I always emphasise the importance of using templates when I present training courses on Adobe Captivate -- but I'm usually talking about Project Templates, which have been available since the very first version of Captivate. These are templates on which you can base new projects, and the reason I'm always going on about them is that they can save you serious amounts of time by avoiding the need to repeat certain basic tasks each time you create a new project. So what about Design Templates? What are they, and how can they help you? First of all, they are generally less well known than Project Templates because they were only introduced in Captivate 4.0. Unlike Project Templates, they are designed to be applied to exisiting projects, and the idea is that they impose a consistent look-and-feel on all the design elements of the project. So, for example, if you've got a set of Captivate projects that have been created by multiple authors using a variety of different choices for fonts, colours, caption styles, and backgrounds, you can use a Design Template to bring them into line with each other quickly and easily. This sounds great, but there a couple of important points that you need to watch out for:
- If you apply a Design Template to all the slides in a project, then every single text caption will adopt the design specified in the Design Template. This may not be what you want -- for example, you might need transparent captions on your introduction and summary slides, and you might want to differentiate between "informational" captions and "action" captions. To standardise on multiple caption styles within a single project, you will have to apply different Design Templates to specific topics, which is more time-consuming than simply applying a single Design Template to all the slides.
- When you apply a Design Template, every type of object (text caption, image, highlight box, etc.) is affected by the Design Template -- it is not possible to specifiy that you only want, say, your text captions to be modified.
One of the less obvious potential advantages of applying a Design Template is that the Design Template sets the default for any new slides or objects subsequently added to the project. As an example of this: one of the things you can do in a Design Template is to specify a slide background image. If you selected a picture of a sunset as the background image in the Design Template, and then applied the Design Template to an existing project, two things would result:
- Any slides with no existing background image would take on the sunset background
- Any new slides subsequently added to the project would automatically have a sunset background
Design Templates are potentially very powerful -- they can even be applied to Project Templates in order to provide default settings for objects and slides that are added to projects created from the Project Template. Because of their power, and the fact that applying them will potentially affect all of the objects within your project, I advise you to use them with care.