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Shaun-Daley
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Captivate 6 quizzes - html 5 for mobiles

Jun 20, 2012 9:34 AM

Everything is naturally displayed much smaller on, say, an iPhone. During creation of a quiz, to help matters, it's easy enough to increase the size of the text and, with some faffing about, to arrange greater space between the lines within a question, but I can see no way of increasing the size of the default answer button alongside those questions which have one (true/false and multiple choice) for the user to hit. It's fine with a mouse but very difficult with a finger.

 

Given that Adobe have gone to great lengths to show how Captivate output can be reproduced on mobiles, has any thought been given to what the user would actually press in the absence of a mouse? A tiny circle to select a quiz answer isn't exactly helpful. Or am I missing something?

 

Thanks.

 

Shaun

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 20, 2012 10:01 AM   in reply to Shaun-Daley

    are you referring to the submit/clear/etc buttons or the multiple choice select check boxes/radio buttons?

     
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    Jun 20, 2012 2:16 PM   in reply to Shaun-Daley

    using the built-in question slides there isn't a way to change the size of those.

     

    A hot spot question might be a better choice, altho I haven't been able to test one yet to see if it works on a touch device.

     

    You might also be able to make it work with some click boxes, variables, hide/show advanced actions, but again I didn't test it.  I don't see why that wouldn't work, and you could make the graphics as big as you wanted.

     

     

    I think this is an important example that altho something is possible, the interaction still requires sound design behind it - both instructionally and graphically.  That's not a knock against you Shaun, so I hope you don't take it that way.

     
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    Jun 20, 2012 11:49 PM   in reply to AndyKingInOC

    I daresay, Andy, it could be done without a template, but that would defeat the object, as it would mean separate developments for different devices. Adobe people talking excitedly about html 5 and how a single Captivate design can be deployed across many platforms, but I can't see how that's possible, given that the layout of a quiz for a mobile phone would have to to be radically altered to suit its smaller size, and there are no templates within the Captivate portfolio which are aimed at the much smaller screens of phones - certainly when compared to iPads.

     

    Hot spots do work and they can be made as large as needed, but Captivate quizzes are intended to incorporate a variety of question types. Currently, for html 5 output, only four kinds of question can be used, and all but the hot spot option are compromised due to the simple human limitation of trying to press or drag something across a screen which is far too small.

     

    Surely Adobe should have reached the same conclusion and factored into Captivate 6 suitable workarounds, rather than wait for developers to find out the hard way that although today's mobile phone users expect a much richer graphical and interactive experience, it's nowhere near as simple to satisfy that expectation within Captivate 6, as is being suggested in all I read and heard from Adobe. If it's not just over-hyped publicity for html 5, and Adobe is serious about Captivate quizzes being undertaken across the range of mobile devices, then it has to acknowledge the inherent physical compromises and give developers the right tools from the off. As of now, no suitable templates and fixed radio button and check box sizes are a big no-no.

     

    Shaun

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 5:21 AM   in reply to ShaunDaley

    Yes Shaun, we did look carefully at all of those things.  First, the supported question types are by far the most common.  In fact the absent types (fill in the blank and short answer specifically) are so seldom used i've asked hundreds of users personally and have yet to find one who uses them with any frequency at all. Anyway to the larger point, HTML5 ubiquity for mobile phones. No, it isn't really intended for that.  It will work as you can now check an option for scaling HTML on your publish, but you'd have to be a bit loopy to want a full screen course to play out for users on mobile phones. The screens are too small for that.

     

    Our research indicates that people would like job aids, Just in time learning, checklists etc. for delivery on phones.  People do however want to try to do some full format eLearning on tablets. That's why the presets are focused primarily on tablet sizes which one could use to develop for both mobile and desktop at once. Now the issues get both ideological and practical from here. In theory (emphasis here on theory) the best mLearning content would be developed exclusively for mobile delivery. But we live with an absurdly underfunded industry do we not? Do you know of any institutions that have doubled or tripled their eLearning / training budgets to develop mobile alternatives to traditional courses? I haven't seen much of that.  Reality says that people in the workplace today will be getting pushed to at minimum 'repurpose' courses between various devices.  So it makes sense to facilitate that process in a variety of ways. Now that said, I certainly wouldn't wipe multi-screen capabilities off the to do list, but expecting it in first generation mLearning products is unrealistic.  It does exist in Adobe Dreamweaver even today, and I'm sure you'll find that we'll see it in more and more products over time.

