Wildform Flair 5 review

£215
Price when reviewed

The best way to get your message over to as many people as possible, and with as much impact as possible, is to produce a web-efficient Flash-based presentation. Such online publishing is a boom area at the moment with plenty of high-end authoring options to choose from such as Articulate Studio and Adobe Captivate. Wildform Flair is designed to provide similar capabilities for the average user working to a tighter budget.

The last time we reviewed Flair, it was difficult to look past the working environment, which was dated, ugly and amateurish. Now the program sports a much cleaner Office 97-style interface – not exactly bleeding-edge but far easier to work with – and a shortcuts panel, which provides quick icon-based access to the majority of Flair’s functionality.

If you’re creating a presentation from scratch, the most useful shortcut is the first, the New Project Wizard, which walks you through setting up your project. Flair 5 offers an expanded range of presentation templates, backgrounds and animated objects, but disappointingly these aren’t available from the wizard. In fact, there’s not even a thumbnail-based visual preview so you are effectively left working blind, importing options based on the descriptive filename.

This is typical of Flair’s cheap-and-cheerful approach and there are plenty of other examples throughout the program. Despite these, it’s generally straightforward to create slides complete with text, bitmaps, shapes and animations. Alternatively, another shortcut wizard can be used to convert existing PowerPoint presentations while keeping text, images, drawings, animations and transitions fully editable.

Once the basic presentation is up-and-running, it can be embellished in a number of ways. Flair provides a wide range of eye-catching text animations but generally these are pretty cheesy and best avoided. A more effective way to add impact is to incorporate audio and especially video, and for this Flair offers another shortcut wizard that lets you convert existing footage to SWF or FLV.

This includes the new option to add cue points to external FLV files linked to text captions, SWFs and web pages. You can also add YouTube-style player controls that only appear when you mouse over your video and which offer full screen playback. However, the process for doing this is unnecessarily awkward and, more importantly, on our Vista-based test system encoding was unreliable and led to crashes. This wasn’t a problem under XP.

When it’s working properly, Flair’s in-built video encoding is a major plus. So is Flair’s ability to record onscreen activity directly to SWF ready for incorporation into projects. This is handled by another wizard, which lets you set a screen capture size or select which window to record. There’s nothing like the dedicated control and editability offered by Captivate – you need to get your recording right first time – but it’s certainly a useful option to have for occasional use.

The same is true of Flair’s quiz capabilities. Again, this boils down to a simple wizard for adding basic true/false, multiple choice, matching, sequence and long form questions and answers. The level of control offered is minimal and there are plenty of quirks; users are expected to copy results to the clipboard and then email them in, for example. Adding a quiz is a quick way of making your presentation more interactive and engaging, but Flair’s system is not powerful enough to live up to Wildform’s “eLearning” claims.

Details

Software subcategory Web development

Operating system support

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

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