Navigation Help Slides

Intro

In this thread on the Captivate forums, a user asked how to configure navigation in a course with content slides and two help slides. The Help slides should be accessible from each content slide using a button. There is navigation possible between the two Help slides, and the user should be able to return to the content slide from where he started, from each of the Help slides.

Although there is a system variable cpInfoLastVisitedSlide, this cannot be used for this use case, because the user can navigate between the two Help slides. I explained shortly a possible work flow with a user variable and a couple of standard actions in the thread. Since the user told that he is a newbie concerning variables and advanced actions, I promised to write out a more detailed tutorial. This is certainly not a complicated use case! If you are an 'expert' in advanced actions, this is not a post to your taste.

Example project

This project has a Title slide, 3 Content slides and ends with two Help Slides.

Instructions are in the movie, try out the buttons.  You don't have a Back button on the content slides, but you can always refresh the browser to restart playing. Click on the Title slide to start playing:

Interactive objects/events

  • Slide 1 (Title) which uses the master slide 'Title', has a click box covering up the slide. It has the default action
     'Go to Next Slide'. 

  • Master slide 'Content' has the Help button (with the question mark): it is a shape button (no states at this moment in CP9) which triggers a standard advanced action 'ToHelp'. This master slide is used for the content slides.

  • Slide 2 (Content1): has a shape button for Next which pauses the slide at 2.5secs. This shape button is timed for the rest of the project, so that it will show up in all following content slides. A shape button on the master slide is excluded because this Next button has to be hidden on the last content slide. You cannot show/hide an object on the master slide, because it has no ID, no name. This Next button has been labeled 'SB_Next'. For this small example, it can look easier to have a Next button on each slide where it is needed, but if you have a lot of content slides, this approach will save on time and file size.

  • Slides 2,3 (content slides): to be sure that the Next button is visible, even when coming back from the Help slides, the On Enter event of these slides is used for the simple action 'Show SB_Next'. 

  • Slide 4 (last content slide): the Next button has to disappear, which is done with an On Enter action 'Hide SB_Next'.

  • Master slide 'Help': this slide has no interactive object, is used by the Help slides

  • Slide 5 (Help slide 1): has another instance of the Help button (SB_Next_Help) with the action  'Go to Next Slide'.
    This slide has a special shape button 'SB_Back1' to allow going back to the content slide. This button triggers a standard action 'BackToSlide'. This shape button has a bubble added in the Rollover state, which functions as Tooltip.
    The On Enter action for this slide is used to hide the button 'SB_Next' (from slide 2), same way as on the last content slide. Why? That button will already been hidden if the user comes from the last content slide, but not when he is getting here from one of the previous content slides.
  • Slide 6 (Help slide 2): has no need for a Next button, but needs a pausing Back button (to navigate back to the first Help slide) with the action 'Go to Previous Slide'. It has another instance of that special button ''SB_Back2'. I didn't opt to time that button for the rest of the project, because there are only two Help slides and having to hide/show them would have been more work than using two instances.


Variables and advanced actions

Variables

Two system variables are used in this example:

  1. cpInfoCurrentSlide: gives the slide number of the current slide. The index starts with 1, which means that for slide 1 this variable is 1.

  2. cpCmndGotoSlide: will be used to navigate the user back to the content slide. Beware: for this variable the index starts with 0. That means that slide 1 has to be indicated as 0, slide 2 as 1.

One user variable has to be created: v_last.  This variable will be used to store the value of cpInfoCurrentSlide when the user leaves the content slide to go to the Help slides. You do not have to define a default value for that user variable.

Standard actions

ToHelp triggered by the shape button on the master slide 'Content'

In the first statement, the slide number of the current slide is stored in the user variable v_last. Then the user is navigated to the first Help slide (slide 5), and I added Continue which is not always necessary, depends on the set up of the slides.

BackToSlide triggered by the buttons SB_Back1 and SB_Back2 on the Help slides

For the first statement an Expression was needed, because of the different index for the system variables cpInfoCurrentSlide and cpCmndGotoSlide. Example: if the user came to the Help slides from the third content slide, the variables would be:

  • cpInfoCurrentSlide = 4   because the third content slide is slide 4
  • v_last = 4   because the action ToHelp stored the value of the previous system variable in this user variable
  • cpCmndGotoSlide = 3  because this is the indicator for slide 4, since the index starts with 0; for that reason I needed to subtract 1 from the value stored in v_last

Overview

In the Advanced interaction you'll find a great overview of all the actions, events of the slides. Too bad: you'll not see the shape button on the master slide, nor its action.



