The brand new Captivate 9 puts Adobe years ahead of the competition

What a difference three short years make in technology.

Back in 2012 you would have been hard-pressed to find anything exciting in version 6 of Adobe Captivate, in fact most of the cool stuff at the time was coming from Adobe’s competitors, namely Articulate with their new Storyline software and their latest iteration of Articulate Studio.

However, about a year ago I started to notice the tables turning.

While Articulate continues to make small, trivial improvements to their apps, sadly most with emphasis on the old, traditional eLearning, Adobe has been working hard on innovating and solving big problems, that truly matter in today’s multi-screen and multi-device world.

Today’s reality for Learning Design software vendors is simple, if you continue to focus on traditional eLearning design, you are not only doing customers a disservice, you are putting the future of your company at risk, in the way Kodak did when they refused to see a digital future.

I’m fully convinced eLearning is dead and all of us need to focus on designing learning experiences that are fluid across multiple screens and that go beyond the 1024″ x 768″ comfort zone of the desktop computer. The sooner we embrace this truth and rally around tools and technologies that can enable us to deliver compelling learning experiences across multiple devices anytime and anywhere, the better off we will be as an industry.

Adobe Captivate takes a page from the Adobe Creative Teams

A key competitive advantage the Captivate team has always had, is access to a wealth of innovations developed by the rest of the company, especially those by the Adobe Creative teams. I’m happy to see that they are taking full advantage of that in this new release.

Adobe Captivate Draft for iPad

With Captivate 9, Adobe introduces a new iPad app that looks a lot like Adobe Ideas from a few years back. Ideas used to be one of my favorite apps, but unfortunately Adobe discontinued it in 2012. I remember using it and thinking, wow this would be amazing as a way to start designing learning experiences on the go and then continue developing these on the desktop and that is exactly what Adobe Captivate Draft for iPad is. According to Adobe’s site Draft is a storyboard app but I see it as a bigger innovation that has the potential to change how learning professionals will approach learning design in the 21st century. I don’t think is too far-fetched to envision a future where we can actually design full-blown learning experiences on a mobile device without the need for a desktop computer.

Captivate Draft strengthens the idea that we are no longer tethered to our stationary computers and that mobile devices are maturing from simple consumption tools to powerful authoring devices.

I especially like the intuitive gestures included in Draft for placing squares, triangles and circles on slides, as well as more powerful objects, such as text, images, video, audio and web objects, all with a simple finger gesture on the screen. It really is impressive. Incidentally, if you tap on any of these gestures, the app will show you how to draw these objects in order to add them correctly using a simple animation.

Adobe Captivate Draft on iPad

Adobe Captivate Draft on iPad

And that is just the beginning with this app. You can actually storyboard multiple slides, even add question slides, as well as images from your iPad’s library, record audio on the spot, share it with other reviewers and upload it to the Adobe Creative Cloud for easy access from Adobe Captivate 9.


Responsive Learning Design

I recently wrote a post, where I made a case from why Responsive Web Design is the future of Learning Design. Thus far the post has been retweeted close to 500 times and overall the idea has resonated well with learning designers across the world.

One only needs to look at the direction of the web in general to realize the world is moving to responsive design as a way of solving the idea that we can no longer control what devices people use to access our content, and it’s easy to see why we need to move to responsive learning design, too.

The inclusion of Responsive Learning projects in Captivate 8 was a game-changer in my mind, and with the improvements made in version 9, things only continue get better. My first impressions, when I tested responsive projects was why limit break points to just three. In Captivate 9, we now get up to 5 breakpoints enabling us to design fluid learning experiences that can be accessed on the desktop, tablets and smartphones, including in landscape and portraits modes. Also new in version 9 is full support for importing SVG files, plus if you have Adobe Illustrator, you can actually round-trip changes between the two applications

break-points in cp9

Learning Assets Galore

I don’t know much about this partnership, but it appears that Adobe has partnered with the eLearning Brothers in an effort to bring users access to a ton of learning assets (over 25,000), including cutout people, games, interactions, scenarios, course starters and more. You can import any of these assets right from within Captivate 9 and the integration is pretty seamless. I tested this and it works really well!

cp9 and learning brothers


Recording directly from Mobile Devices

Here’s another feature that I’m really impressed with, the ability to plug-in my iPhone or iPad to my Mac and then have Captivate 9 connect to it and record a video demo of any app. Again I tested this with my iPhone and it works flawlessly.


