Activ Inspire

I’ve been using this for about 3 weeks now. It’s been an interesting process for me but I can say now that when I accidently open V3 I cringe in comparison!

When i first opened the program I was impressed that I could now transfer Smart Xbks into it  (This will make our MFL departments transition from SMART to Promethean much easier!) and i was curious about the fact that you can choose to make it look like Notebook V10 or powerpoint.  I chose to make it look like Activ Studio (of course!) and then have spent the last 3 weeks playing with it.

There are lots of things I like about the new version.  I actually like the new icons and the way these have been designed it looks a lot more inviting.  I love the way the action objects have become easier to create; that was always something that some of the teachers I have worked with have found quite difficult. In version 3 you had to make several click before you even got to the menu to set up functions like Show and Hide.  Now you simply head to your properties browser and press a picture of an eye.  It even toggles it for you.  For example, in V 3 if you want to show and hide an object you have to have 3 objects on the page.  The object you want to show/hide and two buttons.  One you would click to make it show the other to hide.  This very over complicated way of getting an object to disappear and reappear has been made more simple.  You simply click on the object you want to hide and set the action show/hide.  Once your in “at the board mode” you just click the object and it will show and hide. Much easier.

It also has a menu option which shows which layer objects are on.  If I want to bring an object right to the front I just click on it in the menu and drag it to the right place in the hierarchy.  This does make it a little easier to keep track on what’s on which layer!

Although it did take some time, I have got used to the fact that all of the old appearance, actions and properties options that you used to get from a double click now float around in their own bar.  I don’t like the fact that this bar seems to be designed purposely to look like SMARTS gallery side bar.

The same bar now acts as the page Selector and the library.  So, You have the bar open at the side and use the icons at the top to toggle between page selector, library and properties manager.

The spell checker has also been improved and you now have the option of asking it to turn all errors to red.  Very handy for me; especially in my longer flippys.

We can now also add different video file formats. I’ve even managed to embed a FLV file 🙂 Although it doesn’t like it if you try to write on the board whilst it’s playing 😉

The pen tool tidies up your handwriting for you now as well.  When you write it seems to render your writing and make it look tidier.

There are a few things however, which are really driving me crazy!

  1. Firstly, when i want to find a resource from the library there is no longer a search facility.  I have to be honest I have never, ever bothered to look in folders for images, sounds etc.  I have always just gone straight to the magnifying glass and searched!  This is much faster and what with the size of the library an essential feature! I hope this is rectified in the final release.
  2. The toolbar doesn’t float outside of the flipchart anymore.  This means that when you are in the studio you can’t minimise your flipchart and still leave the toolbar active and ontop.  This prevents me from using the camera to take a screen or area shot from somewhere outside of the Inspire software.  I’ve had to get used to putting the software into Desktop mode first.  This isn’t really necessary either and another thing i’d like to see changed
  3. I’ve lost my pretty “book like” page turn 🙁  I right click on the arrows (which have now moved into the toolbar) and nothing happens – no option to add effects appears.
  4. The line with an arrow on the end has also gone from the lines toolbar.  Why? That was great for annotation.
  5. There is a bug in the text box function.  Although, i really like the way this now works – it’s much easier to edit text and you don’t have to mess about timing your click to make it automatically edit the text – there are some suggestions that need to made here too.  Firstly, if I want to re size the text and it’s box i can now use the icons with up and down arrows respectively.  Unfortunately, when i press enlarge the icons move and so if I click in quick succession I end up duplicating instead as the icons have moved.  I hope there’s a way of making this more static.
  6. Secondly, If i apply bullet points to a text box, when I come out of text edit mode sometimes the edges    of characters are missing.  I have to add return spaces to the ends of lines to combat it.  I’m assuming this is something to do with the padding of the text box.  We still don’t have numbered bullet points (WHY NOT?)
  7. We also seem to have lost the ability to apply a background to all pages.  I have to keep manually dragging the background onto each page 😉

My goodness! This sounds bad doesn’t it?

Well we have to remember that this is the BETA – that they have deliberately released this early to Promethean Planet members so we can pull it apart and find issue!  I think the more we can find now the better the problem will be when in it’s final release in March.  I am certainly looking forward to it – when this becomes more stable and has all the little niggles ironed out I think it will actually be a very nice piece of software to use.

A Video Overview

(Click title for large version)


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