Using Adobe Captivate 6 on your personal computer at home or as a freelancer on your own machine is one thing. Using Adobe Captivate 6 in a corporate environment is quite a different thing and you can end up facing some problems that can be avoided with proper setup of your Adobe Captivate installation.
In reality this applies to all versions of Adobe Captivate and not just Adobe Captivate 6, but since Adobe Captivate 6 is new a lot of people will be installing this application now. I have therefore written this article to highlight some issues that I have been facing when using Adobe Captivate in a corporate environment.
I use Adobe Captivate on two different machines. One is my machine at home and the other is my machine at my office. At home my computer is connected to my personal network but everything is still stored locally on my computer.
At work my computer is connected to a corporate network. I log on to a domain when I turn on my computer in the morning and log off when I go home in the evening. While all my applications etc. are installed locally on my work computer there are certain elements and directories that are stored in my “profile”, which is located on a server on the network. (typically known as a roaming profile). This is a neat little thing because it allows me to log on to other computers on the network and access some of my stuff, but it can also cause problems with applications that do not work well when operating over a network connection.
At my work we have a storage restriction of 100 mb in our “My Documents” folder. This is is because we use SharePoint to store documents etc, so there isn’t really any need to save anything in “My Documents”. As “My Documents” is part of my roaming profile it also means that all content located here is actually stored on a server somewhere. If we exceed the 100 mb limit then the “My Documents” folder becomes “read only” until we delete files and free up space again. This causes some major problems as it means that Adobe Captivate will not start-up at all until “My Documents” becomes read / write enabled again.
If my “My Documents” directory exceeds the quota of 100 mb then once I have deleted some files to free up space, I need to log off my computer and log on again in order for the servers to recognize that my quota is yet again under the limit. Unfortunately even though I log off and on again it may take a while before the restriction is lifted and in that time I cannot work with Adobe Captivate. Pretty darn ineffective so there’s gotta be a way to get rid of this problem right?
So what happens when you install Adobe Captivate 6?
When you install Adobe Captivate 6 it creates a couple of folders in “My Documents” named “Adobe Captivate Cached Projects” and “My Adobe Captivate Projects“. This is the default location for these two folders but if you are on a corporate network this is a really bad location.
First problem: If you store your Adobe Captivate source files in the suggested folder “My Adobe Captivate Projects” then you are working on a network location. When you save / load your Captivate file the file is actually located on a server somewhere and not locally on your machine.
Working with Adobe Captivate files from a network location is bad. It can cause corrupted files and other nasty stuff, so avoid it at all costs.
Second problem: The second folder “Adobe Captivate Cached Projects” is also a problem. Starting with Adobe Captivate 5, Adobe implemented the project cache to give you performance benefits when working with Adobe Captivate. This is great and significant speeds up working in Captivate but there is one big problem. Since the default location is “My Documents” then this is also located on the server. First of all it means that every time you access an Adobe Captivate project all the cache files are accessed from the server and needs to be transferred to your computer. This is rather ineffective and causes unnecessary network traffic.
Furthermore the “Adobe Captivate Cached Projects” folder will eventually become gigantic. Every time you open an old project or create a new project a new cache sub-folder is created. The size of these cache sub-folders varies from project to project and depends on how many slides and assets your project contains. The current size of my “Adobe Captivate Cached Projects” folder is close to 40 GB, which includes projects from Adobe Captivate 5, 5.5 and 6.
Imagine that your roaming profile on the server is 40 GB – I’m sure that your IT people will become pretty annoyed about that. It also exceeds the storage restriction that we have in place at my job, which would render “My Documents” as read only after a few minutes.
The solution to the above problem is to simply change the default location for these two folders. Both folders should be located on your local machine and not on a network location.
I have created a directory directly on my hard drive called “adobeContent” that I use to store all these types of things from Adobe Software (this problem is not only related to Adobe Captivate you see..)
Changing default locations:
First open up Windows Explorer and create a directory directly on your hard drive (C:\) – My directory is called “adobeContent” and located directly in the root of my C:\ drive.
After that open up Adobe Captivate and go to “Edit” and “Preferences“. In the “General Settings” you will see a screen similar to the one below.
In “Default Locations” the path is preceeded with \\, which indicates that this is a network location. Change it to the new directory you created so it looks like the screenshot below.
In Adobe Captivate 6 a new feature called Themes is introduced. In short it allows you to utilize a predefined template across an entire project in order to get a consistent look and feel to your project. Adobe Captivate 6 ships with a number of themes and these are installed on your machine when you install Adobe Captivate 6.
The problem is however that these themes are installed in – you guessed it – “My Documents”. Actually they are located in a sub-folder called “Layouts” in “My Adobe Captivate Projects” under “My Documents” and even though you change the default location as described above this will not have any effect on the location of these themes. You cannot change the location of the default themes.
This is not exactly good news because the default installation of Adobe Captivate 6 creates a “Layouts” folder with 10 themes which amounts to 162 mb.
If you don’t have a storage restriction on how much you can store in “My Documents” then this may not be that important for you, but if you have a restriction then these 162 mb means a lot. In my case this exceeds my allowed 100 mb and therefore renders my My Documents folder as read only, which causes Adobe Captivate to not being able to open at all.
