Category Archives: Uncategorised

Captivate 7 Fail? – No Monthly Subscription

As of mid-January you cannot get a month-by-month subscription for Adobe Captivate. All the details here.

While on the face of it this would appear to be a smart move for Adobe I think overall it will be a fail.

The monthly subscription used to be a fantastic option for the many users within organisations that only need the product intermittently. i.e. those who have a mad flurry of publishing content for a new release/initiative but then don’t need to touch any of the content for months when an update is requested. With the monthly subscription you could essentially lease the product for the development period, let it lapse and then pick up for another month whenever updates are due.

So are those people going to now take out a longer term subscription or purchase it? I think not. Instead they’ll download the trial version to make the changes, and then find someone with a subscription to publish it for them. And guess what, already happening. Fielded my first call this morning from an internal development team in precisely that position. All they need to do is make a couple of updates to their existing content. Subscribing for 12 months is not an option.

If I was Adobe I’d keep the month’s subscription, but bump it up a bit. Sure most teams would be happy to pay $50 or similar to get their project sorted. Plus we all know once a team gets Captivate available they find their own reasons to keep using it.

Captivate 7 Fail #3: No Mavericks for You

[Update: Adobe released an updated 20 November. Details and download links here.]

So not only do I have a product that I cannot install, or that doesn’t do what it says on the box re: TInCan, I now find out that it only works with old operating systems.

Just installed OSX Mavericks on my MBP. And while it appears to work fine (albeit a bit slower?), discovered today that the spirit of cooperation does not extend to Captivate 7. It completely fails to launch under Mavericks.

Quick visit to Adobe site and (surprise surprise) nothing officially announced. But dig into the forums and found this thread with this money quote from a member of the Captivate team.

23 October: We are working on it as I write and will have an update in next couple of weeks

As one of the posters pointed out, it’s not like Mavericks was a complete surprise. And DEV builds are available in advance precisely to test your apps with. Instead we get a vague “see you when you we see you” missive buried in a forum post. This on arguably the OS where most Adobe users will be hanging out, trying to earn a living.

Disappointed.

Captivate 7 Fail #2: Tincan – UPDATE

Further to my frustrations over the supposed TinCan functionality, I placed a question in the Adobe Forum.

You can read and follow the conversation here. But essentially the news is painful.

It appears TinCan CAN be made to work with Captivate IF you publish your content in an LMS. The content as developed relies on the LMS to determine the LRS endpoint and user details.

This is the most stupid implementation of TinCan support I can imagine. The entire point of TinCan is to allow flexible learning AND delivery. Content placed anywhere (not just in an LMS) can generate the appropriate message and report the learning event.

Having TinCan work only for content in an LMS is like having a mobile phone that only works while plugged into the wall. Brilliantly dumb. If the TinCan content has to be on the LMS then the entire point of TinCan has gone away. Might as well just use SCORM as per everything before.

Anyway, keep an eye on the forum post to see if anything changes. Until then, if crying into your drink, you’re not alone.

Captivate 7 Fail #2: Tincan implemented? Really?

Fresh from the joy of trying to get their subscription system working (read it all here folks), now to try and get busy with the most anticipated feature in my mind: TinCan support.

The Dream

I won’t detail what TinCan is (working on that as a separate article). Instead I’ll assume you’re reading on because you know what TinCan is and are/were also keen to use Captivate as part of the solution.

In essence the plan was to use Captivate to generate some training elements (for example, standalone system demos), publish to our intranet, and then have them report usage to our LRS.

The (Painful) Reality

It started so well. Within your project you update the quiz preferences and there’s now a TinCan option to select. Awesome.

TinCan-Option

So far so good. Next click that Configure button and see what that gives us.

TinCan-Configure

Err OK. Not quite what I was expecting. FYI TinCan works by generating statements about learning involving a subject (who did the learning), an action (how did they learn: read, studied, attended, etc) and an object (the item being learnt with). Doesn’t have any of that recorded but let’s keep going. Fingers crossed.

Publish the course and load on the intranet. Attempt to launch and oops:

TinCan-Launch Error

Makes sense. We’ve not bothered to define the LRS (where the statements get stored), nor any of the details needed for the statement.

If in doubt, goto the code

So let’s check what code is generated for us.

