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Adobe Debuts Captivate 3 and FrameMaker 8

The e-learning development application Captivate is being enhanced to be able to capture mouse movements. Framemaker, an authoring tool for complex technical documents, adds support for new file formats.

Adobe Systems on Monday plans to release new versions of its instructional authoring application Captivate and its technical publishing application FrameMaker.

Adobe Captivate 3 ($699/$299 upgrade, Windows only) is designed to help businesses create e-learning simulations, training scenarios, and interactive quizzes. It's particularly useful for capturing how users interact with software applications.

WebAssist, a maker of extensions and plug-ins for Adobe products, has been using Captivate 3 as a beta tester and, perhaps unsurprisingly given its Adobe-oriented business, gives the program high marks for its flexibility and new features.

"The big thing is that you can now record in multiple modes," said Mark Fletcher, training manager for WebAssist.

In other words, when using Captivate to record a user interacting with an online application, you can now record mouse moves as well as interactions, like text entry into a Web form dialog box.

"For internal sales training, that's really, really useful," said Fletcher.

Captivate has also helped WebAssist create video demos that explain how the company's products work for its Web site. "We've seen a big jump [in interest] in any product that we create a feature tour for," said Joseph Lowery, VP of marketing.

One of Captivate 3's major new features is the ability to import Microsoft PowerPoint slide animations and to convert them into to the Flash format. "Rather than having to create those, now that happens automatically, so it has dramatically cut down our production time," said Lowery.

FrameMaker 8 ($899 to $1329, Windows and Unix) is an application for creating complex technical documents, particularly in XML and SGML. The upgrade adds new support for multimedia file formats including Adobe Flash (.SWF) files, 3D content, and Unicode. It also adds Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) support for creating topic-based XML documents.

Adobe Framemaker 8 is expected to ship at the end of July. Adobe Framemaker 8 Server is planned for October. Adobe Captivate 3 should ship in August or September.

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