For a long time now I've wanted to compare my favorite tutorial-building tool, Qarbon ViewletBuilder, to Macromedia Robodemo. Well I waited so long Macromedia came out with a new product called Captivate, and during this slow week before Christmas I finally took some time to give it a test drive. I hope to build the exact same presentation in ViewletBuilder and Captivate to compare them side by side, but I may not get to that before the new year.
In a nutshell, I'm impressed with Captivate.
I wanted to jump in w/o reading any manuals, because that's how I learned ViewletBuilder (it was that simple). I think someone starting cold with this sort of software will be intimidated by all the options Captivate offers; I didn't find it nearly as intuitive as ViewletBuilder, but after an hour or so I became quite comfortable with it and realized that the advantage of the extra options is much greater flexibility.
Here are some of the things Captivate offers that Viewletbuilder doesn't (at least not nearly as easily):
- Resizing the whole movie after the fact (after original capture)
- Ability to play music throughout the whole thing (I like the idea of a nice classical background track running through a tutorial :-)
- Ability to manually move the mouse, regardless of where it was during the initial capture
- Screen reader compliant (for the visually impaired)
- $199 USD for educational license (I think I saw somewhere that it may be even cheaper if purchased in bulk). ViewletBuilder also offers educational pricing, but they no longer post it on their website. I think I paid about $199 for their product several years ago.
Captivate, being a Macromedia product, offers really nice integration of Flash components. You can easily include some animated text, and even regular text can be presented with some nice fades and other effects. That's just window dressing for the most part, but it does lead to a pretty professional-looking end result.
While I haven't played with them yet, I also see features for easily adding all sorts fo quiz features, from Likert scales to multiple choice to fill in the blank. Good for interactivity! ViewletBuilder also offers some of this, but Macromedia's appears to be more advanced, and again to offer more options.
And the last thing I noticed is how much more flexible the audio is. With both products you can record narration for each individual slide (which is so much better than having to record straight through from start to finish!), but with Captivate you can edit the audio after the fact (volume, insert silence, chop out a section); with ViewletBuilder your only choice is to re-record the whole slide.
So my initial summary is that Captivate appears to be a much more polished product, and offers quite a few more features than my old standby. Will 2005 be the year that I switch products? Might very well be! I'll post more when I have the side-by-side comparison done, and I'll let you see the end results as well.