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!

Microsoft introduces “learning snacks”

To promote their new Windows 2008 server, Microsoft announces the availability of learning snacks. A learning snack is a short module that illustrates one specific topic or learning objective. Of course, Microsoft uses Silverlight as the underlying technology.

Have a look yourself on the Windows 2008 learning portal (click the Learning Snacks tab). Microsoft uses very simple, but effective interactions: mouse-overs, software demonstrations, click-to-reveal-more, …

What I like about it:

  • simple but very nice layout
  • good performance
  • easy to navigate interface

What I do not like about it:

  • voice-over quality is not consistent: sometimes good, sometimes very bad;
  • it does not work on my Mac. There is a Silverlight version for Mac, but the learning snack player does not seem to load the content, not in Safari, not in Firefox;
  • clicking on some of the links is blocked by the IE popup blocker (althoug it seems to be a simple hyperlink)

Still a great initiative. Wouldn’t it be nice if this Silverlight player could load SCORM manifests? What if Microsoft made it freely available? Wouldn’t that be a great promotion for Silverlight?