Articulate Packages - Usage and Best Practice

Hi,

I have a course, and it has all kinds of Attachments and videos etc.

I then use the "Send > Package" command to create a package.

I then FTP that to a server for safekeeping. It is nearly finished.

I get hit by a bus, and never work again......

My colleague then FTPs it down from the server to her PC.

**What can she do with it?

**HOW does she "open" the Package.

**Does she have ANY limitations as to what she can see AND USE?

**Can she get hold of, and manipulate the Attachments, (such as the Word Documents that I had as Attachments), because her job is to sort out my spelling errors, (as I have bad spoiling aboolities), and carry on with my inportant work.

Tanks

Bruce

10 Replies
Brian Batt

Hi Bruce,

Yes, the PowerPoint,  PPTA file, and quizzes/interactions created from the "Send to Package" will be everything that she needs.  Keep in mind that inserted media and video is saved within the PPTA file itself.  So, you'll also want to keep your "source files" for those safe.

To answer your question, she'll be able to do anything and everything that you could do with the file assuming that she has Articulate installed.

Check out the link below for more information:

http://www.articulate.com/support/presenter09/kb/?p=1953

Phil Corriveau

One thing I suggest to my co-workers AFTER creating a package:  Always open the resulting ZIP file and double check that all of the Quizmaker/Engage source files are in there.  Although the source files from inserted Quizmaker/Engage content should be automatically included in the package (as Brian points out), I have experienced a couple of instances where a ".QUIZ" or ".INTR" file was missing.  It's better to be safe than sorry  

Also, if I have any inserted files that were created from non-Articulate apps such as Flash (FLA) or Captivate (CP), or perhaps I have graphics files I may need to edit later down the road, I will add those source files to the ZIP file--after Articulate creates the original package file.

Bruce Graham

Brian,

Are you sure it zips a copy of the Attachments, are you saying that the Attachments (Word Documents, .pdfs etc) are held in the .ppta file?

If that is the case, when Person #2, the "Receiver" gets the package, what is the recommended way to get hold of the Word Attachments, so that they can edit them?

I can upzip everything, run the .ppta file, and see them listed in Powerpoint > Articulate > Attachments, but how do I get to them?

Thanks

Bruce

Phil Corriveau

Hi Bruce.  Anything that you make available for end users in the Attachments menu (of your end product) will reside in the PPTA file.  In order for Person #2 to get to those files--outside of going to the end product itself and downloading the attachments--the only way I know of is to have the person open the PPTA file using the freeware 7zip app, and extract the file(s) to her hard drive.  I wouldn't consider that the easiest way to go

I think the best way to go is manually add the Word documents and other editable documents to the Package file (AKA ZIP file) afterward.  This way, Person #2 can simply unzip the file and have access to all of the necessary assets.

Dave Neuweiler

Good discussion. I'd like to add my musings.

What the Articulate Package Won’t Preserve for You

1.       Interactions that are common to multiple modules

Consider a project with 10 modules, and you have an FAQ, Glossary, and perhaps a Help section that you’ve built in Engage. All three of these are inserted in each module as Tabbed Interactions. You end up using each interaction 10 times.

This is a good practice, since when you edit or update any of the interactions, you only have to do it in one place, and your presentations are updated during the next publish.

When each module is sent to an Articulate Package, the interactions are preserved there. But when the packages are unzipped (into a separate folder for each module) by a colleague, he or she will find that there are now 10 instances of the FAQ, 10 of the Glossary, and 10 of the Help, one each in each of the module folders.

2.       Source files for Attachments

Say you want to add a printable transcript of a module as an attachment (or any other Word document). You want to preserve the formatting, and you don’t want folks editing it, so you convert it to a PDF. You attach the PDF to your presentation, and leave the source Word file in your work folder if case you need to edit it later.

When you send this presentation to an Articulate Package, it will include the PDF version, but not the Word version.

3.       Source Files for Narration

The “best practice” for importing narration is to use WAV, 16 bit, 44 KHZ with PCM encoding. Let’s assume that this is done. Articulate converts these files to the MP3 format automatically… and it’s these MP3 files that are included in the PPTA file, and thus copied into the Articulate Package. They’re also renamed (for some technical reason I’m sure)… 

In any event, your original WAV files won’t be included in the Articulate Package.

So, your colleague opens the Articulate Package, and has the need to edit one or more of the narration files. First, there’s the need to unzip the PPTA file to get access to the audio. Then there’s the issue of finding the right audio file, because they’ve all been renamed. He’ll be editing the MP3 file, not the original WAV. Will that affect the sound quality in relation to the unedited MP3’s in the presentation? (I’d rather not go there…)

4.       Quizzes… I’ve looked at several PPTA files (with 7-zip) from modules with quizzes – both before and after sending them to an Articulate Package. The published quiz output is there, but the *.quiz file is not (I just looked at a 14 module project, each module having a quiz… the *.quiz file showed up in the Articulate Package zip file in only four of them. Why, I have no clue). So while you’ll be able to publish the quiz from an extracted Articulate Package, you won’t be able to edit it.

5.       Fonts… no big deal here, because this doesn’t really apply to the Articulate Package itself, but to whatever computer your colleague uses to unpack the package.

If you happen to use a font in your presentation that’s not installed on the machine upon which the Package is extracted, PowerPoint will use a default font instead. Just one of those things to keep in mind…

My conclusion… good file management from the beginning is the key. If you want someone to be able to pick up on your work later, or if you may need to transfer projects to a different machine because of calamity (BSOD) or an upgrade, you can’t count on the Articulate Package alone.

So while you’re building, keep all the assets in a common work folder for each module or project, including Quizzes (*.quiz), Interactions (*.intr), source documents for attachments, video files, original voice files etc. Use subfolders to keep it all organized if you wish.

When you’re finished, send the project to an Articulate Package if you’d like, and put that ZIP file in the same common work folder for the project or module.

Send the whole shebang to backup or your colleague…

And finally, a disclaimer. I hereby assert that there are times when I am obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer. My test methods may be suspect, and my reasoning faulty (just ask my wife about that). But in tinkering around with these files, I think I see things that give me pause. So let’s let brighter minds look at my musings, and set the record straight, if need be. Thanks!

Phil Corriveau

Dave, good stuff!  A couple of things to clarify/comment on the audio:

  • No need to extract the audio files from the PPTA and deal with the goofy file names.  You can open the PPT, launch Audio Editor and export the audio to WAV files--which are renamed based on slide number and slide title.  This has been a very efficient and quality process for me.  The audio saved in the PPTA are 192Kbps MP3 files. 
  • Although you can certainly add the original WAV files to the package files, I have had a very hard time--when playing the target AP output (56/64Kbps for me)--telling the difference between slides with the original imported WAV files and those slides with edited audio from the PPTA.  All things being equal, I prefer working with the original WAVs than converting back from lossy MP3s, but I honestly haven't noticed any dropoff in quality.
Dave Neuweiler

Hi Phil -- good tip about the audio editor; I didn't know that. I just tried it, and I couldn't tell the difference, either. In fact, the file sizes are pretty much the same; the ones extracted with the Audio Editor are only a couple of KB smaller.

I don't think I'd have any reservations using that method if I didn't have the original WAV in hand.

Thanks!