I recently received an email asking my opinion about the value of upgrading from Adobe Captivate version 2 to version 3. Since I teach and write books about this stuff, it's important for me to stay current. But should you invest nearly $300 to upgrade from a previous version if that version is working perfectly fine for you?
I wrote an article several months ago describing the new features found in Captivate 3. At that time, I didn't mention the merits of the new features since I honestly hadn't had enough time to use them in production to see if they justified the upgrade price.
Below I've listed the major new features in Captivate 3. I've included Adobe's marketing verbiage that accompanied the announcement of the new features, and my own running commentary about the value of the new feature.
What Adobe said about this feature: "Save time and generate robust software simulations with multiple learning modes in a single recording session, including demonstration of the procedure, a simulation for practicing the steps, and an assessment."
Worth the upgrade? Yes and no. If you plan to record projects and publish them pretty much "as is," this feature is a great time-saver. However, I tell my students that you should plan to spend an average of 10 hours per project to record and clean up the project (that timing does not include writing the script). If you record 4 projects at one time, you can plan on spending an equal amount of time "cleaning" each of the projects. That sounds like a lot of redundant work to me. I recommend you record a project one time (for instance, record a movie in Demonstration mode). Spend the time cleaning and polishing the movie. When finished, save the project with a new name and add or remove functionality as needed. I find the process of converting a completed demonstration into a simulation far more efficient than recording two projects and having to "clean" them both.
Randomized quizzing and question pools
What Adobe said about this feature: Improve learner assessments by randomly drawing questions from a set of question pools. Shuffle the answer options for multiple-choice questions so that the answers are displayed in a different order each time.
Worth the upgrade? Oh yes! This is probably the top new feature in Captivate 3. Not mentioned above is the fact that you can, for the first time, duplicate a completed Question Slide--a real time-saver.
What Adobe said about this feature: Provide additional just-in-time information on Adobe Captivate slides by displaying rich media content such as images, text, audio, and video when the learner moves the mouse over a hot spot.
Worth the upgrade? Yes. Slidelets combine the features of Rollover Captions and Rollover Images and allow for better user interactivity.
XML file export and import
What Adobe said about this feature: Simplify the localization process of projects; export captions to a text or XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF) file. Import the translated text file into a copy of the original project file.
Worth the upgrade? Not sure. I have not had an opportunity to use this feature. If anyone has, please let me know and I'll include your comments in an upcoming newsletter.
What Adobe said about this feature: Increase learning effectiveness with branching to customize content in response to viewer actions; improve your workflow with branching view enhancements such as grouping and zoom.
Worth the upgrade? Nahhhh. Captivate 2 featured branching. What's changed in the new version is some "grouping" tools in the Branching window. The Branching feature is great! And I'm not knocking the new tools. However, the main functionality of the Branching window remains unchanged.
What Adobe said about this feature: Create professional-looking learning content with support for animated slide transitions and Microsoft PowerPoint animations. Adobe Captivate 3 imports PowerPoint (PPT) files while converting PowerPoint slides into SWF files and retaining the animation effects.
Worth the upgrade? Yes and no. You can now import PowerPoint animation or backgrounds. However, the imported animation isn't easily edited after it has been imported into Captivate. The feature is a step in the right direction and I'm excited about what we'll see in Captivate 4.
Streamlined workflow and usability enhancements
What Adobe said about this feature: Work faster with a wide variety of streamlined workflows and usability enhancements, including find and replace, enhanced screen recording for capturing screen activity, a real-time recording mode for quick-and-dirty demos, improved learning management system integration, multipurposing of quiz slides, and reduced SWF file size.
Worth the upgrade? Yes, for the Find and Replace feature alone. I use this feature regularly to make project-wide changes to text in my Text Captions.
Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 support
What Adobe said about this feature: Install Adobe Captivate 3 on Microsoft® Windows Vista™ and import PPT files from Microsoft Office 2007, or create handouts or step-by-step procedures with the Microsoft Word export option.
Worth the upgrade? Yes, assuming you are using Windows Vista. Captivate 2 is NOT Vista Compliant.
The bottom line...
Now that I've had several months to use Captivate 3 on several projects, I am better able to answer the question, "Is it worth the money to upgrade to Captivate 3?" The answer to the upgrade question is YES!