Many technical communication and engineering professionals have been anxiously awaiting the release of the latest version of Adobe FrameMaker and its software simulation cousin Adobe Captivate. Today, the wait is over.
The new version is not called FrameMaker.Next as some of our readers incorrectly divined from a recent posting on this blog. Instead, it’s called FrameMaker 8.0 and Adobe’s PR machine is making big noise about it. Some folks will find the new release an exciting one—others will not. In our view, FrameMaker 8.0 appears a solid release with some valuable new functionality. The software’s affordable price makes it very attractive to both current FrameMaker users (upgrades are inexpensive) and new ones alike. First time licenses are US$899 for Windows and US$1,329 for Unix; registered users can upgrade for US$299 for Windows and US$429 Unix).
Adobe FrameMaker is software relied on by technical authors, documentation specialists, trainers and professionals that require high-quality long document multi-channel output from a single source, FrameMaker 8 builds on a rich product heritage that has powered the delivery of complex documents worldwide.
Here’s a few snippets from the FrameMaker 8 press release:
- New support for broader file formats including Adobe Flash® Player compatible .SWF files and 3D
- Integration of XML accelerates the creation, localization and distribution of content for output across operating systems, devices, and platforms
- New Unicode support enables authors to effortlessly publish a single document in multiple languages
DITA, Oh DITA!
According to the PR mavens at Adobe, “Support for industry-standard Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) simplifies writing, reviewing, publishing and exchanging topic-oriented information in XML and the creation of DITA maps. Technical documents are now easily maintained and updated with powerful book authoring and layout features, including automatic numbering and cross-references. A new feature enables technical writers to highlight edits made to the text of documents, streamlining the review process.
“At last, with Adobe FrameMaker 8, the industry has an XML editor with 100 percent DITA support that’s easily customizable and is also a complete publishing solution,” said Thomas Aldous, President, Integrated Technologies, a U.S. company focused on technical training, document management and customer application development. “Any other major DITA editor requires a costly additional print server purchase.”
Incorporate 3D Models for Visually Dynamic Documentation
With Frame 8, authors can integrate 3D models and rich media contained in Adobe Flash Player compatible SWF files directly into their Adobe PDF documents. This enables anyone with Adobe Reader software to experience dynamic and interactive assets such as 3D, video and animation directly within the document. These new features can be leveraged to easily integrate screen recordings, simulations, tutorials, and quizzes created with Adobe Captivate 3 software, the latest version of the company’s innovative eLearning product.
Support and Publish Materials for a Global Audience
Adobe FrameMaker 8 supports Unicode text encoding, enabling authors to publish technical documentation in multiple languages. Combined with a multilingual dictionary and hyphenation support tools, FrameMaker 8 creates an efficient and flexible environment to manage technical documentation for businesses that need to offer multi-language support.
FrameMaker Server 8.0
In conjunction with this announcement, Adobe also introduced Adobe FrameMaker Server 8 software, which integrates the printing and Adobe PDF publishing features of Adobe FrameMaker with server-based applications.
Captivate 3, New and Improved
According to Adobe PR, “Adobe Captivate 3 software is a powerful eLearning authoring tool for the delivery of robust and engaging computer-based simulations, scenario-based training, and interactive quizzes. Captivate 3 offers enhanced features including multi-mode recording, rerecording, new Microsoft Powerpoint import capabilities and support for rich media formats, such as Adobe Flash Player compatible .SWF, MP3, and AVI files. Easily mastered, without the need for programming or multimedia development skills, Captivate 3 helps save business professionals, trainers and educators time and resources when developing high-impact eLearning materials.
Create Engaging, Interactive Training Materials
Equipped with an intuitive user-interface, Adobe Captivate 3 allows learning professionals to rapidly create effective software training in a simple screen capture session. The screen capture generates multiple learner modes, including demonstrations with mouse movements and automated text descriptions of each recorded task, practice simulations with instructional automated or customized feedback, and assessments with scored user interactions.
Adobe Captivate 3 enables authors to create effective quizzes and helps reduce cheating by randomly drawing questions from a pool and shuffling answers in multiple-choice formats. Adobe Captivate 3 also offers a large library of quiz question types, including sequencing, short answer, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, matching with drag and drop, and image hotspots. The new rerecording feature captures actions taken in Internet Explorer Web applications, enabling learning professionals to easily build interactive software demonstrations with step-by-step instructions.
The enhanced Microsoft PowerPoint import functionality supports the conversion of slide animations into Flash Player compatible SWF format and allows authors to create interactive presentations incorporating audio and video. Support for SWF, MP3, AVI, FLA and FLV files, as well as new visual effects—such as rollover objects and animated slide transitions—add impact to demonstrations and materials.
“The same simplicity that Captivate 1 brought to software simulations and version 2 brought to scenario simulations has now been extended to practice and assessment,” said Frank Nguyen, emerging technologies manager, American Express®. “To measure what students learn, authors can now build tests that include robust features like randomization, pooling, and even question reuse.”
Ubiquitous Delivery Methods
Based on the industry-leading Adobe Flash technology, Adobe Captivate 3 software automatically generates interactive Adobe Flash Player-compatible content, allowing files to be e-mailed, posted to Web sites, intranet sites, online help systems and more. The new XML export and import feature simplifies the localization process of projects by exporting captions to the XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF).
Widening the reach and impact of training materials, Adobe Captivate 3 integrates with other Adobe software, including Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Connect, Adobe FrameMaker and Adobe RoboHelp, as well as with other eLearning tools such as SCORM 2004, SCORM 1.2, AICC and PENS compliant Learning Management Systems (LMS).
Adobe Captivate 3 will be available for Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Vista and is expected to ship in August or later this summer at an estimated price of US$699. Localized versions in French, German, Japanese, Italian and Spanish are expected to be available in September 2007. Users of Macromedia Captivate 1 and Adobe Captivate 2 can upgrade to Adobe Captivate 3 for an estimated price of US$299. Volume discounts, government and education licensing are also available to eligible customers.