Adobe eLearning Suite 2 Catapults Captivate 5 to Mac

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Adobe Systems today announced the upcoming eLearning Suite 2 and Captivate 5, to ship in June 2010. CS5 was just announced last month and has begun shipping already, so it makes sense the eLearning Suite, which shares several apps with Creative Suite, would be right behind it.

The big news is the suite’s central application for building e-learning products—Captivate—is now available for Mac. Dr. Allen Partridge, the Product Evangelist for the eLearning Suite, tells me this makes the eLearning Suite the only e-learning solution available for Mac—other competitors like Articulate Studio are Windows-only and until now Mac users had to use a presentation tool like Keynote or an application like Flash Pro or Director. This will open up huge e-learning design opportunities for many Mac-using creative professionals.

The combination of products in the eLearning Suite hasn’t really changed. It includes:

  • Captivate 5
  • Dreamweaver CS5 with Course Builder elements
  • Flash Pro CS5 with Learning Interactions
  • Photoshop Extended CS5
  • Soundbooth CS5
  • Device Central CS5
  • Bridge CS5
  • Acrobat 9
  • Presenter 8 (Windows only)

The central component in the eLearning Suite is Captivate 5, which as I mentioned is now available for Mac and Windows. Most of the new features in eLearning Suite 2 are found in Captivate:

  • A retooled user interface that borrows a lot from the Creative Suite UI
  • Object styles and master slides to streamline page and object production
  • Leveraging Acrobat.com for collaboration and tracking/reporting
  • The Captivate Results Analyzer, an AIR application for reviewing test and quiz results
  • Better video format support, on-the-fly encoding with Media Encoder CS5 and video synchronization across multiple slides
  • A Twitter widget for communication and collaboration between students and instructors

There’s also some improvements in the eLearning Suite itself, mostly around “roundtripping” of assets between Captivate, Flash, Photoshop and Soundbooth. The most important of these roundtripping options is Live Capture from Flash to Captivate 5, which I’m most curious to try when the review software is made available.

Adobe reports many new features provide major productivity gains. A third-party usability study concluded the roundtrip functions provide anywhere from 21% to 36% more work done compared to the previous eLearning Suite. Simulations scored a huge 39% productivity improvement. This will be good news to previous Captivate and eLearning Suite users.

Captivate 5 will retail for US$799 or upgrade for US$299. The whole eLearning Suite will retail for US$1,799 and upgrade for US$599—obviously a big savings over buying all these applications separately. Mac users who use eLearning Suite 1 on Windows will have a cross-upgrade option to get the new Mac version without purchasing a full license. All products will ship in June. I will write a full review of Captivate 5 when the suite becomes available.