1-2-3 Eye Buttons Mystery

Title is not an nostalgic reference to the best spreadsheet application ever (Lotus 1-2-3) but is related to... Captivate.

The THREE 'eye buttons' in Captivate are a source of confusion because they have exactly the same look (contrary to my image above) but show very different functionality. 
Questions due to that confusion appear not as frequently as the timeline misunderstanding questions, but nevertheless think that a clear explanation could help to dissipate confusion:

1. Eye button on the Timeline

This button appears in the timeline panel in the first column, on top, next to the lock button. If you click the top button all objects on the stage are hidden. To hide individual objects, click a radiobutton left of the object timeiine. A red cross will appear (see screenshot below). A full explanation of this and other timeline features and can be found in this article. Hiding an object on the stage has no effect whatsoever on the presence of that object when publishing (or previewing) the course: the object will be visible. What is the goal of this eye button? As you know (if you did read the article about the timeline), contrary to normal video timelines (included the Video Demo Timeline), a cptx slide will show all objects on the stage, whether they are scheduled to appear from the start or later on. That makes aligning a lot easier, but can also lead to a very crowded stage where objects are covering up other objects (except in the case of Fluid Boxes). To facilitate editing, it can be useful to hide some objects using this first Eye button.

This screenshot, taken from the game explained in 'Using the While loop' shows several hidden (on stage) objects and even a group. Since the topmost group still has one visible object (click box), its bounding box is visible on the stage. For the other group even the bounding box has disappeared.

There is one exception: you can also click the radio button left of the slide timeline. In that case the slide will be hidden (with all its content) and it will not appear when previewing/publishing. It is an alternative work flow for using the right click menu on slide(s) in the Filmstrip, option 'Hide Slide'. With both work flows you'll see a dimmed slide in the Filmstrip and an eye icon (not a button) as indicator.


Eye button in the Properties panel: Visibility in Output  

If you want an object to be initially invisible in the published course, you need to click this button in the Properties panel (inspector) of that object, top left. It is almost the opposite button of the first because the object will not disappear on the stage at all. Why would you hide an object in a published course? Maybe because you'll want to make it visible later on.  Example: you want to allow navigation to the Next slide only after certain actions have been performed by the learner (like clicking hotspots, or entering text in fields). Showing an object will be done with the command 'Show'. Making an object invisible by using this second Eye button can also be done on runtime by the action 'Hide' and that is often a better approach.  Since you can show a hidden object, it means that the object is included in the published version which is not the case with a hidden slide. A hidden slide is not included in the published course.


Eye button in the Drag&Drop panel

When this button is set to 'active', and you did set up the Drag&Drop interactivity by defining the drag sources, the drop targets and the links for correct answers those three components are made visible: green rectangles for the drag sources, blue rectangles for the drop targets and blue arrows for the links. When you deactivate this eye icon, those indicators will disappear. Since it happens that Captivate deactivates that button without your consent, it is good to know how to make those indicators visible: click on the barred eye icon: 

Tips for 'Fluid' Quiz Slides

Intro

When publishing my first reflections on Fluid Boxes work flow versus Breakpoint View work flow I didn't mention my expectations for a smoother creation of Quiz slides using FB's. In my experience with responsive projects in previous versions, the most frustrating part were those (damned?) quiz slides. You are probably aware of the very strict rules to honor for quiz slides: need to be careful with 'embedded' objects which include functionality that can be broken. Styling quiz/score slides is tough even in normal (blank) projects and turns into a nightmare when having to do it for up to 5 breakpoint views. Every post I published about quizzes gets a lot of visitors. Many questions about quizzes are posted on the forums as well. This explains why I listed Quizzes as second most important stumbling block for Captivate users in this article.

The present post is not (yet) the promised upgraded version of the most popular article I ever wrote about questions, only a summary of tips I discovered while exploring the Fluid Boxes work flow for quiz slides (score slide will be subject of a later post). If you are new to Fluid Boxes, please take some time to read the articles posted by Zeeshan. Up till now, he published 3 but promised more on their way:

Using Fluid Boxes - Knowledge Facts 3

Quizzing Master Slides -Setup Fluid Boxes

All quiz slides, and the score slide, are based on a dedicated Master slide. Master slides have embedded objects (no individual timeline): Title, Question, Answer Area with Answers, buttons, feedback messages, progress indicator to mention some. The functionality of the quiz is embedded in those master slides (two-step Submit process, updating quizzing system variables, tracking attempts on question/quiz level, review and retake on score slide, etc). 

if you choose the Fluid Box work flow for a responsive project in Captivate 2017, the included themes will also have Fluid boxes on the quizzing master slides. There is one exception: the Likert master slide has no Fluid Boxes because Likert questions are not supported for responsive projects. Each theme needs to have at least a main master slide and 6 daughter master slides. Besides the Blank master slide which is essential for Software simulations and PPT-import, the other 5 daughter master slides are all about quizzes: MCQ,T/F,FIB,Sequence; Matching; Hotspot; (Likert = not supported in responsive); Result. 

The Setup for the quizzing master slides is common for all included Themes. I will explain extensively the most used master slide (MCQ, T/F...) and summarize only the differences for the other quizzing master slides. The score slide, which causes a lot of issues at this moment, will be explained in a future blog post, hoping that some of the problems will already have dissipated by a patch?

Setup Fluid Boxes in MCQ,T/F,FIB,Sequence Master slide

This is the most used master slide for sure. You have the Root fluid box (ID/ FB_8) containing 6 child Fluid Boxes. The ID's I mention for the Fluid boxes are from the master slides. Apparently the ID has to be unique as usual. When a quiz slide is created based on a master slide the ID will change: 3 characters will be inserted, referencing to the slide number. Example: FB_MS5_10 is the fluid box for a question based on the MCQ master slide, originally on slide 5. Beware: that ID will not change when you reorder the slides, which can make it quite confusing if you are used to reorder a lot. The Root fluid box (ID/ FB_8) is set up this way.

  • Flow: Vertical (has 6 child fluid boxes)
  • Wrap: Squeeze in a column , which means the child fluid boxes will never be rearranged. the 80% has no consequences, because stretch to fit is activated.
  • Horizontal Alignment: Center with Stretch to fit activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Space around
  • Padding: none, which means the space around has no effect on the child fluid boxes

The 6 child fluid boxes, from top to bottom,have this content and setup:

Title Fluid Box (ID: FB_9)

  • Flow: Horizontal - has mostly only one item, the title shape or caption
  • Wrap: Wrap to Next Row
  • Horizontal Alignment: Space around with 'Stretch to fit' activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with 'Stretch to fit' activated
  • Padding: none, which means theoretically the title could touch the left and right side of the fluid box/slide. Personally I avoid that by adding a small horizontal padding (5-10px).

Tip: in theme 'Clear' the title overlaps with a design element. You can change the Vertical alignment to Bottom, and eventually increase the height of this first child fluid box to fix that. Another solution is to turn off that design element by unchecking the option 'Show Main Master Slide Objects.

Later on you'll see that the Advanced answers feedback messages will cover up this FB. Be careful when resizing and moving those messages. You could mess up the arrangement of this Title fluid box. Best way is to unlink those messages from the FB before touching them.