What's in a Theme - a Template?

Intro

When trying to help Captivate users, I often bump onto confusion between themes and templates. Same confusion can be found in many training schedules and books. There has been a lot of evolution in Captivate since versions, slowly but steadily. Those are not the big hype features that were emphasized everywhere. You know that I often appreciate more the hidden gems, which help any developer to save time and frustration. This article will explain how I am creating custom Themes, and also why I am using Templates a lot less than in earlier versions of Captivate (before version 6). 

Theme versus Template

The goal of a Captivate theme is to keep a consistent design throughout your project. It can be 'applied' to any project, even after creation. Although most themes will be created for a certain resolution, when designed carefully it is not necessary to apply it only to projects with the same resolution. When you apply a well designed theme to a project, the 'look' will change immediately and you'll not have to edit the design a lot afterwards. A theme is saved in a file with extension cptm. You can have themes for a normal (blank)  or for a responsive theme. Captivate 8 and 9 both have several themes in the box, most of them being responsive themes. They show up as thumbnails when you click on the Big Button 'Themes'. Those Captivate themes are stored in the Public Documents, under the subfolder 'Layouts' of the 'eLearning Assets', at the same level as the Theme Colors palettes.

You can store your custom themes in this folder or wherever you want. The Thumbnails view (under Themes button) has a Browse button which allows you to navigate to any folder. I will mostly save a custom theme in the project folder when working for a client. But you see in the screenshot that I have a custom theme (CP8Theme) in the default folder. That folder is a copy of the original Layouts folder in the Gallery under the Captivate installation folder. If you ever have messed up one of the themes in the Public documents, you can restore it from that original folder. If you delete the whole Layouts folder in the Public documents, while Captivate is closed, on restarting the application a new copy of the original folder will be installed in the Public documents (see also my article: Keep your Customisation).

To save a theme you need to use the Themes menu, not the big button 'Themes'. Use the option 'Save Theme as' if you started from an existing Captivate theme.

template in Captivate has to be chosen before you create a project. You have to use the option File, New Project, Project from Template. This means that a template needs to have exact the same resolution as you want for your project. As for a theme, there is a difference between a template for a responsive, and one for a normal (blank) project. A template file has the extension cptl. When you create a project from a template, it will get the normal extension cptx. You can edit a template, and that will the only reason why you would save it again as a cptl. It is also possible to create a template from a normal cptx-file with the option 'File, Save As'. There is no 'reserved' folder for templates, Captivate has no included 'templates'. The term is often wrongly used: most Captivate 'templates' that you can find on the web, are just cptx-projects, not templates in the Captivate language. 

When a template is saved, the used theme, preferences etc are saved with the template. However you can always apply another theme later on. 

Components of a Theme

It is rather important to know what exactly will be saved in a custom theme. . Remember: if you ever want to use that theme in a responsive project, be sure to create the theme in such a project. I will list up the components in the logical sequence to be followed when editing or creating a custom theme :

1. Theme colors palette

The start point for design consistency in a project is guaranteed by the consequent use of a Theme, which starts with the creation of a palette with 10 colors that will be used for object styles, master slides, skin, and within learning interactions. I have written some articles about the creation of a Theme colors palette:  Colorful 2015  and   Theme Colors. Beware: it is no longer possible to save an ASE file with Adobe Color (as described in the first article): that means that the Swatch Manager is not very useful anymore. My recommendation is to ignore the Swatch Manager and focus on the Theme Colors Palette, which is available in any Color Dialog box.
When saving a theme (using the Themes menu), the used theme colors palette will be saved with the same name. In the mentioned articles you'll find a way to save a theme colors palette independently from a theme as well.

2. Object Styles - Object Style Manager

Most design-oriented applications have a work flow for creation and use of styles (Word, InDesign, Framemaker). All experts and good trainers will tell you to use styles, and to avoid overridden styles. Captivate is no exception in that world: it has a great Object Style Manager to be found under the Edit menu (or by using the the shortcut key SHIFT-F7). Object styles can be saved individually, have the extension cps, only useful in case you want to export/import such an individual style. In most use cases you'll save all the object styles necessary for a project in a custom theme, no need to export/import styles anymore as was the case before themes appeared in Captivate.

