Are you wasting too many hours troubleshooting annoying issues in Adobe Captivate?

How would you like to be able to set up Adobe Captivate on your system to eliminate scores of issues before they even get a chance to occur, then get immediate access to hundreds of proven solutions for the issues that DO crop up, without spending hours on the web sifting through dozens of old forum posts and web pages? 

If you're an Adobe Captivate e-learning developer and you answered yes to the above questions, then Infosemantics' e-books about Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in wasted time. They're downloadable e-books (in printable PDF format) that contains hundreds of pages of detailed information, complete with screenshots, to show you exactly what you need to do to resolve issues. Many issues even have multiple solutions you can try.

Download the Table of Contents and first 40 pages of the Troubleshooting Captivate 8/9 e-book for a free preview!

This information isn't in the Captivate help files!

Hi, my name is Rod Ward and I' the author of all e-books you see listed on this page.  I'm  a professional Instructional Designer and E-learning Developer working as a freelance consultant under contract to corporations (mainly here in Australia where I live).

In my professional career I've used every version of Adobe Captivate since it first came out. If you’ve ever visited the Adobe Captivate Forum or posted a question there, you’ve probably seen my name mentioned. I’ve contributed around 10,000 forum posts answering troubleshooting questions for other Captivate users just like yourself.  

Some years ago I decided to write these e-books to collect and condense everything I know about how to debug issues encountered while using Captivate. Each one took several months to write, and they illustrated with hundreds of screenshots taken using the actual Captivate versions discussed.

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 8 and 9 is now the latest e-book to be released in this series. 

By the way, if you're not currently using either Captivate 8 or 9, there’s an e-book dedicated to Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 6/7 and another one about Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 5/5.5. (And if you REALLY want to take your e-learning skills to the next level and create highly interactive e-learning, check out my Infosemantics Guide to Adobe Captivate Advanced Actions.)

Are these e-books worth the asking price?  What do actual readers say?

(By the way...in case you're wondering...all of the people below paid for their e-books. No freebies.)

"While searching the web for a solution to a specific Captivate problem I came across a reference to Infosemantics' e-book about Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate. A quick review of the sample pages was enough to convince me that it was worth the asking price. I was not disappointed. Not only did it answer my initial question, it has since served as an excellent resource for trouble shooting the types of problems that are inevitable with a complex software in today’s corporate environment. Would I recommend this book to anyone else? I already have, to many of my colleagues and anyone else who would listen. If you use Captivate, this book is a great resource." 
Steve Murton, Senior Instructional Designer, Houston, Texas

“My company was experiencing issues related to conversion of projects t from Captivate 5.5 to 6 to 6.1 to 7. We needed a resource that allowed us to troubleshoot issues related to both 6 and 7 quickly. This book has been the go-to resource for this project. Rod Ward delivered and then some. My team has recently revised our development processes and quality assurance procedures – this book was instrumental in setting the milestones for both. Was it worth the asking price? Are you serious??? Rod provides free updates, allows me to email him with questions if I still can’t figure out what I broke, and provides a touchstone resource – for 50% of what a month’s subscription to Captivate costs! You need to buy this book. The content and readability are superb, it’s incredibly easy to navigate and find your issues, and it will save you a tremendous amount of time in the development process.”
Brett Helm, Jacksonville Florida USA.

“I run a small elearning development business and I use Captivate because my focus is on adaptability and accessibly. Like you, I appreciate the power and flexibility of Captivate and I'm prepared to work with and around its technical "issues". So there is no way I could resist a book titled "Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 6 & 7". I enjoy doing my own troubleshooting, but I know I should be spending more time on problems that are more important to my business. I'm happy to say that the book has more than paid for itself and is now my first choice (yes, even before Google) when I need a quick answer to a Captivate problem. In some ways I'd like to keep the book a secret, but I really hope it gets the recognition it deserves so that you'll be encouraged to update it often to keep pace with Adobe's rapid release cycles. There's already plenty of troubleshooting fodder in the recent 7.01 release and CP8 is probably not too far away.”
Martin Brown, Melbourne, Australia.

"The main reason I purchased your book is that I wasn’t getting satisfactory answers to the problems I was having with Captivate 6 from other reference books on the market or from the Adobe Captivate forums. Not only have I been able to quickly find answers to pesky problems that bedeviled me for months, and for which there was either conflicting or no information on the Adobe forums, I have been able to get tips for reducing file size as well as other helpful information to improve the quality of my Captivate videos. As a professional technical writer, I am very appreciative of an author who so skillfully shows a talent for excellent user-centered design. The price is dirt cheap for a book that has saved me countless hours scouring the Adobe help forums or trying to find answers to problems in other (frankly, less helpful) books about Captivate. This is by far the best reference book I’ve ever purchased. Anyone who uses Captivate should purchase this book. It is a gold mine!"
Sandy Bartell PhD, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

“I was looking for solutions to a Captivate problem, and actually emailed Rod about something that wasn't in the book. He was able to provide me with some great insights, and that helped immensely. Most times the solution in the book helps by directing me to look in sections of captivate that I might not have considered. If I can save hours of troubleshooting by looking at the book and getting some idea of where to look, then I would say it is well worth it, even if I only had to use the book once! Would I recommend it to someone else? YES....why try to spend hours troubleshooting? A no brainer.”
Carolyn Hoekstra, Ontario, Canada

"I work at a major university and we have just begun to get involved with e-learning projects. In our office, we use all of the Adobe products. I was rather surprised when we first began at how few resources were available for Adobe Captivate. When I found your book online I was excited, as a 'troubleshooting' book was just what we were were looking for. Your book has been a great resource for us! I love it's layout. Very easy to find specific areas, easy to read, excellent images. Short, sweet and to the point. Exactly the way I like to read. Very helpful information for those of us just starting with the software. I would definitely recommend the book to others, beginners or more advanced. A great value. I find your book so worthwhile though, that I am going to print it out and put a plastic binder on it myself! :-) Thank you for an excellent book."
Karen Edwards, Illinois, USA

"I am the first of my team to explore Captivate as a development tool. I have always heard about Captivate’s capabilities and popularity in the eLearning world, but have never tried developing courses in that capacity. Our LMS system has been buggy, as have our experiences with Captivate. Due to the 'new world' experience, I wanted to seek answers to the questions I kept encountering regarding publishing interactions, and why outputs often went awry. The book seemed like a great solution. It has covered all the answers I have had so far. I cannot say I have read it cover to cover, but for what I need and when I need it, it definitely delivers. I would definitely recommend it to others. I often struggle to find good resources online that break Captivate down to the easy-to-understand basics, especially from the eLearning side. I have found your site and your eBooks to do just that. That’s a big reason why I am a returning customer for your books and widgets."
Phil Havlik, United States of America.

