A lot has been published already about the 'big' new features of the release 5.5: publishing to YouTube, gradients, shadows, rotate, Quiz templates. In this post you'll find my list of less obvious new features that are however very useful. And I will also mention what I do not like of course!
What I like
When you import Object Styles with the same name as existing styles in the active project, now you are the one who decides what should happen! In version 5.0 Captivate decided, with or without your consent, that the imported styles should get another name (and added a number to that name). And I do never like the situation where an application is deciding for me. Now you get a dialog box 'Overwrite existing style' with a warning and a choice (see screenshot): either you answer Yes to overwrite the existing style, which means that all objects with that style will immediately be updated, or you answer No and will get the same situation as in version 5.0. I like this changed feature, not only because I'm a control freak, but because it is a real time saver when you want quickly to change a number of styles for all objects in a project at once.
- If you use Slide video, and have to synchronize the video with other objects on the slide, you'll probably use F3 (or the buttons on the Timeline) to play/pause the slide. In previous versions, when pausing the video jumped back to its first frame, now it stays on the frame where you pauses, which makes it much easier to sync of course.
- New Project Info Panel: when Captivate 5.0 was release a lot of users did complain about missing the global project information, available in previous releases in the StoryBoard view: resolution, number of slides & frames, hidden slides, total project time.... The Adobe team added this information with the patch (released December 2010) to the Preferences dialog box, Project Information. You will still find this project information in the Preferences, also directly available using the File, Project Info option. But the total project time was given in seconds. In CP5.5 there is a new Project Info panel (see first image in the Picture Gallery), providing the same information, but properly 'translated' to minutes (or hours if necessary) and it has a Refresh button! This means that you do not have to preview the project before having access to all information (like in CP4), just click the Refresh button to update the information.
I do regret that this new panel is not available in the default Classic Workspace, because I think some users are always using that workspace. But it is in the all the other workspaces, in the group docked to the right side of the stage. Moreover I believe more valuable information could be included such as the framerate (fps), filesize (CP-file), Audio and Video settings,etc. Perhaps you have more ideas about information for the panel, please take the time to fill in a feature request (Feature request).
- New Effects Workspace: in CP5.0 I created a similar customized workspace like this one, but now it is available out of the box. At the bottom of the stage both the Effects and the Timeline panels are visible which makes it easier to create and synchronize Effects (see second image in the Gallery).
Alpha setting is now removed from the swatches dialog box and in the Fill&Stroke accordion of the Properties panel for objects. It drove me nuts that I always had to open twice the dialog box, once to choose the color, and once to change the alpha. Quite a lot of mouse clicks less now. Have a look at the third image in the Gallery.
- Small ergonomic improvements to the interface: colors of the bars on the Timeline are now more apparent, in the Effects panel, the tiny 'fx' symbol has a Text indication 'Apply Effects'. Both are visible in the second image that shows the bottom dock of the Effects Workspace.
- In the dialog box for Advanced actions, type conditional action, the operator "is equal to" is now top of the list, which is more logical since it is often used. But I hoped for more enhancements in this dialog box.
- I do love the added Reporting possibilities by using another SCORM template: being able to report from a PDF (eLS 2.5 only I believe) is great, and the template SendTrackingDataAtEnd is really improving student's experiences if a lot of students are taking an assessment at the same moment because it will not 'overload' the LMS with data.
Great news: the system variables cpQuizInfoPointsscored and cpInfoPercentage are now updated after each score obtained by user, almost immediately (after Submit click, or click on the interactive object)! This means that now you can use those system variable at each moment to give feedback to the user. In versions 5.0 they were only populated on the Score slide. If you wanted the score obtained and the percentage, you had to calculate the total score in a user variable, using the system variable cpQuizInfoLastSlidePointScored that was (and still is) updated after each question slide.
- Same system variables will now be updated with scores of scored objects as well (click boxes, buttons, Text Entry Boxes), so that it has the same value as the Total Score and the Percentage, visible on the default Score slide. In 5.0 cpQuizInfoPointsscored/cpInfoPercentage had only the total score/percentage for the question slides, not for the other scored objects, whereas the score shown on the default Score slide did take into account all scored objects. This was rather confusing.
- Reviewer is now functional on Windows-OS in another language than the available Captivate languages. This is very important for me, because most of my colleagues have a Dutch OS, and Captivate is not available in Dutch. Now I'm able to send them files to review, great!
Changes I do not like:
- The "button" widget, a static widget in Captivate 5 had unique properties: although it was static, it had a pausing point (at 6,5secs) and it allowed to attach actions, mostly navigational. This was THE workaround to add navigation to Master slides and question slides, that do not accept interactive objects like normal buttons. I blogged about those possibilities: 'Using the button widget: some ideas'.
This button widget has disappeared in Captivate 5.5, it has been replaced by a static and an interactive version. The interactive one has the only advantage over default buttons that it has a little bit more formatting, but cannot be used on master slides/question slides because it is interactive. The static version can still be used, but... it will not pause anymore which is frustrating when using on master slides/question slides. So if you still have version 5.0, please keep the original button widget, it will be functional in CP 5.5.
Another reason for my dislike: I have to update my blog post....Will keep you informed, because my intuition tells me that this 'dislike' will soon be solved by the Adobe team. They rock! For those who share my opinion about this new static widget, here is a surprise! The Adobe team did not like my 'dislike' and provided me with a new Static button widget, WITH A PAUSING POINT. The pausing is not set at 6,5secs like the previous widget in Captivate 5.0 but at the 1/2 of the slide duration, relative to it. And Suresh Jayaraman kindly accepted that I offer this improved widget to the readers of my blog. Here is the link: Static Button with Pausing Thanks, Suresh and Sudeshna Sarkar!
- The former Size&Position accordion in the Properties panel for objects has changed to 'Transform' because it has not only the Size and Position (of the registration point), but also the new Rotate feature. Why my dislike: the option 'Apply to all' in this accordion will now apply not only size and position but also the rotation to all similar objects. I really would have preferred to have the possibility to apply only size changes. And even better: to have also the location separated from the size. Align, Resize to same size is great for objects on the same slide, but not for objects on different slides.
What about you?
I'm sure to discover other functionalities/features to like or to dislike, this is my list with 'first impressions'. Later on I will try to publish a similar list about the eLearning Suite 2.5. For the moment just want to tell that I'm 'captivated' by the roundtripping with Audition, a 'super' audio editing application.
What do you like, dislike in CP5.5? I would love to hear about your first ideas.