For my first (real) blog post on my brand new website, I choose to publish my own review of Captivate 6.   As you probably know, Captivate 6 has been released at the end of June 2012 - about a month before this post has been written.

Captivate 6 is packt with new features and great ideas that really push the product forward, but I also found lots of room for improvement some inconsistencies and some things to worry about.   That's why , the (non official) title of this review shall be

Captivate 6.0, the version 1 of the new Captivate

I really like this title because it perfectly reflects both my excitement and my worries about this new version of Captivate.  My excitement comes from all these great new features added to Captivate 6.  Things like Themes, HTML 5 support, the new user interface and the out-of-the-box assets makes my life as an eLearning developer much easier while making Captivate easier and fun to use.  These feature makes me say that we are seeing the birth of a new Captivate with this release.

On the other end, my worries come from feeling that Captivate is kind of left apart of the general mobile vision found in the other Adobe products.  I've seen some amazing things in Dreamweaver CS6, in inDesign CS6, in the Digital Publishing suite, etc... that really push the boundaries of what is possible today and that shape the future of mobile and digital publishing.  I must admit that not seing such vision and such technologies in Captivate 6 when the entire eLearning industry is making a huge shift toward mLearning worries me.  This makes me say that this version is a version 1, full of promisses and... imperfections, immature features, half-baked components.

Let me quickly detail some of these new features, why they make me happy, and why they make me worry.

1) The new pricing model

The first new feature I want to talk about has nothing to do with the actual software.  It is the new subscription pricing model that I find absolutely awesome!  For $19.99 a month, one can have access to Captivate 6!  Making Captivate 6 affordable for anyone is a very smart move from Adobe.  Something that serves both the product, the company and the community.

Now, Captivate is not the only Adobe product that has adopted the subscription pricing model.  Actually, all the applications of the Creative Suite have adopted the same model.  Something known as the Creative Cloud.  With the Creative Cloud, one can have access to the full Master Collection , plus a wide range of online services for... $49.99 a month.

I have 2 questions regarding this.

  • Why is Captivate not part of the Creative Cloud?  Or, to say the same thing differently, why did Captivate create its own subscription model apart from the rest of the Adobe products?
  • Is Captivate really worth 40% of the price of the entire Master collection? ($19.99 for Captivate against $49.99 for the Master Collection - see the picture below)

To me, it would have been much better to include Captivate into the Creative Could directly.  First it would have attracted a much deserved attention to the product.  Second, Captivate could take advantage of the Creative Cloud marketing, instead of playing its own game apart. And three, with Captivate in the Creative Cloud, it's almost the entire eLearning suite in the Cloud. (By the way, the eLEarning suite also has a subscription model.  It costs... $49.99 a month.... same price as the entire Master Collection!!!)

Are you beginning to see why I worry about Captivate?

2) HTML 5 and the mLearning

One of the most revolutionary new feature of Captivate 6 is the ability to publish our eLearning content to HTML5.  By making this possible, the entire engineering team deserves our respect and our congratulations.  This feature makes Captivate an entirely new product.  It is like having 2 Captivates in a single box : one that publishes in Flash and one that publishes in HTML 5.  Obviously, Captivate is en route to the mLearning revolution and this is an excellent point.

But, take a look at the list of unsupported features in HTML 5, and you'll start to feel kind of disappointed, especially if you use Captivate to generate Quizzes.  Out of the 9 question types of Captivate, only 4 (less than half of it) are supported in HTML 5 (Multiple Choice, True / false, hot sopt and Sequence).  In short HTML 5 publishing is great for simple demonstrations or for interactive simulations - which already is a huge step forward- but assessing your student's knowledge is not yet possible on the iPad, and other mobile devices......

Now my question is : "Is HTML 5 the only way to go Mobile?"

And my answer is... no.  Other Adobe teams perfectly understand this.  Take the Digital Publishing suite for instance and take a look at how this team approaches the Mobile challenge.  With the Digital publishing suite, you use inDesign CS6 to author your content (both for Print and  Mobile) which is then published in its own native application on the Tablet / smartphone.  I repeat, in its own native application.  In other words every single feature of the authoring application is available when consuming the content.  This technology is in the hands of Adobe, so why not in Captivate?

The Dreamweaver team came up with yet another answer to the Mobile challenge by integrating Phonegap into the application.  Phonegap lets you convert your HTML / CSS / Javascript content into a native mobile application.  It even gives you access to the device's sensors (camera, gyroscope, accelerometer,...).  With the HTML 5 publishing Captivate does half of the job (that is generating an HTML / CSS / Javascript application) so why not the other half (transforming it into a native app) with Phonegap?  Again this technology is into the hands of Adobe (actually, Adobe even acquired, Phonegap ), so why not in Captivate?

3) Quiz enhancements

Beautiful!  Thumbs up!  This one make the teacher in me very happy!  Quiz enhancements in Captivate 6 include negative and partial scoring, a new management of the quiz scope, Branch-aware quizzes and Pretest.  This is Awesome.  These additions make Captivate an incredible tool for pedagogy.  this alone is worth the upgrade.

But... What a poor implementation.

Take the Pretests and the Branch aware quizzes for instance.  When using these two features, your playbar is turned off automatically, with no chances of turning it back on and no warning message telling you that the playbar is being turned off.  The reason is quite simple to understand.  When a Pretest or a Branch-Aware quiz is present in the project, we must make sure that the students do not go backward / forward  in the project.  OK.  Fair enough and perfectly true.  But why turning off the entire playbar?  I mean, the mute button, the play / pause button, the Closed Captionning button,... are no harm, even in a Branch aware Quiz! So why are these buttons turned off with the rest of the playbar?   By turning the whole playbar off, the baby is thrown away with the water of the bath!  The only thing left to the eLearning developer in order to provide some controls to the students over the movie are the Advanced Actions and that makes it a lot more difficult!

The playbar is disabled when a pretest or a branch-aware quiz is present in the project

4) Themes and Master slides

Now, this is something I like very much!  Themes are awesome.  It makes rapid eLearning a reality.  Really good feature, one that is also worth the upgrade!

5) The out of the box assets.

This is also a great addition to the product.  The collection of Characters and the Advanced Interactions really make a big and welcome difference.  It helps me make my eLearning content more engaging, more human and more interactive.

I do believe that the Smart Interaction deserve a bit more work (like integrating them into the Theme, a better way to customize their skin,..) but remember.... this is a version 1

6) And so many more

The new interface, new Text Effects, new shadow and reflection effects,...  Captivate 6 is packt with thousands of (not so) small enhancements that will make you quickly forget about the old version!

Conclusion

Is Captivate 6 worth the upgrade?

Hell Yeah! Definitely.  And with the new subscription model, it is not even expensive, so Go for it!!!!

But

Captivate 6 could have been so much more if only the Captivate team had talked to the other product Team of the company.  It makes me sad to see technologies such as the Digital Publishing Suite, or the Fuild Grid layout of Dreamweaver CS6 or Phonegap, ... not making their way into Captivate 6.  There is so much more to mLearning and to the Mobile devices that what Captivate proposes.

Adobe has all the tools and technology  in its hand for the next version of Captivate to be innovative, game changing and easy to use.  I'm impatiently waiting for Captivate 7 (or maybe I should say New Captivate 2)


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