So, I had a really time with Articulate today. Something that should have taken 15 minutes stretched into hours due to a few mistakes. Here’s what went wrong and how I fixed it. I received a lot of help from Twitter – links below.
Problem: I needed to update a few Flash movies embedded in a straightforward Articulate ’09 course, then publish and upload. Simple enough, right?
Updating Flash movies embedded in an Articulate course
When you update a Flash movie that’s embedded in an Articulate course, Articulate picks up the new file since has a link to it on the hard drive. But it wasn’t doing this with the Flash movies that I had. And I couldn’t figure out why – I didn’t want to reimport them all.
So, I tweeted the problem and Dave Anderson replied with a Screenr showing how this is supposed to work. Well, ok – I had the right idea. But I’d forgotten that when I installed Windows 7, I’d moved all of my working files – so the project was in a completely different location than it had been when I created it. Doh! Articulate stores absolute references to embedded Flash, not relative. Moved the files back to where I had them and that problem was fixed.
Dave later directed me to a Screenr by James Kingsley showing good Flash/Articulate workflow techniques.
Presenter locking up when publishing
So, next problem that I had was presenter stopped publishing the deck. It always stopped on the “Saving files to disk” operation. At first it seemed random as to which slide it got stuck on, and then finally settled on slide 18. It just would not go past this point. I rebooted, which has resolved this issue in the past, but no luck.
Back to Twitter. Brian Batt offered to help and directed me to download and run the Articulate debug tracer, and then send the results back to him. With this running I could see that the SWF on that slide was causing the freeze. I republished the SWF. Not fixed. Reinserted the SWF. Not fixed. Deleted the slide and rebuilt it. Still no luck.
Out of ideas, I uninstalled Articulate, rebooted and reinstalled it. I’d seen that anti virus programs can also interfere with this so I turned it off while I was at it. One of these fixed it. Not sure which since I didn’t follow good troubleshooting procedures, but it publishes just fine now. Which is all I cared about.
The trace window is pretty cool – they should include something like this in the tool under a “More Details” button – I’m not a fan of processes that take >10 minutes to run with little information. This fixes that for me.
Uploading to a FTP site
I uploaded it to my site and went to preview it. I got the dreaded “Slide 100 of 160” blank screen error. This means that either I’m using Articulate 4 with Flash 10 (which I’m not) or something didn’t upload correctly. I deleted the files and tried again. Same issue. Articulate has a built in FTP option, so I used that. It failed twice saying “Cannot upload file, unknown error.”
I’m just a little mad at this point </sarcasm>.
I started looking at options in my FTP program. I noticed that the file transfer type was set to “auto.” I’d seen problems in the past where binary files has been uploaded as ASCII, so I changed it to binary. Re-uploaded and viola!
So here’s what I got out of this:
- Articulate doesn’t use relative paths to imported Flash movies. Don’t move things around!
- Turn off your virus scanner if you have problems publishing
- Always upload Articulate courses in binary mode
- Articulate has awesome support via Twitter
What’s your overall impression of Articulate Presenter?
At work I used to have to use Adobe Presenter and I absolutely hated it as it was full of all kinds of issues. A lot of those issues have been fixed but not all, and Articulate is skinnable whereas Presenter isn’t really (other than changing colors of menus and the like).
I think that it’s a great product for what it is. It has a target market that it servers very well. I’m just not in that target market.
My only real problems with it are that it had little bugs, or glitches that happen often while using it. Some of the ones above are my fault, but they’re still frustrating and in the end diminish the product in my eyes. One that hits me a lot is a strange GDI failure when saving/closing a quizmaker slide.
We create a lot of Articulate content at the bank and most of the users really like it. The clients seem satisfied as well. I’m just a hard core Flash coder – so it’s hard to me to get in to form based/point and click authoring.
I’d like Articulate to update the player to use Actionscript 3. I had to relearn AS2 so that I could code the SWFs in my presentation – before this I hadn’t used it in years. They really want Flash people to create new Engage interactions, but I think they’ll have a hard time if they stay in the dark ages with AS2.
I’ve used Adobe Presenter (was Breeze) way back in 2004/5. That’s a little too old to compare to a modern version of Articulate! :) We paid a ton of money for it then – you had to buy the server product to turn PPTs in to SWFs – the client could do it. So I had Breeze server running on my PC that I had to publish to from the PPT plugin.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Matt, and glad that David and Brian were able to help you out! Thanks, too, for sharing some of your feedback here.
I’d also invite you to share any product feedback with us directly via our feature request form, which goes right to our product development team for review, and I can assure you that we really do read and consider all requests.
If you run into any issues in the future, you can also submit a support case directly to us via this link.
Director of Customer Advocacy
Articulate | http://articulate.com
Main: 800.861.4880 | Direct: 518.633.4312
@Gabe, thanks for reply! I had a short discussion about an AS3 player on your forums a few months ago and submitted the idea then. It was around developers to build new Engage interactions.