It should be no surprise that I love me some Articulate products (come on – my entire portfolio is based on Articulate Storyline outputs right now). They’re just so versatile and user-friendly! And I’m not even being paid to say that.
In taking my freelancing full-time, I was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the amount of work I had to do, most of which is done in one Articulate product or another. I decided that if I was feeling overwhelmed, other freelancers may share that feeling, so some tips may be in order. Today I’ll be talking about three ways that I have streamlined my development process using Articulate products.
1. Parallels for Mac
I have a Mac Book Pro, and do the majority of work from my laptop. Now, anyone who has a Mac knows that Articulate products are currently only available for Windows OS. This makes it extremely frustrating. When I first purchased my Mac, I knew I would need to set up a Windows OS partition using Boot Camp, but this was before I took my freelancing full-time. Once I went full-time, I quickly found out that I needed a lot more space than I had allotted to my Windows partition. Not to mention, dual-booting was extremely frustrating to me. I often found myself syncing files to dropbox or using flash drives to access files previously stored on my Mac OS (which I work exclusively in UNLESS I’m using an Articulate product). This very quickly became annoying, especially when I forgot a flash drive at home.
The Boot Camp setup works for a lot of folks, but for me, I found it annoying and I often felt disorganized and stressed out. After running into a deleted file situation, I consulted the folks at my local Apple store and the guy I spoke with recommended Parallels for Mac. Parallels allows you to run Windows OS within your Mac OS (simultaneously). It was probably the fastest and simplest install of Windows OS I have ever experienced (which says a lot as a former serial PC purchaser) and it runs like a charm. I’ve experienced no lag (even while working in larger Storyline files), and it has a coherence setting which allows my Windows applications to behave like Mac applications. IT IS AMAZING! I never thought such a simple solution would be so life-altering. I’m not being dramatic – Parallels for Mac has honestly changed my workflow for the better, and has allowed me to streamline processes that were previously very clunky.
Now I can work within all of my Articulate products, launching them from Mac OS, and still access anything I would have previously saved on Dropbox or a flash drive. It is so much better! I’ve only been using it for 3 days now, but I feel confidant in recommending it to anyone with a Mac who is looking for a solution to running Windows OS-based programs seamlessly.
2. Cheat Sheets!
We all have a lot of things to remember on a daily basis, and for most of us, hot keys don’t rank very high on the list of things to remember. Especially the more obscure hot keys. Luckily, the kind folks over at Articulate have provided several job aids (or cheat sheets) to help users streamline their development process.
Articulate even has a Job Aids download section which provides users with tons of helpful resources for adjusting player properties in various products.
Everyone likes shortcuts, and I’m not one to buck the system on that one!
3. Saving Frequently and Backing Up Regularly
Now this may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes you just trust your machines too much. This type of trust can greatly hinder your productivity and throw a huge wrench in your development process. This is not necessarily an Articulate product-specific tip, but my most recent productivity-destroying experience occurred with several Storyline files, so it’s kind of relevant. When I was blabbering on about Parallels, I briefly mentioned having a run in with a deleted file situation – ugh.
I had spent an entire week developing three modules for a client, and once they were all sent for revision, I backed them up to my external drive. Or at least my computer made me think I did. Silly me. The next day, the client came back with several revisions; I was on my way home, got the email, and thought ‘Great! Only two small changes! I’ll do those as soon as I get home!’ – I arrived home, bitterly dual-booted into Windows, and went to open the files…but the files were no where to be found. After consulting The Google (many times) and spending about 7 hours trying to recover the files, I was able to recover two of three…except that Storyline would not longer recognize them. This left me to spend my Saturday and Sunday morning foregoing a fun and exciting hiking trip to redevelop all of that work from the Storyline outputs. I wanted to cry, but in the end it took me a lot less time to reproduce the files than I had originally thought it would take, and the world was alright again. But I did miss that hiking trip – dammit!
What did I learn? Save ALL THE TIME and back things up every other second. To multiple places. I know have Mac’s Time Machine running on my external hard drive, backing things up hourly, and I also have all of my files backing up to Dropbox. When I’m feeling extra paranoid, I’ll save files to Google Drive or a flash drive. Eventually, I’ll probably get a Time Capsule from Apple (it’s a product – I’m not crazy enough to bury a bunch of flash drives in my yard) so I can set up wireless backups, but for now I’ll leave my external hard drive tethered to its USB port (first world problem, I know).