Seven years ago I started blogging about Captivate (with version 4 - 5). Most subjects on my blog are more advanced, you'll find lot of use cases for advanced and shared actions. Meanwhile I also have spent thousands of hours on the Captivate forums and in social media, answering questions and helping to solve issues. Moreover I am busy as a Consultant and as a Trainer (for Captivate and other Adobe applications), both through live and online classes, and one-to-one. Based on the combination of those 'Captivate' experiences with my former career as college professor, I decided to write this article to line up the three most important Challenges for any Captivate developer, especially for newbies. It doesn't matter whether you are developing software simulations, soft skills training, responsive or normal projects, if you master these Captivate features you'll feel more comfortable and save a lot of time. (secretly expected Bonus: less questions on the forums ).
Imagine standing before this natural stone porch, in the middle of the most amazing desert in the world (Sahara). You got that Captivate license, but how to start, where to go?
Stumbling block 1: Timeline
Captivate's Timeline is without any doubt the first stumbling blocks for Captivate newbies. This strong conclusion is based on the many problems popping up in forums and social media, on my experiences with consultancy and while offering basic training. Captivate’s Timeline is not ‘normal if you compare with video or animation applications. It shows all objects present on the stage from the start on, not when they are scheduled., Timeline is per slide, not for the whole project. Lot of reasons to be confused. Pausing the timeline by a command or by an interactive object is THE key to building interactivity in a Captivate course which is the main reason why you will have chosen for an eLearning authoring tool instead of a video capturing tool. Understanding the Timeline and being able to control it should be the first priority of any Captivate learning (and training) process.
Resources for Timeline
Nothing can replace a live (or virtual) training to roll away this stumbling block, but recently I published a sequence of 5 articles on my blog and in the eLearning Community to clarify this subject. Here are the links, not in the 'logical' sequence which I used for publishing, but ranked by importance:
Stumbling block 2: Quiz
Captivate quiz and score slides have pretty strict rules. A lot of functionality is built in the quizzing and score master slides, using embedded objects. The two-step Submit process, the priority of the embedded objects in the z-order, cause a lot of problems for starting Captivate users. That explains why every blog post I ever wrote about Quizzing is very popular. Most of them, even after many years, are still visited daily. The stumbling block here is for the default Quiz slides, not for custom Quiz slides are created using standard objects, widgets, variables and advanced/shared actions. Those custom question slides are challenging for intermediate/advanced users (watch out for a later blog post for those users). Drag&Drop slides, used as Question slides can be included in the starter's 'stumbling block' because they probably make a quiz more engaging for the learner.
What a relief when the car transporting our cook and all the food caught up with us after a long quest of several days! Finished that monotonous diet of dried dates.
Resources for Quiz
Some of these blog posts do need an update due to new features in most recent version(s). However most of the information is still valid
Stumbling block 3: Themes
It is one of the most hidden gems in Captivate: design of any project can be streamlined by using a custom Theme. A theme includes all object styles, master slides, skin and defaults for software simulations. Everything is based on a (custom) Theme colors palette, which can even be applied to most Learning Interactions. Creating or editing a theme before starting any project may seem a waste of time, but I guarantee that it will save a lot of time in the process. Small changes to the design, so often asked for by clients, are done in minutes. In many circumstances a well-designed theme makes a more limiting template superfluous.
The Architects/engineers of the Inca town Macchu Picchu knew very well how to prepare the 'design' of their city. Sorry for my adding the acronym TQT (Timeline, Quiz, Theme) and scribbling my name to the 'room with three windows'.
Resources for Themes
Here are some links to get you started with Themes and Theme colors:
This is my personal view on the challenges for Captivate starting users. I am not pointing to any step-by-step work flow which may seem astonishing. My focus is on what is causing most frustrations for the so-called 'newbies', whatever their experience with other applications. As a college professor I used Flipped classes long time before the word was invented: do not spend valuable training time by explaining processes that can easily be found somewhere (videos). Students do not need a trainer for step-by-step work flows, they can lean to master them by self-study. Spend class time by taking away obstructions that are slowing down the learning process. To reach that goal I was looking for an appropriate tool and was lucky to find... Adobe Captivate!