If you are working on a responsive theme: first define the breakpoint views you want in the theme, before launching the Object Style Manager. In the styles you will be able to define the look for the breakpoints that are available in the project.
Make some decisions about which objects you'll be using in the theme as well. Just an example: if you prefer using shapes instead of captions for feedback messages, capture messages etc you do not need to change all the caption styles. A similar situation exists for normal buttons vs shape buttons. 

Some tips:

  • Use only colors from the palette defined in Step 1.
  • Do not hesitate to change one of the (grayed out) styles between brackets [Default...]. You can overwrite those styles, since you are working on a custom theme. Those are the styles that will be applied immediately when you insert an object. Another approach is to clone a style and set it as Default style. The problem is that you'll end up with tons of custom styles, which makes selecting the proper style in dropdown lists not easier. That is why I always change existing default styles. 
  • For buttons: the InBuilt states Rollover and Down are available together with Normal  for change in the OSM, do not forget to check/edit those states. This is valid for Text Buttons, Image Buttons and Transparent buttons.
  • For shapes: you cannot define a default style for text and another default style for buttons (too bad), but any shape style that you define should include InBuilt states (Normal, Rollover, Down) because any shape can be converted to a button.
  • Quizzing objects are in a separate category. Quiz buttons cannot be replaced by shape buttons (yet), but you can define an individual object style for each quiz button. Feedback captions can be replaced by shapes.
    Feedback captions and shapes not always use theme colors in the default Themes included with Captivate. Be careful: if you want to have consistent colors in your project, you'll need to check those styles.
  • It is not possible to define real Effects in an Object style. Only the 'old' Transitions can be defined.

3. Master slides

The Object styles defined in step 2 - at least the default styles - will immediately be applied to the objects on the Master slides.  If it doesn't look well, you can edit the object style and redefine it, while working on the objects in the Master slides (It can be done with the Properties panel). Be sure to make all added objects responsive (check all the breakpoint views) on the master slides. 
Each theme needs at least 6 master slides (Blank Master slide, 4 Quiz master slides and a Score master slides), besides the main master slide, but you can create as many master slides as you want. You can add different type of placeholders on master slides, but be careful with the 5 master slides for Quiz: the embedded objects (without individual timeline) have a lot of functionality built in!

Some tips

  • Use the new Rulers to assist you for designing master slides: Guides Rule!
  • If you ever will use the theme for software simulations: keep a real Blank master slide, because it is used both for software simulations and for PPT import. You don't want those slides covered up with other stuff.
  • Remember that shape buttons can be used on master slides, they can have actions. This can be a big time saver for custom buttons like the ones from these posts: Toggle buttons   and Replay slide button
  • Do not forget to label the master slides

4. Skin

Use the theme colors palette to customize the skin: playbar, borders and Table of Contents. You can even insert a logo on the TOC and eventually custom expand/collapse icons.

5. Recording defaults

This is only necessary for themes (also) to be used for software simulations. Although you have set up Default object styles in step 2, you still have to indicate which styles have to be used when capturing simulations. Just one example:
  • Create a default style for the highlight box in step 2: with a big bright red stroke and outer fill. Set it to display as default highlight box style.
  • Open Preferences, Recording, Defaults and check the default Highlight box style: it will still be set at the original default style in the original theme. Bit annoying, but it also allows you to save two different sets of object styles within a theme: one for normal slides, and one for software capture slides.

Do not forget to save the theme (using the Themes menu)!


Do you need a Template?

I ask this question often everywhere: with all the design power and flexibility of a custom theme, why would you still need a template? Before themes existed, I used templates to be able to reuse variables and advanced actions (see: Template for reusing script). With the present version of Captivate, we have shared actions which I store in a separate project to be used as external library in any project. Variables, used in those shared actions, get copied automatically when the shared action is dragged into the Library of the new project.  When you copy an object, that triggers an advanced action, the action will be copied along when pasted into another project. 

I used templates to have footnotes on each slide, pointing to the name of the project, showing the slide number and the total amont of slides. But now you can put them on master slides, using system variables or user variables that can be populated later on. 

When would I use a template in Captivate 9? For courses that have several modules, where you want to have some slides in common, maybe have custom navigation/control buttons that cannot be put on the master slide, but need to be timed for the rest of the project. I would rarely use it to have placeholder slides, unless some team members need to have that assistance. Lot of placeholders have fixed object size, which can just be annoying. If you do have a lot of advanced actions (maybe variables), that cannot be replaced by shared actions, identical entries in Project Info, variables not included in shared actions: those would be situations where I would think about creating a template.


