When the animation reaches slide 5, the playhead stops moving and waits for you to interact with the movie. 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 learners will use their own mouse to click around the screen in order to progress toward the end of the movie. The very fact that the students are active implies a whole new level of complexity as the learners 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. Follow the on-screen instructions and try to perform the right actions. The application has been set up to give you two chances to perform each action correctly.

  5. 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 will 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 you experienced earlier, only the mouse had to be replaced by interactive objects. Three of those interactive objects have the ability to stop the playhead and wait for the learner to interact with the movie. All these interactive objects can implement the branching concept. Using these interactive objects will be covered in Chapter 5, Adding Interactivity to the Project.

Both the Encoder demonstration and simulation are 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 actually performed in the real Adobe Media Encoder; 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 (yet) been performed on these files.

Experiencing the Driving In Belgium sample application

You will now preview the third sample application. Normally, it should already be open in Captivate as a tab in the main area. Click on the drivingInBe.cptx tab to make it the active file.


If the file is not open, navigate to File | Open to open the drivingInBe.cptx file in the final folder, situated in your exercise folder you downloaded from the Web.

When the file is open and active, use the Preview icon to preview the entire project. Follow the on-screen instructions as a student would. 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.


Slide 19 of this project will not work as intended if you are not connected to the Internet while viewing the application.

This third sample application is very different from the previous projects you have experienced so far. 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 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 dynamic features such as the name of the student appearing in a Text Caption. It also features the certificate interaction on the last slide (only if you pass the quiz!) and uses the built-in 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. Six of these are stored in the Question Pool panel. Each time the project is viewed, one question is asked to the student and a second one is randomly chosen from the question pool. That's why the second time you previewed the application, you did not experience the exact same Quiz as the first time.

Experiencing the Encoder Video Demo

The Video Demo mode is a special recording mode of Captivate that is used to produce .mp4 video files. These files can easily 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):

  1. Navigate to File | Open to open the encoderVideo.cpvc file in the final folder, situated in your exercise folder.

    First, note that a Video Demo project does not use the same .cptx file extension as a regular Captivate project. It uses the .cpvc file extension instead. This is the first indication that this project is not going to behave like the other ones you have experienced so far. In addition to a specific file extension, Video Demo projects also have their own Captivate interface as shown in the following screenshot:

    In the preceding screenshot, note the absence of the Filmstrip panel. A Video Demo project is not based on slides. Actually, it is a single big video file, so the Filmstrip panel makes no sense in a Video Demo project.

    In a video file, interactions are not possible. The file can only be experienced from start to finish in the order defined by the teacher. To use proper words, it is said that a video file proposes a linear experience to the learner while branch-aware interactive projects propose a non-linear experience. Therefore, interactive objects as well as quizzes and branching are not available in a Video Demo project.

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

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

  4. In the Preview dropdown, choose the Full Screen option.

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

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

  7. Navigate to File | Close All 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 on-screen action.

  • 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 include Text Captions, Highlight Boxes, and so on.

  • Captivate contains interactive objects. Three of these interactive objects are able to stop the playhead and wait for the user to interact with the movie.

  • 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 exercise folder you downloaded from the Web, you'll find the scenarios of these sample apps in PDF format in the scenarios folder. Take some time to read those documents and to 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 is also true in a Captivate project. After all, working in Captivate is all about teaching and consequently, your scenario is nothing more than a guide.



In this chapter, you have been introduced to the four (3 + 1) steps of a typical Captivate production process. You toured the application's interface and learned how to customize it to fit your needs. Thanks to the workspace feature, you have been able to save your customized interface as a new workspace in order to reapply your custom panel layout anytime you want to. Best of all, the Captivate interface works the same way as the interface of other Adobe applications. So, if you plan on learning Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and so on, you already know how the interface of these applications works!

Finally, you have been walked through the sample applications used in this book, which gave you your first high-level overview of Captivate's rich set of features.

In the next chapter, you will concentrate on the first step of the Captivate production process: the capture step. You will learn various techniques used to capture the slides and you will discover the inner working of Captivate's capture engine. You will also learn about tips and tricks that will help you take the first critical decision—choosing the right size for your project.


To see and experience more Captivate applications, visit


Meet the community

The title of the book you are reading is Mastering Adobe Captivate 7. 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 is a Meet the community section that will introduce you to a key member of the community. By the end of the book, you'll have know the names, blog addresses, twitter handles, and so on of some 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.

Pooja Jaisingh

In this first Meet the community section, I'd like to introduce you to Pooja Jaisingh. Pooja is one of the Adobe eLearning evangelists. In particular, she is one of the main contributors to the official Adobe Captivate blog and to the Captivate page on Facebook. Pooja also organizes free Captivate trainings and webinars. See the schedule of these free trainings at


Pooja Jaisingh has worked for more than 12 years as a teacher trainer, eLearning instructional designer, and, currently, is an eLearning evangelist with Adobe Systems. Pooja's core strengths are communication and innovation. In all her roles, she has promoted eLearning as a mode of delivery and has created a host of eLearning courses. In her current role, she conducts numerous seminars and workshops, educating training folks on the features of Adobe Systems' eLearning products. She regularly blogs, initiating creative discussions on multiple opportunities in eLearning. She holds a Master's degree in Education and Economics and a Doctorate in Educational Technology.

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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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