RE: Authorware vs...?

Subject: RE: Authorware vs...?
From: lisacapozzi -at- northwesternmutual -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 16:35:58 -0600

Tom Beverly asked about using Authorware for CBT development.

Our situation in a nutshell:
We were a group of four technical writers developing a series of
tutorials on proprietary Windows-based software for novice users. We had
been outsourcing our Authorware multimedia projects, but wanted to bring
the authoring responsibility inhouse. We had training on Authorware
basics; none of us were programmers. Although we had access to a graphic
artist to help us develop a general look and feel, we had a limited
budget and did most of the graphics development and screen shot
manipulation ourselves in Photoshop. We included some sound and

Our experience:
Some people picked up Authorware quite easily. Others had a steep
learning curve. Personally, getting training on the basics helped me get
started quickly (weeks not months), but I should have also gotten
training on variables and functions right away.

The only programming help we needed was creating an installation routine
(because we had to use a proprietary install to make sure it worked with
our software). We also hired an Authorware guru for about 4 hours to
help us with bugs and oddities (which we probably would have been able
to take care of ourselves if we had been through variables and functions
training). Incidently, the Authorware guru thought we were completely
insane for doing software simulation because it can be so time
consuming. I didn't find it that bad at all once we started using the
library feature to share graphics and established a really good naming
convention for Authorware icons.

Actually, what took us the most time was altering screen shots in
Photoshop. You can use bitmaps with Authorware. However, we had to take
the bitmaps into Photoshop to reduce the image size and then sharpen
them. Otherwise, if we created an 800x600 Authorware program and used
800x600 screen shots, we were left with no room on the screen for text,
supporting graphics, etc.

Authorware's strength is the ability to create interactions. We included
lots of simulation, practice exercises and quizzes built into each
module. If you are just displaying text and screen shots, I would
consider Screen Cam instead. Another alternative for web-based delivery
is CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver.

We did not have to include any plug-ins for sound. We just used .wav
files and had no problems.

We used Authorware 5.0. I haven't tried out 5.1 yet, but it apparently
includes a "minimal" web player to make delivering authorware programs
via the web easier. If you're delivering via CD, you don't need any
plug-ins or players.

Cost is comparable with other authoring tools, but steep compared to
ScreenCam. But if you are building quizzes I think the cost is worth it.

Feel free to e-mail me directly if you want more details....

Lisa Capozzi
Northwestern Mutual Life
lisacapozzi -at- northwesternmutual -dot- com

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