     

    I think a lot of this is more about HTML5 growing pains than anything else.  We're suddenly thrown back to 1995 with massive browser incompatibilities, issues maintaining consistency across the various device hardware and browsers etc. That doesn't even begin to consider that the bulk of online users don't even actually have browsers that support HTML5. Most web access is still via IE 6,7 & 8 and only now are mobile users on HTML5 capable browsers hitting the same numbers. 

     

    As for workarounds to the small screen sizes we've actually done a great deal of redesigns to facilitate the various tiny touch issues. Questions, TOC and other interactive element defaults have all been resized to accomodate touch, drag and so on. I don't think it's at all accurate to say that all but hot spot are compromised because of size.  In fact I've tried the other questions on normal smart phones and had no difficulty at all taking quizzes.  It is sensible to design such a quiz to fit well on those little screens, but it's certainly not difficult to hit the right answers and so on.

     

    --Allen

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 8:10 AM   in reply to ShaunDaley

    ShaunDaley wrote:

     

    I daresay, Andy, it could be done without a template, but that would defeat the object, as it would mean separate developments for different devices. Adobe people talking excitedly about html 5 and how a single Captivate design can be deployed across many platforms, but I can't see how that's possible, given that the layout of a quiz for a mobile phone would have to to be radically altered to suit its smaller size, and there are no templates within the Captivate portfolio which are aimed at the much smaller screens of phones - certainly when compared to iPads.

     

    Hot spots do work and they can be made as large as needed, but Captivate quizzes are intended to incorporate a variety of question types. Currently, for html 5 output, only four kinds of question can be used, and all but the hot spot option are compromised due to the simple human limitation of trying to press or drag something across a screen which is far too small.

     

     

    Hasn't device size always been an issue, though?  I had a project last year go completely sideways when the client forgot to tell us some of their learners used laptops with signficiantly smaller screens than their desktop counterparts.  Even when I specifically asked "any laptop users?" and the firm answer was 'no.'  Apparently they didn't consider a laptop docked at their desk to be a laptop.

     

    I agree about the lack of a question template, it's a hassle, and not ideal, but I was merely offering a suggestion.  You could easily build out a hotspot question to look exactly like a mutliple choice or true/false question and I'd bet the learner would never know the difference.  It would behave essentially the same no matter the screen size.

     

    We're just scratching the surface of mobile right now, some of our external people use iPads and that group is asking more and more for deliverables for those externals.  I do not envy those who need to contend with the myriad of device sizes and capabilities.

     

    sorry I couldn't be more help.

     

     

    Regards,

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 8:20 AM   in reply to Allen_Partridge

    OK, Allen, let me come back to you on all of this, as I've been working on an iPad and iPhone for many hours solid now, so I know what I'm up against.

     

    With Captivate, I'm simply looking at quizzes at present, as I've already been able to produce coursework for the larger-screened mobiles via their standard browser. As there's no Flash involved, I was able to do this via a standard web design program. Many more people will own and carry a phone than an iPad, so the hardware is in place without additional cost to the employer, so I think it's sensible to cater for that captive audience, who spend so much time noodling about on their mobiles. In fact, I thought that's what Adobe's marketing for Captivate 6 was all about - tapping into the ready availability of mobiles and user expectations for feature-rich applications.

     

    But I digress; it's quizzing I'm trying to accomplish and I'm sitting here puzzled as to your confirming there's been resizing to suit tiny touch issues. Why then the fixed, tiny radio button and checkbox? Those two alone will cause the majority of problems, as they are the main means of interface for the available question types.

