In this blog you will find:
- The problem I had Articulate locking/freezing up PowerPoint, its symptoms, and what was happening from a technical(ish) perspective
- What hardware/software combo it happened with
- The easy solution to the problem
Near the end of two big projects using Articulate, Articulate stopped working. I couldn’t click anything without it freezing PowerPoint. I’d have to end task on PowerPoint. I couldn’t use Articulate for anything, not even when I created a presentation with only a single-slide to test it.
My training department has needed this fix 6-8 times since 2011. Because of this issue, IT has rebuilt my entire user profile (it’s a terrible thing!) on my laptop. Rebuilding a user profile is not necessary, but it does work.
I was editing and recording audio for a presentation with 48 slides. Articulate crashed after I finished recording the audio for the entire thing and hit the Save & Close button (lost the files… found them 3 days later in Application Data). When I reopened PowerPoint, I first answered No to the warning message about disabling the Articulate ribbon.
Once in PowerPoint, I could open PowerPoint and use it for PowerPoint files only. If I clicked anything on the Articulate ribbon (Record Audio, Audio Editor, Engage, Preview, Publish, Slide Settings, Insert .swf, you name it), Articulate would hang up, or freeze. Basically, PowerPoint had an hourglass, but the Articulate window (didn’t matter which one) never appeared.
In Task Manager the running process called ap6.exe was ballooning out of control in what appeared to be a memory leak. I created a one slide test file (84Kb). When I clicked on anything on the Articulate ribbon, the the “Articulate Presenter UI” application would start and then change to “Not Responding”, and the ap6.exe Process would start. Mem usage of ap6.exe increased after each refresh, topping out around 1.02GB! If I had a slower computer, this probably would have crashed it.
When I used “End Process” on ap6.exe, it would at least let me save and close the PowerPoint; however, additional attempts to use Articulate are very risky.
What’s Going On?
It turns out, there is a log file called project.log, and Articulate writes to it each time most features of Articulate are used. For example, when I opened a four-slide presentation in Articulate Audio Editor, it created a log entry that was 40 lines long. 32 lines listed the audio tracks. The picture below shows the location and look of the project.log file (note: this is not my work computer, so my user account is Administrator).
My typical presentations are ~50 slides each and include audio, Engage interactions, Quizmaker quizzes, and other Flash and web content. Project.log is opened and read every time you use an application from the Articulate ribbon, and data gets written to the file. As the file gets larger, it takes longer to open, read, and append data. It’s also trying to open it to temporary memory. If the file is too big, it will simply hang up.
I had a busy season, so my project.log file was 763MB. This is no typo. During reviews, I open, edit, publish, and change all kinds of things to my files. So, at the end, when I needed it the most, Articulate failed because of this dastardly project.log file.
My Computer Setup:
The problem only happens on my laptop (i5; 3GB RAM; 1GB video card) I got from work. It runs Windows XP on a very large, highly secure computer domain network. I am not an admin on my machine. Articulate Studio ’09 and MS Office PowerPoint 2007 are installed.
The solution is very simple! Rename (recommended), move or delete the project.log text document file. Here are steps from Articulate:
Use the illustration above to see the full file path (or address) of the project file. As soon as you complete these simple steps, you should be able to successfully open and use anything on your Articulate ribbon. Articulate will automatically recreate a new project.log file, Articulate Presenter UI will run like normal, and ap6.exe will not eat up your memory.
Note: Always check with your IT department if you are unsure and if you have one. Special thanks to Rui P in my IT department for all his hard work helping to troubleshoot these things!