For starters TinCan.xml sounds promising. It’s not:

TinCan-TinCanXML

It just appears to repeat elements from the configuration window.

So also in there is another promising file tc-config.js. Now this does look a bit more useful:

TinCan-config

This at least contains some of the elements expected for TinCan. And it does at least mention the LRS. With an empty section that then matches what the error message is reporting.

But any idea how you’re meant to fill in that config file? Or define that LRS? No? Me neither. And that’s not to mention nothing in there about defining the learner/subject.

Why are all the Captivate 7 FAQs about Captivate 6?

Next step, check the website. (I know, getting desparate).

Go to the Captivate 7 page at Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/au/products/captivate.html), then click FAQ. Go on. Try It. I’ll wait.

Done that? Did you notice, like I did, that the FAQs are specifically about Captivate 6, saying so in big letters in the title? TinCan support was only introduced in version 7, so not looking forward to a lot of help there….

Note, if you think the main FAQ page being tied to the old version is bad, wait ’til you just try searching for Captivate 7 in Google. From its results Adobe are still fixated on Captivate 5.5!!

Starting to develop a pattern here in the quality of support…..

OK. Give up. Last resort. Read the manual.

Greetings to the Captivate Documentation Team (if you exist)

The manual, in a word, is useless.

It mentions Tin Can. So one point. But the rest of the explanation has no relationship to reality. For example it says all important information is wwritten to the manifest file imsmanifest.xml. But 3 secs of investigation (and dare I say it Adobe, testing?) shows you don’t get that file when publishing to Tin Can.

TinCan-Files

Conclusion

So essentially Adobe has made a song and dance about giving me a dropdown option that has no actual value or benefit. At this stage I can see no way to define the required TinCan elements and generate a statement that will be successfully sent to my LRS for safe keeping.

As I write this I can categorically say that Captivate 7 does NOT support TinCan. Because nobody bothered to write the documentation that explained how to do it. If it isn’t documented, it does not exist.

Couple this with the disaster that is the subscription system, and really Adobe is becoming that company really only used under extreme duress.

Conclusion 2

Have heard Articulate Storyline supports TinCan. Time to see if any better than Captivate does it.

Adobe subscription system is broke (but you knew that already)

Just spent an entire afternoon trying (and failing) to install Adobe Captivate after purchasing a 12 month subscription.

Problem was/is that the installer fails to find my subscription when sent away to ask for it. Just says no subscription found.

error

After one of the slowest support chat conversations ever, narrowed issue down (perhaps) to the subscription verification needing to access a specific server and port that are potentially not open by default in my company firewall. The brilliant suggestion? Just turn off your firewall.

Presumably Adobe have never worked for a company with more than 7 employees that actually manages and controls access to such important elements of the computer. I’ve more chance of recreating Captivate using MS Paint than getting that to happen.

Frustratingly Adobe was quiet happy with the current Firewall settings when it took my money, and when I log into My Adobe to check I was not hallucinating and they really did take my money.

I hate (Adobe’s implementation of) software as a service.

UPK Wishlist – 9 Requests to Make it Better

Anyone becoming familiar with a new software application will soon come across features that make you ask “what the?”, or will find themselves in a corner wishing a certain feature was available. Our experience with UPK is no different.

Following are an unsorted list of peeves and wishes from our first endeavours with this robust little tool.

(1) Give us some transferrable publication versions

UPK allows you to quickly and easily generate content for users. The problems start when you try to publish that content anywhere online.

Each of the published formats generates enormous numbers of files. Across multiple, nested folders. This makes them veritably impossible to publish on most CMS (including Sharepoint) where you have to upload files individually or by folder.

For example here are the file and folder counts from a simple publication (1 process, 20 steps):

> 60 files across 8 subdirectories (HTML Pages)
> 639 files across a whopping 44 directories (player package)

It wouldn’t be hard to provide a single exe version of the player package (Captivate offers an export as EXE option), or a streamlined HTML site structure, that would then be easier to transfer and use.

Currently the only way to distribute the player package on Sharepoint (without going mad) is to zip the entire package, upload as a zip, and require the user to download and unzip before use. Not the best user experience.

Granted this could be a strategic decision to encourage us to run a UPK server. However that’s not always available.

