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Jul 2016

Authoring tool review: Adobe Captivate 9

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Shaping the future of learning

Another year, another version of Adobe Captivate. The software has come on leaps and bounds recently with Captivate 8 providing a whole new interface, HTML5 publishing and responsive projects.  Initially Adobe Captivate 9 does not look too different, it has the same interface, and mostly the same menus. But let’s dig a bit deeper to see what this new version has to offer. 

An impressive upgrade 

From improvements in responsive design, the release of the Adobe Captivate Draft app, to the ability to create your own multi-state objects, Adobe Captivate has come a long way. Here’s a rundown of the main features of this leading authoring tool. 

Responsive design functionality gets a boost  

Responsive training is one of the key buzzwords currently. Adobe Captivate 9 enhances what Captivate 8 started. With Adobe Captivate 8 you could create different versions of your course – desktop, tablet landscape and phone. 

With Adobe Captivate 9, it comes with three defaults again, but you can now easily check how your course will look and respond on the different devices available. There is also a setting to stop users from viewing the course in landscape mode, which if your course is portrait only, is a great additional feature because a message appears advising the user the course is best viewed in portrait. 

A new app that lets you design on the goAdobe Captivate Draft is one of the headline new features. This free iPad app enables you to create a mock-up of your new course on the go, adding text, media, quiz questions and hotspots to get the structure of your course ready. Preview your course on the app and add more branching or questions. When you have finished, you can then send your course off for review. Reviewers can then add comments about the course without the need to have the app installed; they can simply view it over the web.

Adobe Captivate Draft can easily be imported into Captivate 9 once you’re happy with it so that you can work on and enhance your elearning further.  As mock-ups are usually created using Photoshop, this feature makes it a very good tool for designers or non-Captivate developers by making mock-ups interactive. 

Visuals and effects become more appealing  

Adobe Captivate 9 has also introduced some simplicity and useful functionality into the authoring tool, enabling for a slicker experience, and ultimately, an elearning course. 

You can now import Adobe Illustrator vector files (SVGs), allowing you to make it larger or smaller, whilst keeping the same file size. Similar to the ‘old days’ when you imported flash files into Captivate. Again a very useful feature that makes this a compelling authoring tool. 

One of the biggest changes is the ability to create your own multi-state objects. Simply import any image and then click on ‘State view’.

Here you can easily add different states to your graphic. For example, add an image of a person in a normal pose, then add in two different states – correct and incorrect poses. Then on your quiz question, once the user selects submit, you could show the correct feedback and with the use of a trigger, change the state of the person. E.g. Change State of Person – Incorrect.  

Of course states can also be used to create a button quickly. Add an image, check the box to ‘use as a button’ and default states of ‘RollOver’ and ‘Down’ are added. Amend these and exit the states view and now you have a new button with different states. Previously you had to create these outside of Adobe Captivate and import them in. Now it’s so much quicker to create your own buttons and images with different states. You can also add different states to drag and drop questions, when you drag an object over or drop an object it can change state.  

The effects panel is now much larger and easier to use as effects now feature in their own side panel. It’s much more intuitive to add your own effects, entrance and exit effects and also motion paths. These were in version 8, but they’re much easier to use here. Being able to create your own custom motion path is a brilliant addition. 

By purchasing Adobe Captivate 9 it also gives you free access to the eLearning Brothers website where you can download a whole host of images, interactions, quiz templates and much more free of charge. We do use stock libraries of images but for interactions we normally create these ourselves. However it’s a great source of information for freelancers or small teams who want to create something quickly. 

New knowledge check and SCORM tracking preview functionality  

Adobe Captivate 9 also offers knowledge check questions. These are questions which can be added throughout your course to check how your students are doing. These questions are not scored and can be taken time and time again. Remember all those times when you used to add a scored question which the users could only attempt once in the middle of a course? Those times are gone. Check your students’ knowledge throughout the course and then add a full assessment at the end which can be tracked. 

The old habit of publishing a course, then uploading to an LMS to check the tracking was always a pain. Now under the preview dropdown you can Preview in SCORM cloud. 
 Your file is uploaded to the Adobe SCORM cloud where you can run it, check the output from the SCORM file and also view the score, attempts etc. It is now much quicker to preview how your file would run on an LMS, such as with the open-source LMS, Totara LMS. Some room for improvement 

Sadly there are no improvements to Interactions. If you could control these using some simple advanced actions (E.g. if all tabs selected then show the Next button) these could be quite powerful. But it’s not all that bad. There is now the Market icon on the top bar which allows you to download code from eLearning Brothers.  

 The responsive features of Captivate are good but at times the wrong viewpoint can appear on different devices. For example, on an iPhone I kept seeing iPad landscape instead of iPhone landscape which was frustrating. Despite using smart positions for various graphics on a responsive course, I found I still had to do lots of manual adjustments myself. The end result was still impressive but make sure you add in some extra time if you’re creating a responsive course. 


So Adobe Captivate 9 really does feature a lot more than the previous version. The extra breakpoints for responsive courses is very useful. Multi-state objects and buttons is an excellent new feature. Enhancements to effects and the addition of knowledge check questions are very useful. Also being able to preview in an LMS will save you a lot of time.  

How does Captivate stack up with the other authoring tool ‘heavyweights’ in the market? It’s still the best systems training tool out there and it’s now much easier to create non-systems training thanks to Advanced Actions and variables. If the Interactions were improved Captivate would compete against other tools such as Articulate Storyline 2, regarding non-systems training.   

In a tough marketplace with other elearning tools, Adobe Captivate 9 is a good improvement over the last version and a very impressive authoring tool. Overall, highly recommended. 

Looking for the tool that's right for you? Kineo can help you select the authoring tool that meet your budget, needs and level of skill. Kineo offers authoring tool training and can also build templates and content to give your in-house development an extra boost. Get in touch, we're happy to talk tools with you.



Shaping the future of learning

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