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It is not in my habits to make a review of a product right on the day it is released. But with Captivate 8, I’m going to make an exception. Among the new features brought by Captivate is a game changer for the eLearning industry. The Responsive Projects allows you to optimise your eLearning content for the desktop, the tablet and the smartphone using a simple interface and three breakpoints. With such feature plus a brand new user interface and tons of other enhancements, no doubt that Adobe Captivate 8 is a milestone in Captivate’s history and sets new standards for the eLearning Authoring tools of the next few years.

Do not expect from this post a simple list of new features that would be a simple copy / paste from Adobe marketing material. If you need such a list, the Adobe website probably is your best ressource. Instead, I'm going to review some of the new features. Those that I like the most and that I find the most useful. 

Here we go!

A brand new user interface

If you have been using Captivate before, the first change you will notice when opening Captivate 8 for the first time is a brand new user interface. 

This new interface has been designed to address one of the main and most recurrent criticism about Adobe Captivate: its steep learning curve and overwhelming look.

More colourful and based on icons rather than menus, the default workspace is as empty as possible. The Properties panel and the Timeline are hidden by default. The new user shall discover the tools and features of Captivate at his own pace as he makes his way to the panels of Captivate one at a time.

The nex interface of Captivate 8
The new interface of Captivate 8 is as empty as possible. The Properties panel and the Timeline are both hdden by default

One of the most visible change is the Big Button Bar (the BBB as it has already been nicknamed!) situated at the top of the interface. On the left side, the BBB allows you to insert objects on your slides. On the right side, the BBB allows you to show or hide the Properties panel where most of the Captivate goodies are located. The Timeline can be shown or hidden using the big “Timeline” button at the bottom of the screen.

The Properties panel itself has had a complete revamp. It is now more logically organised using tabs instead of accordion panels.

Comparaison of the Properties panel of Captivate 7 and 8
The old Properties panel of Captivate 7 on the left compared to the new Properties panel of Captivate 8 on the right

Lots of dialog boxed have also been re-organised and are now much easier to use. One typical example is the Publish dialog that is more intuitive, yet more powerful than ever.

The new Publish dialog is easier than ever
The new Publish dialog of Captivate 8 is easier than ever, yet extremely powerful!

I think that the will to ease the learning curve with a new User Interface is a very smart move from the Captivate team. Overall, I think the new User Interface is a great success. That being said, experienced Captivate users will certainly have to change some of their habits. They will also be a bit disappointed by some of the workflows that take much more clicks than before. Personally I think this is merely a smaller inconvenience as, in my opinion, the overall gain of the new UI largely overcome these smaller problems.

Focus on mobile devices

Unsurprisingly, Captivate 8 is literally packed with great new features targeting multi-screen authoring and HTML 5. 

Responsive project.

This feature certainly is THE groundbreaking killer feature of this release. A Captivate 8 Responsive Projects allow you to optimise your content for 3 different breakpoints: Desktop, Tablet and Smartphone.

The same slide on the Desktop, Tablet and Smartphone breakpoints
The same slide using the Desktop, Tablet and Smartphone breakpoint. This is true responsive design on the works!

This new feature has lots of implications in the entire application. For example, it is now possible to specify the size and the location of each and every object using percentage based measurements. When correctly done, this effectively creates a genuine responsive project that nicely adapts to every single screen size!

Percentage based measurment in Captivate 8
In responsive project, percentage based measurment and positionning is the rule!

To me, this feature alone is worth the jump to Captivate 8.

With the new responsive projects, Captivate finally turns away from its fixed size Flash history and marches full speed and head first into the future!

Responsive preview

When it comes to previewing / debugging your responsive projects, Captivate 8 is packed with great new features and previewing options.

First, if you have a tablet and/or a Smartphone available, you can use the free Adobe Edge Inspect application to give your project a full test ride on an actual device! This is one of my favourite new features because I really like it when various applications are integrated into one other this way. I think such integration is what make Adobe tools unique and I applaud every feature that goes into more integration between the applications.

Use Edge Animate to test your multi-screen eLearning content
With Edge Inspect you can test your multi-screen eLearning content using an actual device.

If you want to preview your responsive project in an actual browser, you are up for some nice new treats as well! When working on a responsive project, the Preview lets you change the breakpoint you want to test. You can also scrub the bar to have an idea on how the project behaves in between the breakpoints.

Responsive preview
The breakpoints are available in the testing environment. You can also scrub the width bar to test the behavior of the content in-between the breakpoints

Support for mobile gestures and geolocation

This is something I’ve been waiting for for a very long time. With version 8, Adobe Captivate finally makes its debuts into mobile-only features. Upon publication of the project in HTML 5, it is now possible to turn on the support for gestures and for geolocation.

Enable mobile gestures and geolocation
Upon publication, you can enable gestures and Geolocation in any HTML 5 project.

When geolocation is turned on, Captivate exposes the all new cpInfoGeoLocation system variable which gives you access to the latitude and longitude position of the user taking the course.

Integration with Adobe Edge Animate

Captivate 8 introduces a new object designed with HTML 5 and multi screen in mind. The “Web Object” allows you to load external HTML5 content right onto your eLearning project. This external content can be an existing webpage, but it can also be an HTML 5 animation made with Edge Animate. If you are into Edge Animate, all it takes is to publish your animation as an .oam package and import it right into Captivate.

Insert Edge Animate HTML5 animation into Captivate
Insert an Edge Animate HTML 5 animation right into Captivate.

This is another great example of various Adobe applications being integrated into one other. A great step in the right direction but, obviously, we want more! For example, round-trip editing between Captivate and Edge Animate is not yet supported. But I’m sure that’s coming in the next version (Team, are you reading?)

Popup remover in Video Demo

The Video Demo recording mode appeared in Captivate 6 and has not changed since. In this version, it gets some much deserved attention with the addition of a very nice feature.

This feature allows you to remove any pop-up or unwanted message that occurred during the capture. I know this is something lots of users have been struggling with! Now the best part of it is that it is super simple to use, as illustrated in the following image.

pop up removal in Video Demo
Easily remove unwanted popups and tooltips with the new popup removal tool

Other Enhancements

There are tons of other enhancements in various areas of the software. Things such as Responsive Themes, the ability to save Smart Shapes, the three states on the Smart Shapes used as buttons, enhancements to Shared Actions, more out-of-the-box assets, Effects that have absolute timing by default, etc… would all deserve a better place in this post. Stay tuned on this blog (and others) for more posts to come on the new features of Captivate 8!

Conclusions

As a conclusion, I would like to publicly express my deepest respect to the Captivate team. I have this wonderful chance to know some of them and I know they’ve been working around the clock in the past few months. Congratulations to all of them on this wonderful release. 

Captivate 8 is definitely a milestone version for Captivate. With the addition of the Responsive Projects and some much needed mobile-only features, Captivate finally let go of its Flash history and embraces the future of eLearning head first and at full speed.

The new User Interface makes it easier than ever to leverage all this new power. This attempt to ease the learning curve of the new user should not be underestimated. 

In short, I’m convinced that Adobe Captivate 8 opens a new era for Captivate and for the entire eLearning industry. Is it worth the jump? Most definitely! Don’t wait any longer and get it right away! 

More info on the official Adobe Website.

 


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