(2) Add text formatting to template text

Minor peeve with the template text as supported in UPK is that it all runs on as a single paragraph. If wanting to include carriage returns in text the only method is to click the “edit template text button” and then edit as required.

Would be nice if it supported common shortcuts for carriage returns and perhaps tabs.

From:

Enter the appropriate information in the [] field. nnEnter “12345″.

To
Enter the appropriate information in the [] field.

Enter “12345″.

Here’s what happens if you try that today:

(3) Be consistent over concepts

Issue when publishing to LMS is that it ignores any top level content. If you publish all your content within a single module, and add an introduction/welcome concept to that module, it is ignored in the LMS version. However it does appear in the other publication formats.

Top level concept defined in the UPK source.

Powerpoint export – concept appears.

HTML export – concept appears.

Player export – concept lost.

(4) Let me rename Concept topics

This is another issue particular to the LMS package.

UPK lets you define additional concept topics at any level of a module (module, section or topic). However the limitation is you have no control over the name of such topics. Within their main window they always appear with the title “Concept”.

Would be nice to be able to edit these names. For example “Welcome”, “Introduction”, “About”, etc.

Note: I did find that I could edit the topic names in the LMS package by editing content directly. A little painful however, and something you need to repeat every time you publish.

(5) When I publish a selection, only publish the selection

The UPK publishing wizard is great in allowing you to publish just a selection of your library. However the problem is when you do publish a selection, the player package still develops the navigation tree to reflect the complete library and the location of your selection within it.


(6) Currently the only way to “just” publish a selection is to re-organise the library to put the selection at the top level. Then publish, then put it back in its place.

(6) Let me rename the simulation modes

In the spirit of renaming, might be nice to be able to rename the different simulation modes. Not important, but came up in a recent project where different terms had already been agreed for scenarios (what UPK calls “Try It” had been named “Learn It”).

(7) Measure Know It performance based on number of missteps, not as a percentage

As an alternative assessment method let me be able to define the number of times the user is helped (i.e. you get 3 strikes per scenario). This is clearer to users than a percentage. You were unsuccessful because you needed assistance twice is easier to grasp than “you scored 72%”. It also ensures the same meaningful success standard applies across multiple simulations.

Currently, while trying to use the “number of times helped” measure we have to convert that to a different percentage figure in each scenario dependent on the number of steps it contains. ie missing 2 steps in a 10-step process sets a pass rate of 80%. But missing 2 steps in a 20-step process now has a pass rate of 90%.

(8) LMS customisation

Generally the LMS export option does a fantastic job of delivering a SCORM-compliant package to push process simulations to the learners. But it does not do such a great job over the wrapping and presentation of those simulations:

  • no inbuilt table of contents/navigation – need to rely on the LMS to provide this (and some do it better than others)
  • “unwelcoming” navigation/status within each simulation

With menu enabled, rudimentary (but ugly) navigation available.

With the menu disabled, the course is non-navigable.

(9) Richer web pages

When you create a new page as a concept you only get very rudimentary editing options.

No reason why they cannot embed a richer HTML edit component so we get full control over the content and the ability to add much richer material.

Granted you can add rich HTML content by creating as a page within a package, and linking to the topic from there. But this seems an unnecessarily arduous process when the “create web page” button is front and centre when developing content.

Conclusion

There’s nine quick requests to make UPK even more useful than it already is. Go for it Oracle! Before we think of some more.

EBook Reader Software Quirks (ADE, iBooks, Stanza, Calibre)

Came across this article on Reader Quirks when trying to determine why my cross-reference links were not working. Didn’t have an answer for that problem but does collate a few peculiarities for the common software-based reader applications:

  • Adobe Digital Editions
  • iBooks
  • Stanza, and
  • Calibre.

May help with your cross-platform testing.

Noticed it hasn’t been updated for 7 months, and has no space for comments. Hence might be some better collection out there somewhere?

How varied is the eBook target market?

if you want to get a quick picture of how wide and varied the eBook market is, visit the UK Book Depository and choose to customise your preferred reader for eBooks. It gives you a great list of devices to choose from:

It’s a wide market!

The iPad is highlighted above as I was looking for books for it. And interestingly, even though it supports the ePUB standard (and they recognise it does on the site) they say they’ve no books. DRM strikes (itself in the foot) again!