Question Fluid Box (ID: FB_10)

  • Flow: Horizontal (but has mostly only one item, the question shape or caption); text in that container is vertically aligned to top, to allow wrapping of longer text questins
  • Wrap: Wrap to Next Row
  • Horizontal Alignment: Space around with 'Stretch to fit' activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with 'Stretch to fit' activated; for the inserted text placeholder text is aligned at the top; you could eventually change that to middle as well if you don't have long questions.
  • Padding:  50px horizontal (text placeholder is indented from left and right side of the slide/fluid box). If the focus is on smartphones, this padding could be too big (lot of smartphones have only a width of 320px).

Answers Fluid Box (ID: FB11)

  • Flow: Horizontal 
  • Wrap: Wrap to Next Row
  • Horizontal Alignment: Space around with 'Stretch to fit' activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with 'Stretch to fit' activated; 
  • Padding:  50px horizontal (placeholder is indented from left and right side of the slide/fluid box); 20px vertical, the inserted answer area doesn't touch the top and bottom of the Fluid box. Comment about this being maybe too much for small screens is valid here as well.

Tips: the individual answer placeholders cannot be resized in the master slide (as is the case since CP6). They are designed to have only one line (contrary to the question placeholder which has space for multiple lines). If you have answers that are pretty long, font size will be decreased to squeeze the answer in the available space. If answers have different lengths, this could result in  different font size for the answers which is certainly not wanted (see image below). Here are two workarounds:

  1. If you don't mind the font size to be decrease but want the same font size for all the answers on a slide, check the option 'Enable Uniform Text Scaling' in the Properties panel for the slide. Eventually you can decrease the mininum font size which is set pretty high in 2017 (14p, minimum was 10p in previous versions).

  2. If you don't want to have the font decreased, but prefer text wrapping, you have to resize the individual answer containers on the side (not possible on the master slide). Start by increasing the container height for the longest answer, use the Align menu ro resize all to the same height, move them as far away from each other and Distribute vertically. Eventually you can decrease the vertical padding to have more space, and/or make this Fluid Box higher, which will decrease the height of the other boxes. This work flow is certainly necessary if you allow shuffling of the answers. Whenever the answer cannot fit in the container anymore the usual icon 'read more' will appear. 

In this image you'll see the result: Default setup on top, in the middle the result when 'Enable Uniform Text Scaling' is activated and at the bottom the same answers after manually resizing, moving and distributing vertically.

If your goal is a good experience on smartphones, I would recommend to reduce the padding in this Fluid box: 2x50px horizontally is a lot if the browser has only 320px in the width. 

Messages (ID: FB_15)

Since the Feedback messages are all in the same location, this had to be a Fluid Box of the Static type to allow overlapping objects. 

Issues: The usual problem for editing those messages remains: to edit a message you have to get all other messages out of the way, since they are embedded (they don't have a separate timeline). which means you cannot hide them on the stage  If the messages are the same on all quiz slides, you can edit them - before inserting quiz slides - in Preferences, Quiz, Default Labels (same for the button labels).
However if you want individual messages on the quiz slides themselves, I used to move each message to be able to edit the one below. Problem is that they will be moved over another Fluid box, and that means you cannot select them anymore.  I thought to use the Arrange menu but.... it is not available on quiz slides, only on the quizzing master slides! Not available in the right-click menu, dimmed in the Align toolbar. I tried to move the message in the scratch area (horizontally) for editing, but with the focus loss when zooming in, this is a real pain. Best way I detected (time consuming) is:

  • Edit the top most message in place (mostly Correct); since most of the messages are in a (semi) transparent shape/caption, increase the Alpha to cover up the other messages for editing.
  • Move the top message out of the way (I use shortcut keys like Shift-Up)
  • Edit the next message (same for Alpha as for the first one)
  • Move it also out of the way
  • Do not forget the Retry message if you have multiple attempts
  • When finished, use 'Reset Master Slide' to move all the messages back in their Fluid Box (FB_12). Since the object styles will be reset as well, the Alpha of the shapes/captions will be reset to the initial value. Beware: be careful not to override object styles in this case (indicated by + sign next to style name).

Here is some good news: if you choose multiple Failure messages (up to 3 still) because you have multiple attempts, those extra Failure messages (#2 and #3) will appear over the Answer FB. Contrary to messages moved over that box, these can be selected and edited easily. When previewing/publishing the slides all Failure messages will appear in the same location although being in different locations on the stage.

When using Advanced Answer options for MCQ, one correct answer, to show feedback messages for each answer, another problem appears.The text captions for the feedback are very small, and in the top right corner (over the Title Fluid Box), slightly off stage. Depending on the number of answers, some will appear lower, over the Answer Fluid Box.

Buttons Fluid Box (ID: FB_16)

  • Flow: Horizontal 
  • Wrap: Symmetrical, which is almost the same as One Row. Only when the number of buttons is even, will you have a rearrangement in two rows.
  • Horizontal Alignment: Space around with "Stretch to fit" not activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with Stretch to fit not activated
  • Padding: 0px horizontal and 2px vertical

The maximum amount of buttons is 6: two Review navigation buttons, Clear, Back, Skip and Submit. If you are used never to insert Back and Skip buttons (which is my normal setup) you can better increase the font size (now 20px) to 28px or even 30px. If the option 'Enable Uniform Text Scaling' enabled, the label will rescale nicely and especially the small symbols << and << on the Review navigation buttons will be readable even on small screens. The buttons don't have the option 'Maintain aspect ratio' enabled, which means that the width only will be resized.

Progress indicator Fluid Box (ID: FB_17)

  • Flow: Horizontal 
  • Wrap: Wrap to next row.
  • Horizontal Alignment: Center Align "Stretch to fit" not activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with Stretch to fit not activated
  • Padding: none

This fluid box has only one text caption with the progress indicator, in font size 12p which is smaller than the minimum font size. The text will never rescale even if 'Enable Uniform Text Scaling' is activated.

Setup Fluid Boxes in Matching Master slide

This master slide has one extra child Fluid box for the Column Titles. The Answer Fluid box is bit different. The ID's of the fluid boxes on this master slides are:

Root Fluid Box FB_18

Title Fluid Box FB_19

Question Fluid Box FB_20

Column Title Fluid Box FB_21

  • Flow: Horizontal, has two text placeholders for the column titles
  • Wrap: Squeeze in a row.
  • Horizontal Alignment: Center Align "Stretch to fit" not activated
  • Vertical Alignment: Middle Align with "Stretch to fit" not activated
  • Padding: none
  • Answer Fluid Box FB_22: this Fluid box has now two answer areas, linked by the line indicators
    Messages Fluid Box FB_23
    Button Fluid Box FB_24
    Progress Indicator Fluid Box FB_25

    Setup Fluid Boxes in Hotspot Master slide

    This master slide has only 5 child Fluid boxes, because Question and Answer are now in one box. Moreover it is a Static box, which means overlapping objects are possible. These are the ID's of the boxes:

    Root Fluid Box FB_26

    Title Fluid Box FB_27

    Question Fluid Box FB_28: static fluid box, will contain the image with the hotspots

    Messages Fluid Box FB_29
    Button Fluid Box FB_30
    Progress Indicator Fluid Box FB_31

    General tips

    I would recommend to activate the option 'Enable Uniform Text Scaling' for question slides in most circumstances. Since this option is at slide level, it will be valid for all Fluid boxes on the slide. 