Adobe also introduces Captivate Prime, a new Learning Management System

Here’s how Adobe describes Captivate Prime:

Adobe Captivate Prime uses a single universal player that, like a fluid, dynamically provides eLearning content in all major media types, and for desktop and devices all through a common player. The advantages are significant. Because Prime uses this HTML5 player, the learning experience is seamless and looks and feels like the same modern player on virtually any device. The mobile experience on Prime is full of delightful surprises. Most notably, it supports offline course playback and delayed reporting. So even if you’re away from a network, you can still take courses and the mobile player will just sync your scores and other data with the Prime servers the next time you are online.

Source: Introducing A Brand New LMS from Adobe – Adobe Captivate Prime « Rapid eLearning | Adobe Captivate Blog

I really like the idea that Adobe built Prime from the ground up using new technologies such as HTML5 and not Flash. I also like the fact that the player is fully responsive, which means that learning experiences will be fluid across multiple devices.

Other noteworthy features in Adobe Captivate 9

There’s so much to like about the new Captivate 9 software, including enhancements to the multi-device preview via Adobe Edge Inspect and more Geo-location support. New in Captivate 9 is support for multi-state objects with any coding, including smart shapes, images, buttons text and more.


As someone who worked on RoboDemo when it was an eHelp Corporation product and later at Macromedia and Adobe, on the Captivate team, I couldn’t be happier to see Adobe taking this great product in the right direction.

Kudos to my old team for a job well done with Captivate 8 and now Captivate 9!

As I wrote in the title, the brand new Captivate 9 puts Adobe years ahead of the competition and as I see it right now, Adobe has set the bar really high for everyone else developing learning design software.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Adobe Captivate 9! Here’s a link to the trial, go get it!

What are your thoughts?

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  • Kaleem

    An interesting feature of Adobe Captivate 9 is that it allows effective positioning of objects on screen of different sizes and enables developer to preview how the course looks like look alike on each type of device.

  • I came specially to see if you’d reviewed 9 yet…and there was this post! Thanks for that, RJ. Like you, I really am happy with the direction Adobe is taking with Captivate.

    Now if only they’d put it in the Creative Cloud, where I feel it belongs. It’s hard for me, as a one-woman online teacher, to pay for both Captivate AND the Cloud. I thought one of Adobe’s missions was to help with education. Who better to utilize all this goodness than teachers? Even if I’m not in an official school district anymore, I’m still a TEACHER. /End-of- rant!

  • Kuldeep Mishra

    Hi RJ and Others. I represent a Localization Company based out of USA. I am looking out for people who are experienced with Captivate, Robohelp and Coral Ventura. It will be really helpful if you can contact our Vendor Management Team – Thanks.

  • IdleAgain

    Hi RJ. While Captivate 9 is a leap forward, in many aspects it lags behind Articulate, especially when it comes to localization where multiple language versions are required. Having to use advanced actions adds significant overhead and the inability to modify the TOC and Play bar makes the exercise useless for large modules.

  • TheDaleks

    Besides the many bugs and poor performance of Captivate 9, the HTML5 output is crap. Buttons that work fine on a regular computer don’t work on the iPad. Or a button might work once, and then not again.

  • JL

    Good article and I am new to this application. I like how simple it is, but that said I like having a good guide. Is there anywhere an ebook on Adobe Captivate 9? Whatever happen to having a user’s manual or help for all major app functions? and though the “What’s New with AC 9” was a pretty good free course, if you’ve never used a previous version, it’s not complete enough. Any help in this matter would be GREATLY appreciated.

  • They can surely use this kind of information as their guide in attaining for what is the best for them. They can then promote many different techniques on how to use Adobe on their work.

  • Beth Sargent

    Do you know if there is an android version of Draft in the works?

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