Playing with Captivate 9


Version 9 has been released about 10 days ago, while I was on vacation. My fans know that I seldom will post immediately a 'full' review, because I want first to play around a little bit, to try out some reported new features before offering my personal reflections and tips. You will not read anything about the new Quiz features, nor about the enhancements to Responsive projects today, maybe later on in another article. There is too much to write about!

First project

No better way to get the feeling of new features than to create a real project from scratch. In the following movie (only one slide) you'll see that I recreated a slide that was posted in the first article about shared actions. I didn't upgrade the project, didn't use the objects, nor the actions/variables from the old project. If you watch it closely, you'll detect that I used:

  • new states work flow, both for static and interactive objects
  • imported SVG's and roundtripping with Adobe Illustrator
  • Effects 2.0 with custom curved motion paths
  • new commands in Advanced/Shared actions

I will offer some tips about those 4 major new features when you have played with this slide. Refreshing the browser will allow you to restart the movie. Of course I discovered also some little gems hidden between the big diamonds, while exploring. 

Example movie

Multiple States

In Captivate 8 it was possible to create 3 states for shape buttons, both in the Object Style Manager or individually using the Properties panel, Style tab. In this example you did see that the 'default button states' (Normal, Rollover, Down) can even have a different label, not only a fill and a stroke applied to them. Look at this screenshot of the Object State panel for the central oval shape button in the movie. Watch the default states (marked by red rectangle) and the extra 4 states I added to end up with 7 different states. 

For the four extra states I used SHIFT-CTRL-ALT-Z to Duplicate State a couple of times. You'll find the option also in the right-click menu on a state.

Drag&Drop objects also have InBuilt states, but will blog about Drag&Drop in a future post.

Hidden gem

In the Object Style Manager (I saved the style for that central shape button) the different default states for shape buttons show up, just like for any normal button. They were also saved in the OSM for Captivate 8, but not displayed in this 'cool' way :)

SVG - Illustrator roundtripping

I call this the (until now) missing link in the beautiful bracelet of Adobe applications that allow you to create amazing eLearning courses: Captivate, Photoshop, Audition, Edge Animate, Edge Inspect and now finally Illustrator!! Scalable Vector Graphics, contrary to bitmap images, do not suffer from quality loss on re-scaling. Moreover for simple graphics the file size is incredibly low, which is certainly an advantage when you are creating for mobile devices. Beware: file size can be large if you have complicated graphics. Look at this screenshot: I used 8 SVG's - they end up in a dedicated folder in the Library:

You see the usage in the Library as for other assets. Example: the SVG ManGreen has been used 4 times, in the 4 states of the central shape button.
The man-SVG's are very small, but the lightboxes with text are using a complicated filter and size is much bigger. The settings used in Illustrator to save these files as SVG are visible in the next screenshot. To preserve the font, you have to convert it to outlines.

Effects 2.0

The previous Effects panel is gone! Effects timelines are now embedded under the object to which they apply. Live preview with the Play button in the Timeline (or use Space bar), you can have all motion paths on different objects visible at the same time. That makes life so much easier. Curved motion paths are possible. When you hover over an effect in the Effects part of the Timeline panel, you'll see a preview of that effect. This works even with custom saved effects:

Hidden gems

  1. You can use the same shortcut keys for effect timelines as for the object timelines to increase/decrease its length. That is a valid alternative for typing in a value in the Timing panel or for dragging with the mouse. Example: right arrow key will move the whole effect timeline 0.1sec to the right, CTRL-Right will move over 1sec, SHIFT-Right will increase the timeline duration with 0.1sec. All arrow combinations shortcut keys described in this old article: TinyTimeline Tidbits are functional. I regret that CTRL-E, which extends the duration till the end of the slide has not been included for Effect Timelines. Neither does CTRL-L move the effect timeline to the playhead position, it will move the object timeline with the Effect timeline even if the Effect timeline is the selected one.

  2. For the custom motion effects (scribble, curved, line) start with the cursor over the present location of the object, and the beginning of the path will snap to the center point of that object (more precise: the center point of the bounding box).

  3. You can uncheck 'Show motion paths' if your screen is getting too crowded, look in the Timing panel just above the fields for Effect Start and Effect Duration. BTW you can increment the values in those fields using arrow keys: UP for 0,1sec, SHIFT-UP increments to the next full second. Field has to be selected in that case. If field is not selected you can use the typical Adobe scrubber.

New Commands

These commands have been added:

  1. Go to Next State: only available in the list for simple actions, for all events

  2. Go to Previous State: only available for simple actions, for all events

  3. Change State: available for simple, advanced and shared actions. This command needs two paramaters: the object and the state; for a shared action both will be compulsory parameters. I used this command a lot in the example movie, both in a conditional advanced action (on the central shape button) as in a shared action triggered by the four bubble shape buttons.

  4. Delay Next Actions by: finally you will be able to time commands in the sequence for standard/conditional advanced and shared actions. This new command takes one parameter: the amount of time which can be a literal or a variable. In the next screenshot you see that I used it to play the audio clip after the custom effect (with a duration of 1.2secs) has been finished. That parameter is a 'candidate' parameter, not compulsory, when you use it in a Shared action. For more information about parameters see the article Parameters in shared actions. The situation is the same in Captivate 9 as it was in Captivate 8.
    Personally I am very excited about the this new command, which allows better control over timing by advanced/shared actions. 

Hidden gem

Also about timing, not a new command but an improvement of the command Apply Effects in an advanced/shared action: you can now add values for the Start time and the duration of the effect.

More Small Gems

  1. Drag&Drop until Captivate 8 didn't have a Success Caption by default. I explained a workaround in Drag&Drop Tips. You can forget about that tip in Captivate 9, Success caption is now available. It uses the default Success Shape or Success Caption style, depending on your Preferences and theme.

    Objects used in Drag&Drop similar to interactive objects, have also 'Inbuilt states'. That is not a little gem, will post a new Drag&Drop Tips article for version 9 in the future

  2. Intelligent naming of copy/duplicate. In former versions, a copy or duplicate of an object in the same file or in another file would get a generic name. In Captivate 9 if you copy/duplicate an object with a meaningful name the copy will keep that name with an added underscore+number. Big improvement, and now you have even more reasons to set up a good naming convention for your projects. Look at this screenshot: this is a copy of the central shape button to another file:

  3. Simple action feature: another popular post (and a Youtube video) can be dropped in the trash can for Captivate 9 but I don't regret it at all. You no longer have to create a standard oneline advanced/shared action (or use micro navigation) to prevent the playhead from continuing. Just check the box that is highlighted in this screenshot:

Editing Motion Paths and Reusing Customized Effects

One of the new features in Captivate 5 are Effects. Krishna Kiran posted an interesting introduction to those effects in the Captivate blog. Here is the link:
Effects allow you to apply special formating such like dropdown shadows and bevel and to create simple animations without having to use Flash. In this tip I will show how you can adapt motion paths when using motion effects. It is possible to save customized effects and use them again in the same project or in another one. Once you have re-used a customized effect, it will be added in the dropdown-lists to a special category, labeled  Custom. If you want to see the custom effect also in the Advanced actions dropdown list, you'll have first to apply it in a time-based version to an object.
It is also possible to reorganize the effects in folders, but this involves deleting the Preferences folder in order to have this reorganisation reflected in the dropdown lists of the Effects panel.
I created this demonstration SWF to show how to customize a motion effect, to save and to reuse it.