"This is a must have book for every Captivate Developer. As an eLearning solutions provider, we help our customers overcome the hurdles to using Captivate. We purchased this book so we can not only help our clients, but also ourselves become a better solutions provider. The book is worth it's weight in gold and it paid for itself within the first week of use. The book has already saved my hide numerous times. If you want to save yourself from going prematurely bald or gnawing your fingernails to the nub, get this book! It not only gives you troubleshooting techniques, but it explains very well the history behind Adobe's madness, and ways to avoid mistakes in the future. It was worth the price...and them some!"
Jim Leichliter, Virginia, USA.

"While searching for answers to Captivate questions, (quiz settings, publishing formats to SumTotal LMS, etc.) this eBook appeared in Google search results. After reading some of the provided samples from the eBook, I decided my fellow team members and I, would benefit from this information as a handy reference. This very thorough eBook did provide major insights into preparing the computer work environment before using Captivate to develop eLearning. My team at work recently upgraded to from Cap 4 to Cap 6 and also needed guidance about the new enhancements. Nearly every section provided knowledge that was both timely (due to projects underway) and helpful for the future. Also, some publishing errors were found to be on the LMS side and not with Cap 6 at all. Was it worth the price? Absolutely! The$35.00 US asking price was fair for the bountiful and expert knowledge provided. The Infosemantics Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate (6 & 7) eBook is a great Go-To reference for anyone doing serious, deadline-driven eLearning authoring and doesn’t have the time to prowl the Adobe forums. The table of contents allows you to pick just the right section to seek answers to perplexing issues (that Adobe will not provide) and the suggested solutions are thoughtful, logical and very well explained."
Carol Zeltman, Senior Instructional Designer, New Jersey USA.

"For $35, "Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 6 & 7" is pretty much essential for anyone releasing a Captivate course. It outlines what can go wrong, and how to fix it when it does. If you get in a jam, this book may save your business..."
Dr Tony Eyers, TekTel, New South Wales, Australia

Still not satisfied? See more testimonials for this e-book here...>

How this e-book benefits you

Having this e-book on hand as a permanent resource will help you in the following ways:

  • Avoid wasting valuable course development time looking for solutions to Adobe Captivate issues. 
  • Get direct access to solutions that are proven to work for other users experiencing the same issues.
  • Learn how to set up Adobe Captivate on your computer system to avoid many issues before you even start working.
  • Avoid missed deadlines and angry clients or bosses.

How much do these e-books cost?

Each e-book varies according to the amount and type of information it contains.  Prices are from about $25.00 to $45.00 USD,

Prices for all e-books are listed in the product catalog here.  

It only takes a few moments to purchase the book using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or AMEX), or via PayPal.  You can download the e-book as soon as the transaction payment is cleared.

Do I have to pay for future updates?

No! Any updates to the e-book version for your particular version of Captivate are completely free.  When an update is released, you can just log back into my website (with the username and password you set up at time of purchase) and download the latest version at no extra charge.

What if I buy it and then decide I don't like the e-book?

You'd be the first one to do so that I'm aware of!  Which means I’m so sure you’ll be satisfied with any of my e-books that I’m offering a 30 day money back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, within 30 days of purchase, I will refund the entire purchase price.

Let me repeat that: If you're not completely satisfied, you get 100% of your money back.
You have my personal promise.

So what are you waiting for?

All you need to do is click one of the links below to go to page for the e-book that relates to your particular version of Captivate, add the e-book to your online shopping cart, and then check out using your credit card.

If you’re still unsure about anything I’ve said above, please send an email to me now: rod.ward@infosemantics.com.au


Buy Troubleshooting Captivate 8 and 9

Contains over 450 pages of content explaining how to troubleshoot and debug specific issues encountered in Captivate versions 8.0, 8.1 and 9.0.

THIS E-BOOK IS TEMPORARILY ​BEING OFFERED AT HALF PRICE FOR ONLY $22.50. BUT ONLY UNTIL THE END OF NOVEMBER 2015.

(Download the TOC and first 30 pages as a free sample of the content)


Buy Troubleshooting Captivate 6 and 7

Contains over 300 pages of content explaining how to troubleshoot and debug specific issues encountered in Captivate versions 6.0, 6.0.1, 6.1 and 7.0.
(Download the TOC and first 30 pages as a free sample of the content)


Buy Troubleshooting Captivate 5.0 and 5.5

Contains over 150 pages of content explaining how to troubleshoot and debug specific issues encountered by e-learning developers using Captivate 5.0 and 5.5.

(download the TOC and first 20 pages as a free sample of the content)




If you have any specific queries about troubleshooting issues, send us a message and we'll try to help.

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 8 & 9 - 01 (single) User License

$45.00

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 8 and 9 is a 450 page e-book (in PDF format) explaining how professional e-learning developers can troubleshoot hundreds of different issues encountered in Adobe Captivate versions 8 and 9.

Click here for more details about this product.

Please note that all Infosemantics e-books come with a 30 day money back guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase within 30 days, Rod Ward will completely refund your purchase price.

To purchase a Single-user e-book license, just click the Add to Cart button below. 

 If you need to purchase the Cp6x 7x e-book version, click here. 

 If you need to purchase the Cp5x e-book version, click here.

 

 


 

SKU: e-book_troubleshoot_cp8x_9x_01
Price: $45.00

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 6 & 7 - 01 (single) User License

$35.00

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 6 and 7 is a 300 page PDF e-book explaining how professional e-learning developers can troubleshoot hundreds of different issues encountered in Adobe Captivate versions 6.0, 6.1, 7.0 and 7.0.1.

Click here for more details about this product.

Please note that this e-book comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase within 30 days, Rod Ward will completely refund your purchase price.

To purchase this Single-user license, just click the Add to Cart button below. 

To purchase a multi-user license for this e-book, see this page. 

 To purchase the Cp5x e-book version, see this page. 

 

 


 

SKU: e-book_troubleshoot_cp6x_7x_01
Price: $35.00

Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate 5 and 5.5 - 01 (single) User License

$25.00

 This 177 page e-book in (PDF format) explains how to troubleshoot common issues encountered by e-learning developers using Adobe Captivate version 5 or 5.5.

(Click here to see the Cp6-7 e-book version. Available NOW!.)

Topics covered include:

  • General troubleshooting tips
  • Setting up your computer to work with Captivate
  • Installation and startup issues
  • Setting up Captivate preferences
  • General issues
  • Debugging variables and advanced actions
  • Debugging widget issues
  • Publishing issues
  • Quizzing issues
  • LMS and SCORM issues
  • Suggested troubleshooting resources

Download the full Table of Contents and first 20 pages of content here...>

These tips, accumulated by the author over many years as an expert user of Captivate, will save you many hours of frustration and lost productivity.  

Please note that this e-book comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with your e-book within 30 days of purchase, Rod Ward will completely refund your purchase price.