    Avoid to override object styles, that is a general rule but even more necessary for quiz slides. It will happen that you want to reset the Master slide and in that case all styles will be reset to the Default style. If you want to change a style, do not hesitate to save the edits to those default styles. 

    Preview is never WYSIWYG certainly not when you are using the slider during preview to see the changes for other screen resolutions. Example: it often happens during Preview that the text in long answers (even when manually resized and redistributed) seem to be cut off for small screens; when published all looks mostly a lot better. 





    Playing a dice game, using While loop

    Intro

    In a previous blog post I explained the ins and outs of the new Advanced Actions dialog box. If you feel confused about my terminology in this more practical blog post, please read that first article. A decision block of type 'While' is totally new in version 2017. It has some similarities with the Conditional decision block (IF, Then, Else) but offers new possibilities as you'll see in this simple game.  The While loop can be used to create a looping sequence of commands. That loop can be infinite, or limited in number of executions, based on one condition or a combination of conditions.  Mohana Das from the Adobe team published recently this article demonstrating the infinite While loop. Please read that article, for users familiar with advanced actions the used condition 'IF 1 is equal to 1' will be easily recognized, since this was the condition needed to create a mimicked standard action decision in older versions. It means that the sequence of commands will continue to be done, since that condition always results in True. In a future blog post, I will offer some tips about breaking such an infinite loop.

    The present article  will focus on using the While loop, based on a condition which results in having the commands sequence repeated a limited number of times. It is a very simple game, every object was created within Captivate. One exception: the color shift in the Characters was achieved using roundtripping with Photoshop.

    It is not a responsive project, to avoid a too long article (should have to explain setup in fluid boxes with logic of the variables and advanced actions). Maybe in a next article?

    Play first!

    Download this published folder (HTML5). Sorry, cannot embed it in this post (allows only SWF's and it is not playing well in Flash output). Unzip the folder, launch the index.html file to start playing.  It is a small game: when you click on the Play button, a dice will be rolled and you'll see one of the faces of the dice, indicating a (random) number. The girl is supposed to climb the stairs, she will go up as many steps as the number you won. The goal is to reach the top. When the girl reaches the top of the stairs, clicking on the Play button will result in another scenario, and a Reset button will appear. 
    On entering the Game slide you'll see two looping animations, with added randomness and a possibility to stop the the looping. You'll see this action in Preview, but I will not provide details. 

    Slide setup - preparations

    Have a look at the timeline of the Game slide:
    I created the stairs as a freeform shape. That was pretty easy with Guides (see Guides Rule) and Snapping to guides. Of course a better approach would be to create that shape in Illustrator with export to SVG, but it is always a challenge to use only the available Captivate tools.

    Dice: this is a multistate object, the normal state is a square shape, for each of the sides circular shapes with a gradient fill are added. Look at  the Object state panel for this object. 
    The 3D animated dice has also been created as a group from a lot of shapes.

    Effects - Characters
    Two custom motion effects were created for the climbing girl. Default effects couldn't be used in the advanced action, because the path had to be edited. Here are two screenshots of the custom effects: Impatience (before starting game) and StepUp  (during play).

    The original Character (climbing the stairs) will disappear with a default Exit effect 'Zoom out'. when the top is reached.
    The Sticky image that replaces the original one climbing the stairs, will get a default Entrance effect 'Drop in and Bounce'. The text panel in that image is covered with a click box, functioning as a Reset button.
    Play button: is a simple transparent button. 

    Variables (for game only - more are needed for the start animation)

    I created 5 user variables:  
    • v_dice: starts with an empty value, will get a random number between 1 and 6 (using JavaScript, see Playing with Numbers)
    • v_counter: starts with a value=0 and will be used in the condition for the While loop to fix the number of repetitions to match the random number in v_dice
    • v_stair: is a second counter, that will be used to keep track of the total number of steps done. It is needed to know when top is reached. The staircase has 16 steps. It also starts with a value=0.
    • v_null: empty variable (see...) used to reset the v_dice variable after each use of the Play button
    • v_roll: starts with a value=0, will track the number of dice rolls needed to complete the steps; that number appears after the top of the stairs is reached. It is a third counter.

    For the EnterGame action a 6th variable v_anim is used.


    Events and actions

    The three used events for the game are:
    1. Success event of the Play button, it will trigger an advanced action PlayAct
    2. Success event of the Click box (Reset) it will trigger the advanced action ResetAct
    3. On Enter event of the Game slide, which triggers the animations: EnterGame

    ResetAct triggered by Click Box

    I couldn't use Scenario 2 of the Replay Slide blog post.  There are a couple of reasons, one being that the Game slide was originally the only slide. It is never a good idea to start a project with a complicated On Enter action (as is necessary for the looping animation). The workaround is to have a short dummy slide (mine is 0,2 secs) before the game slide and use this Reset action:
    Due to the command 'Continue', the On Enter action of the game slide (second slide) is always executed. At this moment for HTML5 output this is not the case when using micronavigation (as in the blog post about Replay slide).

    PlayAct triggered by Play Button

    The PlayAct has 3 decision blocks, one of each type: the first decision is a standard action (sequence of commands), the second is a While loop based on a condition and the last decision is an IF condition, in previous versions labeled as a conditional action. Here is the Preview:

    Decision 1 'Random'  (standard action)

    With this sequence, the 3D dice (animated On Enter) will be hidden and replaced by the static dice in its Normal state.
    The one line JavaScript will generate a random number between 1 and 6
      window.cpAPIInterface.setVariableValue("v_dice",Math.floor(Math.random()*(7-1))+1);
    I explained the construction of this line in detail in this blog post

    The variable v_counter is reset to 0. It is important that this is done before the While loop in the third decision.

    Decision 2 'EndCheck' (conditional IF action)

    This decision checks if the character has reached the top by comparing the user variable v_stair with the total number of steps (16). Contrary to v_counter, v_stair is only reset to 0 when re-entering the Game slide (using ResetAct).

    The Play button is hidden (to avoid disturbing the rest of the sequence) and the static multistate dice.

    The original character disappears, is replaced by a group (character + click box + text balloon) with some default effects.

    If the condition is not fulfilled (ELSE), which means the top has not yet been reached, the variable v_roll is incremented by 1. 

    Decision 3 'ShowNumber' (While loop)

    The condition used to limit the execution of the commands in this loop, is a combination of these two (AND):
    1. The number of steps taken by the image cannot go beyond the random number stored in v_dice (see first decision) and
    2. The total number of steps done, stored in v_stair, cannot be greater than 16, number of steps in this staircase.

    The commands to be done while that AND combination results in True are:

    • Switching the static dice to the next state (see image of the Object states for this static dice above)
    • Character gets on the next step (using custom effect StepUp, but that name has been changed by Captivate to the name of the effect it was based on 'RightToLeft'.
    • The variable v_counter is incremented, it is this variable which is used in the first condition
    • The variable v_stair is incremented; that variable is not reset by clicking on the Play button, is necessary to check if the top is reached (decision 2 'EndCheck').

    EnterGame triggered by the On Enter event

    Here is the Preview, let me know if you need more details

    Questions?

    Fire away. Creating this game was a lot of fun, 'while' exploring 'while' loops. Let your creative juices surge!

