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Trivantis takes the fight to Articulate with Snap! Empower

Its going to be an interesting year in the world of e-learning authoring tools. Trivantis has released Snap! Empower for the extremely competitive $99 and is aggressively targeting Articulate users with a very powerful set of features that go well beyond the capabilities offered by Engage at a fraction of the price. What will be more interesting is how this product will compete with the iminent Articulate Storyline which offers similar powerful functionality but seems destined to be offered at a significantly higher price.

One question all these e-learning authoring tools have yet to answer is how to move from flash based publishing to fully featured HTML5 based publishing (as required by iPad and iPhone). Snap! as with other similar tools takes the easy option of publishing to video to provide a limited form of HTML5 compatibility. This simple approach fails to include the rich interactions and opportunities for self exploration and pacing that the flash published versions can embody. We know it is these very aspects of our resources that are most valuable in promoting learning. I wonder how long it will be before we see an e-learning tool which truely tackles this thorny problem… perhaps it will be Storyline and that may just justify its greater cost?


Improved Dragster 3 – Articulate integration

Until recently the only way to embed a Dragster 3 activity in an Articulate presentation was to use the Web Object option. This approach suffers from a couple of drawbacks in that Articulate player elements (e.g. pop-up windows for notes and attachments) would disappear behind the Dragster activity and also the authoring process wasn’t straight forward as you would have to publish the dragster activity on-line and independently of the articulate presentation. With recent updates to Dragster 3 you can now use the Flash Movie option to embed a Dragster activity which avoid these drawbacks.

The steps involved in embedding a Dragster 3 activity are:

  1. Author your Dragster 3 activity in the usual way (Tip – use the landscape layout option as this fits best into an articulate
  2. Publish your Dragster 3 activity using the Embed activity zip download optionembed1
  3. Unzip the downloaded activity files. You will see they consist of a single flash SWF file with a name like dragndrop1023.swf and a similarly named folder which contains the rest of the activity related files.embed5
  4. In Powerpoint click the Articulate, Insert Flash Movie button. Browse to the SWF file for your published Dragster activity and click Open.
  5. In the Flash Movie settings change the Advance to the next slide option to When user clicks next and Synchronisation option to Movie displays independently of slide. Click OK to finish inserting the Flash movie.embed2
  6. The embedded Dragster activity will be displayed as a blank rectangle which will extend beyond the edges of the powerpoint
    slide. Resize this activity by dragging the handles at the sides and corners of this rectangle for a more appropriate fit (Tip – hold down the shift key when resizing to maintain the aspect ratio of the activity). NB – if you set this slide’s articulate Slide properties to Change view to the No sidebar display option you don’t have to resize the embedded Dragster activity!
  7. Repeat the activity and publishing process described above for each activity you wish to add to the Articulate presentation.
  8. Publish the completed Articulate presentation.
  9. Copy the folders of the dragster activity related files into the root folder of the published Articulate presentation.embed3
  10. Finally view your Articulate presentation (example presentation).
  11. embed4

Hopefully this new approach will make it even easier to create rich interactive resources using Articulate and Dragster 3!

Other tips

Use the Dragster 3 transparent skin option to seamlessly blend your activity into the articulate presentation.

Embedding Dragster within Articulate presentations

Integrating Dragster 3 activities into an Articulate presentation is an great way to construct a rich and seamless interactive e-learning resource (see the link to an example presentation at the bottom of this post). View a movie illustrating the authoring and integration process.


Key steps:

  1. Author the activity checking the Landscape activity layout and Scale size of activity with browser settings options.
  2. Publish the Dragster 3 activity and upload  onto a web server. View the published activity in your browser and copy the activity web address.
  3. In your Powerpoint presentation use the ArticulateInsert web object option to add the activity to a slide (use the activity web address and the default settings provided by Articulate presenter when adding the web object).
  4. Publish the Articulate presentation.

View a simple example Articulate presentation incorporating a Dragster activity.

Dragster 2 – activities authored with Dragster 2 can also be integrated using the method described above, but as there is no activity setting to scale the activity with the browser, the view of the activity within the articulate presentation can become cropped when displayed on small screens.