SKU: e-book_troubleshoot_cp5x
Price: $25.00

Debugging Slow Playback in Captivate Courses

So you spend weeks slaving over a hot CPU creating a new masterpiece e-learning course in Captivate. You've taken all reasonable steps to make your project as web-friendly as possible. You even used images that were resized for the Captivate screen in your graphics program BEFORE you imported them, so that they're optimised for web playback.  Your voiceover audio output is set to a quality level that is acceptable without showing MP3 compression "whooshiness".  Etc, etc. 

You thought of everything, and it works perfectly...on your PC.  Then you upload it to your webserver or LMS and everybody loves it...except for a small percentage of users that start complaining like this:

  • "The playback stops and starts sometimes."
  • Text animations don't play completely."
  • "Slides take too long to transition."
  • "As I'm completing the quiz, it takes longer and longer for the next quiz slide to appear."

What is really frustrating about these issues is that you cannot replicate them on your own PC and most users don't seem to have them.  Just a few.  If this ever happens to you, I've provided some suggestions below to help track down the cause/s of the issue. 

But please note that the rule of thumb in these cases is as follows:

If the vast majority of users are NOT experiencing problems, the fault is most likely NOT with your course content.  So before you waste time making alterations to your course, check out the other possible reasons first.  On the other hand, if the majority of the users ARE complaining about the same thing, then the issue IS most likely at your end and you will need to change something about either the content or the way it's being delivered.

This information is an excerpt only. To learn more, get one of our e-books about troubleshooting and debugging Captivate 5x, 6x, or 7x...>

Steps to Debugging Playback Issues

  • Old or corrupted Flash Player plugins are the most common cause of playback issues (in my person experience). Check that users who are complaining are on the correct version of Flash Player. Flash Player 10 can play significantly better than Flash 9.  It's also not uncommon for users in corporate environments to have been missed out in upgrades so that their version of Flash player is quite old.  Don't accept the word of an IT dude that tells you: "All of our users are on the latest version of Flash Player."  I've found plenty that slipped through the cracks.
  • Find out more details from the users that are complaining about their actual PC setup. For example, check that they actually are not using some old clunker PC that should have been a boat anchor years ago. Remember that a lot of what goes on to play back Flash content involves the CPU decoding compressed files.  So the CPU speed is actually more important than the amount of RAM. 
  • Don't believe everything you hear.  If at all possible, actually go and sit with the users that are complaining to watch the behaviour they're talking about. It might not turn out to be the way they said, or as bad as they claimed. If you cannot sit with them, can you arrange a screensharing session?  Your IT support people will likely have this facility because they use it all the time to take control of users workstations remotely.
  • Ask the user to check defragmentation on their PC hard drive.  Most users DON'T know how to do this and as a result never defragment.  I have seen PCs in corporate IT environments that had not been defragmented in several years, perhaps since new.  Their hard drive showed up mostly red when the fragmentation analysis was done.  This lack of PC housekeeping can contribute to many issues, especially with Flash or multimedia playback.  Ask the user to defragment 2 or 3 times to be on the safe side.
  • Watch the CPU on Task Manager while the PC is playing the Captivate presentation.  The performance monitor should tell you if the CPU is struggling and unable to decode the content fast enough.
  • Try to have another user log onto the same machine using a different profile and see if they experience the same issues.  This can tell you whether the issue is due to a corrupted user profile.  Conversely, have the same user log onto a different machine, creating a new profile for themselves on that PC to see if they experience the same issue.  If it seems to be their profile at fault, they may need to get some IT dude to blow away their profile and set it up afresh.
  • Check whether or not the issue could be due to server latency.  This is especially the case where LMSs are involved.  Users will often experience latency issues such as slow transitions from one quiz slide to the next because the course module has to wait for the LMS to respond to each interaction before it can move forward.  If this is occurring for a significant number of users, you can try using the optional SCORM template that only sends tracking data at the end of the module instead of all the way through.  This template comes standard with Captivate 5.5 but was also shipped out with recent updates to Captivate 5.  If you're on an earlier version of Captivate, you can download the template from here.

Bottom line from my experience is this: If 95% of your user-base is playing the Captivate content without issue, you don't need to change anything.  Chances are that whatever is going wrong for the few that are complaining about poor playback wouldn't necessarily improve no matter what you did to your project.  You need to isolate what exactly is causing the issue for these users and correct it ON THEIR END.

Basic Captivate Troubleshooting Techniques

In a previous (teenage) life I worked as a technician repairing and servicing domestic electrical appliances. It was there I first learned how to troubleshoot technical issues. Most of the time it just boils down to eliminating all possible causes until you find the one/s triggering the issue.  It’s not rocket science; just a process of elimination.  After a while the diagnostic process speeds up because you know most of the common causes and might even know instantly as soon as you hear the telltale symptoms
Similarly, some basic troubleshooting tips apply to just about any Captivate issue you need to debug. In the thousands of posts I’ve logged on the Adobe Captivate Forum I often find myself following the same diagnostic process of elimination I used when fixing washing machines and refrigerators back in my teens. This section gives you a quick apprenticeship in Captivate troubleshooting techniques that every Captivate user should know about. 

Easy Troubleshooting Techniques

These tips cost nothing, in most cases take only seconds or moments to perform, and have saved my bacon more times than I can count.

1. Start with the most likely causes

Of all the possible causes for an issue, there is usually one that stands out as most likely. Start with this one and work through to the most unlikely ones.  Don’t waste time exploring things that rarely turn out to be the cause if there are more likely candidates staring you in the face.

2. Simplify the project to isolate the issue

Very often a user will be unable to debug some baffling issue in a big complex project…largely because it IS a big complex project.  The larger the number of slides and components, the harder it becomes to know where an issue might be lurking.  If you cut out the complexity, the issue may be easier to discern and thereby become easier to debug. For example, when you publish a project, any hidden slides and their associated objects do not get published in the final output.  So a common debugging trick I use is to make a copy of a problematic project (just in case you make unforeseen changes to the project file that render it unusable) and then hide or delete half the slides to see if this resolves the issue. If hiding half the slides resolves the issue is resolved, then the cause of the issue was likely to be located somewhere in the hidden half of the project.  Then you concentrate on that suspect half of the project and hide or delete half of it again. Using this simple process of elimination you can often narrow down the problem to a specific slide. 

If you can isolate the cause to a given slide, then start deleting objects or just deselecting the Visibility setting of objects on that slide to use the same process of elimination. As opposed to hiding an entire slide, setting the Visibility of an object to off will still mean that it gets published along with the rest of the project. However, it will be effectively disabled. So this is a way to locate any object or group of objects that might be causing the issue. 

An alternative method of removing an object from a slide for debugging purposes to test whether or not it is causing some issue is just to drag it off into the scrap area outside the slide boundaries.  Objects located entirely in the scrap area are not published with the project.

