I blogged about linking a couple of months ago and advised why certain links fail. Click here to read the earlier post. This post is intended to shed further light on other types of links and offer a method to overcome the issue.
Often Captivate authors desire to insert links that open Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF documents. And almost as often, these types of links fail as well. What’s quite a mystery about all this is the fact that when you are viewing via the web browser, if you observe the address bar of the browser, the path and file name are exactly what they should be to open the document. To deepen the mystery even further, if you but click in the address bar and press enter, the document loads right up. Strange, huh?
I’m not even sure what possessed me to try it or why, but in search of a workaround to this issue I decided to try using a now defunct application called Menubuilder. If you have Captivate 3 or earlier installed on your PC, Menubuilder is there.
Menubuilder was created back in the days when eHelp corporation held the rights to what we now know as Captivate. In those days it was called RoboDemo. eHelp saw a need to present a handful of movies and created this Menubuilder application. It created what you might call a “one slide wonder“. In these situations, all action occurs on what would be a single slide if you did it in Captivate.
What I discovered was that if I created a small Menubuilder output in SWF format and used the Insert > Animation option of Captivate, my links began working without issue!
So if you have Menubuilder at your disposal, here are the steps.
Start Menubuilder – Most likely you will be clicking File > Record/Create > Menubuilder Project…
Once you have done this, you should be greeted with a MenuBuilder dialog. Choose the Blank project option and click OK.
You should now be inside MenuBuilder.
From here we will set the size of the project by clicking Options > Project Options…
The smallest size you are able to define is 320 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. Configure for this size and click OK.
Click Insert > Clickbox… and insert a Clickbox object.
Type only the file name of the Word or PDF document and ensure you place a check mark in the “Save file with project” check box. Then click OK.
MenuBuilder will likely post what looks like a catastrophic warning at this point. This is because you just typed the file name and you didn’t browse to the file. Ignore the warning and click No.
Now size the Clickbox so it covers the MenuBuilder edit area.
Now click File > Export… and MenuBuilder will prompt you to save the MenuBuilder project file. This is the equivalent of the Captivate .CP file. It really doesn’t matter what you call it or where you save it. But the step must be completed to continue. Click the Save button to continue.
Choose Flash Movie as the type of file and click Next>.
Name the file and choose the location. This step is pretty important. You are creating a SWF that you will be inserting into Captivate to do the linking for you. Name the file something you recognize easily, such as LinkToPDF or LinkToWord. And save in a location you can easily find later. I find the Desktop is a good place for my workflow.
Click Finish and close MenuBuilder. You are now finished using it.
Now inside Captivate, edit the slide you wish to link from and click Insert > Animation… and point at the SWF you created using MenuBuilder.
I have no clue why this works to open a PDF or Word document while the links Captivate creates on its own fail so often. But work it does. And as long as I have a workaround, I’m a happy Captiv8r.
I’m sure this comes off making me sound like we should accept what software companies give us and never complain. Should we have to do this to link properly? Absolutely not! But I’m a realist and recognize that it is what it is. I can grouse about it but all that will do is put me in a bad mood.
What I CAN actually do is to report it to Adobe so they can factor it into the next build. And if enough of us do that, it’s likely we will see action. The likelihood of that happening is directly proportional to the number of Bug Reports they receive on the issue. So if you are reading my little blog, please consider reporting this issue to Adobe. Here, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can.