I recently co-hosted a webinar on the content authoring tool called SmartBuilder (I’ll write a reflection another time about hosting). We demonstrated designing a hover popup function with the FREE community version. It is a good tool and especially great when considering low budgets for content authoring software.
Like Captivate or Storyline, SmartBuilder is a content authoring tool, capable of many things. It is especially great at branching scenarios and collaborative work space. SmartBuilder can be downloaded with a paid subscription or used in an internet browser. The free community version is hosted in an internet browser for authoring. Some examples of activity types are: Gaming Elements, Simulations, Drag & Drop, HTML 5 (Mobile), Video or Audio, and Assessments.
Pros of SmartBuilder
- Media integration for videos and visuals that augment learning
- Gaming elements for simulations, entertainment, and engagement
- Branching scenarios for real life skills training
- Assessments for confirming skills have been learned
- Shared content library for easy access to your team
- Templates for quick designs
- Master pages (similar to PowerPoint) for original designs
- Free community version is robust and has no limit on membership time (i.e. no free trial that you have to pay for the software two days before you are done)
Cons of SmartBuilder
- A constant internet connection is needed to use SmartBuilder. Native authoring tools, like Adobe Captivate, SmartBuilder requires a fairly fast internet connection to load and function properly.
- There is a lack of wizards for getting you started on the program. Although, I did not find this to be an issue since they provide a robust training and tutorial video library on the website.
- The style of the buttons and authoring canvas is slightly outdated. If you’re used to Captivate or Storyline there may be a bit of a flashback to the early 2000’s to get going with the authoring buttons and layout.
- Window layout is close to impossible to adjust. The web tool is not window size responsive (or at least not efficiently). One of our webinar attendees was having trouble sizing his window to see the canvas and the properties on the screen. This is a usability issue and could likely be so frustrating to some users that it is worth the few hundred to buy Captivate or Storyline. It is helpful to resize the launch window before launch the tool.
I would definitely use SmartBuilder again. I believe the examples page demonstrates this free tool’s abilities. I can see this tool working well for low budgets or rapid prototyping. It isn’t every day you find a tool that is free and functional!
Link to Webinar Recording:
You can view this project on my corresponding portfolio page: Webinars and Synchronous Live Learning Events.