Conclusion

I hope this post did clarify the difference between a theme and a template. If you ever see somewhere my question 'Do you need a template', this will no longer be a mystery, right? 





Guides Rule!

Intro

Did you hear me yelling 'Finally' when the last patch for Captivate was released to version 9.0.1.320? We have now Rulers in Captivate and real (Adobe) guides. I am using that name because they are quite different from the existing Smart Guides which are useful when aligning objects. Moreover the implementation of the Rulers and Guides is really very nice,  Kudos to the Captivate engineers!  Just one example: in responsive projects you can choose to have rulers in Percentages instead of pixels, which is the most logical choice! In this article I want to explain you the reasons for my joy, showing you how I use Rulers and Guides.

Grid

Maybe you don't remember that old grid, which is still present in Captivate 9. It consisted of tiny points, with a default distance of 16 px. You cannot change color of those points (black), which makes that grid useless on dark backgrounds. You can change the default distance between points from 16px to another value, but always the same horizontally and vertically. Personally I remember that distance mostly because it will define how much an object will move or resize when you use CTRL in combination with arrows as shortcut keys (see my old blog post: Shortcut keys for moving/resizing objects). Since many years I didn't use the feature for what it was meant to be used: as a 'grid'. If you just now discover its exitence: turn on the 'old' grid, using View, Show Grid.There is a snapping linked to it as well, which you can turn on/off.

A grid can be very useful in some circumstances!  With the new Guides you have now a powerful alternative: create a custom grid, with lines instead of points, maybe with different distances in horizontal/vertical direction, and use a custom color that stands out from the background. It can be especially useful for responsive projects because percentages instead of pixels  I recommend to lock the guides after creation of the grid. Your grid will be saved with the file, you can show/hide the grid whenever you want.

Here is an example of such a grid, created with the option Multiple Rulers in a blank, normal project:

You can see that the guides were used to have identical symmetrical arrows to the left/right side, to define a space to be left for CC later on, and a top margin. The settings in Multiple Rulers can be seen in this screenshot:

For a responsive project, I would mostly limit the grid to vertical guides, because it is the width that is most important for the design of such a project. Here is a screenshot for a responsive project, with guides in increments of 10%, extra guides at the left and right side at 45% (margins). Only one horizontal guide at 50%. I dragged out an extra guide to 10% for the title.

Theme/Template design

A grid, as described in the previous section, will help a lot when designing master slides - third step in designing a custom theme (after the color palette and the object styles). Of course you can add extra guides, as I showed already in that same section: to indicate margins, to show the center lines etc, space to keep free for custom navigation, control panel, CC etc.
Sometimes you'll need a template on top of a custom theme (which provides all necessary design features) because you need a fixed resolution and custom content: recurrent information, variables, advanced actions, assets in the Library, placeholder slides. For such a template rulers and guides can help as well to create a consistent look for all the future modules that will be based on that particular template.

Motion Paths

If you ever created custom motion paths, which has become much more interesting in Captivate 9 where we have three types of custom motion paths, you know how difficult it is to adjust start and end points to a specific location. I remember the example that I created for this blog post:

Reset Effects

All the cards followed a custom motion paths but had to end up in a stack. My work flow was bit cumbersome:

  • create a "cross hair" using a horizontal and a vertical line object in a group
  • position that group on the exact location, using the X coordinate of the vertical line and the Y coordinate of the horizontal line
  • adding a motion path (no curved, I used the zigzag motion path) to each card, and drag the end point carefully over the crosshair
  • saving that motion path as a custom path
  • applying it in the necessary advanced action

Now I can use a horizontal and a vertical guide, which I can exactly position without using the Options tab with coordinates. Just double-click on the ruler on the exact coordinate that you want.

Watch this screenshot: the thee shapes move each along their individual motion path, but they end at the same location (and paths cross at another location). 

Custom shapes

SVG are a big new feature, but they don't have (yet) the flexibility of shapes which can be used as text container, as button and filled with a texture, and image, a gradient all on the fly. Although Captivate is not meant to have all the editing features of a vector graphics application like Illustrator, you can create pretty nice custom shapes. Any included shape can be converted to a freeform shape, you just have to edit the points and tangent points. 

How can guides help with this process? Have a look at this screenshot. The creation of this symmetrical shield (or highway sign) was lot easier with the help of the rulers when editing the points and tangent points.:




Drag&Drop in 2016 with Captivate 9

Intro

As promised in a previous article, I explored the enhancements to Drag&Drop in Captivate 9, more specifically added InBuilt States. In previous versions only buttons and shape buttons had those states. Captivate 9 added multistates to all objects and provided InBuilt states for all objects in a Drag&Drop slide: drag sources and drop targets. Custom states can be added as well. Both InBuilt states and custom states have some limitations similar to the Inbuilt states for buttons. Drag&Drop objects have also limitations for added custom states.

