Adobe Captivate 4 review

£638
Price when reviewed

Adobe Captivate’s core application is screen-based recording. Screen activity isn’t recorded as a video stream but rather as a series of slides with mouse-based overlays, narration and automatically-generated captions. Captivate 4 has a number of recording enhancements, most notably support for panning, though this isn’t as powerful as Camtasia Studio 6’s ability to add zooms and pans retrospectively.

Captivate 4’s slide-based approach makes it far easier to edit and enhance your screen recordings, however, and adds new drawing tools. It also adds more design templates, including a dedicated image slide show option, to help create attractive slides from scratch. And there’s improved integration with PowerPoint, with support for audio, interactivity and dynamic linking.

Advanced options include support for question-based quiz slides, which can now be customised based on variables. You can also add multiple conditional actions and now “widgets” – buttons, list boxes, pie charts and the like.

The most impressive of Captivate’s new features is the ability to generate audio using text-to-speech. This isn’t intended to replace recorded narration, but it is useful when working on drafts. The most practical addition, however, is the ability to generate attractive multi-level tables of contents.

In keeping with Adobe’s strategy elsewhere, Captivate 4 introduces the ability to review and comment on projects via a bundled AIR-based application. Comments can then be imported into your projects and onto the relevant slide.

For final output, there’s now an AVI export option to enable web video streaming and YouTube posting. But though you can publish to Flash SWF, you can’t wrap up your SWF as a branded online/offline AIR application.

Clearly Adobe is holding back here, ensuring that to take advantage of the full potential of AIR- and PDF-based publishing you’ll need the full Technical Communication Suite 2. However, for its core strength of online Flash-based delivery of interactive training material, the standalone Captivate 4 still has much to recommend it.

Details

Software subcategory Other software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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