I didn’t plan on using any of these themes anyways so I just deleted the entire folder and thought everything was okay but it turned out that it wouldn’t be that easy after all. The problem is that Adobe Captivate 6 checks for the location of this folder upon start-up and if the folder isn’t there it recreates the folder and all the themes again! Of course this isn’t going to work because it would mean that every time I use Adobe Captivate 6 I would have to manually delete this folder again and again.
So – how can this be fixed?
There is a solution for this that allows you to minimize the storage space wasted by these theme files considerably, but you can’t get rid of them completely unfortunately.
Adobe Captivate 6 will look for the Layouts folder and verify if it exists. If the folder exists then Captivate will look for the theme “Blank.cptm” and “White.cptm” and the theme currently set as your default theme (if it is not “Blank.cptm” or “White.cptm”). If these two (or three) themes exist then Adobe Captivate 6 will start up normally and not copy all the other themes automatically.
Therefore the solution is to delete (or move to another location) all other themes than “Blank.cptm” and “White.cptm” from the “Layouts” folder. To recover even more wasted space you can delete “White.cptm” as well and then make a copy of “Blank.cptm” and rename this to “White.cptm”. The Blank theme takes up 2.5 mb of storage as opposed to the White theme that takes up 17.7 mb of storage.
The optimal solution would be to be able to define a different location for your theme files, but at least this will allow you to actually work with Adobe Captivate 6 on your computer. Also note that if you move the Theme files to a different location you will need to actively browse to the location of a Theme file to apply it to your projects. Only the Blank and White theme will show up in the “Themes” bar in Adobe Captivate 6.
Access Adobe Resources pop-up:
You probably noticed the pop-up box called “Access Adobe Resources” that appear from time to time when you are working in Adobe Captivate. If you don’t like this box popping up, you can disable it by clicking the Settings icon (the little wrench) and removing the tick in “Enable Access Adobe Resources”.
However, on some corporate networks it might be a bit more difficult to disable this if your network restricts certain kinds of traffic.
“Access Adobe Resources” connects to some Adobe servers and download XML data to populate the pop-up window with recent news. If for some reason this connections does not go through then the pop-up window is inactive while it tries to establish a connection.
This type of traffic is not allowed on my corporate network due to security reasons and unfortunately there is no “timeout” on the “Connecting…” attempt, so the above screen dump is what I see on my computer all the time. The window is inactive so I can’t go to settings and disable it, which means that my only options are to either restart Adobe Captivate 6 again (but the pop-up will appear again at some point) or move the window out of the way on my screen.
I did find a way of disabling this pop-up though so if you have the same problem you can get rid of it like this. Close Adobe Captivate and either disconnect your LAN cable / WIFI or disable the Network Card in the control panel. Once this is done you can restart Adobe Captivate. Then go to the Help menu and click “Access Adobe Resources” to open up the pop-up box. Now that no network connection is available Adobe Captivate will open an “offline version” of the “Access Adobe Resources”, which means you can access the settings and disable it altogether. After this is done then close Adobe Captivate again and reconnect / enable your network once more.
Video Demo Working Folder:
There is one last working folder that will cause problems for you if you share your Captivate source file with another developer or collaborate in a team. This is the working folder for Video Demo in Adobe Captivate 6 and the working folder for FMR in Adobe Captivate 5.5.
These working folders are set by default to be part of your local profile on your computer. In other words – the working folder is tied to your specific user on your machine as it is stored in your user profile (C:\Users\Michael\AppData\Local\Temp\SESSION_ID_CAPTIVATE\FMR_VIDEO_ID).
If you are working on a project alone then this will not cause any problems. However, if you were to share the source file with one of your colleagues or an external consultant / vendor then they would get an error message stating “The specified working folder could not be created. Please enter a valid location to continue.” They would then need to change this working folder location to something that is valid on their machine. Once they send the file back to you again and you open it, you would receive the same error message and have to change the working folder location once again. That can be rather annoying and especially if you are part of a department with developers that collaborate on projects.
The solution is that every developer in your department creates a special folder in a specific location on their machine and set the Video Demo / FMR Working Folder to this location.
I simply created a sub-directory in my C:\adobeContent folder called videoCache. All other developers in my department created the same directory and now we don’t get the error message constantly. Note that you will still have this problem if you work with external vendors though as you can’t expect them to have the same working folder as you unfortunately.
Once this is done you should be ready to work with Adobe Captivate 6 on your system without any problems that are caused by the network at least.
Not all of the things described in this article may be relevant for you so you can pick and choose which (if any) of the recommendations you want to implement in your installation. However, the tip about changing the default locations is crucial if you are working on a network that utilizes a roaming profile.
I intend to follow up on this article with a new one called “Collaborating in a team with Adobe Captivate 6″, which shares tips & tricks, pointers and best practices for working in a team with Adobe Captivate.
If you found this article to be useful or helpful to you then please do share it with your network. Naturally I would also love to read any comment you have on this topic or suggestions to things that can be added to the article.