Example Movie

Watch this movie, I left the default play bar active to allow you free navigation. You'll find two Drag&Drop slides with different use cases on slides 4 and 5:
  1. The first use case has only two drag sources, one of them being correct, the other incorrect. There is one drop target, the cup. Watch the different InBuilt states both for the two drag sources which have identical states and for the drop target. All states are introduced on slides 2-3. All objects have also one custom state. Because of my manipulation of the states on Submit, the default Reset button will not return you to a fresh start if you have used the Submit button. You'll have to use the custom 'My Reset' button in that case. 

  2. In the second use case you'll see 7 drag sources and 2 target objects: the box and the trashcan. You are supposed to drag all sources to the appropriate target. You'll find the 'My Reset' button here as well.

Drag Sources: states

The Drag Sources have 5 InBuilt States (see slide 2 in movie). Common to all those states and to the custom states is that you cannot add any object in a state. All the options on the Big Button Bar (horizontal toolbar) are dimmed with the exception of the Record button (for audio): no Text objects, no Shapes, no Higlight boxes (under Objects), no Media can be added to any state. Here is a short description of each state, of its functionality and limitations. As a visual reminder have a look at the Gallery, which shows those states for the first use case
  1. Normal state (InBuilt): is the Default state. This state will appear before dragging, and will re-appear if a drag source is sent back to its original position as well (for an incorrect object). The size of this state is important, because several states are locked to the same size. You can rotate the Normal state (watch the rotate handle at the top), which will also lock some of the states to the same rotation.
  2. Dragover state (InBuilt): this state appears when the drag source is over a drop target and will remain so until the object is dropped on or moved away from the target. This state is not locked, it can be resized and rotated.
  3. DropAccept state (InBuilt): will appear after dropping a drag source on the drop target, it will replace the Dragover state and become permanent. It is totally locked (watch the lock symbol bottom right): will keep the same size as the Normal state, cannot be rotated. Be careful: if you allow all drag sources, both correct and incorrect, to be dropped on the target, the DropAccept state will also appear for correct and incorrect objects! If you only allow the correct drag sources to be dropped, this state will only appear for them.
  4. DropReject state (InBuilt):  will appear after dropping an incorrect drag source on the drop target if the target is not set to allow All objects to be dropped. It will replace the Dragover state. When the incorrect object is sent back to its original position, the DropReject state is replaced by the Normal state. Like the DropAccept state this state is totally locked: no resizing, no rotation possible
  5. DragStart state (InBuilt): this state appears when you start the dragging movement until you are over a drop target, where it will be replaced by the DragOver state. The state is not locked, it can be resized and rotated.
  6. Custom state: this state is also fully locked to the rotation and size of the Normal state. As written before, you cannot even add objects in this state (which is possible for buttons). That is a limitation, in many cases you'll want to revert to the old method of hide/show objects. For this example it seems as if I added the image of the wings, but I'm just cheating: for all states I used smart shapes. That way I was able to change the form of the shape (Replace shape), to change its fill and stroke. For the InBuilt states I used gradients or solid colors as Fill, for this custom state I used Image Fill. Since a shape can also be used as Text container, it was possible to change the labels of the states as well. If you are not yet member of the Smartshape fan-club, maybe... :)


Drop Targets: states

The Drop Targets have 6 InBuilt States (see slide 3 in movie). Three of those states have a name that is identical to an existing state for the drag sources: DragOver, DropAccept and DropReject. For Drop Targets you can add objects to all states, both InBuilt and custom states. Some states appear immediately, other states only appear after Submitting the exercise. Here is the overview, again with a visual reminder from the first use case in the example movie.

