Setting up Adobe Captivate 6 for use in a corporate environment

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Buy Adobe Captivate 6 now

 

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.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Adobe Captivate 6 won't start

Error message when launching Adobe Captivate 6 when “My Documents” has exceeded the 100mb quota.

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.

Quota exceeded

Typical error message from Windows Explorer when trying to copy / paste something in My Documents when the quota is exceeded.

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.

 

 

 

 

Themes:

Adobe Captivate 6 Themes bar

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.

Adobe Captivate 6 Video Working folder

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.

Adobe Captivate 6 Video Working folder changed

 

Wrap-up:

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.

/Michael

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19 Comments

  1. Nice post. I’m fortunate to not have to work within any My Documents directory restrictions – it’s still local to my PC at work. Definitely looking forward to the Collaboration article – this has been a tricky thing with my team, particularly since they were all new to elearning and Captivate this past year.

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your comment. The next article in the series should be posted late next week. I need to run it by my team as well to get their input so it will be as acurate as poossible.

      /Michael

  2. Great article. We’ve been having problems with 5.5 on a network – taking ages to open and save projects and as soon as we open the programme, we are over our profile limit. We seem to have overcome this by changing the project cache address to C:\temp which seems to have stopped the profile issue (we were having to delete the cache file every night before our computers would shut down!) Will certainly be trying the video tip – but we are only just getting going with Captivate and all its features. Look forward to the next article!

    • Hi Damian,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Indeed – changing the project cache to C:\temp will improve performance significantly and avoid a lot of problems.

      The next article should be posted late next week.

      /Michael

  3. Very nice post Michaël. I learned quite a few more things about Captivate 6 by reading it. I was astonished to learn that the storage folder for Themes cannot be changed, while the other working folders of Captivate can be modified. This, to me, is an inconsistency and I found quite a few of these inconsistencies in the new features of Captivate 6.

    This makes me wonder about Captivate. Even though I’m really excited about some of the new features (I love Smart Shapes, characters, quiz enhancements (but not the Pretests!!)), the more I work with Captivate 6, the more I see that the implementation of the new features could have been a whole lot better with minimal effort from Adobe. I hope the next few versions will fix these things up!

    Regards from sunny Belgium and thanks again for this great post!

    • Hi Damien,

      Indeed it is annoying that you can’t change the path to the themes folder. Luckily I don’t plan on using Themes that much in my production as we have a different way of approaching eLearning development here at my office.

      Captivate 6 has its up’s and down’s. There are several things in CP6 that I really like, but there are also things that I could live without. For example – I don’t really understand the benefit of “Social Media buttons” inside a developers application. Why would I want to “Tweet” something from within Captivate when I’m developing a course? For me this is just clutter and distraction from the tools original purpose.

      There are also things that could have been better, but overall I do like Captivate 6.

      I am working on a review of Adobe Captivate 6 as well, but I wanted to wait until I have used it for a couple of live projects before I share my thoughts.

      /Michael

  4. Hi Michael,

    thanks for the article. I too am lucky in still being able to leave files on my local PC (with daily back ups to the server).
    I’m new to Captivate, and am finding it a bit slow at times. Reading about the different file locations and themes is useful.
    I’m still getting some elements of software demos disappearing for a short time in some video export formats, which my boss finds quite surprising after investing in the software. He is, however, very impressed with the results that work, although they’re my first clunky efforts.

    I look forward to the next post.

  5. Quick question – if i have already been using Captivate for a few weeks on a new computer and i make these changes – shoudl i then move all of the cache files in to the new folders and everything will work? I am a little nervious b/c in the past i have had major issues with losing data, entire folders and/or being unable to open files once i changed or moved anything.
    thanks!

    • Hi Regina,

      The cache files aren’t that important as they will be regenerated once you open the project file again.

      What you need to make sure is that you don’t have any of your Captivate source files (.cptx files) in the Cache or Published directory. If you have then you should copy these to the new location. However – do not keep them in the “Cache directory” as they would be deleted as well if you empty the cache from within Captivate.

      Hope this answers your question.