     

    Furthermore, if I use a sequence question with, say, three or four answers, which the user has to drag into a correct order, I can't put distance between each answer in order to help a finger tip avoid hitting the wrong line of text. Inelegant carriage returns were the only thing I could come up with to add space, but this only half solves the problem and shouldn't be necessary. Is this an HTML5 limitation or perhaps a bug? Despite them being hampered by too small a checkbox, I see that multiple choice answers can be separated by moving them anywhere within the overall frame holding all answers. If I try that with sequential answers, they all move together as one, so I can't add any distance between them.

     

    Given these issues as to things being too small and too close together, I did think that the inherent configurability of hot spots was my only answer, but I now find they don't work properly either. Firstly, the bullseye itself, like the checkboxes and radio buttons, is too small, and would be much easier to see if it were enlarged. However, far worse is the outcome of using this question type on the iPad and iPhone.

     

    Using my  iPad 4, if I tap an answer which has a hot spot surrounding the text, the pulsating bullseye jumps out of the hot spot right to the top of the page. It does this each and every time and I've reuploaded and changed things about, but it repeatedly does the same thing.

     

    Conversely, when I use an iPhone, the bullseye stays within the hot spot, but then when I tap the same hot spot again to deselect, another bullseye appears rather than the original disappearing. I can make pretty patterns with lots of bullseyes if I keep on doing this!

     

    So with all of these issues, I'm really short on options now, which brings me to your observations as to question types. For my traditional Flash output for PCs and laptops, I've always included some matching questions, so it's a shame this question type is unsupported, as I do know that users find it quite fun.

     

    I also regularly use the two question types you mention where the user has to enter text, simply because they are the ones where the answer isn't somewhere on the page, so the user has to really think hard before answering. I'm surprised at your conclusion that quiz-setters at large don't see this as particularly important.

     

    All in all, Allen, I've just started a one month trial of Captivate 6, and by the end of that I would like to be clearer as to whether I should upgrade or give it a miss because my expectations are too high. I totally agree about the minefield we're in when it comes to cross-browser support, and the mobile aspects seem to be exacerbating the issues faced. However, if I could get HTML5 output to work properly on both an iPad and an iPhone that would be half the battle, as so many people seem to have either or both. I had hoped this was the answer to Apple's obstinate refusal to support Flash, but I seem to be faced with a variety of shortcomings, and due to this being something of a brave new world, it's not clear to me whether what I've identified are bugs and/or design shortcomings within Captivate, or the limitations which HTML5 currently imposes. After many hours of frustration, I suspect it's a bit of everything!

     

    Thanks for listening.

     

    Shaun

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 8:24 AM   in reply to AndyKingInOC

    Andy, I took on board what you said yesterday, and gave it a try, hoping the hot spot option would at least give me something, but as mentioned in my post above to Allen, it's all over the place, so even that isn't a solution at the moment.

     

    Thanks anyway.

     

    Shaun

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 9:09 AM   in reply to ShaunDaley

    Shaun,

     

    the radio buttons etc. are only there to maintain consistency.  The entire element is clickable, leading to a much, much larger clicking area. Try it, you'll see what i mean.

     

    While i follow your mobile device logic, virtually nobody is actually doing quizzes on mobile phones. It's pedagogically problematic, it is clumsy even with the ideal interface solutions (which would of course be custom for just the smartphone sized screens) and it's not what we're hearing the demand for in the industry.

     

    Simply put people want videos (just in time demos, trainine etc.) on their smartphones.  They want check lists and simple job aids.  You could build any of those things in Captivate 6 easily with click boxes etc. Clearly you wouldn't want to have simply giant buttons on an iPad variant of the smartPhone app or Desktop variant. You'd want something special for the smaller device. Thus the closer parity between iPad and Desktop. 

     

    I'm away from the desk at the moment but I appreciate your investigation and will try to do some more digging to give you some research stats  etc. to demonstrate the case.  I have done a couple of eSeminars on the topic, and I think you'll find some nice online resources from Kineo and others who've begun chronicling use cases they've encountered with customers.

