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Saba donates free SCORM testing tool to community.

Now this is the sort of thing that benefits everyone. Saba's decision to release the SCORM Detective tool basically means three things: it demonstrates industry support for standards in general -and those of specific players in particular!- it directly helps achieve interoperability and promotes understanding of the specs in the community too.

Saba's tool will directly benefit developers who are implementing SCORM functionality in a particular VLE. It enables them to see where things might go wrong and what can be done to rectify it. Much the same goes for content developers: with the knowledge of how their SCO behaves, they can check whether the VLEs in which it needs to work will respond in the expected way.

But if developers can use it, so can people who are evaluating or comparing VLEs. Since Saba is a VLE vendor, this must clearly have played a part in their decision to release the tool, since SCORM Detective will graphically demonstrate Saba's conformance as compared to others. This may cause the cynical among you to suspect some loading in the tool itself, but that seems fairly unlikely. As Saba standards evangelist Eric Rosen points out, "the idea of a SCORM test bed is not radically new", even if "one this visual, informative and easy-to-use seemed overdue". Put differently; you can always get ADL's own free testing tool for a second opinion.

In the wider sense, then, it does benefit most everyone in the SCORM community. Not just because it facilitates technical interoperability testing, but also because Saba is deliberately putting degree of conformance as the main competitive challenge into the market.

But what is this freebie exactly, and what does it do?

Actually, the SCORM Detective tool is, like many learning objects, an SCO. But it's one with a difference: it can be used to test the overall SCORM conformance of a particular VLE, but also to see what a wonky or special SCO will do in such a VLE. And it still is a very good learning object in its own right: it shows you in graphic detail how the SCORM APIs work with the SCORM data model in real time in an actual VLE.

So once you've downloaded the SCO, you can import it into any VLE with SCORM 1.2 support, and it will show the state of the system at any stage of deployment. It will work in two modes: a free one that allows you to prod a VLE with any type of SCORM API command in combination with any type of SCORM data, and see what happens, or in strict runtime mode, in which Saba's tool will behave like a model SCO and show which APIs and data elements become relevant at a particular stage, and how the VLE deals with them. Since it's Flash MX rather than HTML / JavaScript based, it doesn't rely on page refresh, but captures VLE behaviour as it happens.

The Saba SCORM Detective tool can be downloaded from the new ADL3rd Party Tools Forum. More information on the tool is available from the Saba developer site. ADL's own SCORM Test Suite can be downloaded from the ADL main site.

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