3. Try to replicate the issue in a new project file

If you’ve been working on an issue that defies explanation, try creating a brand new Captivate project file and see if you can replicate the issue there.  Sometimes you’ll find that a new project does NOT suffer the same issue.  You can then stop blaming Captivate and start scrutinising the specific project file, which may have become corrupted in some way. If so, it might be a good idea to transfer slides over to a new project file rather than risk further corruption that could result in a project you cannot open or edit. 

4. Copy and paste slides to reset object IDs

Copying slides from one project to another causes Captivate to rename all copied objects with new unique Item Names. These are the unique IDs that Captivate uses to track objects internally.  If for any reason your issue is due to duplication of these IDs (which can cause project file corruption) then copying the objects will often resolve it because it forces Captivate to recreate the object references.

Copying slides from one project to another also strips out any Advanced Actions attached to those objects. This can remove another cause of project corruption, though it will also mean you need to recreate your Advanced Actions and User Variables in the new project file.  Sometimes this takes less time than struggling to restore a corrupted project file.

5. Don’t just Preview.  Publish completely!

I wish I had a dollar for every question where someone on the forum has been expressing frustration with Captivate because something is not working as expected and it turned out they were hitting F10 and previewing the next 5 slides, not publishing the entire project.
 
F3 will only play the slide timeline of the slide you are currently viewing.  And this won’t show you how everything will look at runtime, especially if you have Effects on any objects.  Some things will ONLY work properly if you publish completely. 
For example, click boxes or buttons set to Jump to Slide will ONLY work if you publish completely or use F12 to Preview In Web Browser.  So if something isn’t working, but you’re only actually previewing, try publishing out completely.

6. Use the Force Republish Option

Cp5 added a new check box on the Publish dialog to Force re-publish all the slides.

By default this box is NOT checked, which means Captivate only republishes slides that have been changed in some way and re-uses previously cached publish files for all other slides.  This does effectively speed up publishing times significantly. However, it can occasionally mean some changes don’t get detected, which can cause some things to stop working. So, ticking this box on the Publish dialog forces Captivate to republish all slides regardless of whether or not they were changed. 
Another issue area in Captivate where force republish can work wonders is for ‘ghost lines’ that can sometimes appear in screen-captured output. This has been a long-standing problem in Cp for several versions, but many users find that just ticking this box and forcing Cp to republish all slides in the project can work wonders at removing those annoying lines. (Turning off all compression options also helps too.) Unfortunately, the setting doesn’t ‘stick’, so you need to remember to do it occasionally.  You should always use force republish for the final publish of any output.

7. Clear out your project cache

Captivate 5 wasn’t just a normal update from Cp4. Under the hood it was totally rebuilt from the ground up to rely a lot more on XML technologies. Adobe added an Adobe Captivate Cached Projects folder inside the user’s My Documents folder. Captivate uses the Project Cache to store data while working on project files.  Adobe also uses this cache to speed up publishing times for Cp projects. The cache maintains separate folders for each Captivate project currently being edited, and inside these folders are zillions of small files that control every aspect of every object in the project.  This cache folder can eventually accumulate several gigabytes of files and cause Captivate to become unstable, causing all manner of issues. So you need to clean out the cache from time to time. In fact, Adobe recommends you clear your cache after completing each project and before you begin the next one. 

In a section of the Infosemantics guide to Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate we outline a number of precautionary steps you can take to set up your Captivate working environment and thereby avoid many common issues.  One of these steps involves changing the default locations of your Project Cache folder.  You are well-advised to take this action.

WARNING!
Never use Windows Explorer or the MAC Finder tool to delete the files in the cache folder while Captivate is open or you may crash the program. The recommended method is to use the Clear Cache button under Edit > Preferences > General section.  

 

8. Reset Captivate preferences

One of the most common ‘fixes’ for a wide array of issues entails renaming or deleting a specific hidden folder buried deep within your user profile.  This folder happens to be the one that stores all of the data relevant to the options you select under Preferences and Workspaces inside Captivate.  Unfortunately, Captivate’s preference data seems to be easily corrupted, leading to a wide variety of issues discussed in the Troubleshooting Adobe Captivate e-books.

The Preferences folder is not named 'Preferences'!

The Captivate preferences folder is not that easy to find on your computer because files in your user profile are hidden by default. And even when you DO find it, it’s not actually named ‘Preferences’ at all, but instead is named after the installed version of Captivate. This naming irregularity confuses the heck out of newbie Captivate users directed to kill this folder in the hope of resolving some annoying issue.  Typically they go looking for a folder specifically named ‘Preferences’ and cannot find it. Frustration quickly ensues.

To find the elusive Preferences folder, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Show all hidden files and folders - Files in your PC user profile are normally hidden from view to prevent you from inadvertently deleting something essential, thus rendering you incapable of logging into your own computer.  So, in order to locate your Captivate Preferences folder you need to make a change to default system settings and show these hidden files or folders.  If your PC is not already set up this way, we cover this step in more detail in the chapter on setting up your computer to work with Captivate.
  2. Close down Captivate - You cannot rename or delete the preferences folder while Captivate is currently open.  So, close down Captivate before performing the next steps.
  3. Navigate to the Preferences folder in your user profile - Your user profile path to the preferences folder will vary depending on your specific computer operating system. (In paths shown below for Cp6, replace [user] with your own profile name.)
    WinXP: C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Local Settings\Application Data\Adobe\Captivate [version#]
    WinVista / Win7: C:\Users\[user]\AppData\Local\Adobe\Adobe Captivate [version#]
    Apple MAC: /Users/[user]/Library/Preferences/Adobe Captivate [version#]
  4. Rename or delete the preferences folder - As mentioned above, the preferences folder is NOT named ‘preferences’. In the example paths above, the Adobe Captivate [version#] folder IS the preferences folder. Once you’ve found that folder, all you need to do now is delete it. Alternatively, if you’re one of those commendably cautious people that never feels right about deleting things, just rename the folder to something else (e.g. add OLD to the end as I have done in the screenshot shown below).
  5. If you are using Adobe Captivate 7.0.1 or later then you may also need to rename another folder as well. This folder is found at:
    C:\Users\[your name]\AppData\Roaming\Captivate

What happens next is that when you re-launch Captivate again it will notice the missing preferences folder and create a nice fresh (uncorrupted) new one for you.  If your issue was due to corrupted preferences, then it should now be resolved.  (If it’s not resolved, at least you’re one step closer to finding the real reason.)
Please be aware that killing the preferences file, as described above, will mean you lose any customizations you may have made to preferences or workspaces when Captivate defaults back to original installation settings.  But that’s usually a small price to pay for getting back a fully functional working app that enables you to meet that looming deadline.

