Monday, July 27, 2009

Adobe Captivate: "Continue" or "Go to next Slide."

I have a confession to make. I was making a stupid mistake in Adobe Captivate 3 that was seriously affecting the performance of my eLearning tutorials. When I first started using Captivate I was under a tough deadline for my first project and did not have the time to take any classes or tutorials. I bought a book and dove right in. I was confident in my skills with Powerpoint and Captivate's not that much different, right? Wrong, Captivate has different options for advancing the tutorial with action buttons and thanks to the power of Twitter, I found out I was using the wrong option. Here's the story...

I was having a hard time figuring out how to reduce the bandwidth requirements for published flash files. My projects didn't have a lot of bells and whistles but when I used the "Bandwidth Analysis" option, I was finding that the KB/Sec were through the roof on every slide. In a few tweets about this with @JFDragon, he recommended to simply extend the length of my slides. The problem I had with that is that I didn't want to make the user sit around and wait for the timeline to finish out. @JFDragon pointed out that I don't need to make the user sit around if I have the slide advance using the "Go to next slide" option rather than "Continue." I was making the simple mistake of using the "Continue" option when I should have been using "Go to next slide."

The big difference is that the "Go to next slide" option advances to the next slide when clicked, no matter where the slide is at on the timeline. The "Continue" option will play out the rest of the timeline before advancing to the next slide. By using the "Go to next slide" option you can extend out the length of the slide but the user is still able to advance when they are ready. This allows more time for each slide to load in turn reducing the KB/Sec of each slide and the overall bandwidth requirements. Because I was using the "Continue" option, I had to make each slide only a few seconds long and pause at the end of each one so that the timeline would finish out before the user clicked on whatever they needed to click to continue. This means that each slide only had a few seconds to fully load which really ramped up the bandwidth requirements.

This small change has made my Adobe Captivate tutorials run much smoother and has dramatically reduced any kind of performance problems such as freezing. Now I am spending time going back and making this change to Captivate projects I have put together over the last 6 months. Hopefully this blog post will prevent another Captivate user from making the same mistake and having to waste time revising old projects. This problem was solved thanks to the power of Twitter! Follow me @joe_deegan so that we can learn from each other.

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5 comments:

Magus said...

WRT the bandwidth analyzer. I totally ignore it because I don't feel it comes remotely close to being accurate.

Steven Brent said...

Ah, so if Captivate sees the "Go to next Slide" action on the Timeline, it starts queuing up the next slide sooner in anticipation? Very nice, thanks!

Lesley said...

Thanks for this post! I was noticing today on a captivate project of mine that after i pressed my "next" button that the slide continued to play...couldn't figure out what i was doing wrong. changed it to the go to next slide option and all is well. :) duh!

Joe Deegan said...

I'm glad it helped Lesley. I made the same mistake and knew there had to be other people out there doing the same thing.

Anonymous said...

You just solved a mystery! My slides now progress when the user hits my "Next" command button, rather than freezing if the user clicks on it too soon. Thanks!