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Adobe Presenter 11 Review

I revisited Adobe’s PowerPoint to e-learning conversion plug-in this week while working on a client demo. As background, I have extensive experience with Adobe’s software since the earlier days of Flash, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Captivate 1-9, etc. and am now working on a Windows 10 Core i7 workstation, 8GB RAM.

Presenter 11 is appealing for those that don’t want to shell out over a thousand bucks for Articulate Presenter or Storyline 2. Unfortunately, spending a day with Presenter 11 left me disappointed (yet again Adobe) at the instability of their e-learning product line.

To begin, I needed to segment my client’s long video in shorter bits, so began with Presenter’s built in video import, which includes ability to trim and segment when importing. This would be a great feature, not having to go outside presenter into more complex, time consuming video editing tools just to trim and fade in/out a clip.

Unfortunately, when I imported my clip (several times, reboot, sacrifice chickens to voodoo gods, etc.) several seconds of my video were missing from the beginning. Hmmm…

Ok, no big deal – I’ll go out into more complex, time consuming video editing tools, in this case Adobe Premiere CC 2015. I made the cuts and exported my clips to H-264 FLV. For those unfamiliar, that’s Presenter’s preferred file format exported from Adobe’s own video editing tool. On import, about three seconds of my video segments were chopped off at the end, cutting my narrators off in mid-sentence.

Would you like your video chopped prematurely at the beginning or the end? It wouldn’t be difficult to add a few seconds of dead air to compensate, but this sort of thing should just work.

Next, I added audio to a few slides. The workflow was again great, but it only worked about 60% of the time. For the other 40% just as in Presenter 10, the recording interface would lock up such that my mouse seemed to be going behind the window. Keyboard shortcuts worked, but no mouse clicks. This might be tolerable if this particular bug hadn’t persisted from version 10 into 11.

Also, there should be a button to remove audio from a slide without having to click, drag and delete the waveform.

Bearing in mind I’m only about a day into working with this tool now, at the 11th hour, adding literally the last slide, the project refused to publish, throwing an error re: XML file missing. On re-opening, the pptx file became fatally corrupted, un-openable and un-repairable. In other words, four hours of work down the drain.

I had saved an incremental version or two, but hadn’t realized I was working with a tool with the stability of early versions of Captivate, meaning prone to randomly and irrevocably nuking your work.

Late last night after scouring forums, and reinstalling both Office and Presenter to no avail, I sent my prospective client a sheepish email, “Sorry, need another day on this. Dog ate my demo… ”

Today, an Adobe sales rep called me asking how many licenses of Presenter 11 I wanted. You can guess my reaction. Having done this in the past for various project killing Adobe bugs, spending today rebuilding my project, and having spent a great deal of time in the past fixing work lost to similar Captivate file corruption, I question whether Adobe deserves my time as volunteer software tester. Again.

Bugs that persist from a previous version into the next version, for which a firm charges premium prices are unacceptable. Typical of Adobe, Presenter 11 should have been a free update and bug fix to 10, not a new version.

Like many e-learning developers, I feel burnt, let down by Adobe over the years. Their products used to have near mystical cachet, and deserved it, but by failing to invest enough back into their e-learning product lines, the Adobe e-learning line has become a sour, bad joke in the community.

Addendum:

On the day after Presenter 11 ate my demo, I tried to resurrect my PowerPoint via every possible means, including reinstalling Office and Presenter, but no joy. So I rebuilt the project in Articulate Storyline 2. Though Storyline 2 costs quite a bit more, it’s reliable, well thought out and highly recommended.

I’ve wanted Adobe e-learning products to work since the beginning, as what they’re trying to do is well thought out in terms of interface and functionality, but their development teams can’t seem to deliver.

Presenter 10 was unstable, Presenter 11 is unusable. Creative Cloud applications on Windows 10 are unstable and sluggish, and they seem to have sabotaged the latest version of Captivate as well. When an Adobe Captivate software simulation equivalent emerges, I will bid farewell to Adobe’s e-learning tools for good.

While e-learning may not be a huge part of Adobe’s revenue, it drives other software purchases, e.g. instructional design and development shops using Captivate are likely to buy Premiere, Photoshop and InDesign for associated video, image editing and desktop publishing tasks.

Regrettably, Adobe Presenter 11 is worse than 10, and absolutely not recommended.

Screenshot: a rabid, mangy software dog ate my pptx:

Presenter 11 Ate My Project

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