DevLearn 2007 Session

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/11/07

Here’s my presentation files from my session at DevLearn 2007 in San Jose today as .PDF (1.3mb) or .PPT (1.7mb) — Dave Wilkins of Knowledge Planet and I did a session called “Team-based Authoring: It’s About Time”.



Marching toward release of an open learning system…

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/09/05

I’ve been marching busily during recent months toward release of a 200+ lesson web based training system for the new phase of a clinical information system at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

Hope to release details soon on the site so those of you in the elearning space can take a look.

The architecture of the thing should be very interesting to those of you who lament with me how learning management systems (LMS’s) too often function as walled gardens — and cut off discoverability and content re-use as a result.

Stay tuned for the hard launch.



Adobe Captivate 2 Announced

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/09/06

Adobe Captivate 2 (aka RoboDemo 6 or 7 depending on how you count) was announced yesterday. Should ship in October. I’ve been a beta tester of it for the last few months though have not had much time to actively test it in daily production.

That said — this is definitely the most robust version of Captivate yet. Would recommend an upgrade for anyone using it regularly.

Silke Fleischer from Adobe has a good writeup here.

Notable new features include —

  • Visual scenario branching
  • Manage project interactions globally
  • Flash Video
  • Reusable content via project library
  • Zoom in or gray out
  • Custom skins and menus
  • Custom scoring slides
  • Better UI (yay layer locking!)

I think Captivate still stands up as the best mid-to-entry level tool for rapid development of interactive screen based demos/sims.

The downside to it’s model is that it is difficult to update/maintain/scale large projects over time because so many things are not editable. Things are, for the most part, cut-up screenshots with some interactivity overlayed for the single points of interactivity that are automatically captured.

Adding multiple points of interactivity involves manually creating a lot of interactions. While you can (and I have) do many amazing things by exporting to the Flash IDE as a FLA, it does require a lot of technical knowhow.

In my perfect world, Captivate 3 would be able to incorporate the object level richness that Knowledge Planet’s Firefly does.

I would love Captivate to be able to capture every object in the screen for each interaction in a way that is editable later (like change the text on a button) and that multiple interaction paths could be easily created by drawing relationships between screens and doing the required action.



Avoiding corruption with blank default dialogue text in Firefly

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/11

Here’s a helpful addition to the info from yesterday’s post on customizing UI text in Knowledge Planet’s Firefly (v 4.1.19).

Don’t make any text under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab)” blank — ever.

My best understanding at this point is that this is what will corrupt your custom text settings and make them un-editable.

Work around is that I put some blank HTML font formatting in when I want to make some of the systems messages blank (no time to explain why you would want to do this — just trust me that there are some compelling reasons to do it). Code I’ve used is —

*CONTINUE_INSTRUCTIONS = <font size="0"></font>

This seems to be enough of a placeholder that the Firefly edit routines for these setting will not choke and corrupt them.

Will post more info if I come across anything to the contrary.



Formatting Default Dialogue Text in Firefly

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/10

UPDATE: The tricks used here for formatting are no longer necessary as of version 4.2.25 of Firefly (released 7/18/2006) which added richer text formatting to the default dialogs. This is a real compliment to the Firefly development team — they are very quick to incorporate customer feedback.


I am in the midst of laying the groundwork for a new eLearning initiative at Lucile Packard Children’s Hopsital at Stanford. Very excited about it because I’m using a new tool to create our eLearning simulations.

It’s called Firefly (by Knowledge Planet) and it’s really robust — very easy to create sophisticated sims (can you say multiple correct paths with every object in a screenshot being interactive? All in, literally, a few screen clicks?).

My initial impressions of it are that, the things it does well, it does really well.

Yet, as goes with learning a new tool, there are a few ins and outs to discover. My plan is to document some of these as I go so that I can 1) remember points for future references, and 2) share the knowledge.

First up is the formatting of default dialogue text within a simulation.

At first glance, while Firefly will allow you to customize the verbiage of some of it’s default dialogues, there is no obvious way to customize the size and face of the fonts.

A few attempts to throw some formatting in finally met success when I put in some old school HTML font tags. So, under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab) >> *WISH_DEMO”, I modified the default to this –

<font size="5">Do you want me to show you?</font>

And now my dialogue comes in a nice, big, inviting text size — so very Web 2.0.

One very big hazard to note — if you mess with the text under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab)”, you can easily corrupt your install of Firefly – I know, it shouldn’t be that easy, but it is.

One of the things I tried first was putting in a <b></b> tag to see if it would accept some basic HTML formatting. When I did that, the entire “Customize Text” tab became un-editable — not sure if I forgot to close the tag correctly or what.

Fished around the Firefly install on my tablet and found that this text is stored in an XML file named “StringTable.xml” in Firefly’s program directory. Path for this is –

C:\Program Files\KnowledgePlanet\Firefly 4.1\system\ StringTable.xml

Noticed that this file was empty on my problem machine. Restored that file and everything came back up.

Kinda obscure, but thought I’d share the knowledge – in case I do it again and forget what I did to restore it. So — before you go messing with this Firefly file, back it up — you’ve been warned.



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