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Adobe Captivate Backward Compatibility

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:

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 2019 can open files from Cp 2017, Cp 9 or even Cp 8) 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”.

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 Captivate in a later version of the app 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_Cp11.cptx for Cp 2019.)

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.

NOTE: One thing you need to be aware of with Captivate 2019 is that the minor version 11.5 update has created a situation that only normally occurs with major version updates. If you update a CPTX project file to Captivate 11.5, all earlier versions of Captivate, including earlier versions of Captivate 2019, are now unable to open and edit that file. If you happen to work in a team of Captivate developers, this means that everyone should ideally upgrade at the same time to the same version, otherwise some will be unable to open each other’s files for editing.