     

    Now all that said, if you're finding that the demand for conventional compliance type  apps on mobile phones is increasing  - or identifying trends where people are wanting to take conventional quizzes etc. in that context - I'd love to hear all you've got on such use cases.  It's of course an evolving field and we're all open minded about the potential for rapid change.

     

    --Allen

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 10:53 AM   in reply to Allen_Partridge

    You're right there, Allen, about the radio button range, so I wish I'd known earlier that the entire element is clickable. Nevertheless, the radio button is still used to show that a selection has been made, by virtue of a tick within and, unfortunately, both button and tick are miniscule on a mobile device, so it would still be preferable to be able to increase the dimensions of the button for clarity (so screw consistency!).

     

    But I can't help feeling concerned that your honest analysis of what Adobe is aiming towards is at odds to the marketing machine, which promotes a one-size-fits-all design for deployment across every device, regardless of size. You say that virtually nobody is doing quizzes on mobile phones, but you'll be well aware that up to this release of Captivate, the whole Apple market was excluded from doing so, even if they wanted to, due to the absence of Flash support. And isn't that the point here - now that there's the opportunity to avoid Flash with HTML5 output, Apple users can join the party, so to dismiss mobile use aside on spurious grounds of limited screen size and desire for videos... well, sorry, that doesn't wash. I managed to upscale all the default text and button sizes and achieved a perfectly legible quiz for an iPhone, and those I showed it to were mightily impressed....except when their seemingly sausage fingers couldn't easily tap the things they wanted to.

     

    Clumsiness, as you suggest, is not so much down to the smaller screen size, but more due to the inability of the designer (me) to change certain inherent hard-coded sizes to suit mobile use. If everything could be altered, that would be a great start, but then what's the point if all too much of what I tested today simply doesn't work properly? And that's on an iPad as well as an iPhone.

     

    In terms of identifying trends, a couple of months ago I made a serious mistake in starting to develop for the iPad, which also meant investing in one to test my output. Beforehand, so many people I had asked owned one or had seen others using one, so I thought it was a no-brainer. Except that I develop for the staid environment of UK government employees, which requires that I develop training which takes them to a brighter place beyond the grey world of the legislation they must adhere to. Anyway, the mistake I made was imagining that such people were armed with iPads in such an austere, cost-controlled working environment.

     

    Bad iPad call aside, many of my target audience carry smartphones and they have the opportunity to use them inside or out of their immediate work environment (such as passenger commuting), so I see no reason why that shouldn't entail a Captivate quiz or two - but not as things currently stand, given the shortcomings I'm experiencing.

     

    Shaun

     
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    Jun 21, 2012 7:29 PM   in reply to ShaunDaley

    I think we're going to see a lot of these types of discussions on this forum over coming months and I personally believe it's a good thing.

     

    My own view has always been that the entire idea you could create a course in a SINGLE Captivate project file that could be output to desktop, pad/tablet (HTML5), and smartphone, and work equally well on all three is a HUGE MYTH that only a marketing person would come up with.  Anyone familiar with each of these different device outputs would know that you'd have to significantly change the design and layout of the course components for each target platform. 

     

    So while it might be POSSIBLE to have the same project file output for all platforms, the resulting product would not be PRACTICAL on at least some of them.  So my personal view is that, whatever the capabilities of the technology may be, we designers are still going to need to make judgement calls as to what we should be recommending to our clients.

     

    Even if the marketing dudes are peddling snake oil, we still have to be the voices of reason and protect our professional reputations, because nobody can find the salesmen when it comes time to do "after-sales support".

     

    I think Allen has given us some useful insight into the way Adobe has conceived where Captivate is being positioned for the near future of this market, and that seems to be squarely at desktop and tablet learning, not smartphones.  So it might take some time before the necessary enhancements and fixes to appear that will make Captivate really competitive in that particular area. 

     

    Everyone's client base and project requirements will be slightly different. I've never been asked by a client to develop for smartphones for example, so Captivate's deficiencies in this area don't bother me.  But I AM now being asked about tablets such as iPad and Android.  So I tend to agree with Adobe's decisiion to support that area first.

     
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