Atomi's ActivePresenter captures and saves onscreen video and images and audio narration, but that's just the start of what it does. Another way to describe it is as a free tool for creating e-learning materials, manuals, presentations, screencasts, and demonstrations for training, education, business presentations, customer support, and similar applications. It's compatible with SCORM and handles a wide range of file types. ActivePresenter's free version is fully functional. It's also available in Standard and Pro editions that add features such as export capability, definable events, and Office compatibility. We tried the free edition.
ActivePresenter's user interface opens with a quick-start guide offering six choices: open an existing file or start a New Capture or Project on the control side, and License, Support, and Help choices on the support side. We clicked Help, opening an extensive PDF-based User Manual. ActivePresenter's New Capture and New Project wizards make this program easy enough to just start right up with, though, and we quickly snagged our desktop view, which the program displayed in its main window.
ActivePresenter's layout combines elements of word processors and graphics tools in look and layout, though with many unique, program-specific features such as a Timeline with a small but useful audio spectral display. ActivePresenter uses an expandable right-hand sidebar similar to those found in big-box graphics apps. The Slides sidebar is tabbed for Thumbnails and Titles. The program's View menu offers lots of Toolbar options, though, including the ability to customize the toolbars. In fact, ActivePresenter has enough options and settings to satisfy your inner nerd, everything from Mouse Hover options to slideshows to Ajax and Flash simulations. The Annotation menu has 11 options in itself.
While ActivePresenter proved easy to use at every step, we're not going to pretend that we turned out a slick e-learning package on the first go-round. But even simple projects yielded surprising results. Lots of well-thought-out touches like attractive, draggable cursor paths, programmable keystrokes, and test templates for multiple choice, true/false, and other methods save a lot of time without compromising quality. ActivePresenter does much more, though; users with still more needs can check out the paid upgrades.