Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's in a name?

I ran into a strange problem using an html file produced in Camtasia by TechSmith and delivered through Moodle that must be common amongst Camtasia and Moodle users. Hopefully this post will prevent others from making the same easy mistake.

I uploaded all of the necessary files produced by Camtasia to Moodle then created a link on the course site to the html file but received a strange error when opening the link. I had no clue what was causing the problem because I wasn't doing anything different so I did a quick search and found this post on the Moodle forums that helped me solve the issue. After reading this post I realized there was something different about this file, I left a space in the title. Apparently Moodle doesn't like any spaces or special characters in the file name because Camtasia uses windows naming conventions while Moodle uses Linux. It was the stupid space that I had in the title causing the error!

Quick Fix:
The quick fix for this is to rename the Camtasia project without spaces or special characters, reproduce it, then upload the new files to Moodle. Create a link to the new html file without spaces or special characters and voila!

Long Fix:
If you are like me and no longer have access to Camtasia or just feel like doing a little extra work you will need to go with the long fix. Because I don't have Camtasia anymore and can't reproduce the project, I had to go into the html and XML files to manually edit the file names. It's really not that difficult but is a little more tedious. After renaming the files, open the html and xml files in an editor (I used Dreamweaver) and run a "find and replace" for every file name that you changed. It's not just the flash file that you need to change the name of, you also need to change the names of the javascript and XML files. Once you have changed all of the names you can upload the edited files to Moodle, then create a link to the html file and you are in business.

It was an annoying issue but easy to resolve with the help of the Moodle community and it always feels good to solve a problem. Now that I have this bit of knowledge I'll make sure to avoid spaces in any files I use that will be going on Moodle just to avoid the trouble.


Denise Link said...

This is potentially a problem with other tools as well--not limited to Camtasia or Moodle. You hit the nail on the head with the cause: Windows vs. Linux conventions for naming.

Some authoring tools will change your filename to one without spaces automatically to avoid just this type of thing happening. To be safe (and as a result of many years among progammers), I never leave spaces in any file names. It's easy enough to name the file MyCourse or My_Course--still human readable, and it keeps the systems happy.

Joe Deegan said...

Thanks Denise! I think I got a little too comfortable not needing to worry about no spaces with Captivate.