Tag Archives: Captivate 3

Captivate 3 Tip: Control Text Caption Margins with the .FCM File

Posted on 08. Dec, 2008 by captivatehero.


I’d have to say that Captain Captivate somewhat of a design snob.

I really do look at kerning and tracking of type in layouts, and it makes me cringe to see that offending widowed or orphaned text in print and on the web. So thbluecaptione first time I used Captivate, or at the time RoboDemo, you could imagine shock at the first Text Caption that I created. You know the one I’m talking about – the Blue default caption with about zero margins, and text jammed up on the sides. I thought that this cannot be happening. There was no property box to change the margins and nothing in the Text Caption properties dialog box either. Well, what’s driving the margins? There has to be something.

By poking around the Captions Gallery, I eventually I found the elusive .FCM file. If you want to check it out for yourself – the Adobe Captivate 3 Captions gallery can be found here:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Captivate 3\Gallery\Captions

Inside the Captions Gallery you will find a unique .FCM file for each caption .BMP file. That’s right – you need a unique .FCM file for each caption in a caption style set. So the AdobeRed1.BMP file will have an AdobeRed.FCM file that controls it.

To crack open the .FCM file you’ll need to associate the file type with Windows Notepad.  An .FCM file is nothing more than a plain text file so Notepad is the easiest application to use. If you double click the .FCM file to try to open it up Widows will ask you if you would like to choose a program to associate with it – at that point go with Notepad.

Upon further investigation, I found out the following about the contents of an .FCM file:

  1. Contains Text Caption margin values in pixels (That’s what I was looking for!)
  2. Tells Captivate if the caption has a tail – either true or false
  3. If there is a caption tail – indicates which direction it is pointed indicated by top, left, right and bottom
  4. The distance from the tip of the tail to the corner of the caption in pixels

Here’s an example:

Left Margin=10
Right Margin=10
Top Margin=10
Bottom Margin=10


All you have to do is modify the margin values for each caption in a style set, and you’re off and running. Keep in mind that your artwork is going to dictate the how high the margin value are. Take a look at this image:

The .FCM file controls the margins form the edge of the artwork.

The .FCM file controls the margins from the edge of the artwork.

You won’t have any problems with the “rectangle” captions. It’s the captions with the tail that you’ll need to make a measurement with.

A couple of notes moving forward:

  1. Once you apply a caption in a Captivate movie the .FCM values are embedded in the file. Make sure that you make your margin changes before you implement the caption in the Captivate movie. You can flush the values out in the Captivate preferences, but this is not recommended.
  2. Where did the .FCM file name come from? .FCM is short for FlashCam - the application that was the precursor for RoboDemo which then became Captivate
  3. If you need to change the font styling – check out the Fonts.ini file in the Captivate Gallery. This file drives the initial formatting of the Text Caption fonts.

Very good! I can tell your Captivate Caption Text is going to look much better in future projects.

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Captivate 3 Tip: Using a Highlight Box as a Cover

Posted on 03. Dec, 2008 by captivatehero.


Most Captivate developers encounter a Highlight box for the first time as part of a Demonstration Recording. This faint flash of color to draw the user’s attention is great for simulation recordings, but there is another way that you can take advantage of this Captivate object.

Here’s a dirty little secret: a Highlight box can be used to cover up square areas of your screen temporarily or even permanently.

Thanks Development Team!

A good example would be an application that has yet to be rolled-out, and you have been tasked with building an eLearning module for that app. (I’m sure I just heard some groans.) Guaranteed that some system function will be stripped away before an application is released.

Let’s say that the development team decides to remove a check box from the application, and you have 80 background screens in Captivate with that check box. Now, that’s a problem. Along comes the Highlight Box to save the day.

Here’s an easy way to get rid of a that problematic interface element:

1. Identify object or area to cover.
In this case - the area is the check box and label “Remember me on this computer.” The screen capture is part of an image on the slide background.  For the best results, the new Highlight Box must be in the layer above your background.

The highlight box is above the slide background.

The highlight box will be above the slide background.

Select the Pick color tool and click your application background color for a perfect match.

Select the Pick color tool and click your application background color for a perfect match.

2. Create the Highlight Box.
From the Main Menu select Insert > Highlight Box (SHIFT+CTRL+L)

Set the following attributes in the New Highlight Box window :

  • Frame color: White (This can be any color!)
  • Fill Color: Match your application background color with the eyedropper tool.
  • Frame Width: 0
  • Fill Transparency: 0%
  • The Fill outer area box is unchecked

Select the Options tab and set these values:

  • In the Timing Area set these values: Display for: rest of slide - Appear after 0.0 seconds.
  • In the Transition Area set the Effect to no transition.

Click the OK button.

3. In the timeline, click and drag the new Highlight Box above the Background Layer.
You can never have visual content below the Slide Background – that’s impossible in Captivate.

4. Resize the Highlight Box and cover the checkbox and label.
You may have to lock a few layers down to do this depending upon the complexity of your Captivate slide.

5. Select Preview > Next 5 slides from the Captivate Tool Bar.

Good-bye offending interface element! Remember this techniques works well in situations that a visual element may or may not be a part of the final movie. Those developers may come back and say, “Hey - can you put that check-box back?.”

A couple quick notes:

  • You can always remove the Highlight Box cover if functionality returns to the application you are recording.
  • You can copy and paste the Highlight Box to other screens if needed.
  • Right-click the Highlight Box and select Merge to Background if you want this to be a permanent change.

I have been using this same technique for years and it has never failed me. Now you have one more tool in your Captivate tool belt.

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