Setting up your computer to work with Captivate

This page provides some general information about how to set up your computer environment for Captivate e-learning development. Contrary to what some newbie Captivate developers may hope to believe, installing Captivate is only the first thing you need to do in order to really enjoy using it. Many issues reported in the forums are caused by inappropriate system configuration or setup. Following the steps in this section will help you avoid those types of issues.

Launch Captivate using 'Run As Administrator'

Captivate runs reasonably well on WinXp. But if you intend running on WinVista, Win7 or Win8 systems, be advised these newer operating systems introduced extra user security measures (known as User Access Controls or UAC for short) that can interfere with Captivate.

WARNING! Captivate 6.0 or 6.01 are not approved for Windows 8
According to Adobe, any version of Captivate below Cp6.1 is not tested or approved on the Windows 8 operating system. So, if you are in the process of upgrading your PC OS or purchasing a new system with the latest Win8 OS, you may be forced into updating your version of Captivate as well. My personal recommendation is that, if you use Captivate professionally and make your living from it, then you should seriously consider signing up for the subscription program as this will give you the very latest functionality and fixes at quite a reasonable price. 

To install Captivate on your development PC, you will need full Administrator rights. This won't be a problem if you own the machine. However, if you work in a corporate environment as an employee or contracted developer, then it is unlikely you will be given such totally unfettered access to your PC operating system. The more likely scenario is that Captivate will be installed by authorised technicians from your IT department, and any time you need to update Captivate because a new patch has been released or you need to install add-ons (like TTS voices), you’ll need to submit a formal request to the IT department to get this work done. You are therefore well-advised to cultivate a good relationship with the local IT dudes, because the trend nowadays with many applications (Captivate included) is to move toward frequent bug-fixes and updates after release, to resolve issues that once would have been eliminated by more thorough pre-release testing.

Many Captivate users (and IT Departments) mistakenly think that as long the application has been installed correctly then basic user rights are all that should be required to run Cp.  After all, you don't need to be an Administrator just to use Microsoft Office apps, right?  Unfortunately, with Captivate it's not quite that simple.

In WinVista, Win7, and Win8 it is necessary to always launch the app using the Run As Administrator option.  But please be aware that having Administrator rights on your PC is NOT the same as using Run As Administrator to launch an application like Captivate. Many users fail to understand this subtle distinction and experience frustrating issues including loss of functionality and even random application crashes that may result in hours or even days of lost work.

It's really very easy to set up. All you need to do is right-mouse-click on the Captivate icon in the Start menu or desktop and select Run as administrator from the context menu.

If you don't see a Captivate icon in your Start menu, you can just browse to the Captivate.exe file in your Program Files > Adobe > Adobe Captivate folder. You can just right click the application EXE file and set Run As Administrator there.

What if the IT Department won't allow you to use Run As Administrator

When you inform your corporate IT department of your requirement to run Captivate with Administrator privileges they are likely to refuse permission, even though you inform them the application will not work properly otherwise. This is where you find out not just how helpful, but also how knowledgeable, your IT gurus really are. It is technically possible to set up your user profile to have administrator rights for Captivate alone, without giving you admin rights over your whole computer. But only the really good IT acolytes know the tricks involved in pulling this off. You may be forced to get your manager (or his manager) involved to ‘lean on’ the IT department if necessary.  They'll either have to do it, or you won't be able to use Captivate.

Show hidden files and folders

By default, the Windows operating system hides certain folders and files to try and prevent users from accidentally deleting them and causing system instabilities. However, sooner or later you will need to access some of these files in order to perform certain maintenance and troubleshooting tasks. For example, you may need to modify Captivate’s publishing templates, delete system lock files to open CPTX files after a system crash, or delete/rename a troublesome Captivate preferences folder buried in your user profile. None of these tasks would be possible without being able to see the files or folders in the first place!

Here's how to show hidden files on a Windows operating system:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and click Tools > Folder Options. (If you do not see the Tools option in Windows Explorer, open the Organize dropdown menu and select Layout > Menu bar.)

  2. In the Folder Options dialog, click the View tab.
  3. Under Files and Folders > Hidden Files and Folders select the option to Show hidden files and folders.  
  4. Click OK to save changes.

Why you need to know which web server your content is on

It's very likely your published content will end up being loaded to a web server or LMS (which is also usually a web server), and you may not know whether this underlying web server is a Windows-based Internet Information Server (IIS) or an open-source Apache web server running on UNIX or LINUX.

Unfortunately, there is a small but significant difference between the way these differing technologies deal with mixed case text in URLs or links. The bottom line is that a URL hyperlink that works perfectly well when tested locally on your Windows development computer or on an IIS web server, may fail when uploaded to UNIX, LINUX, or FreeBSD web servers. What is the reason for this behaviour? It’s all due to the fact that these servers will not resolve a URL pointing to MyCourse/MyFile.htm because they’re looking for mycourse/myfile.htm instead. This can cause havoc with your course links.

Forum users will often report a baffling issue where course links that were working fine for months suddenly start failing for no apparent reason. What has usually happened is that behind the scenes someone in the IT department or web hosting service decided to move the course files over to a different web server, and now that the server technology is different, it doesn’t handle links in exactly the same way. As a result, developers sometimes waste days before discovering broken links were caused by the way their new web server handled mixed case filenames.

So, even if you think there’s no chance your environment will change, if you want to avoid maddening issues with broken links, always follow the two rules below.

Always use lower case file/folder names

Although you can certainly use uppercase or mixed case names for folders in the general folder structure where you store your project files, when it comes time to published output, you will avoid a lot of potential issues with broken links if you ONLY use lower case folder and file names. This rule relates to the information above about how different web servers process links.

Never use spaces in file/folder names

Similar to the previous rule, spaces between words in folder names or filenames may result in broken URL links after uploading to a web server or LMS. Though your Windows operating system or LAN server will be able to resolve hyperlinks containing spaces, the rules of the internet are somewhat different. Web servers and web browsers do not expect to find spaces in a URL. They’ll interpret the spaces to mean the end of the URL, and therefore your carefully crafted hyperlinks will break.

The recommended way to separate words in a folder or file name is to use an underscore character or a hyphen. So instead of creating links like my course/my first course module.htm which would break, you should replace the spaces with underscore characters so that the link target is my_course/my_first_module.htm or even use hyphens such as in my-course/my-first-module.htm.

Avoiding video file issues

If you intend using video-based content in your e-learning courses, the previous two points about not using mixed case or spaces in filenames are especially important. Unlike early versions of Captivate, from Cp5x versions onward video is always externalized and relies on correctly functioning links. Unfortunately, when these links fail, Captivate's error messages don't always state the underlying issue. You can eliminate two of the main causes of failure just by following the simple precautions outlined above.

What else can you do to set up your system?

In addition to the information below, you should also see the related page about Setting up Flash Global Security, as not doing so is also responsible for many issues reported on the Adobe Captivate User Forums.


This information is an abbreviated extract from the Infosemantics e-book series about Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate. If you want the whole story on this troubleshooting tip and hundreds more, purchase the e-book for your version of Captivate.

You can also view detailed information and video tutorials about how to use Captivate widgets at the Infosemantics troubleshooting pages.

 

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