If you design or develop eLearning content, you’ve likely run into issues displaying content on multiple devices, such as desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. For example, a really nice graphic may display well on a laptop, but look too small or be cut off on a smartphone.
Authoring packages that generate “responsive” content have solved the issue of displaying on different devices by allowing the content to rearrange itself based on the type of device. The advantage is that you create content once and it displays well on all devices. Adobe Captivate 2017 is one such package, allowing you to create responsive content through Break points and Fluid Boxes.
Captivate’s first method of creating responsive content is through the use of Break Points. In short, Break Points are views within the Captivate interface that show how your content will appear on different devices. What’s more, you can adjust the content within each view, such as changing the size or position of text and images. Captivate stores this information for future reference.
When you publish your project, Captivate includes the layout for each of the Break Points. This comes in handy when someone tries to view your content using different devices. Captivate will detect the type of device and present the content according to your Break Point format. For example, the text and graphics will display on the users phone according to your Break Point format for a smartphone.
The second method Captivate uses to create responsive content involves the use of Fluid Boxes. This method differs from Break Points in that instead of formatting your text and graphics for a number of individual views, you enter content into one view that contains “Fluid Boxes”. These Fluid Boxes, in turn, resize and adjust themselves to the screen size of whatever device displays the content in a “fluid” manner.
Fluid Boxes are organized much like a spread sheet where you have a grid of cells, with each cell allowing formatting of its contents, such as the font size. However, with fluid boxes, you can specify how the cells and content react when the screen size of the display device changes. For example, you can set the properties of the Fluid Boxes so they adjust the content size or reorganize it by wrapping.
Based on my initial experience, both Break Points and Fluid Boxes produce responsive content that will get the job done. However, each method has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Break Points provide a greater deal of control on how your content will display on different devices, allowing you to set specific font sizes, graphic sizes and their relative positions. However, the downside is that your content is optimized for only 5 display sizes. If your are delivering content through a variety of different smartphones and tablets, you could run into some problems.
Fluid Boxes, in contrast, will adjust to any device based on screen size. However, you give up some flexibility in specifying how the content will be displayed. Simple designs, that allowing wrapping of content, seem to work best.
Both Break Points and Fluid Boxes are powerful features that will allow you create responsive content for end users. Which method works best will likely depend on your design style and the number of different display devices your end user have. If you are into control, and can standardize delivery devices, Break Points will likely work better. If you are delivering to a large variety of devices, and don’t mind simplifying your designs, Fluid Boxes will likely work better.
I look forward to exploring the responsive features in Captivate 2017. Good luck with your own eLearning efforts.
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