Captivate 7’s unlikely heroes

By on Jun 6, 2013

It’s true that Adobe has had some public relations challenges resulting from their push to promote subscription-based licensing. Then a few days ago, with feathers still flying, Adobe released Captivate 7. I don’t want to comment on any of the marketing and public relations issues because, as a content developer, I’m too busy to worry about politics and too excited about what Captivate 7 has to offer.

Since Captivate 7 is only just released, I’ve barely had time to discover what’s new, let alone explore the features in detail. Sure, I’ve read the Adobe information and watched the videos, but I always like to go looking for the hidden, the understated, and the underestimated gems.

So what did I discover? I know this will be a surprise to many, but my top two are:

  • the return of the Course Companion

  • backwards compatibility from Captivate 7 to Captivate 6.

The Course Companion

The course companion, aka, the A3C (Adobe Captivate Course Companion) widget appeared as a kind of beta feature in 6.0, and then disappeared in 6.1. Essentially it is a widget placed in the project file that communicates with a web-based analytical tool. The communication link gathers data as the audience views and interacts with the published content.

At my last contract job, I was able to do a little experiment with the A3C in CP 6.0. I didn’t put a lot of thought into the structure of the learning modules that carried the widget, so the resulting analytical data wasn’t mind-blowing. However, despite my fumbling first efforts, we did gather some useful intelligence which led to some remedial action and in turn led to some better outcomes in the uptake of the learning content.

I began to dream of how incredibly valuable this feature would be if it were developed a little further and if I learned to design my content to leverage its benefits fully. Then, zap! It disappeared from release 6.1 without explanation. I was depressed. I had been planning an entire business based on continuous monitoring and improvement of eLearning.

So , the best news of all is that the A3C is back! And it now includes the promised Twitter collaboration feature built in. I’ll be posting much more on these killer features just as soon as I stop celebrating.

Backwards Compatibility

There were a few questions in the community about backwards compatibility leading up to the release of CP7 with some guarded answers. I suspect also that the prickly PR issues might have something to do with the lack of fanfare.

However, I’ve done a few (very un-scientific) tests myself and it appears that content created in version 7 can indeed be opened in version 6.1. What’s more, as a subscription customer, I now have both versions installed which allows me to work with either version. Clearly the unique features of 7 don’t work in 6 and I was a little surprised that I received no alert when trying to open a CP7 project in CP6 that contained incompatible features. But the fact that I can finally work across versions is a major breakthrough.

Now I hear, and I join in the, “…and about time too!” chorus.

I’d be very interested to hear reactions to Captivate 7 features from others and would especially welcome any comments about insights and experiences with the Course Companion.