This is the 15th post in the Articulate 101 series. It was written by Articulate Director of Customer Support Gabe Anderson.
Elearning development usually happens like a team sport: It takes a group of committed individuals working toward a common goal to succeed. Many of the customer organizations who create elearning with Articulate tools own 10, 20, or even hundreds of licenses. So how do all these collaborators work on the same content? Or what if you simply want to back up your project files for safe keeping?
In this entry, I’ll show you 3 easy methods for working with your team on the same Articulate Presenter project — all of which can double as ways to back up your files.
Method 1: Publish to Project Files
The first approach is to send your entire project to someone else or to another machine. As I’ve previously outlined on this blog, the key with this method of elearning content collaboration is to use the Publish to Project Files option in Presenter.
Here’s a refresher course:
- In PowerPoint, go to Articulate -> Publish -> Project Files.
- Optionally, uncheck the box to Include .WAV files (but leave it checked if your colleague is doing any work with audio, or if you’re backing up your project).
- Designate a Publish Location and click Publish.
- A zip file containing your PowerPoint file & all your project’s embedded content (audio, images, video, etc.) is created.
If you’ve created any custom color schemes, templates, logos, playlists, and/or presenters, you’ll want to ensure these are available to your colleagues or in your backup.
Here’s how to do that:
- After you publish from Presenter to Project Files, you’ll be asked if you want to open the folder containing the zip file.
- Click Yes and open up the zip file.
- Leave the zip file open, then navigate to the location where Presenter is installed:
- Here you’ll see a few important folders:
- You can either copy all 3 of these folders into your zip file, or you can drill down into each one and copy out the individual custom objects you want to share: Look for XML files for color schemes and templates; image files for logos; and folders for playlists and presenters.
Method 2: Use FolderShare for Internet-Based File Sharing
Publishing to Project Files is great, but what if you want to automate things a bit more?
Although it’s important that you and your colleagues not have the same project open at the same time (so you don’t lose changes during synch), a powerful tool you can use to keep your projects synchronized is FolderShare, which we use here at Articulate for collaborating on internal projects.
FolderShare is a free service from Microsoft that allows Internet-based file sharing between 2 or more computers anywhere in the world — and you don’t have to be on the same local network. The concept can be tricky to wrap your head around at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked. Here’s how it works:
- You download a small application, which will run in the system tray of each computer where you’d like to synchronize files.
- You define one or many folders on your computer that will be sychronized with others.
- You let FolderShare run in the background, resting assured your files are synched and/or backed up.
The FolderShare server will monitor your shared files and automatically keep them synchronized while you work. Most of the time, you won’t even notice when FolderShare is doing its thing.
The key concept here is that the files in your designated share folder reside on your computer — not on a server (though you also have the option to access and download the contents of your active shares in My FolderShare).
So if I were setting up a FolderShare environment for collaborating with someone like Tom on a Presenter project, here’s what I would want:
- A share to house the project content (let’s call this AP Share)
- Another share for each folder with any custom color schemes, templates, logos, playlists, and presenters
Here’s how to set it up:
- In My FolderShare, click Share with Friends and name the share AP Share.
- Specify the location of the AP Share folder on my computer.
- Invite Tom to the new share and give him the Editor role.
- Tom would receive the invitation via email, set up an AP Share folder on his computer, then tell FolderShare where it is.
- Let FolderShare work its magic.
I’d then repeat the above process to create shares for any of the following folders I wanted to keep synchronized between mine and Tom’s machines:
C:Program FilesArticulatePresenterColor Schemes
As each of us works on the shared project or custom objects, FolderShare takes care of ensuring that the latest version is copied between our computers. And remember: Communication is still important so that we’re both not working on the same changes at the same time.
If you use more than one computer — perhaps your desktop and laptop, or your office computer and your home computer — you can also set up private shares to keep your files in synch or backed up.
Method 3: Set up a Network Share
Finally, you can use a good ol’ fashioned network drive to collaborate with others or back up your project files.
Though we don’t always recommend working from a shared or network drive since read/write permissions and IT restrictions vary so greatly between organizations, putting your project in a shared folder or drive can be effective for some people.
Assuming you have all of your templates, logos, and presenters in synch already (see either of the previous two methods above), working from a shared folder or drive is easy. If you don’t already have access to a network drive, you can create your own local network share like this:
- Specify the folder to share on your network:
Windows XP: Right-click on the parent folder and select the Sharing tab, ensure the folder is not private, then check the box to Share this folder on a network.
Windows Vista: Right-click on the parent folder and select the Sharing tab, then click Share to designate people with whom to share, or Advanced Sharing to Share this folder based on a share name you give it.
- Copy your PowerPoint file (.PPT or .PPTX) and the associated project folder of the same name into the share.
- Start collaborating, but ensure that only one person is working on the project at a time (Windows will keep you in check here).
There are no doubt countless other methods to bring your team project to fruition, or to back up your files (I’ve written in our forums about my own backup methods — beyond FolderShare, which I also use). What sharing method do you and your team use? Leave a comment and share your input.