      /Michael

  6. Wonderful article. A couple of these I had implemented due to necessity. Your description helps make sense of it. Thank you.

    At our shop, one of the big issues is backup. Our IT guy wants any work files (as opposed to cache files) in “My Documents” so that the offline sync gets them to the server and subsequently backed up nightly. Is it your understanding and experience that I will have to keep the production projects in “My Documents?” This next question is more Windows than Adobe or Captivate: Can offline files sync to more than just “My Documents?” I will re-search that question in the meantime.

    As always, your support and helpful information is indispensable. Thank you!
    –Michael

    • Michael – In many cases “My Documents” in a server environment is actually not located on your computer but mapped directly to a server location. In that case it will be bad news to work on your projects from that folder. However, in some cases the “My Documents” folder is actually located on your computer and then it is synched to the server when you log off. In that case it wouldn’t be a problem to work on project files located in “My Documents”. So it really depends on your setup to be honest.

      My work flow is typically like this. I work on the file directly from my desktop. Once I complete the days work I copy the file to our network drive and give it a new version number. The next day I continue working on the file on my desktop and at the end of the day repeat the process. This way I always have backups and work locally on my files. It does take a bit getting used to and some discipline before it is an integrated work-flow.

      As for you second question. Offline files can synch to more or less what ever you like. It’s just a matter of setting up the servers and computers in the right way and defining what should be synched and what shouldn’t.

      /Michael

  7. Thanks so much for the article. This worries me since I am working on a very large project at work and I am on a network. I will now save to my C:drive but if my work computer ever crashed (which has happened to me and others over the years) I will lose everything. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Jeff,

      The best you can do is work in a routine where you work on your file locally on the C: drive and at the end of the day you copy the file to your network drive ensuring that it will be backed up. The next morning you grab the file from the network drive again and copy it to your C: drive.

      In the beginning it is a bit cumbersome, but once you get used to this procedure it’s just a part of your day.

      That way you can only loose 1 days work, which of course also sucks but it is the better of two evils.

      /Michael

  8. Anjaneai Srivastava on

    Great Tip Mike, just a small point, we should not have the Cache as well as the Project location in the same directory as I could see in the screenshot, I have seen users getting a problem when clearing cache wiped their CP data as well. I noticed you did pointed not keep to source there but still, just a note.

    Cheers!
    Anjaneai

  9. Nice article Michael, but you don’t mention how you can deploy these
    changes to more than one computer. I created an MSI of the changed
    files and test deployed these files, the %appdata%localAdobeCaptivate
    6.0objectsobjects.cpo file contains these changes, including where
    the Blank and White template files are kept – %userprofile%DocumentsMy
    Adobe Captivate ProjectsLayouts6_0en_US. When this file is
    given/deployed to another user, they receive no workspace windows,
    because objects.cpo is looking for the userprofile of the original
    user. I can’t figure this one out.Captivate has been packed with
    the AAMEE tool and the inside of the MSI is full of Manifest files – I
    can’t make heads or tails of it.

    • Hi Lee,
      Unfortunately I don’t know of any way to implement this across multiple computers. We had 15 computers using Captivate so initially we did have our IT vendor to look into creating an MSI so we could deploy this to all computers without having to involve the users, but we were not successful.
      Our IT vendor couldn’t make heads or tails of it and in the end all 15 instances were installed manually.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help Lee.
      /Michael

  10. Good information. After checking out my address for publication, it shows C:UsersmynameDocumentsMy Adobe Captivate Projects. Even with a local address, I still can get “Not Responding” when I try to save using the disk icon.

  11. In our windows 2008 R2 / Citrix enviroment we need to maken use of captivate 8.
    We have 5 users who needs to use the application
    We have heard from our reseler that it is ligal to install the application on all our Citrix servers and controle the usage of the application with RES workaspace manager to these 5 users.
    We are using Citrix provissioning to dayly stream the golden image to all of our servers.
    we have installed/activated Captivate in the golden image.
    Captivate starts up on the servers with the wizard to choose between trial or purchase.
    it seams that Adobe uses a system identifire to activate the instalation.
    Do somone know how to solve this problem?

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