Whether it be Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, or Lectora, there are a number of features and tools that would enhance the experience of both the developer and the user. We wouldn't doubt that these tools are being programmed as we speak and there are certainly many more features we would love to see and most likely will see in future software updates, but here are a few from our list that we hope to see very soon:
1. Full Width Design
Most eLearning courses are constrained to a box which is easy to recognize with so many new websites stretching to fill the screen. Our first steps in putting together a new project are to click File > New and then enter a width and height. We could check a box to "fill the screen" but that just scales the site proportionally to fill either the width or the height.
What do we hope to see in the future? How about a check box to set the width at 100%. Of course, that is easier said than done, as that would mean the content has to know how to fill the space, but many website tools and content management systems have figured this out and so we hope it is only a matter of time.
2. Responsive Design
Since we are talking about size and layout, lets talk about responsive design. Responsive design is another more common layout mechanism to adjust content to fit the device size and orientation. Responsive design typically goes beyond just stretching text boxes and graphics to fill space, and involves stacking content boxes horizontally and vertically, as well as stretching to best fit the screen size.
Captivate 8 has jumped on the boat and we love how you can adjust the layout for the different breakpoints between screen sizes. Certainly there is more functionality that could be added, but Captivate 8 can sit out this round. I am sure we will see responsive design show itself in more and more off-the-shelf tools.
3. Always On Top
Pretty straightforward. Make any object, group, or layer, on top. There is some ability to do this in the different eLearning packages, but we would really like this to be more prevalent. Storyline comes to the top of my mind (get it? top?) in that layers always float to the top and will overlap any other layer when turned on, even header and menu layers. Way too many triggers are needed to manage a simple navigation or transcript box.
4. Better Motion Easing
Objects moving from place to place sounds simple enough but there is a lot more to it. Yes, it is important in training to move an object from one point to another to demonstrate and interact. How the objects get from point A to point B is motion and there are lots of ways to display motion. One of the reasons Flash was so popular (one of many reasons) is that Flash handled motion easing well. This is the journey an object takes along its path. Linear is often the default, meaning when the object starts moving it will be at the same speed as the rest of the journey until the sudden stop at the end. But often that is too jarring and we want the object to start off slow, reach top speed, and slow down as it reaches the end. This is In/Out easing. Bounce motion or elastic motion can also add a lot to the story, and should not be any more difficult to have in the developer's toolbox. Lectora does have a number of these motion settings and Storyline and Captivate have some level of In/Out easing, but much more can be done. Why do we hope the time is invested in adding better motion ease features? Because it isn't just about moving objects around, it is about adding energy, orientation, and emotion to our training.
5. Bezier Curves
I decided to throw one more future feature in. I have another article I am writing on Bezier curves and how they, and other vector tools, can add a lot to elearning, so I will save the detail for another day. What I will say is that this is a feature that developers need.