Just Released: Adobe Captivate 8

Today’s release of Captivate 8 marks another large milestone in eLearning development. Captivate 8 is loaded with new features, but its milestone achievement lies within the responsive design tooling. With this release, eLearning developers now have a streamlined workflow for developing eLearning that can meet the demands of a diverse mobile audience.

Responsive Design

The responsive design workflow is, as I mentioned above, a monumental addition to Captivate 8. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is not a new concept. There are plenty of resources, frameworks, and tools available for web designers to create responsive websites. The problem is these tools are targeted toward web designers/developers and require an acute knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The typical Captivate user does not want to be writing media queries or editing CSS code. Captivate 8 is a game-changer because it adds a responsive design workflow directly into the tooling.

Responsive Projects in Adobe Captivate 8

After creating a responsive project, eLearning developers begin creating their content the same way they always have by importing slides, adding objects like images or captions, etc. The responsive project gives developers a slider allowing them to view their content at different screen sizes.

Responsive Slider

This slider has customizable breakpoints. Breakpoints are screen sizes where the layout of the content may need to change to accommodate a different device (i.e. desktop, laptop, and phone). Breakpoints are not device-specific though. They may be the screen sizes when the content starts to look a little cramped and needs to be adjusted. In either case, Captivate 8 allows eLearning developers to adjust their content for different sizes. It’s the same content, but different layout. This is game-changing. Check out the responsive design videos on the Captivate Blog to see it in action.

One of the many things I like about the responsive design workflow added to Captivate 8 is the vocabulary and metaphors used in the interface mirror those used by web developers. For example, the Properties panel allows sizes and positions to be percentage-based rather than only using fixed pixels (or some other units).

Captivate 8 Properties Panel

Percentage-based position and sizing are used by web developers creating responsive websites. eLearning developers are learning the same techniques with Captivate 8. This will help make the transition to responsive eLearning development easier and allow for a lot of knowledge transfer between web design and eLearning design.

Device Testing

When I created my first Responsive Project in Captivate 8, my #1 concern was testing. As a web developer, I know testing a responsive design is crucial to producing high-quality content but can be quite tedious. I was happy to see there is a very streamlined testing workflow. When you choose Preview > Project in Captivate 8, the course is launched in the browser. The preview page is actually a shell that allows testers to change the viewport of the course to see how well the design responds to different screen sizes. This is the exactly what I wanted: A testing workflow allowing eLearning developers to preview their responsive designs without needing a phone or tablet.

I was even more excited to see Edge Inspect integration for eLearning developers wanting to preview their content on a physical device. Edge Inspect includes a Chrome plug-in that allows any content previewed in Chrome on the desktop to be browsed on a phone or tablet. As you can see on the Captivate Blog, the workflow is fast and intuitive.

Redesigned Interface

Speaking of intuitive, I absolutely love the new Captivate 8 interface. It was totally redesigned and is now cleaner and easier to use.

As an instructor, my first thought was how excited I was to teach my first Captivate 8 class. Objects are easier to find. The Properties panel has tabs instead of long scrolling sections. It’s 100% better and an obvious demonstration of the Captivate team’s emphasis on making the product better and not just adding new features.

The Features Don’t Stop Here

I’ve only scratched the surface on what’s in Captivate 8. Definitely look to the Captivate Blog for a full list of features. There’s a great What’s New tutorial posted to adobeknowhow.com that discusses all the new features. The Captivate team has also posted plenty of videos showing everything added in this release. I encourage all eLearning developers to start experimenting with the responsive design features of Captivate 8.

One Last Note

Remember, responsive eLearning design is a huge paradigm shift and isn’t perfect. Designing for the device landscape is not easy and while the tooling in Captivate 8 will help, it’s not perfect. Don’t approach responsive eLearning design with the mentality: “How am I supposed to squish my course down to fit on a phone”. Prioritize your content. Recognize that it’s not going to look perfect on every device so don’t get hung up trying to make that happen. The most important part is to try it, test it, and continue to make improvements.


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