Tip: Use the CleanPreferencesWin.bat file to do it quicker!
With all Captivate 6 and later versions Adobe now provides an easier way to reset preferences via a special CleanPreferencesWin.bat file located in a new utils directory found inside the Captivate install folder under Program Files

Just close down Captivate and execute the CleanPreferencesWin.bat file at this location to reset your preferences folder in a matter of a second or two.  Some users that experience this issue often even set up a custom shortcut on their desktop!

9. Step away from the issue!

If you’ve been banging your head against some issue for hours without success, walk away from it and do something else for a while.  You may have become so close to the issue that you cannot see something obvious.  I like to play my guitar, go for a walk, go for a coffee, or go to the toilet. (You’d be amazed how many times I’ve found inspiration in the ‘smallest room of the house’.)

10. Ask someone else for advice

Again, if you’re too close to the issue to see the solution, ask another person unrelated to the problem for their input.  Many times they will hit on the reason because they don’t share your perspective. If you don’t have another developer in your team, log a question on the Adobe Captivate User Forum.  In most cases you’ll get a reply within hours, sometimes within minutes. However, if you DO expect someone else to help you, please note the next suggestion…

11. Give detailed info about the issue

Effective troubleshooting is based on accurate information, otherwise it’s just guesswork.  So if you’re trying to debug an issue for another user, you need to know everything they know about the issue and its context.  It’s often just some minor detail that reveals the underlying cause or causes.  Conversely, if you ever log an issue on the Captivate forum, it will greatly increase your chances of finding a solution if you provide the helpful people there with some basic information.
Typical things you need to know or provide include:

  1. Captivate version and whether or not all recent patches or updates have been installed.
  2. Whether the computer is PC or MAC and what OS version it's running.
  3. Web browser version (if published content is playing in browser).
  4. Flash Player version/s installed.
  5. Playback source (CD-ROM, LAN, local hard drive, LMS).
  6. If the published folder location is NOT on a web server, whether or not it has been added as a trusted location in Flash Global Security.  (This accounts for a huge number of issues.)
  7. If content is delivered from an LMS, which LMS, LMS version.
  8. If using an LMS, which integration technology (AICC, SCORM, or Tin Can) and version.

People often post questions on the Captivate forum without any of this information. The more information supplied, the more likely someone can help resolve your issue.

12. Read the user help doco!

And last but not least….when all else has failed and you’ve wasted far too much time searching for answers, do what you should have done when you first installed the application: Read the user help files documentation! In fact, now that more and more of the help doco is online, I believe it's a good idea to have a copy of the entire help documentation in PDF format handy, just in case you need to look something up when you're offline.
Here are some links:


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.

 

Is Adobe Captivate Backward Compatible or Forward Compatible?

Here's an interesting question for you: Is Adobe Captivate backward compatible?

This question gets asked quite a lot on the Adobe Captivate Forum and the usual answer is NO.  But that's not quite correct.  

About Backward and Forward Compatibility

Check the actual definition of the term "backward compatibility here on Wikipedia: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backward_compatibility

Captivate is BACKWARD compatible but not FORWARD compatible

According to this esteemed source, the fact that most versions of Captivate CAN open files from previous versions (e.g. Captivate 8 can open files from Cp6 or even Cp5) would mean that the application is, by definition, "backward compatible".   However, the fact that previous versions of Captivate cannot open or work with current version Captivate files means that those earlier versions are not "forward compatible".

Interestingly,  Captivate 6 was so far the only version that seemed to break this rule.  It could actually open and edit Captivate 7 files, despite the fact that Adobe did not recommend the practice.  However, this respite was short-lived because Cp6 or Cp7 cannot open or edit Cp8 files now.

Beware the one-way SAVE street

Either way, the real issue for most Captivate developers that use different versions is that once you open a file from an earlier version of Cp in a later version of Cp and then SAVE that file, it will no longer be editable in the earlier version from then on.

One potential issue here though is that all Captivate versions since Cp5 now use the CPTX project file format, but there's no way just by looking at the file to determine which Captivate version it relates to.

So, if you DO happen to use a later version of Captivate to open a project file from an earlier version, my recommendation is to make sure you do a SAVE AS and then append the file name with an underscore followed by the Captivate major version number (e.g. MyProjectFile_Cp8.cptx)

This way, if anyone needs to keep editing it with the older version, they still have the original unchanged CPTX as an option. But there is also now a clear indicator for the other file as to which Captivate version will be needed to open it.

 

 

How to recover corrupted or locked Captivate projects

 Though thankfully a relatively rare event, Captivate projects have been known to suffer corruption. If damage is severe enough, a corrupted file will simply refuse to open in Captivate and then you need to resort to one of the methods suggested in this section to recover it.  

Why Captivate projects sometimes corrupt

It’s important to remember that Captivate 5 was not just an update to Cp4. It was a total rebuild of the application from the ground up. Adobe made extensive changes to the underlying software architecture. Of course, any radical rebuild of a software application is going to involve a number of bugs, and Captivate 5.0 did certainly have some ‘teething problems’ when it first came out. More recent versions of the app and its file format seem to have become progressively more stable.

Here are some of the reasons for this issue:

  • The nature of the CPTX file format -  A CPTX project file is actually a zip archive in disguise and may contain hundreds or even thousands of smaller files relating to the myriad of objects, images, and actions contained in your e-learning course. Each of these tiny files must be flawlessly saved back to the default location of the Cp project cache folder every time you perform a save action. If for any reason this does not occur as planned, corruption may result.
  • The project file is not corrupt, but some objects within it may be - We just mentioned that a Captivate project file is actually a collection of scores, hundreds, or even thousands of objects. Sometimes one or more objects conflict with others and this manifests itself similarly to project corruption.  
  • Including AS2 objects in an AS3 project file - All versions of Captivate before Cp5 were compatible with ActionScript 2 (AS2) and later versions up to Cp4 could use both AS2 and AS3.  Adobe officially dropped support for AS2 in Cp5 and from then on only AS3 objects could be used for preloaders, skins, animations, and widgets.  If you upgrade an older project to Cp5 or later format, you need to be sure NOT to retain any AS2 elements, otherwise your project could misbehave badly. 
  • Working on project files over a network - Another big cause of project file corruption in Captivate is the ill-advised practice of storing project files on a network drive and using Cp to directly access and work on these files over the network. All it takes is the smallest glitch in network traffic at the same moment your file is being saved to render it beyond repair. This is why Captivate authors are repeatedly advised to maintain all currently active project files in a folder on your PC hard drive rather than on a LAN.

  • The current IT love affair with virtualization technologies - In recent years we are seeing a growing trend for corporations to employ new technologies known as virtualization.  This approach is designed to make it easier to maintain the company’s valuable information assets by ensuring they are all located on central servers rather than being spread all over the landscape on individual PC drives.  This means that user profiles, desktops, and My Documents folders are now often stored on servers to facilitate easier management and backups. Unfortunately for Captivate users, this innovative IT management approach has some major downsides, one of which is that it can often cause Captivate to become unstable and crash, which can then result in project file corruption. If you work in a corporate environment where virtualization and roaming user profiles are the order of the day, you need to explain to your IT people that working from anywhere other than the hard drive is a known cause of file corruption and ruined projects with Adobe Captivate. Hopefully they will do a quick search on the Adobe Captivate Forums to verify your story. They should be able to locate large numbers of users complaining about lost projects due to working over a LAN instead of locally. 

