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Jul 2014

Adobe Captivate 8 - Review

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Shaping the future of learning

The latest version of Adobe's Captivate elearning authoring tool was released just over a month ago, but is this the best version yet? Or is it too similar to previous versions with just a few extra features added in for good measure?

The last couple of versions of Captivate have had some good features such as HTML5 publishing, but there's also been some disappointments, such as Interactions, which unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype.

At Kineo, we've been using Captivate 8 for over a month now, so we asked our resident Authoring Tool expert and Senior Developer, Paul Johns, to give us his thoughts on some of the key new features to help you decide whether Adobe Captivate 8 is a tool worth considering. 

(Spoiler alert: He thinks it could just be the best version yet!)

More mobile learning using HTML5

Adobe Captivate was always a great tool for creating systems training. With past versions you could easily create a course which would run on your LMS. But now, Captivate is going mobile and is totally geared towards HTML5 publishing for mobile learning.

Adobe have been busy, totally revamping the Captivate 8 interface, and adding tonnes of great new features. It has a bit of a steeper learning curve at first, compared to previous versions, but we think you'll quickly find that the new interface is much quicker and intuitive than before.

A Captivate 8 toolbar.

New responsive project options

When starting a new file, you'll likely recognise some of the standard options such as 'Blank Project', 'Create a New Template' etc, but one of the most exciting new features in Captivate 8 is the 'Responsive Project' option.

Creating a Responsive Project allows you to build a Captivate file specifically adapted for mobile learning. The content you create will rearrange itself depending on whether it’s for PC/tablet or mobile. You can also position graphics or text relative to the borders or other objects on screen.

A Captivate 8 tool that can be used to control screen size on mobile devices

Gone are the days that you will create a course which could look totally different from desktop to tablet or smartphone. Say goodbye to skewed, squashed graphics: With the Responsive Project option you can easily ensure all the content is appearing exactly how you want it, on a multitude of devices.

When previewing the Responsive Project in Captivate 8, you can click on one of the three buttons (1024 [PC], 768 [iPad] or 360 [Mobile]) for the various views to see how your content will look. Another great aspect is that the views can easily be adjusted for different sizes as you need them.

Test your projects on your own devices

Maybe you want to test your Responsive Project on your mobile device? Captivate 8 makes this very easy.

There's just a few things you need to do first:

  1. You’ll need to set up your PC and mobile device by installing the trial version of Adobe Edge Inspect 
  2. Then you need to install the free plug-in for Chrome
  3. Finally install the Edge Inspect app on your mobile device

And voilà! You can preview the course straight to your smartphone or tablet.

Once you have this set up it's actually very impressive, with your content being shown in Chrome, you can link your phone to your PC/laptop and instantly preview your HTML5 course on whichever mobile device you choose. It's very handy and saves you a lot of time being able to immediately see what the end result of your responsive course would be.

Responsive Projects also allow you to have ‘gesture-enabled’ learning, so learners can tap, scroll, pinch and swipe their way through your courses. Simply turn on 'Mobile Gestures' when you publish and your users can now control your learning by a variety of different gestures.

Pinpoint mobile learning with Geolocation

Another particularly exciting new feature in Captivate 8 is Geolocation.

Using the the GPS capabilities of your learner's mobile devices, you can now deliver location-aware content to learners. For example, you could create assessments which can only be taken by staff at a particular location.

Or you could use the new Geolocation variable to set up a course which would change depending on where users are located in the world, allowing them to see different text/graphics or screenshots (say hello to global learning delivery with a local touch).

A Captivate 8 course creation tool, showing the geolocation feature.

Now there's no need to create one course for one location of users, and another course for a different set of users in the world: Simply use the variable to show different parts of the course depending on your learner's location. This is very powerful and such a great addition to Captivate 8.

Another very useful variable (cpInfoMobileOS) allows you to detect the OS of the learners device. So you could set actions (or show different text/graphics) depending on the device the user is using. Smart learning for smartphones.

New assets out-of-the-box

Captivate 8 does come with more out-of-the-box assets. Now you get 25 different characters in 50 different poses in four different categories. We haven’t really used these much for clients, but if you're a freelance developer they could be useful to create prototypes for clients rather than having to source characters from image libraries.

Screen capturing has also been adjusted for Responsive Projects. When you are recording, Captivate will automatically pan to certain areas to create screen captures for tablet and mobile views as well.

Improved learning interactions

One thing we hope Adobe keep improving on are the Learning Interactions. These seem to be similar as before with Accordion, Tabs and Timeline etc, and are quick and easy to use and amend. However, the quality of these are still not up to the same standard as other elearning tools. For example, it would be great if you could use variables to check when the user has clicked on all the items in the Interaction, so you could then control the appearance of the forward button.

Smart shapes and colour swatches

A Captivate 8 course colour pallete tool.

Swatches are another new feature which will make your life with Adobe Captivate 8 much easier. Now you can create a different set of colour swatches for each of your courses, which can help immensely with your workflow.

Smart Shapes are also improved. You can create your own shapes and then simply select 'Use as Button'. You can even adjust the three different states for your new button.

There is now native support for HTML5 objects and animations, meaning you can easily add these to your course. You can also now import Edge Animate files (.oem).

A quick look at Adobe Edge Animate, which is totally new to us, seemed a very impressive tool to create HTML5 animations or interactions.

If you don’t know how or can’t create HTML5 animations, it's definitely worth taking a look at the trial version of Adobe Edge Animate.

In summary

We’ve been using Captivate at CG Kineo since version 2, and after a few ‘tame’ updates to Captivate previously, this latest version has really impressed, and is by far the best version we have used!

Captivate 8 is a very impressive tool and a great update; with the HTML5 input, Responsive Projects, Geolocation and new interface alone being brilliant selling points.

What next?

It's now so easy to create mobile learning for your phone or tablet, why wait - Download your 30 day free trial and give it a go.

If you'd like a demonstration of Captivate 8 to see how it could help your business, or if you need a training course for new or existing users, contact us for more information.

Already tried Captivate 8 and want to share your thoughts? Why not leave your ideas and comments below.



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