Captivate translation – How to make your Adobe courses multilingual

Are you familiar with Adobe Captivate? It’s a quite powerful e-learning multimedia authoring platform that enables the creation of online courses such as software demonstrations. It additionally provides a way to easily translate and localize content.

Recently, Adobe released a new version (Captivate 2017) that introduced a few exciting features, such as responsive content (which adapts size and layout to a variety of screens) and Typekit cloud-based font library integration. Additionally, this new release makes it possible to quickly refresh older or legacy online courses.

Translating Adobe Captivate courses: exporting content.

The usual output for Captivate is a downloadable .xml file. This file contains two columns of text; the first column contains all the source language text, while the second one is for adding the translation. When done, the XML document is then imported back to Captivate.

However, in our experience, it is a good practice to export to a .doc file instead, as the XML does not retain font formatting and color as well.

In order to do this, use File > Import/Export > Project Captions and Closed Captions.

The text will be opened in a Microsoft Word table, consisting of 5 columns. The 2 important columns are Original Text Caption Data (which contains the source language) and Updated Text Caption Data (where the translation should be entered).

Changing fonts, text color, text size, and so on in the Word document will all be reflected in the online course, making formatting very easy.

Another perk of exporting to a .doc file: it makes it very simple to create and distribute printed versions of online courses. Several Word formats are even available: handout, lesson, step-by-step and storyboard.

Other course elements

Microsoft Word, however, does not cover additional course elements, for instance narration and images. If applicable, these will need to be addressed and translated separately, then imported into the project.

Captivate does support text-to-speech (TTS) for narration, which is a tremendous tool that not only makes course creation easier for designers and translators but additionally increases accessibility, such as for the visually impaired. TTS will convert a written document into an audio file for the online course. In 5 minutes, this tool can generate 10,000 words of content, something a human voice would approximately need 8 hours to record!

Nonetheless, there is a catch: on top of being available for both US and UK English, TTS is only supported for a few other languages, namely Canadian French and Korean.

Do’s and don’ts

When creating your slides in the source language, do think ahead about the translation and make sure to leave enough space. Translating from English to German can result in 50% more text to convey the same ideas, while French and Spanish typically require an extra 30%. Note: the newest release partially resolves this text expansion issue, but it remains an important possible translation hurdle.

Do consider audio narration during screen motion capture; if added, it brings an extra step during translation (TTS, dubbing, subtitles?)

Do save your output file locally, since the exporting can be lengthy and any network interruption could cause problems.

Don’t change any ID values in the .doc file when translating. These IDs (in the Slide, Slide ID and Item ID columns), are required in order to import back the document into Captivate.

Don’t forget to make a copy of the original course, of course!