    Advanced Actions Dialog box in Captivate 2017

    Intro

    In my previous blog post about my preferred new features in Captivate 2017 I mentioned that the dialog box for Advanced Actions got a nice new layout. It is like new shoes, sometimes it takes time before they feel as comfortable as those old sneakers :). The focus of this article is on clarifying that new dialog box. Maybe you'll discover some unknown gems here as well? I recommend to download the example published file, or watch it (as SWF output) in that article if you are using a Flash enabled browser on a desktop or laptop. 

    Structure - sections

    The dialog box still has a fixed size (I wished it could be resized) and in this screenshot I indicate three sections, which I will explain more in detail below:

    1. Section 1: with the Global control panel to the right, two dropdown lists and the Action name field. That field has to be filled in for an advanced action, but not when your goal is to create a shared action (see Dare To Share).

    2. Section 2: has the control panel and navigation possibilities for the Decisions. Decision is the name used in the official Help documentation for those parts of the action that have the generic names 'Untitled_1'...(and function as buttons to navigate to a decision). When opening the dialog box a default number of 3 decisions will be present. You'll see in the screenshots that I am used to rename those decisions, certainly for an action with multiple decisions.

    3. Section 3:  shows the type of decision, has the control panel for the Commands or actions. I prefer the word commands to avoid confusion. 

    Nothing has changed at the bottom of the dialog box, with the buttons Usage (for the active Advanced action; for Shared actions you'll find the Usage button in the Library), Variables (which allows you to open the Variables dialog box if you want to create more user variables or check the available variables, you cannot delete variables when entering the dialog box from this button), Save as Shared Action... (will open the Shared Actions dialog box), Save or Update Action and the Close button.

    Section 1: Global

    On the first row you'll have:

    • Create from: followed by a dropdown list. I call this the actions template list. It will have the default template 'Blank' on top, but also the name of all shared actions in the project. One of the possibilities of shared actions is to use them as a template for a normal advanced action. The list is not alphabetically ordered. You can type the first character to navigate to a template starting with that character.
    • Control panel with 6 buttons
      • Preview button: this button is still unknown by many users, and has become even more useful than before. In previous versions you could only see a conditional action in this Preview, but since the former standard actions are now embedded in the same interface, you can also preview standard actions. Here is a screenshot of such a simple standard action. Watch the indicator 'Execute Actions' which means that this is a standard action. 

        The biggest advantage of the Preview window is for advanced actions with a lot of decisions, because you'll get an overview of all decisions. However: the operators for conditions (like 'is equal to ') are translated in the JS and AS equivalents (== means 'equal to', && means 'AND"). Parts of the decisions are collapsed in this example (triangle buttons):
      • Create New Action is the + button. It is no longer necessary to choose first of all the type of action, which was the case in previous versions.

      • Import Shared Action: works only for shared actions (doesn't appear in the tooltip). That same button is to be found in the Library. Personally I always prefer to import (and export) shared actions from the Library.

      • Export Shared Action: works only for shared actions (doesn't appear in the tooltip), same button as in the Library. 

      • Delete Action will delete the active action

      • Duplicate action: can be very useful. In some instances duplicate advanced actions are to be preferred to shared actions (maybe a future blog post).

    On the second row in section 1 you see;

    • Action name: compulsory for advanced actions. Be careful with names (sorry for the repetition), do not use names that are used for other items.

    • Existing Actions: has a dropdown list, ordered alphabetically. You can type the first character to navigate to an action starting with that character.

    Section 2: Decisions

    This section has these items, starting at the top left:

    • Control panel with 3 buttons (which now are not as tiny as they used to be in former versions):
      • Add decision (+ button): the decision will be added after the active decision (its name is bold and blue, non-active decisions have their name in regular black font).

      • Delete decision: active decision will be deleted

      • Duplicate decision: very useful. Look above at the second Preview example where decisions 4 and 5 are very similar to decision 3 and have been created with this button.

    • Previous/Next buttons: will navigate and make that previous or next decision active. These button have also 'grown up' :)

    • The last group at the right is also a navigation panel, but will mostly be dimmed, unless you have more decisions that can fit in the fixed width of the dialog box as you can see in this global screenshot:

      Those buttons allow to navigate, but will not select the decision you are navigating to, the present decision will remain active. First button scrolls to the first decision, second/third to the previous/next decision without making them active, last button scrolls to the last decision. Personally I suspect that I will not use those buttons often because you have another way:

    • Dropdown list with names of all the decisions is to be found under the triangle button at the end of the line with the decision buttons (which you can of course also use to navigate to a button). Of course, I am a labeling freak as you can see in the screenshot. When you select a decision from this list you'll navigate to that decision and it becomes active. Beware: the width of the dropdown list is limited, use short names or at least have significant characters at the beginning of the name. The list is ordered in the sequence of the decisions, you can use a first character to switch to a decision name starting with that character. More reason to label: if you leave all names at Untitled, you'll not get any help from 'U


    Section 3: Commands

    Select a decision by clicking on its button (Untitled_x as generic name or with a custom name). It is possible for each decision to choose its type: Standard, Conditional IF, Conditional While (loop). Look below for the differences. In this section you'll see several instances of the same control panel with a sequence of 8 buttons, some having a shortcut key (I use a Win system):

    1. Add (CTRL-N) will add an extra line after the last line of that part
    2. Remove (Delete): deletes the selected line(s)
    3. Copy (CTRL-C) will copy the selected line(s).
    4. Cut (CTRL-X) the selected line(s)
    5. Paste (CTRL-V) copied or cut lines: will work in between actions as well, as long as it is in the same part (depends on the type of decision)
    6. Insert (CTRL-I) will insert an extra line before the selected line
    7. Move Up: the selected line(s), can be useful because of the importance of sequence of commands.
    8. Move Down: the selected line(s), can be useful because of the importance of sequence of commands.

    Type 1: Standard 

    If you leave the check box before 'Conditional action' unchecked, you are ready to create a sequence of commands, formerly named a 'standard advanced action'. This screenshot shows such an action and before (under Control panel of the Global section 1 I showed a Preview of such an action):

    This type has only one control panel, since there is only one part in this type: the list of commands that have to be done in the chosen sequence. As told before, you can select a number of commands and paste them to the clipboard. They can be used within the same advanced action, in other decisions of any type, but only in the so-called 'Actions' part. However you can paste the copied lines also to another advanced action, with the same restriction.

    Type 2: Conditional IF

    To create a decision of this type, you have to check the check box  before 'Conditional action', and choose the option 'IF' in the dropdown list as is visible on this screenshot:

    This screenshot shows two parts of the complete decision, to see the last part 'ELSE' you have to click on the ELSE button at the bottom of the Actions part in the first screenshot:

    The three parts of this action: Condition, THEN (is not mentioned like that, second part under the Condition, ELSE have a control panel as described before. You can always copy/paste between the Actions part (THEN and ELSE), but the Condition part is 'standalone'.

    The first screenshot also shows the dropdown list, because you can define different conditions with AND (all conditions have to be fulfilled), OR or a combination of both (be careful with the last option).

    Type 3: Conditional While (loop)

    To create a decision of this type, you have to check the check box  before 'Conditional action', and choose the option 'While' in the dropdown list as is visible on this screenshot:

    For the Conditions the situation is identical to Type 3 (AND, OR, Custom). This type has only two parts however: the Condition and the list of commands that have to be repeated as long as the condition part results in True. Two parts means two control panels, not interchangeable. But you can copy/paste from another decision or action, as long as you remain in the same part (condition or Actions). 

