With the introduction of Articulate Engage ’09, Articulate introduced the free Articulate Engage Community Interaction Software Developers Kit (SDK) to enable Flash programs to create custom Articulate Engage interactions.
So what the heck is a SDK?
Well, SDK stands for software development kit or “devkit”. A SDK is typically associated with a software application and will sometimes include sample code, documentation or other tools needed to a build on or customize that specific application. Articulate has released a SDK for Engage ‘09, which includes the base code, documentation and a step-by-step tutorial to recreate the Stair Step interaction. By following the tutorial, it’s not difficult to understand how this all works. There are some limitations as to what can be done with the SDK, but with some creative thinking or engineering the possibilities are near endless. Before I go any further to explain the Engage SDK, I think it’s important to understand what Engage ’09 is and how it’s used to add your own media content. In the Screenr below, I quickly walk through the Engage user interface and discuss what to plan for when creating with the Engage SDK.
If you watched the Screenr above, you should now have a good understanding of what Articulate Engage is and what you should plan for when developing with the Engage SDK. Remember, all of the user interface elements or UI menu options associated with the Process type interaction are the only UI menu options that will be available to you when developing with the SDK. Currently, there’s not an option to add new menus or options.
Let me whet your appetite for the Engage SDK.
In the Screenr below, I’ve compiled a few examples of Articulate Engage ’09 interactions developed with the Engage SDK. My intention is to demonstrate what can be done with the Engage SDK as well as motive your creative juices.
You can view the live Presentation of Engage SDK samples here.
OK, moving on…
What tools or software do I need to build with the Articulate Engage SDK?
- Adobe Macromedia Flash MX 2004 (Adobe Flash CS3 or higher recommended)
- Articulate Engage SDK 1.3
- Articulate Engage ’09 – for testing the complied interaction
- Microsoft Windows 98 / XP / 2000 / Vista / Windows 7
- Windows Internet Explorer 6 or later or one of the following: Firefox 1.x and later, Safari 3 and later, Google Chrome, Opera 9.5 and later
- Adobe Flash Player 6.0.79 or later
The above list is the absolute minimum software requirements needed to work with and build a custom Articulate Engage interaction. Please note, the hardware requirements are dependent on your choice of software. So, I would recommend visiting each vendor for a list of system requirements.
I won’t lie to you, it is important that you understand the Adobe Flash application as the SDK documentation assumes you have knowledge of this. The Screenr below will give you quick tour of Adobe Flash CS4, pointing out some of the more common menus and options used when working with the Engage SDK.
If you watched the above Screenr, you should have a good idea for what to expect when working with the Adobe Flash application. In a future blog article I will dive a bit deeper on some of those key features and share some tips and tricks to get you up to speed. In the meantime, join related forums and make Google your best friend :-).
Where do I get the Engage SDK and how do I install it?
1. You can request a copy of the Engage SDK here. After filling out a short form you will receive an email with a link to the download.
2. Once you’ve obtained the EngageSDK_1_3.zip file, you need to extract the contents.
3. Simply double-clicking the exacted EngageSDK_1_3.mxp file will install the Engage SDK files. Just follow the prompts from the Adobe Extension Manager.
Note: It’s possible when double-clicking the EngageSDK_1_3.mxp file nothing will happen or Windows will prompt you for an action. There are a couple of things that would cause this to happen:
- You don’t have Adobe Flash installed yet.
- The Adobe Extension Manager isn’t installed.
- The .mxp file extension is associated with another application installed on your system.
How do we fix this?
1. Install Flash and choose to install the Adobe Extension Manager if given the option.
2. Download and install the Adobe Extension Manager.
3. You could right-click the EngageSDK_1_3.mxp file and select ‘Open With…’ and locate the Adobe Extension Manager executable on your system.
C:Program Files (x86)AdobeAdobe Extension Manager CS4 Adobe Extension Manager CS4.exe
Once the Engage SDK is installed, the bottom of the Adobe Extension Manager will give a brief description for the Engage SDK along with a path to the help file.
I have recreated the above steps in the Screenr below:
What skills do I need to create with the Articulate Engage SDK?
- Adobe Flash MX2004 or greater authoring application
- Flash ActionScript 2.0
- XML (general knowledge)
The above skill requirements are important, but don’t get discouraged. If you have successfully completed all of the steps outlined in the StairStep tutorial, half the battle is won. You might find creating with the Articulate Engage SDK can be fun. Take it a step further and modify the existing StairStep interaction slightly to suit your needs. What happens if you change the StairStep shape? How about changing the Step colors? Take your time, making small changes. Remember, trial and error is a good thing and can only help in the end.
So what’s next?
This is up you. If you have a passion for creating with code, tighten your boot straps and jump in… there’s nothing to be afraid of. I will do my best to answer any questions along the way and I will be sure to release more tutorials on this subject. If you would like to share your interaction with Articulate, please go here. If you want to share your interaction with the Articulate community, please join the Articulate forums here. Good luck and happy coding.