Issues with Adobe Captivate 4 and Windows 7 64-bit

I am running Captivate 4 on a Windows 7 64-bit operating system, and this does not seem to be a good idea; although most of the functionality works fine, I am having problems editing items in the library. E.g. when I try to edit a background with Paint or another graphics application, it opens the background, but when I save my changes, Captivate hangs. It does this consistently, and it has been confirmed as an issue by other users (see http://forums.adobe.com/message/2887534). Other users are even reporting issues with capturing 64 bit applications.

So for now, if you want to use full functionality of Captivate and you have a choice between Windows 7 32 or 64 bit, I would go for 32 bit. Lets hope that everything will be fixed in Captivate 5 or with the next update.

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Converting Captivate screencasts to Silverlight

Recently, I had to produce screencasts that needed to be published/played in a Microsoft Silverlight player. I know, most people are still using the very popular Flash format, but sometimes there are reasons why you need to use Silverlight. For instance because it needs to be published on a Microsoft platform. ;–)

The trouble is that this requires your movies to be in .wmv format. Captivate currently ony produces Flash output (of course).

If you are starting from scratch, you can use a screencasting tool that produces .wmv files directly. You can use Camtasia Studio, or Microsofts Expression Encoder. This will give you a nice .wmv file that you can then embed in your authoring tool, or play directly with a Silverlight player (e.g. the free one on Codeplex.).

But what if you have tons of Captivate movies ready to be published? Or if you like Captivate better than Camtasia? Well, no worries, you can follow these steps:

  1. Remove the “interactive” elements from your Captivate movies. This includes buttons, playback controls, question slides, anything a user can click on. This is important, otherwise your conversion will fail.
  2. Publish your project  and get the .swf file.
  3. Convert the .swf file to .wmv. I used Camtasia to do that (via Import media you can import an .swf file, and publish your project as .wmv), but I heard of other people using tools like Prism to do this.
  4. Integrate the .wmv in your Silverlight authoring tool or in your player.
  5. Done!

You can view an example of the final result. Requires the Silverlight Player (duh!).

Any tips or tricks? Share them in the comments!

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Adobe Captivate and the ADL SCORM Test Suite 1.2.7

Today, I have been struggeling with a SCORM 1.2 conformance test of an Adobe Captivate package. Let me share my experience to avoid that others have the same painful experience.

The mission

The purpose is to test an Adobe Captivate 4 SCORM package (SCORM 1.2) with the ADL Test Suite 1.2.7, and prove it is fully SCORM compliant.

The issues

When you load the scorm package in the ADL Test Suite and you run the Content Package Conformance Test, there are two issues:

  1. the metadata test passes successfully, but when you need to launch the SCO, the Captivate content does not load. IE shows a script error:
    Error: ‘document.getElementById(…)’ is null or not an object
  2. if you get the first issue fixed, the SCO launches but test fails with at least one of the following messages:
     ERROR:   LMS Not initialized
     ERROR:   SCO invoked API calls out of order
     ERROR:   LMS not initialized
     ERROR:   Invalid LMSFinish() call
     ERROR:   SCO invoked API calls out of order

The solutions

It took me quite some surfing to find the following solutions:

  • The ADL 1.2.7 test suite software is already quite old, and a lot of forum posts suggested that you needed to use the correct Java RTE, older browsers… I tried all that, but it never helped me. I now have the test suite running on a Windows 7 64 bit (!) , with the latest Java RTE (Version 6 update 15, build 1.6.0_15-b03), and IE 8. So don’t spend your time on this.
  • And now for fix number one: to make sure that your SCO gets launched in the test suite, you need to edit the html file that is generated by Captivate when publishing your content (the .html that has the same name as your project .swf). Open the file with a text editor (Notepad), on the second line you will find <!– saved from url=(0013)about:internet –>. Delete that line.
    Restart your test, and your SCO will now launch. But you will get errors in your test now.
  • Fix number two: change the security settings of the Flash player on your machine.
    • Get some Flash content playing in your browser. Any Flash animation will do. Go e.g. to www.adobe.com.
    • Right-click on the animation, you will get the Flash context menu. Select Settings.
    • You will get a little menu like this:
      flash settings
    • Click the Advanced button. This will bring you to an Adobe Web site.
    • In the table of contents on the left, click Global Security Settings Panel. This will show you a panel like this:
      trusted locations
    • Add the location where your ADL TestSuite software is installed to the trusted locations. The location of the TEST SUITE software, not the location of your zip file or your content files. Those get copied automatically to a TestSuite subfolder when you run the test.
    • Close all your browser windows and re-run the test.

Explanation and credits

There is probably a very good explanation why you need to do all this, but I am not able to give it to you. I’m just summarizing some steps I found in various forum posts. So kudos go to these forum members:

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/212606

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440917

Bottom line?

A lot of forum posters are yelling that Captivate content does not pass the SCORM test. Before I ran my package through the Test Suite, I tried importing it in three different LMS’s, and it worked in all three! So failing the ADL Test has more to do with the way the Test Suite runs local content than with Captivate content not being SCORM compliant.

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Adobe Captivate and SharePoint Learning Kit

The SharePoint Learning Kit is a lightweight LMS module that can make your SharePoint site a mini-LMS. Especially together with Windows SharePoint Services, it is a very cost-effective way to distribute e-learning content in your organisation with a minimum of “tracking”.

Of course, you do not get the very detailed reporting a true Learning Management System offers, but you can track progress (not attempted, in progress, completed), track score of a test, assign learning content to users or usergroups, and grade tests manually. Your content needs to be SCORM-conformant, as the SLK uses the SCORM API for communication between content and LMS.

The SharePoint Learning Kit is a feature that needs to be deployed on your farm, assigned to a web application, and gives you a feature that you can activate on a site level. It includes an “assignment” web part that instructors and learners use to assign, follow and grade content.

I had some trouble getting Adobe Captivate content to communicate with the SLK, I did not get the scores from a test. Finally, I found this article. In the .HTM file that is generated by Captivate, you can tune and tweak some scorm parameters. Changing var g_intAPIOrder = 0; from 0 to 1 does the trick for the SLK.

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