    Conclusion

    I hope this bit boring overview was useful for you. Promised: next blog posts will be practical, still busy with examples concerning Pausing the Timeline (focus on audio). Explanation of usage of the new While loop, with some examples is on the way as well.  Not to forget: the very useful integration of Go to Next/Previous State in advanced actions: you'll get a tutorial for a user controlled or non-controlled presentation as well.

    TIP: for complicated actions with many decisions of all types, I add an extra character to the name: '..._S' for a standard decision, '...._C' for a conditional IF decision, and '...._W' for a conditional while loop. Easier to identify.

    If you have questions, issues with the Advanced actions of any kind, please fire away!


    Captivate 2017's gems

    Intro

    About two weeks ago Captivate 10, now labeled Captivate 2017 was released. If you did visit my blog in the past, you know that I prefer to wait a while before posting my first impressions. My focus is also more on the non-hype features added in this release, I call them the 'hidden' gems. Some are mentioned in the documentation, some not.

    Retina screen - software recordings

    Captivate 9 was the first release which could be used on retina screens. However to record a Video Demo or a Software simulation you did have to edit the AdobeCaptivate.ini file. It was a solution, but bit cumbersome. After the capture process you had to edit that same file again to be able to use Captivate on that screen.

    Tip: when using Windows 10 as OS, be sure to check the Display setting before recording a Video or a Software simulation. Bu default it will be set to a number higher than 100%. To record you have to reset it to 100%.

    In Captivate 2017 this is no longer necessary, thanks to the Adobe team!

    Advanced Actions enhancements

    The Advanced Actions dialog box has been refurbished, and many will have emphasized that it is now easier to combine standard with conditional actions. Personally I don't find that so important because the condition 'IF 1 is equal to 1' worked as well, but much more has changed. I will post an article later explaining the changes in the dialog box more in depth. 

    Enhancements Decisions

    The existing functionality for multiple decisions in former versions has been preserved: adding decisions, moving decisions, duplicating decisions. The buttons got another look as you can see on this screenhot. There has been added two extra time savers,  if you have a lot of decisions in one advanced action:

    • A dropdown list showing all decisions, and allowing you to navigate and select  a decision (Section 3, to the right)
    • A control panel to scroll to the next, previous decision, and to the Last and First decision (Section 2, to the right).

    Added commands

    I am very happy that the commands 'Go to Next State' and 'Go to Previous State' (one of my first feature requests when multistate objects appeared) are now available in the list with commands in the Advanced Actions. In Captivate 9 there were only available as simple actions (Actions Tab dropdown list). This improves efficiency quite a lot, as you will see in the example movie below.

    While loop

    It has taken a 'while' but finally we have a looping possibility in Advanced actions, no longer needed to switch immediately to JavaScript. In combination with the command 'Delay Next Actions.... ' a lot is now easier in advanced or shared actions. Just one pretty easy example: create a countdown animation by combining a counter variable, a while loop, an effect and that Delay command. While loops can be combined with standard and conditional decisions as well.

    Example movie

    This short example has two slides:

    • First slide shows a countdown animation and a progress bar. That slide is using the new While loop. Use the Start button to see the animation. When the animation is finished you'll get a Reset button. Here is a screenshot of the used action (Preview). .
    • The second slide is using the "Go to Next State" command both for the text items and the images with the sticky character. Use the Continue button to go to the next state. When all states have appeared, you'll get a Reset button.

    Test this movie out, if Flash player is enabled in your browser:

    You can download the published HTML5 version from this link.  You'll have to unzip the folder, and launch the index.html file.

    Typekit integration

    Finally we have access to the Typekit Library (I'm used to it using CC applications)! In the example movie I used two fonts which I already acquired with a CC subscription (Fira Sans and Rosario), but Typekit also has a free license. You have to check it out, time to get away from those limited set of websafe fonts. When publishing with Typekit fonts, you'll need to add a domain name. For testing purposes you can choose for 'Local host'. If you are collaborating on a project, you'll have to be sure that the collaborators have a Typekit license as well. In that case when opening a Captivate project, Tk fonts will be synchronized on their system.

    Responsive projects

    A lot of articles and tutorials have been published already to acclaim the use of Fluid boxes in responsive projects. However I am also happy that the 'old' way with Breakpoint views is still available as well. If you upgrade a responsive project from a previous version (8 or 9), it will automatically show in the Breakpoint view mode, since the development has happened in that mode. After two weeks with Fluid Boxes in CP2017 I don't have enough experience yet to judge their full power. My first impression is that the kind of project will indicate (dictate?)  the choice of the development work flow:

    • Fluid Boxes mode development will be a big timesaver for text-heavy projects. No need to check all text container styles for font sizes in all breakpoint views, no need to adapt the margins, leading to have text fitting in a text container on any mobile device.
      The continuous slider to see the changes for all possible browser resolutions is great!
      The design of a responsive theme with fluid boxes needs a different set of mind: how to set up the grid with Fluid boxes in content master slides. 
      The minus point of working with Fluid boxes is that you lose some control. My teacher's experiences learned me that you cannot use the same layout on a smartphone as you use for a laptop or even a tablet screen. That will make using Fluid boxes not appropriate for all courses. If you are a die hard designer, maybe you will not like the way that objects will be handled when the browser resolution changes? 
      Objects in a Fluid box are essentially in a 2D space: you cannot have overlapping objects. That is the reason why the Help explains that Zoom objects, Highlight Boxes and Click boxes are not allowed in a FB. The line object and mouse objects are excluded as well. However you can use them in a static Fluid box.

    • Breakpoint mode development is a lot more work, but gives you more control for layout differences between devices and for design. You can have overlapping objects, and with the exception of the Rollovers almost anything can be used.

    Tip: to switch to Breakpoint view development use this option in the Project menu:

    The possibility to change a normal (blank) project to a responsive project is a much asked for, very useful addition. The reverse is not yet possible, responsive to non-responsive.

    After some more experience with using Fluid Boxes, my opinion could change of course. Anyway I am persuaded already that the customisation of the theme is more important than ever. If you wonder why, maybe have a look at this article: 'What is in a Theme/Template?'

    More?

    This personal view on the new features/enhancements in version 2017 (10 under the hood) is based on a limited time of exploration. In a future blog post (or showcase) I will give more details about the creation of the example movie. As promised, the overwhelming number of buttons and features in the new Advanced Actions dialog box will be the subject of another tutorial. At least, if you find this useful?







    Interactive Video Buttons

    Intro

    When I posted the article about Pausing the Timeline (part of the sequence of articles about that most important panel), I promised to add some use cases to illustrate using pause and pausing points. Let us start with a  simple use case, based on a recent forum question in this thread: Interactive Video Buttons


    Use Case - description

    It is clear that the user is not aware of the difference between pausing the timeline by an interactive object (pausing point) and by the command Pause. The idea is that the learner, while a video is playing, can launch a popup that has some static content (text, images...). While that popup is opened, the video should pause. On closing the popup the video should resume playing. The user proposed to have a close button for that purpose, which is the easiest solution (Scenario 1 below).   hyperlink instead of the close button as I described in this article: More is in a hyperlink - Close button

    It could also be done with defining the open button as a toggle button Scenario 2).