This information is an excerpt from our e-books about troubleshooting and debugging Adobe Captivate. Buy the e-book to get the full story!...>

Unable to open a specific Captivate project file

One day you try to open a Cp project file you’ve been working on, and all you get is some kind of cryptic error message. Here are the most likely reasons:

Project lock file still present in folder

When you open a project file for editing, Captivate creates another hidden file with the same name, but with a cptx_lock file ending. This file locks your project to prevent any other user from attempting to edit the same file while you have it open.  

This file is normally deleted to unlock the project when you save and close.  However, if Captivate crashes or the lock file is not deleted on closing the project, then you project may remain locked from the previous editing session.

 

Solution

Browse to the file location and see if there is a file with the same name but with a cptx_lock file ending as shown above. (The lock file is a hidden file. So you need to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows folder settings.) If you find the lock file, delete it and try to open the project again from within Captivate.

Project file has become corrupted

If you still cannot open the project file, it may have become corrupted during the last editing session, or when you saved it.  You may be looking at a case of corruption if you see any of the following symptoms:

  • Captivate crashes as soon as you open the project. (You know this must be due to the project file itself rather than Captivate because other similar projects open without issue.)
  • The project crashes or throws error messages when you attempt to publish out.
  • After publishing, some part of the project fails to work or shows blank slides.
  • Captivate refuses to open the project file at all, even though the same project worked perfectly the last time you opened it.

The most common reason for project file corruption is NOT following the rule to ONLY work on projects stored on your local hard drive. In mild cases, you can often use a process of elimination to locate and remove corrupt slides, objects, or actions thereby restoring the project to full functionality. In worst-case scenarios, you may need to restore an entire project to an earlier point in time in order to resurrect it. That’s only possible via backups or by using the cache.

Solution 1

If you obey the instructions in this document about setting the Project Preference to Generate Project Backup, then all you need to do is go to the folder containing the project file, delete the .bak file ending from the backup file, and open it in Cp.  All you will lose this way is any work performed since you last saved and closed the project file.

Solution 2

If you have not as yet cleared your project Cache, see the instructions about how to recover a project file from the cache.

Locate and remove corrupted elements from a project

Corruption is usually limited to one or more slides. Sometimes the issue can be caused by a single object on one of the slides.  If you can locate and remove the corrupting elements, you can usually restore your project to full functionality.  If fortune smiles and you can still open and navigate the project, try using a process of elimination to locate the offending slide or object and remove it.  

Here’s how:

  1. Hide all slides in the first half of your project and try to publish again.  
  2. If you still cannot publish, hide all slides in the last half of the project and try to publish.  
  3. If you are able to identify the half of the project where the corruption exists, use the same slide hiding process to progressively narrow down where the problem slide is.
  4. Once you identify the issue, remove the object or slide and try publishing again.

The good news is that even if your Captivate project file does turn out to be completely corrupted, if you followed all the suggestions in the section of this document about setting up for Captivate development, you still have at least two options left.

Recover a project from backup

If you implement the suggestion to Generate Project Backup in Preferences, then you will start seeing duplicates of your project files appear in the same folder with .cptx.bak file endings. This is really just a copy of your current project file that contains all changes up until the last time you saved and closed your project.

  1. Just rename or delete your corrupted project file (so that you’ll know which one it was) and move it out of the way somewhere.  
  2. Next, remove the .bak ending from the backup file and try to open it in Captivate.  If your backup file predates the moment when corruption afflicted your project, then it should open properly and you’re back in business.  You will of course lose all work performed after that file was lasted saved and closed, but at least you’ll still have a working project file.

Recover a project from cache

Your backup file can only ever contain changes you made up until the last time you successfully saved and closed down your project.  If you want to try and recover all changes to the current state of your project, you can try restoring from the cache.  This is a special folder where temporary working files are stored as you edit a Captivate project file. The default location is usually in My Documents > Adobe Captivate Cached Projects.  

However, the cache folder location can be changed and set to a different default location under Preferences > General Settings > Default Locations > Project Cache.

 

If you’ve been working on quite a few project files your cache will likely contain a large number of folders with names that consist of seemingly random letters and numbers.  These folders contain all the files necessary to recreate each separate project file you’ve worked on since the last time the cache was cleared.  The contents of the cache folder are updated each time you hit Save for that particular project.  This means, if you know what to do, you can sometimes resurrect a project file that steadfastly refuses to open via any other method.  This is great news for Captivate developers!

But it’s not all good. Since the folders all have this cryptic naming convention, it’s impossible to tell from just looking at the names which specific project each one contains. If you run into project corruption issues during a particular session, you can sort the project folders by date modified and that should shorten the odds somewhat.  The most recently modified folder is probably the one for your project.

Using the Dcache application

However, what if you are trying to resurrect a project file from last week or last month?  By now you may have opened and worked on dozens of projects and finding the right one in the cache is like finding a needle in a digital haystack.  

Fortunately Adobe realized this would be the case and created a special AIR application called Dcache. You can download the free Dcache utility from here. This application enables you to browse those cryptic cache folders and see which one relates to a given project.  

Once you locate the correct cache folder for your problematic project, just browse to that folder in windows explorer and open the single db folder it contains to see the files and folders shown in the screenshot below. Now you’re ready to recover the project as per the following instructions.

To recover a project from within the cache db folder:

  1. Select all files and folders EXCEPT any called already_in_use.lock or backup_data.  (These files would prevent Captivate from opening the recovered project.)
  2. Right click on the selected group of files and choose Winzip > Add to db.zip from the context menu. 
  3. Save this zip file to another location (usually where you store your project files) and change the file extension from .zip to .cptx.
  4. Open the .cptx file in Adobe Captivate.  You will need to use the same version of Cp that was last used to edit the project file.

If the project file opens successfully, you will see all saved changes up to the point the development session was closed or Cp became unresponsive and crashed.  If the recovered project file will NOT open, you may yet be able to find an older cached version that is still recoverable.  However, if you’ve already cleaned out your cache, those versions will not exist anymore.

So Adobe has tried to support you by providing a backup file option in Preferences, cached project versions you can use as a last resort to restore the project, and even a free utility to browse the cache and identify specific projects you may want to recover.  But, in some cases none of this is going to be enough and you WILL lose work due to corrupted projects.  

