Captivate 6 is now available. It is hands-down one of the best product updates that I’ve seen from Adobe. CP6 truly demonstrates both a response to what power users have been asking for and a chance to innovate. In a nutshell, you need this version. If you’re new to eLearning development, it’s a great all-around tool. If you’re already using Captivate, upgrade now. While there are a couple missing pieces, overall, it’s a home run. Keep reading to find out why.
EVERYTHING is upgraded
Captivate 6 saw improvements everywhere. Almost immediately, you’ll find the interface more comfortable and intuitive. I don’t totally dig the black bars across the top and bottom, but the bigger icons and a more subtle color palette are a nice touch. The only difficulties I found were learning some of the new iconography. I found myself holding my mouse over icons and waiting for the tool-tip text to pop up. Once I use CP6 a little more, I’ll have all those icons memorized!
While, you’ll find interface improvements thought the entire program, let’s talk actual features because, well, there are many. A master list of all the new features can be found here. Of these features, there are a few that I feel are game changers:
- HTML5 Export
These four features, in my opinion, raise the bar for what content developers should expect in an eLearning development tool.
HTML5 Export = Awesome mLearning
Mobile eLearning, or mLearning, has been a hot conference topic. This is because developing eLearning for mobile devices is hard. A while back, I posted a video about creating iPad courses using the HTML5 Converter for Captivate. As anticipated, CP6 can now export to HTML5 freeing it from Flash Player dependence. What’s even better is that you can export BOTH SWF (Flash) and HTML5 versions. Why is this a big deal? Why not just export HTML5 for the masses? Well, web browsers can be inconsistent. Flash adds consistency and performance. If a user has Flash, why not give them the best possible version? If they don’t have Flash, then we’ll fallback to the HTML5 version. Want to know the best part? If a user starts a course on their laptop and later access it from their iPad, they will pick up right where they left off since the Flash version and the HTML5 version are the same content (so the bookmark will work both ways)! Check out this video for an example.
I’ve found the HTML5 publishing to be pretty consistent. Most of the user interface components and Interactions are compatible. This option was well developed and is definitely ready for prime time. I even tested opening up a Captivate 4 project and publishing it to HTML5 worked like a charm. My only complaint is that the file size can get a little large with the HTML5 version. For example, I published a project where the SWF was 1.5MB and the HTML5 version of the project ended up at almost 5MB. Of course, this difference will get less and less with larger projects, but it’s something to note.
Next to the HTML5 export this is my favorite feature. In fact, I’ve been hoping for this feature for YEARS. First, some full disclosure: I’ve been doing all my video demonstrations over the years with Camtasia. This is because the video capture of Captivate has been, well, sub-par. Full motion recording was terrible. In Captivate 6, it’s COMPLETELY different. You can create a new Video Demo project. This fully records your screen. Every animation, every mouse movement, everything. When you are done, you can actually edit the video, add transitions, pan/zoom, etc. What’s better is that the editing is super intuitive. Honestly, you have to see it too believe it. Check out this video to see what I mean.
There one MAJOR thing missing, though. When editing the video, you can’t actually see the audio wave form. This might not sound like a big deal, but when I’m editing, I like to make my video cuts between words. The audio wave form lets you see where you stop taking and makes for more seamless edits. Other than that, I found the entire Video Demo experience very easy, intuitive, and impressive. Kudos to the Captivate team on this one. You nailed it.
Themes: Consistency and Flexibility
There’s nothing worse than poorly design eLearning that doesn’t have a consistent look and feel. Themes in CP6 are really well developed and will help our eLearning look good! They are basically like the styles feature in CP5 on steroids. The slide templates allow you quickly add content. I’m in love with the new Insert Asset Wheel:
It’s genius. No longer are you hunting through the Insert menu. It’s a great example of both improvement and innovation. Making your own theme is pretty cool too. You can add a lot of placeholder items on your master slides which allow you to quickly add consistent content as you generate new slides.
Interactions: Good for eLearning. Good for web development.
I can’t really describe the cool factor Interactions add in Captivate 6. Just watch this and you’ll see. What I can describe is their usefulness. Not only are the well -developed widgets for creating more engaging content, but most of them publish to HTML5. This means you could actually use Captivate 6 to author web content (i.e. content that isn’t necessarily eLearning). Many of the interactions could be effective charts or widgets that a company could use on their site to describe products or services. It’s a nice value-added feature.
I’ll be the first to admit that Captivate 6 isn’t perfect. To be honest, I’ll probably continue to use a product like Camtasia for my video capture since I have a copy of it. But I don’t need Camtasia anymore. Captivate 6 is really a complete package. It’s well worth the purchase/upgrade. Nice work on this one, Adobe. You did good!