    For both scenarios it is necessary to insert the video as a multi-slide synchronized video to be able to control the video with Captivate functionality. If you insert the video as event video it will play totally independent from Captivate.

    Scenario 1 

    In this scenario the popup will appear with one button, and be hidden by another button or hyperlink. 

    This makes it possible to have two actions, simplifies the setup: no need for a variable, no need for a conditional action. You can use two standard actions. If you want multiple buttons and popups, or expect to be using this work flow in other projects, I strongly recommend to create shared actions instead of advanced actions. This article will describe only the advanced standard actions.

    Have a look at the setup of the slide. Look at the Timeline panel. It has only 3 objects (from bottom to top: video, shape button, popup). In the screenshot the shape button SB_Info is selected. It will open the popup 'Info'. Look at the Timing properties of the button. The option to pause is unchecked (which is not the default situation), the shape button is timed for the rest of the slide. The result is that the button will be active for the whole slide, there is no inactive part. 
    The popup in this example is a shape used as text container, labeled 'Info'. That popup has to be invisible in output (eye icon in the Properties panel). If you expect that the slide can be revisited,  a better approach is to use the On Enter event of the slide to hide this popup 'Info'. To close the popup I preferred using a hyperlink over a close button.  The popup is ta single object. If you prefer to have a 'real' close button, you'll end up with two objects (text +  button). In that case you can group them, to reduce the number of commands for showing and hiding.

    Standard Advanced Action ShowContent

    This action is triggered by the Success event of the button SB_Info as you see in this screenshot:

    After showing the popup (only one text container, can also be a group), I choose to disable the button SB_Info. If you want it to more user friendly, you can add a custom state 'Inactive' to that button and change to that state. This will avoid confusion for the user, some may expect that button to be a toggle, which is not the case in this first scenario. The last command will pause the timeline unconditionally, resulting in both video and audio to be paused.

    Standard Advanced Action CloseContent

    to be triggered by the hyperlink over the big X character:
    if you prefer a Close button, this same action will be triggered by the Success event of that button; you can use exactly the same action. If you are using a responsive project, or HTML5 output only, the work flow with a button is to be preferred because the hyperlink event is not to be trusted with HTML5 output.

    It is a similar advanced action (use the duplicate feature), with three commands which are the opposite of those in ShowContent: Hide (was Show), Enable (was Disable), and Continue which will release the Playhead, both video and audio will resume.

    Scenario 2 

    In this scenario aToggle button is used both for opening and closing the popup.

    In that case you can use an approach similar to what I explained in: 1 action = 5 toggle buttons
    It is a little bit more complicated because:
    • You need an extra custom state for the popup button which indicates that it changes to a close button after having opened a popup:
    • You'll need a variable to track the status: I will use v_visib, a Boolean, with value = 0 when the popup is not visible,
      and value = 1 when the popup is visible; since I used a shared action from an external library, that variable is created automatically.

    • You'll need a conditional advanced action to be triggered by the Success action of the button:, this is the advanced action version created based on the shared action:

    More Possibilities

    An interactive video will often be spread over multiple slides, to offer navigation buttons to different parts of the video. It is not a problem to have the scenarios available on all slides: time both the button and the popup groups for the rest of the project, always on top.

    I mentioned the possibility to group a close button with text, but groups with more objects are possible as well: image, shape, animations. Group all together, hide the group On Enter for the slide, and you only have to replace the single object in the scenarios above by the group. 

    Turn the actions into shared actions, and keep them in a separate project. You can open the Library of that project as an external Library in future projects. Especially the toggle action, it will save time because you don't have to create the user variable.

    Future use case, example of Pausing the timeline, will be about audio. It is more complicated because there are several ways to use audio in Captivate, perhaps I will need more than one post.

    Reference/Registration point in Captivate?

    Intro

    The origin of this article is (again) due to a forum question: "I want to rotate a triangle around a certain point" using the Rotation effect. It is time to explain the importance of the reference or registration point for objects in Captivate. In other Adobe applications like Illustrator, InDesign, Animate you have lot of control over that point. Look at this small screenshot: it shows that reference point in two different locations. Sorry for the low resolution, it is very small in Illustrator: left image shows the reference point in the left center, the right image at the bottom right. It was that last point that was wanted by the OP in the forum, but ... Captivate doesn't allow changing the reference point.

    Reference points Captivate

    The Reference/registration point in Captivate is used in different situations. In some situations it is located at the top left corner of the bounding box, in other situations in the center of the bounding box. The 'bounding box' is the rectangle surrounding the object or the object group. You'll see it during editing, when selecting an object or a group.  The visual presentation of that box on the stage is not looking always exact, it can look larger than it really is. The correct size (px) of that box can only be seen in the Options tab of the Properties panel. 

    Location, resizing, rotating

    The X and Y value in the Options tab are the coordinates of one of the registration points: the top left corner of the bounding box, as you can see in this screenshot:

    The red lines in this screenshot are guides. The dotted square is the bounding box. The blue circle indicates the first reference point, which is top left and has its coordinates in X and Y in the Options tab. If you uncheck the 'Constrain Proportions' option, and increase the Width (W) or the Height (H) you'll see that the reference point will not move, increasing width will move the right border of the bounding box, increasing height will move the bottom border.

    However, if you use the Rotation button on the stage, or the Rotation option in the Options tab, the used reference point is no longer the one indicated by the blue circle, but the center of the bounding box, which is indicated with a white circle in the screenshot. Same point is used for Flipping and 90° rotation buttons in the Options tab. The reference point will (weirdly) not change in the X, Y coordinates when you rotate an object as is visible in the next screenshot: you see that the X/Y still references to the blue circle center, which is no longer part of the bounding box of the shape:

    Aligning

    If you align two or more objects (use the Align Toolbar which you can open by Window menu) the result can be surprising. Have a look at this first screenshot: I kept the rotated arrow, added a rectangle with exactly the same width (300px), and having the reference point at the same X value. That means that the center point of both shapes has the same X value as well, centering the shape will not move them.  In a first test, I selected the arrow first for alignment (see right image in screenshot). 

    The result for left align is to be seen in the left image: the most left point of the bounding box of the arrow has been used as reference. When the bounding box is turned off, there seems to be no 'alignment' between the shapes. The second image looks better.

    Same alignment rules when you use grouped objects instead of single objects. The bounding box of the group is what matters.

    Effects

    For all effects the center point of the bounding box (white circle in the very first screenshot) is the absolute reference point. It is the case for all categories of Effects. Especially for motion effects, the new Guides are very handy to locate the start, end and intermediate points of the motion path as I showed in this post: Guides Rule!.

    That was the original question which I mentioned in the introduction: how can you rotate an object, not around its center but around another point.  Since version 9 it is possible to apply an effect to a group. You cannot have individual effects for objects that are grouped (which is a pity). But in this case effect on a group provided a workaround for this particular question: 

    • Add an object that is 'invisible' to the end user, like a shape with a Fill Alpha = 0 and a stroke = 0.
    • Group that object with the object to be rotated, in such a way that the center of the group bounding box coincides with the rotation point you want to use.

    This sounds more complicated than it is really. Have a look at this visual presentation: the wanted rotation point was the right bottom point of the triangle. Duplication of the triangle with rotation provided me with that 'dummy' object which I made invisible to the user (here I added a light grey border to make it visible):

    The red lines are guides which will not be visible on publishing. You see in this screenshot that the bounding box looks bigger than it really is, because its exact size is indicated by the red guides.