Life wasn’t meant to be easy…

 

Setting up Flash Global Security for Captivate

Over many years of watching the Adobe Captivate Forums I can tell you that NOT understanding Flash Global Security and how to configure it accounts for a disproportionately large number of Cp issues.  It is my firm belief that all Adobe Captivate e-learning professionals should have at least a basic understanding of this somewhat technical area and know how to set it up properly on the computer they or others will be using to develop Captivate content. 

Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to provide a lengthy and detailed explanation about why Flash Global Security causes issues and how to set up your development environment so as to avoid a host of seemingly random problems during project development and testing of online courseware. Here's what you'll be saving yourself...

"It worked perfectly in Captivate's Preview! Why doesn't it work if published?"

This is a typical reaction seen countless times on the Adobe Captivate Forum. Many Cp authors are totally flummoxed when they can preview content inside Captivate and everything seems to work perfectly, but as soon as they publish to HTM/SWF format, and then try to play from their hard drive or LAN or CD ROM, the same content fails to work in one or more ways. 

In all too many cases, the reason for this seemingly bizarre behaviour is that Flash Global Security has not been configured properly on the end user's system. But adding to the complexity is that the Flash security gremlins only kick in and cause issues under certain specific circumstances.


This information is an excerpt from our e-books about troubleshooting and debugging Adobe Captivate. Buy the e-book to get the full story!...>


How Flash Global Security affects Captivate content

Here are some sample issues caused by not having Flash Global Security configured correctly:

  • You have interactive objects in your project file (e.g. buttons, click boxes, widgets, or Advanced Actions) that are set to open web URLs or other files. The interactivity works fine when previewed in Captivate, but fails to work after publishing to a local hard drive, LAN folder, USB stick, or CD ROM.
  • You want to have one course module automatically open another course module as the user completes it. This is known as 'daisy-chaining' and normally achieved by setting the Preference for Project > Start and End > Project End Option to either Open URL or Open Other Project. As above, it works in preview but not after publishing.
  • You have custom JavaScript code in your project or external files and this code must be run in order for certain functionality to work.  For example, you may have added JavaScript alerts to appear if the user incorrectly clicks an area of the screen. The code is flawless but refuses to work.
  • You want to use Captivate’s Email Reporting ‘feature’ to get learner quiz results without using an LMS.  However, clicking on the reporting button on the Quiz Results slide fails to do anything and no results are attached to your email.  Since this method of reporting relies on JavaScript, without Flash Global Security set up it does not work.
  • You added a print widget on a slide in your course to enable the user to print out their certificate.  But the print widget seems to do nothing.
  • You’re creating a simulation of software that uses right-mouse-click functionality. So you add click boxes or widgets set to trigger actions on right mouse click.  Unfortunately, right mouse click is unavailable by default in Flash content because it is reserved for Flash’s own right-click context menus.  Fortunately, a clever JavaScript programmer developed a workaround to enable right-click with Flash content, and this workaround is employed by Adobe Captivate. Unfortunately, the workaround requires yet more JavaScript code, and for this to be executed, Flash Global Security must trust the publish folder location. Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to content delivered via HTTP from a web server.  (Did you notice how nicely the unfortunately's and the fortunately's balanced each other out?)

This is by no means a complete list of issues, but as you can see, Flash Global Security disables some fairly essential functionality that most developers expect to work out-of-the-box.  

About Captivate’s Preview Mode

Every Captivate developer uses Preview mode, but most don’t understand what actually happens. When you hit F4 or Ctrl + ENTER in Captivate to preview a project you’re actually using a special version of the Flash Player that opens your project in a temporary folder location with full security permissions.  This means that in Preview mode Flash Global Security is never going to be an issue.

As a result, Captivate developers are often lulled into a false sense of security while previewing their creations, only to find the same project fails to perform as expected when published out to a folder on the same PC.  It’s not uncommon for newbie developers to spend hours or even days on this issue.  By the time they make it to the Adobe Captivate Forum for help, these users are often in an advanced state of frustration.

Another complication is that Flash Player in Internet Explorer uses an ActiveX plug-in while Flash Player in other browsers uses a different form of the same player.  So configuring Flash Player for IE doesn’t necessarily mean it will work properly for all others.  What's more, updating the Flash Player Active X version, does not update other incarnations of Flash Player that may also be present on your computer.

What about content running from a web server or LMS?

At last some good news! Flash Global Security is not a problem when running content from a web server. Since most LMSs are also delivering content via web servers, LMSs don’t usually present problems due to Flash Global Security either. 

So, why did Adobe implement Flash Global Security so strictly?

The ActionScript 3 (AS3 for short) programming language is actually powerful and versatile enough to do almost anything, and in the wrong (or devious) hands could be used to cause havoc. Adobe decided they’d better take some precautions against Flash being used maliciously to take control of an end-user’s system and do something inappropriate (like delete files or plant viruses).  So they implemented security known as 'sandboxing' to prevent what is known as 'cross-domain' activity.  This is like placing a Flash SWF file in its own walled domain, making it impossible to access files on the other side of the wall in another domain. 

Want to know more about sandboxing? There are in fact a number of different types of sandboxes used for Flash content.  Space doesn’t allow us to go into all the technical information. If technical detail is your thing, check out the ActionScript 3 help file info about Security Sandboxes. 

The bad news for Captivate developers is that Flash can consider the HTM file from another course module sitting in the same parent folder as belonging to another ‘domain’ and steadfastly refuse to launch it via a perfectly valid link. Now that you're familiar with this particular Captivate gremlin, let's explain what to do about it.

Configuring Adobe Flash Player Security

Anytime you play a Flash SWF file on your computer you’re actually using the Adobe Flash Player application, either as a standalone player, or as a browser plug-in. To configure the Flash Player application you need to use a configuration utility called Flash Player Settings Manager.  How this utility works for you depends largely on which version of Flash Player you are currently running.

Flash Player version 10.2 or earlier

If your computer runs Flash Player version 10.2 or earlier, you access this utility via the internet on the Adobe website. 

  1. Click this link to open Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager.
  2. Once you have the Settings Manager open you’ll find there are several sections. Select the link to Global Security Settings
  3. Next you just need to tell Flash Player about folders or drives that can be trusted to run Flash content without limitations.  Select Always Allow (so that you don’t keep getting asked for approval every time you want to run some content).
  4. From the Edit locations drop down menu, select Add location
  5. In the Trust this Location dialog, click the Browse for folder button and select the drive or folder where you’ll be publishing Captivate content for testing purposes.  
  6. Click the Confirm button so that the new trusted location is now shown in the Global Security Settings panel.  If necessary, you can add more trusted locations for other drives or folders.  It's less hassle to trust a high level folder or even an entire drive than just trusting individual files.  In the example below, you can see I've trusted the folder on my D: drive where I keep all of my projects.  Doing so means that I'll only have to trust another location if I decided to use some other location for development work.
  7. After you add trusted locations, the settings do not take effect until after relaunching the local SWF or FLV content, refreshing the browser (F5), or restarting Flash Player. 

