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Standalone Tool

Standalone (Third Party) Tool Selection Guidelines


Content should be developed (and edited) outside of the CMS delivery environment. Standalone tools produce content that is free of CMS-specific “clutter” and does not require a CMS to be viewed. A wide range of tools are available. Follow the guidelines below to ensure your content can be used in as many online learning environments as possible.

General Guidelines

  • Use tools that are widely available and commonly adopted by post-secondary educators.
  • Choose tools that work across a wide range of system platforms (e.g., PCs, Macintoshes and Unix-based computers).
  • Create standalone learning resources using tools that have viewer/player versions that are readily available (e.g., the Adobe Reader is available for free download to anyone who wants to view PDF files created in Adobe Acrobat).

Documents and Presentations

  • For word processing, use a tool that can produce documents in rich text format (RTF). This format allows for cross-platform document interchange. Most word processors can read and write RTF documents.
  • To take advantage of SOL*R’s ability to convert files to web-ready format, use Microsoft Word for documents and Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations. SOL*R can optionally convert .doc and .ppt files to HTML during the upload process.


  • Use tools that create images in GIF, JPG or PNG format. These are the three most widely supported image file formats on the Internet.


  • The most widely supported web formats for video are MPEG, QuickTime and AVI. Use a tool that can produce video in one or more of these formats.
  • When using a tool that produces streamed video, weigh the benefit of reduced bandwidth requirements against the requirement for ongoing hosting and maintenance. A learning resource in streamed video format must be hosted on a streaming media server. When the learning resource is contributed to SOL*R, it is contributed as a URL that points to the streaming media server. The consequence is that you are committing to life-long hosting and maintenance of the learning resource that resides on the streamed video server.

NOTE: There are no time frame limitations placed on shared learning resources contributed to SOL*R.


  • Use tools that create sound in MP3, Quicktime or WAV formats. These are the three most commonly supported sound formats on the Internet.
  • ???Do you have any Recommendations on file formats or tools that should NOT be used?