    Using Quizzing System Variables

    Intro

    In my last post I mentioned that, based on the visits to my blog posts, Quizzes in Captivate seem to be one of the stumbling blocks for newbies. Most of the quizzing blog posts with focus on default quiz slides are already pretty old. More recently I have been talking about new features like Branch aware and Knowledge Check Slides. The most visited post will be updated to accommodate the changes in a near future. This article will offer you some ideas about using the specific quizzing category of system variables. If you ever downloaded the full list of system variables, you will have seen that these variables are read-only, at least if you are not a JS expert. As a bonus, you'll find a downloadable list with Quizzing System variables which include my personal comments and links to blog posts where I have used those variables.

    This article is an introduction to the use of variables, the use cases are not complicated at all.

    Using read-only Variables

    Quizzing System variables are read only, but you can use them in two ways, which I will illustrate by a couple of use cases later on:

    1. To show information to the learner, by inserting them in a text container, which can be a shape or a text caption.
      All variables are case sensitive, for that reason I recommend strongly only to insert variables using the X button in the Character part of the Properties panel for the text container. In the dialog box you choose System variables (default is User variables), eventually the category (Quizzing) and pick the correct variable from the dropdown list. It is also possible to limit the number of characters (set to 5 in this screenshot):

      Since text containers including variables have to be generated on runtime, contrary to the static text containers, it is wise to use only websafe fonts which was not the case in the screenshot above.

    2. To use them in an advanced or shared action for multiple goals, like changing navigation, calculation, skipping slides etc.

    You will see some use cases for both situations in this article.

    Use case 1: add information on question slides

    This use case has been explained in an older article (Buttons on question/score slide), but here you'll see a refurbished version using new features which have appeared since that old version: hyperlink, multistate object, shared action, toggle command.

    The idea is to insert system variables in a text container that appears on the first question slide, is timed for the rest of the project, always on top. Since all embedded quiz objects have priority in the stacking order (z-order, order of the layers in the timeline), you have to make sure that the custom text container is not covered up by embedded objects. For that reason I edited the size of feedback messages on the quizzing master slide, to make room for the (green) text container:

    This text container can remain permanently on the question slides, always available, or you can use a shape button to trigger its appearance. That button is visible in the screenshot as a green button with the label 'i'. It is also inserted on the first question slide, timed for the rest of the project. This shape button has an extra custom state 'Close', visible on the next screenshot, to turn it into a real toggle button. The action used for this shape button is the shared action described in '1 action = 5 toggle buttons', and a user variable v_visib is used in that action.

    You see the inserted system variables cpQuizInfoPointsscored, cpQuizInfoPointsPerQuestionSlide and cpQuizInfoNegativePointsOnCurrentQuestionSlide. The result on runtime, when the toggle button has opened the info text can be seen in this screenshot:

    To be sure that the information is closed by default On Enter for each question slide, I used an On Enter action for each question slide, which will be shown in use cas 3


    Use case 2: Custom Score slide

    You can turn on/off fields in the default Score slide, but you can also replace the inserted fields by your text and system/user variables. Look at this example in editing mode:

    You see again a lot of embedded system quizzing variables: cpQuizInfoPointsscored, cpInfoPercentage, cpQuizInfoTotalQuizPoints,  cpQuizInfoTotalCorrectAnswers  and cpQuizInfoTotalQuestionsPerProject. Moreover there is one added user variable v_penalty, which I'll explain in use case 3.

    On runtime it will look like this screenshot:

    This score slide is taken from the same example file. Since both the text information container and its toggle button were timed for the rest of the project, you have to take care of hiding both On Enter for this score slide. I used this standard advanced action:


    Use case 3: Calculation total Penalty

    Although there is a system variable (with a very long name) cpQuizInfoNegativePointsOnCurrentQuestionSlide, no exposed system variable is available containing the total penalty of the quiz, which is the opposite of the maximum number of points , cpQuizInfoTotalQuizPoints. If the user misses all answers, he'll get a negative score equal to that total penalty. Since it is not available as an exposed quizzing variable, I will have to calculate it.

    For that purpose I created a user variable v_penalty with a start value of 0. The On Enter event of each question slides was used to trigger this standard advanced action (shared action had no sense because same action is valid for each question slide):

    The first 3 commands take care of resetting the toggle button (SB_Info with the variable v_visib) and hiding the text information container (Tx_Info).

    The Expression command is using cpQuizInfoNegativePointsOnCurrentQuestionSlide to calculate the present amount of v_penalty. It may seem confusing that I'm using '+' as mathematical operator: reason is that the system variable always shows a negative number. You don't have to believe me: have a look at the second screenshot in use case 1. 

    More use cases - download

    I wanted to keep it simple in the described use cases, introduction to the use of variables. Download the pdf with description of all quizzing system variables from this link

    The table has 6 columns:

    • Variable name
    • Variable type: a variable can be empty, a Boolean (only values are 0/1 or T/F), a number, text or undefined.
    • Explanation which is sometimes bit different from the explanation found in the Variables dialog box
    • Default value
    • Comments: my personal comments
    • Blog posts: here you'll find quite a lot more use cases, I mention the blog posts where the referenced variable has been used

    In this screenshot you see part of the first page:

    Conclusion

    I'm waiting for your comments. Do you see ways of using those system variables in your projects? Do you have questions, use cases that you cannot figure out if they are possible? Fire away.

    Challenges for Starters

    Intro

    Seven years ago I started blogging about Captivate (with version 4 - 5). Most subjects are more advanced, you'll find many use cases for advanced and shared actions. Meanwhile I also have spent thousands of hours on the Captivate forums, answering questions ans solving issues. Moreover I am busy as a Consultant and a Trainer (for Captivate and other Adobe applications), both in live and online classes. Based on the combination of those 'Captivate' experiences with my former career as college professor, I planned to write this article to line up the three most important Challenges for any Captivate developer, especially for newbies.  It doesn't matter whether you are developing software simulations, soft skills training, responsive or normal projects, if you master those Captivate features you'll feel more comfortable and save a lot of time. Bonus for me: less questions on the forums :). Imagine standing before this natural stone porch, in the middle of the most beautiful desert in the world. You got that Captivate license, but how to start, where to go?

    Challenge 1: Timeline

    Why?

    Captivate's Timeline is without any doubt one of the first stumbling blocks for Captivate newbies. This observation is based on the many problems popping up in forums and social media, on my experiences with consultancy and while offering basic training. It is not the normal timeline that you have in video applications, or in animation apps. It shows all objects at once on the stage, timeline is per slide, not for the whole project. Lot of reasons to be confused. Pausing the timeline by a command or by an interactive object is THE key to building interactivity in a Captivate course which is the main reason why you have chosen for an eLearning authoring tool instead of a video capturing tool. Understanding the Timeline and being able to control should be the first priority of any Captivate learning (and training) process. How do you stop this touareg caravan ;)?

    Resources

    Nothing can replace a live (or virtual) training for this challenge, but recently I published a sequence of 5 articles on my blog and in the eLearning Community to clarify this subject.  Here are the links, not in the 'logical' sequence which I used for publishing, but ranked by importance:

    Pausing the Timeline, why and how?

