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Jun 2012

Captivate 6 tool review

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Shaping the future of learning

Captivate 6 has arrived. It promises a lot of new features – but does it deliver?

Paul Johns, known in these parts for his long love of Captivate, tests his new toy...

I’ve been using Captivate since version 2, so over the years I’ve seen a lot of changes. Some updates/new versions have had a couple of nice new features, but the core functionality of Captivate seems to stay the same.

So, another version; more of the same? Not at all. I must admit I’m very impressed with Captivate 6. A LOT of new features have been added and I personally think it’s the best version I’ve seen so far.

Let’s look at what’s new – there’s lots...


New look and feel

It was quite a big change from Captivate 4 to 5 and now there’s been more of a revamp. The Object Toolbar has changed again but not drastically; elements on the timeline now appear differently as do the main options along the top. Quite a nice lick of paint.

A screenshot of Adobe Captivate 6 with a blank template, showing the new format.

Themes – this is different

Themes to me are exciting (I may get excited by different things from most people, I admit). In the past you might create your own bespoke buttons or captions, but themes allow you to create a whole set of slides with various page templates. Think of it as a much easier way to create quick templates. You get some out-of-the-box Themes, but it’s also very easy to create your own.


My favourite! Captivate can do so much more than just general ‘systems training’ - you can create some great soft-skills training with it too (and we did this for Adobe to prove the point). But over the years I’ve always been jealous of the interactions you can easily create with Articulate and always wanted something similar with Captivate.

I think with Interactions we finally have it. There are 9 interactions supplied with Captivate 6: Accordion, Tabs, Process Circle, Pyramid, Timeline, Circle Matrix, Glossary, Certificate and Word Search. Articulate Engage users will be able to see the benefits right away. They’re easy to use - just select one, select the colours you want, add the text and click OK and the Interaction is automatically created. It helps to make it more obvious that Captivate can do more than just replicate your systems.

A screenshot of Adobe Captivate 6's interactions page.


You now get a suite of characters to use (sadly not animated), so you can easily add these to your courses. A nice touch; once you select this option you have a whole host of different expressions and poses to add. There are currently 12 different characters to use and about 50 different graphics for each. This is similar territory to Articulate Storyline – interesting to see these two powerful tool players going more directly at each other through these enhancements.

A screenshot of Adobe Captivate 6's characters page.

Export to HTML5

Everyone’s talking about HTML5, and how Flash will disappear in the future. It might. It might take a while. But whatever happens, don’t worry; you can now export your courses to either Flash .swf format or HTML5. I’ve done a few tests and it works very well. If there are potentially any issues you can run the HTML5 tracker which will highlight any slides or objects that may be unsupported – very useful. For those of us who need an HTML5 version of a module, this provides a very good option.


Video Demo

You can now record high quality screen-casts, which will be good for any system demonstrations you may have. What is also exciting is that you can add a video demo to your existing course and then edit this and add pan and zoom to your video. Finally, you can zoom into an area of the screen, add a highlight or two and then zoom out. I’ve tested this and it looks great, a really good feature.

Some of the extra features might not be obvious but are very useful, e.g. there is now an option to add hyperlinks to text, which makes it much easier than having to add a hotspot.


Quizzes are now more powerful; you can create pre-tests, so depending on how a user does they will jump to different sections of your course (branch aware). I must admit it is the same type of questions you’ve seen for a while. I would love Captivate to have its own drag and drop question, but thankfully there is a third party widget, which does this very well. You can also now add partial and negative scores to questions.

...and even more!

There are a lot of other features – in the last version of Captivate you could add shadows to objects, and you can now add reflections. Another feature is the ability to quickly create your own buttons. Once you’ve added a transparent button you can change the fill of it, add a solid line around it, change the corner radius and now you’ve got a great looking button, perhaps you may want to add a shadow or reflection – and it looks far more exciting than the default style. You can also group objects, which is very useful when moving items on a page. One of the new features, which I will find really useful, is the variety of bullets (and easy to amend margins), which I used to find frustrating in past versions.

In summary: Highly Recommended

Well there you have it; some of the best features and useful extras I’ve been using so far in Captivate 6. It’s a real step forward for Captivate. Past versions have been good but not ground breaking nor had the huge changes I’ve wanted to see in a new version, but I have been very impressed with Captivate 6.

They’ve taken some of the features that were strong in competing tools and worked them in well. Pan and zoom works really well; this was one feature I loved in Camtasia and really wanted in Captivate: it’s now there. Easy to use interactions, which I loved in Articulate, are finally now there in Captivate. Adding a whole library of characters to use is again another great thing to have in Captivate, also in Articulate Storyline.

Overall I think Captivate 6 is excellent. It has a LOT of new features improved from the previous version. It feels like Adobe have really listened to their customer base. It’s never the cheapest tool in the market – but it is a very powerful one.



Shaping the future of learning

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