Racontr Review

Racontr is an interactive storytelling platform, enabling users to publish “without a line of code”. The developers describe it as “is the combination between an interactive storytelling software and a publishing platform to easily share your works with your community.” Storytellers can sign up for beta through beta.racontr.com by giving their name and e-mail address. Then a message pops up: “Your request invitation will be processed as soon as possible”.

It’s difficult to jump immediately into working with this tool, but a private invitation e-mail is sent shortly after requesting access. From there, you receive an invitation code, allowing you to start creating. 500MB of free hosting is also included with the invitation. I was also given the option to upgrade my account to add more hosting, features, and templates from the “store”.

Working on the platform allows for interactive content using video, audio, moving images, and parallax movement, so Racontr is great for a really wide variety of stories. Examples range from a gaming site for children, a news story, and design web page. Racontr is a French company, so many examples are in French. (P.S. The word “raconteur” translates to “storyteller”) The site is best for web pages, long form stories, interactive videos, animated data visualizations, and games.

The creation process seems a bit complicated. In theory, you should load in your media, craft your scenario, add interactivity, and animate with a timeline. Racontr also allows you to add in Photoshop files and create your own fonts. However, when I went to create a story, I encountered this error message:

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.02.15 PM

I tried again the next day and was able to begin crafting a story. To get started, you choose a project category and either decide to start from scratch or pick a template. I chose the template route, going with “Long-form section”. When I went to try to edit the story I had just created, I got this message:

nooo

I’m assuming these messages are just some of the things that happen when you are working with a beta application. Up until the “bad gateway” message, things were going pretty smoothly. Its interface is pretty simple to use, and I like that you’re able to see how many views and/or likes your creations have received. You’re also able to post updates to your profile, though I’m not exactly sure what you would need to be publishing for your followers if you’re already publishing your stories.

While I wasn’t able to create a project, I was able to explore its features. Fortunately Racontr offers a great deal of tutorials, from setting up your project, to page editing and interaction management. Their blog post series called “tips and tricks” includes design-oriented suggestions and their community and support forums section is pretty informative, too. There’s also a video on Vimeo that gives a great overview of the platform:

Racontr also offers a selections of freebies, or free photos, textures, ambiance sounds, types, and textures, which I think is really valuable for designers looking to add features more than just the ones within Racontr itself.

Overall, Racontr is fairly easy to use, but it still needs a lot of work. While I didn’t necesarily need any prior knowledge to use it, I encountered a lot of issues while trying to create an interactive story. After trying three times on three different days, I realized the issues with the platform were beyond my computer. So, at the moment, I wouldn’t recommend anyone use this for a story. It’s likely you’ll become frustrated easily. I don’t think I will use this in my final data story either; the creation process is more of a headache than a learning experience. However, I do think Racontr has a lot of potential, especially because of its impressive samples.

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