    Captivate Timeline(s) in cptx-file demystified

    Introduction

    Color codes and shortcut keys

    Captivate Timeline in cpvc (Video Demo)


    Challenge 2: Quiz

    Why?

    Captivate quiz and score slides have pretty strict rules. A lot of functionality is built in the quizzing and score master slides. The two-step Submit process, the priority of the embedded objects cause a lot of problems for starting Captivate users. That explains why every blog post I ever wrote about Quizzing is very popular. Most of them, even after many years, are still visited daily. The challenge here is about the normal Quiz slides, not custom Quiz slides that are created using standard objects, widgets, variables and advanced/shared actions. Those custom question slides are challenging for intermediate/advanced users (watch out for a later blog post for those users). Drag&Drop slides, used as Question slides can be included in the starter's challenge because they make a quiz more engaging.

    What a relief when the car transporting our food and cook was found after a long quest:

    Resources

    Some of these blog posts do need an update, although most of the information is still valid

    Question Question Slides - part 1     with the new Review buttons in Captivate 9 the confusion Next-Skip is gone

    Question Question Slides - part 2

    Knowledge Check Slides

    Drag&Drop tips

    Drag&Drop Captivate 9 - InBuilt states


    Challenge 3: Theme

    Why?

    It is one of the most hidden gems in Captivate: design of any project can be streamlined when using a custom Theme. A theme includes all object styles, master slides, skin and defaults for software simulations. All are based on a (custom) Theme colors palette, which can even be applied to most Learning Interactions. Creating or editing a theme before starting any project may seem a waste of time, but I guarantee that it will save a lot of time in the process. Small changes to the design, so often asked for, are done in minutes. In many circumstances a well-designed theme makes templates superfluous. 

    Architects of Macchu Picchu knew very well how to prepare 'design' of their city. Sorry for my adding the acronym TQT (Timeline, Quiz, Theme):

    Resources

    Here are some links to get you started with Themes and Theme colors:

    What's in a Theme/Template?

    Theme Colors


    Conclusion

    This was my personal view on the stumbling blocks for Captivate starting users. I am not pointing to any step-by-step work flow which may seem astonishing. My focus is on what is often causing the most frustrations for the so-called 'newbies', whatever their experience with other applications. As a college professor I used Flipped classes long time before the word was invented: do not spend valuable training time by explaining processes that can easily be found somewhere (videos). Students do not need a trainer for them. Spend class time by taking away obstructions that are slowing down the learning process.








    Captivate Timelines: color coding and shortcut keys

    Intro

    This last article about the Timeline is sort of a bonus for those who want to know 'everything' about the timeline panel. The color codes can be a quick visual help to recognize object timelines, and I personally use the shortcut keys quite a lot to avoid the many mouse movements to the different tabs in the Properties panel. 

    If you have problems with the used terminology, maybe you missed some information from this articles, already published:

    Captivate's Timelines demystified - Intro

    Video Timeline demystified (cpvc)

    Captivate's Timelines cptx-project

    Pausing Captivate's Timeline (cptx)


    Color coding

    The color coding is the same for master slide timelines and slide timelines.  The hexadecimal code is just an indication because a lot of the timelines have a gradient fill..

    • Audio timeline: dark grey (about #4E5156)
    • (Master) slide timeline: beige (about #DBD7CE)
    • Placeholder objects: orange (about #DCC399) with some exceptions (Content/Rollover Caption/Rollover Image)
      • Content Placeholder: light blue (about #AFD7FF)
      • Placeholders for Rollover Caption/Image: green (about #BFDD8B)
    • Static objects: light blue (about #BEE8FB). Static objects are Text Captions, Text Animations, Shapes (not used as button), Highlight Boxes, Web objects, SVG's, Images, Videos, Animations, Characters, HTML animation. There are some exceptions
      • Rollover Caption/Image have the green color like for the placeholder (about #BFDD8B)
      • Rollover Slidelet is sort of a hybrid, between static and interactive: is also green (about #BFDD8B)
      • Zoom object: also green (about #BFDD8B)
      • Static widget/interaction: also green (about #BFDD8B)
    • Mouse object: beige like the slide timeline (about #DBD7CE)
    • Interactive objects: green (about #BFDD8B). Those include the buttons, click boxes, Text Entry Boxes, Shapes used as buttons, Learning interactions (static and interactive)
    • Effect timelines: light red (#FBDAE1), turning to darker saturated red (#F584A7) when selected

    • A selected timeline, with the exception of the slide audio  at the bottom, and effect timelines will always be blue (about #99BCBF)

    Shortcut keys

    I love shortcut keys, once published my favorites for moving/resizing objects (which are still functional). The timeline panel has also several shortcut keys, which can save time because you don't have to switch to the Properties panel all the time. Some of the shortcut keys also work for Effect timelines, but not all.
     

    Zooming : Zooming in/out has to be done with the slider at the bottom of the Timeline panel. No shortcut keys are available.  

    Spacebar or F3: alternative shortcuts for the play button on the timeline panel or the option Play Slide (confusingly stored under the big button Preview). This method (no Preview) can be used for editing timing, for synchronizing. Use this 'Play slide' (or scrub) to position the Playhead, and you can then easily synchronize start times of objects with this Playhead position. Inserting an object when the playhead is at a certain frame will result in having the object timeline starting with that frame.

    HOME/END: moves the playhead to the start/end of the slide timeline

    CTRL-E: to extend the duration of a selected object till the end of the slide.
    This shortcut key is not valid for individual Effect timelines

    CTRL-L: to move the start of an object timeline to the Playhead position, a great way to have multiple objects appearing on the same moment  (still waiting for CTRL-R to align end of timeline with playhead)
    This shortcut key is not valid for individual Effect timelines but they'll move automatically with the object timeline   

    CTRL-P: to move the start of an audio timeline to the Playhead position

    LEFT/RIGHT arrow: moves start of an object timeline 0,1sec in the indicated direction. Applied effect timelines move with the object timeline. Shortcut keys also work for audio timelines
    This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting they can be moved independently from the object timeline

    CTRL-LEFT/CTRL-RIGHT arrow: moves start of an object timeline 1sec in the indicated direction (also audio timelines), applied effect timelines will move along.
    This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting they can be moved independently from the object timeline

    SHIFT-LEFT/SHIFT-RIGHT arrow: decrements/increments duration of slide timeline or object timeline with 0,1sec. Applied effect timelines will not be changed. This means that an effect timeline could end up being outside of the object timeline; in that case the effects will play but not with the intended duration or start.
    This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting you can increase/decrease the duration of the effect timeline independently from the object timeline

    SHIFT-CTRL-LEFT/SHIFT-CTRL-RIGHT: decrements/increments duration of slide timeline or object timeline with 1sec; same behavior for the effect timelines as described above.
    This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting you can increase/decrease the duration of the effect timeline independently from the object timeline

    Conclusion

    This was the last article in the (long?) sequence about Captivate's Timelines.

    I learned from the contacts with Captivate users, as forum moderator, trainer and consultant, that the Timeline is the most important stumbling block for starting Captivate users. For that reason I spent quite a lot of hours trying to assemble this 'soap' about it. Based about that same experience, and the statistics of my blog posts, I see two other similar issues causing problems to Captivate newbies. In the next article I will try to elaborate on those 'big' 3 and offer links to tutorials/articles that explain them in depth.