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The Top Captivate Tips for CLASSe Clients

May 29, 2012

While scrolling through my mental rolodex this week of blog topics to write on (no, I haven’t upgraded to a mental, cloud based contact list yet) I received an email from a client with a question regarding our eLearning briefs. Since it’s not uncommon for our Learning Development team to receive various questions I thought I would blog about the most common questions we receive. If you’re already a CLASSe client with access to our eLearning content, consider this a FAQ of sorts. If you’re not a client of our library of vast and outstanding CLASSe content, I hope you can still find tidbits of helpful information in what follows.

At Traveling Coaches we use Adobe Captivate to develop our eLearning content; what we call “briefs”. We currently use version 5 while the most current version is 5.5. As a side note, I’ll save you from my rant on companies charging for “.x” upgrades (I’m looking at you, Adobe). We develop our briefs to be very task specific and never longer than five minutes each – if possible. This allows our clients to consume the information quickly while also allowing administrators and/or trainers to more easily piece together content that suits their learner’s needs. Understanding our goals when developing briefs may help you see the method to our madness so to speak. Below are just a few questions to get started.

Question: Why are there three files for each brief?

The three files in question are the html, swf and _skin.swf. By default Captivate publishes to the swf format and publishes an html file. The swf file is the main eLearning brief that can be played in any web browser that has the Flash Player plugin. The accompanying html holds information such as what size the swf should be displayed based on your recording settings, alignment and other basic layout information. This is important because it tells the brief how to behave within the browser. If you were to open the swf up without the accompanying html file the swf would be displayed incorrectly. The third file is the skin.swf. The skin holds the playback controls for the brief. The skin is published as a separate file based on the publish settings (see below). By publishing the skin externally the main swf’s files size is kept smaller, resulting in faster load times for the viewer. The main thing to remember is regardless of where these files are stored they must be stored together in the same directory to work properly.

Question: But wait, I see a fourth .js file in there. What’s that for?

This file provides for certain functionality in a web browser. For example, Adobe provides for right-click simulation when recording. This simulation was written in JavaScript. Without the .js file any functionality written to take advantage of JavaScript will not work.

Question: Why doesn’t the Close button work at the end of a brief?

This answer is a continuation of the previous one. The Close button on the playback bar is written to use JavaScript to have the swf “talk” to the browser and say: Close this window. This problem occurs when the briefs are stored on a network drive or any intranet location that does not have web services enabled. Where are web services enabled? You guessed it; a web server. If you are distributing the eLearning briefs from a standard network share there are no web services, therefore, JavaScript will not work. Since some of our clients are unable to store the briefs on a web server for various reasons Traveling Coaches does not use the right-click feature when recording. Also, the last slide of each brief instructs the learner to use the Close button (X) in the upper right corner of the window instead of using the Close button on the playback bar just in case they are accessing the brief stored outside of a web server (see below).

Question: Can we edit the eLearning briefs ourselves?

You bet. Traveling Coaches provides all Captivate source files to our clients for this very reason. Simply open the necessary file, edit and republish.

Question: Can we upload the briefs to our SharePoint intranet site?

Yes, but it can be tricky and a pain depending on the outcome you want and how your SharePoint server is configured. SharePoint has always been finicky when it comes to swf playback. The conspiracy theorist in me believes this could be easily done if not for Microsoft wanting to push their own version of the Flash Player – Silverlight. In all fairness there are other issues involved such as security so let’s keep that in mind. Really there is no one solution to swf playback on SharePoint. Like I mention above it really comes down to the outcome you want. A quick internet search will bring you a plethora of articles and tutorials for you to reference. Here’s one to get you started. The easiest, although not available to many, method is to store the briefs on a separate web server and link to them from SharePoint.

What are your questions regarding Captivate eLearning development? We understand that there are countless network configurations out there with countless requirements and needs. If you find yourself scratching your head at the behavior of the briefs or just have a Captivate development question in general we would welcome your feedback.

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