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:

28 responses
Thank you for that very helpful insight. Would it not be more practical if we had the ability of constructing such conditional actions as: "if the state of 'x' is 'y' do this and/or that." Regards.
Why should that be more practical? States cannot be changed by user, and are part of the object. If the developer changes the state he can add as many commands as he wants in the same advanced o shared action.
OK. Let me try to make myself clear. Assume that you have a button with a couple of states and one of them is "visited". So when you change the state of that button -by hitting it- to visited you would have the chance of building an if statement like that: if the state of button_x is visited hide object_y. Without assigning a variable to it. Would it not be easier? Hope I made myself clear. Looking forward to your future blogs which definetely contribute a lot to our daily professional practices. Whish you a nice week. Best regards.
Your 'visited' state for buttons is not an InBuilt state, which means it will have to be applied by the event 'Success' for the button, with that same event you can hide the button. This is what I explained in my previous answer, still do not see any advantage in your IF statement, because it would mean you need two different actions and events: one to apply the state 'Visited' and on to check your condition. For Drag&Drop objects you have more states, but I didn't treat them in this article.
I haven't seen anyone else mention the intelligent iteration of names when copying objects before. I know it's not the flashiest feature, but I'm SO happy to see that! I haven't actually tried 9 yet, but it seems like there are a bunch of little improvements like that. These aren't the things that will make for splashy blog posts, but they really will help improve work flow. Thanks, as always, for sharing!
I never look for 'splashy' or 'flashy' but to share 'useful' tips. Very often those tips are the big time savers. I loved it when the 'filtering' for dropdown lists appeared, never did see anyone else mention it neither.
Lieve, You really need to write a book on actions and variables! Thanks for this review.
@jsv You're welcome, I'm busy with that book.
Great article. Thanks Lieve!
An interesting feature of Adobe Captivate 9 is that it allows effective positioning of objects on screen of different sizes and enables developer to preview how the course looks like look alike on each type of device.
@Kaleem I clearly explained that I was not giving a complete review of Captivate 9. I didn't mention anything about responsive projects, which what you are talking about .
For those interested in the new multi-state functionality, here is another example:
I would like to add a start and replay button that starts the time line and then replays it.
Same button for the two functions? I just planned to write a blog post about possibilities and pitfalls for a Replay slide button. Why a start button? If the slide is not paused, it starts automatically when you are navigated to it.
How can I take a Captivate 3 cp file and update it to a Captivate 9 file? Thanks for your reply.
@Michael Such a question fits better in the Captivate forum. My answer would be: do not even try it. Bridging a gap of 6 versions and about 10 years for Captivate is like trying to convert a 2CV (Citroën) car from 1960 into a 2016 Porsche. It would take you a lot more time to upgrade (you need at least one intermediate version) and fix all the issues than recreating the file from scratch in Captivate 9. Hopefully you can reuse some of the assets. Be aware that AS2 is no longer supported since version 5.
I discovered the new object states and was really excited with how much it simplifies development! I'd like to try to use this for a "drop-down" menu, but can't seem to add an active button to an object state. Have you tried this? can you give us some guidance on this? Thanks for your great post on these new additions to Captivate 9
Nancy, by default you can not add interactive objects to a state. However, I have some workaround in mind which I am exploring at this moment. It will not be able to launch all commands however, which one did you have in mind?
HI Lieve, thanks for responding. I would like to use the jump to slide command. Thanks, Nancy From: [] Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2016 12:06 PM
Nancy, I have a solution, but works only for SWF output. Do you need HTML output?
Hi Lily! I would like to ask what version of Illustrator you are using? I haven't seen the "Responsive" option on my illustrator.
Cyrille, I always use the latest version. You do not need to make a SVG responsive, since it is a vector graphic it will rescale without any quality loss throughout all the breakpoint views in Captivate, which is not the case with bitmap images. Responsiveness is set up in Captivate using the Breakpoints and the Position Properties panel.
I get your point but I have problem when publishing a SVG image. Let's say I have a responsive project and I attached SVG to retain sharp quality but then checking on a Tablet or Mobile, it overlaps. Here's a screen shot for your reference. I hope you have solutions on this, thanks for the response though.
It would be easier to help you if you posted this question in the Community portal or directly on the Adobe forums. Comments on a blog are not the best place. You can insert images directly on the forums (and videos). You have to set up the size and location properly in the Position Properties panel.
Thanks Lieve! I already post my concern on the Adobe forums and hopefully I can get a word or two from the developers. I really appreciate your response on this matter.
I answered just now on the forums, was travelling yesterday.
In one of your posts I noticed that you said you can't interactive objects to a state. What I was hoping to achieve is that when the state is clicked on the audio starts (which I have achieved) but if the learner doesn't want to listen to the audio I would like to add a button to mute. Is that possible?
You will have to combine the commands 'Change State' with the command 'Show button' in an advanced action.