Text Captions and Buttons are the most common kinds of standard objects added to Captivate slides. The former typically provides learners with visual information about what's happening on the slide; the latter allows for learner interaction should the learner click the button.
Over the years, Captivate developers have had little control over the look of both Text Captions and Buttons. You are limited to a few dozen Text Caption types, and a handful of Callout positions (the Callout is the pointer arrow located at different positions around the caption). If you want to customize the look of a Text Caption, you have to visit a graphics program and edit the caption images. As for buttons, you can insert either text or image buttons onto a slide. However, there is little customization you can do to the text buttons, and less when it comes to the image buttons. In fact, if you're looking for image buttons beyond what comes with Captivate, you either have to find alternatives on the web, or create your own image buttons (again in an external image editing tool).
Smart Shapes were introduced in Adobe Captivate 6. Given the fact that you can type text within most of the Smart Shapes, they are an effective replacement for Text Captions. And if you spend any time at all on the Smart Shapes panel, you'll see that there are a collection of Buttons as well (shown below).
Once you've added a Smart Shape button, you can easily customize the appearance of the button (Fill, Stroke, Style). And since the shapes are controlled by Object Styles, project-wide updates are a snap.
While I love the Smart Shape buttons, I was a bit dismayed to learn that I couldn't add text to them. However, you'll be happy to learn that there is a way to work with Smart Shapes, add text, and have the shape act like a button (you know, the cake... and eating it too).
Instead of drawing a Smart Shape button, draw one of the other shapes.
Double-click within the new shape and type your text.
There's just one problem with your awesome Smart Shape... if you visit the Properties panel, you'll notice that there isn't an Action group. Certainly you'll find the usual suspects on the Properties panel (Fill & Stroke, Character, Format, etc), but without an Action, there isn't a way to make your Smart Shape behave like a button. And all is lost...
... only not...
Take another look at the Properties panel. You'll find a wonderfully simple solution to the Action dilemma: Use as Button.
Once you've selected Use as Button, the Action group magically appears on the Properties panel. At this point, it's a simple matter of selecting the desired Action.
Spend some time playing with the Smart Shapes. I'm betting that you'll find more and more ways to use them... and fewer and fewer reasons to use those tired old Text Captions and Buttons.
Note: If you would like to see a video demonstration of making standard Smart Shapes behave as buttons, check out our YouTube channel.