Flash Player 10.3 or later

If your computer runs Flash Player version 10.3 or later, you have a local Flash Player Settings Manager application that is accessed via the Windows Control Panel.  Here's how to achieve the same result as the example above:

  1. Open Control Panel and click the Flash Player icon.
  2. When the Flash Player Settings Manager opens, click the Advanced tab and scroll down until you can click the Trusted Location Settings button.
  3. In the Trusted Locations dialog, click the Add... button and browse to select the drive or folder you want to configure as a trusted location from which to play Flash content.
  4. Click Confirm then Close to complete the task.
  5. Be aware that after you add trusted locations, the settings may not take effect until you relaunch the local SWF or FLV content, refresh the browser (F5), or restart Flash Player player. 

WARNING!  Don’t use LAN drives as trusted locations

So can you specify a LAN drive as a trusted location and store your project files and output there? Technically the answer is: Yes you can, but don't do it. If you want fewer issues with Captivate, especially if you want no issues with corrupted projects, you should ONLY work on Captivate project files stored locally on your PC drive/s. This also applies to publishing out to local drives.  When you publish a project file, Captivate remembers the publish target locations for all cached projects.  If you publish to a LAN drive, Captivate will try to find that LAN location each time you launch the app.  This can lead to slow start-up times, and can even cause Captivate to stop responding altogether if the remote location is not accessible. 

The bottom line is: Even though Flash Global Security will allow you to assign a LAN drive as a trusted location, the recommendation is that you DO NOT publish Captivate content directly to that location, but rather publish to some local hard drive folder first, and then afterward copy/paste to the LAN drive.  This helps keep Captivate running happily because everything it needs is always available locally.

Delivering Captivate content via LAN, USB or CD ROM

They say "ignorance is bliss" but in my experience whoever said this wasn’t talking about being ignorant about something that would potentially cause a project to fail dismally.  Even long-time Captivate users are often completely ignorant about Flash Global Security, which means there’s no chance at all that your boss or client company will understand how this issue can torpedo their well-intentioned plans to deliver e-learning content via the corporate network LAN, or CD ROMs. 

For any organisation to deliver Captivate SWF/HTM output from a corporate LAN or CD ROMs would require that ALL end-users would need to configure the source folders in their own Flash Global Security settings as per the instructions above.  In all my years of creating e-learning courses with Flash and Captivate I have NEVER seen a company willing to go this route.  The technical support costs and backlash from dissatisfied end-users would likely be immense.

So, if you’re engaged in creating Captivate course content and become aware it may NOT be delivered via web servers, you need to IMMEDIATELY inform the relevant parties about Flash Player Global Security and how it may partially or even completely block their content from working.

So, are there any solutions that enable LAN-delivered Captivate content? Yes there are, but be aware that each solution offered below has a downside.

Configuring Flash Global Security across an entire user group

Many companies use mapped LAN drives that everyone in the company has access to. If the IP address or mapped drive name is the same for all users, technically, it IS possible to have your IT department deploy a Flash configuration file to trust that location for all users in the company domain. The details about how to do this can be found (after some diligent searching) on the Adobe website.  

This is good news in one sense because at least it gives you a possible solution to a problem that plagues many Captivate developers.  However, the bad news is that your IT department may steadfastly refuse to share your enthusiasm for this solution.  The truth is that IT departments are paid to keep things secure and prevent the network from breaking. They usually know from bitter personal experience that any change to a currently stable and smooth-running system carries a high likelihood of rendering it unstable and error prone for which they will invariably get the blame. So, the IT gods may see your request for changes to the current configuration as non-essential and even potentially risky.  Any request that has the word 'security' somewhere in the heading will raise alarm bells in techiedom.  You will usually be told by all parties from management and IT to "find another way".

Using hyperlinks in HTM files to launch Captivate content

Since Flash Global Security would prevent one Captivate SWF from being able to call another SWF on a LAN drive, USB Flash Drive, or CD ROM, in many cases the only way you would be able to deliver a Captivate course involving multiple modules would be to set up an HTM file to act as a menu page and launch each Captivate module from a link on this menu.  In practice I have done this many times for clients that stipulated "the same content must be available from the company LMS (a web server) as well as from the company LAN and CD ROM (for users in remote locations that may not have internet or LAN access)".

Running Captivate content from CD ROMs

Again this is another common customer requirement where Flash Global Security can interfere because the CD ROM drive must be added as a trusted location. There are three possible solutions:

  1. Require all users to configure their own Flash Global Security settings to trust the CD ROM drive.  This would usually require supplying lengthy instructions in the form of a video tutorial or step-by-step quick-reference guide document (with lots of screenshots).  I’ve never personally seen this option get implemented because it was deemed too onerous for end-users.
  2. Have the IT department deploy Flash Player configuration files that trust the CD ROM drive on all end user PCs.  Even if you CAN persuade your IT department to do this, one tricky problem to get around is that the CD ROM drive isn’t always set as the D: drive on all PCs.  If a computer has multiple hard drives, the CD ROM might be configured as an E, F, or G drive. So the automatically deployed security configuration file might not be able to determine the correct drive letter to trust, and some users still won’t be able run the content.   In many corporate locked-down SOE situations, it’s actually quite rare to encounter this issue because most PCs and laptops conform to very tight specifications.  
  3. If your end user PC configuration is an unknown quantity because you are delivering content via CD-ROM to the general public, then you cannot use either of the above options. Your next best solution is to use a product such as Server2Go.  This is essentially a light-weight web server that runs without any installation to the local PC or server.  This means you can load it onto a CD -OM or USB stick and play your Captivate content from it just as you would from a web server running over the internet.  Since, as stated previously, Flash Global Security is not an issue for content running over HTTP (internet or localhost), your content should be fully functional without end-users required to do anything more than place the CD-ROM in their drive and allow it to launch normally. 

WARNING: Don’t use Server2Go on a network LAN 

The Server2Go solution mentioned above is fine for CD-ROM or USB delivered courseware but is not an ideal solution for a corporate LAN.  This is due to the fact that the web server application is an EXE file that needs to be launched by the course participant.  This can be arranged automatically when using a CD ROM course by setting up the Autorun files to launch the EXE when the disc is loaded into the PC’s CD-ROM drive.  On a USB-delivered course, you would need to supply instructions to the user about which file they needed to execute in order to play the course.

However, in a corporate LAN environment, there are usually safeguards such as anti-virus software and security restrictions that would normally prevent users from executing programs on the network.  Even if your network DOES permit this, if you have a lot of users executing Server2Go at the same time, it could significantly bog down the LAN server CPU, causing it to crash and inviting the ire of your local IT gods.  Use with care.

What else can you do?

In addition to the information above, I would also recommend you read the related post about Setting up your PC to work with Adobe Captivate, as those suggestions will also help ensure you experience fewer issues when using Captivate.

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.