  1. Normal state (InBuilt): is the Default state. This state will be the main state before the Submit button is clicked. It can be replaced by another state but that will only be for a short duration. The size of this state is important, because several states are locked to the same size. You can rotate the Normal state, which will also lock some of the states to the same rotation.
  2. Dragover state (InBuilt): this state appears when a drag source is over the drop target and will remain so until the object is dropped on or moved away from the target. This state is not locked, it can be resized and rotated.
  3. DropAccept state (InBuilt): will appear after dropping a drag source on the drop target, it will replace the Dragover state. However this state will remain visible only for a short duration. Then the Normal state will re-appear. The reason is that a drop target can accept multiple drag sources, and has to be ready to 'accept' or 'reject' the next drag source.  It is totally locked: will keep the same size as the Normal state, cannot be rotated. But, as told, you can add objects, which was the case in the example movie (adding the wings).
  4. DropReject state (InBuilt):  will appear after dropping an incorrect drag source on the drop target if the target is not set to allow All objects to be dropped. It will replace the Dragover state. The state will appear for a short duration before reverting to the Normal state. State is  It is totally locked: will keep the same size as the Normal state, cannot be rotated. But, as told, you can add objects, which was the case in the example movie (adding the wings).
  5. DropCorrect state (InBuilt): this state will appear after Submit if the drag source(s) dropped on the target are all correct. It will replace the Normal state permanently. The state is fully locked (to the Normal state): no rotation nor resizing is allowed. You can add objects.
  6. DropIncorrect state (InBuilt): this state will appear after Submit if the drag source(s) dropped on the target are not all correct. It will replace the Normal state permanently. The state is fully locked (to the Normal state): no rotation nor resizing is allowed. You can add objects.
  7. Custom state: this state is also fully locked to the rotation and size of the Normal state which is limiting even though you can add objects.  

Reset - My Reset

The default Reset button has been added to both use cases (slide 4-5). This button can only be used to reset before submitting the result. I added an extra button 'My Reset', which is really the Replay2 button described in a previous blog post. If a D&D slide is not included in a quiz, has not score it will be reset when you re-enter the slide. This is what I'm doing, getting back to the last frame of the previous slide, then continue. That may result in some flickering, depending on the bandwidth, but the D&D will be totally reset. The mentioned blog post explains the need for a user variable v_enter to store the first frame number of each slide with an On Enter action. 

Setup Use Case 1

Have a look at the Timeline of this slide:
There is only one correct answer: DragSource1 to Target1. There is an object action for this correct answer, to change the state of the other drag source to the Custom state, as you can see here:
Setup is almost the default set up: Snap behavior will change the size and the opacity of the dropped object to 70% (size) and 80% (Opacity), and snaps to the center (Anchor). There is one attempt allowed, and the actions on Success and Failure are visible here:

The advanced action DDSuccess4 has three statements:

Due to hiding the drag sources with this Success event, the On Enter action of the slide has to 'reset' the situation by showing the group Gr_Draggers again. This was combined with the assignment of the user variable v_enter for this slide in the action:


Setup Use Case 2

Have a look at the Timeline of this slide:
Effects are time-based, starting after the pausing point of the Drag&Drop (1.5secs which is default). Back and Next buttons have no pausing point in this slide. When the playhead is released by the Success event, it has to continue seamlessly to the end slide 6.

For the correct answer all Christmas balls have to be dropped either in the box (2, 0, 1 and 6) or in the trashcan (3, 4 and 5). There are no object actions in this use case. 

For setup of both drop targets size and opacity of the drag sources will change to 0% to have them disappear in the target. You can see that the actions on Success and Failure are very simple:
Even the on Enter action of this slide can be a real 'simple' action to have the correct frame number assigned to the user variable v_enter:





Replay (slide) Button

Intro

This pretty short article will explain several ways to create a button that will replay a slide from its first frame and is functional on that slide only. The reason is that I have been asked about this use case multiple times. 

Questions

First thing to check is: does this slide have an On Enter action? The default On Enter action for a slide is 'No action'. On Enter actions are however the way to go if you want to reset a slide to its initial configuration, to clean up the 'mess' that can happen on that slide by the user or by the interactivity on that slide. On example: maybe the user has popped up objects  using a hyperlink on a word or iimage? In that case you'll need an On Enter event. The action needed for a Replay button will have to make sure to 're'- enter the slide, in order to have that On Enter action done. To better understand what I mean, I created a short example movie.

Example movie

Watch this movie, which I have been testing both for SWF (version here) and for HTML5 output. You'll see two slides:

  1. Slide 'Title': it has an On Enter action to play an audio clip.

  2. Slide 'Pills': a user variable v_counter is used (and displayed) to store the number of clicks on the 'pills'. The timeline of this slide looks like this

    Each of the pills (shape buttons) triggers a shared action, that will show a state (with explanation), increment v_counter, wait for 2 seconds before releasing the playhead.

On both slides you'll see two buttons: 'Replay1' will restart the slide from its first frame, without re-entering the slide. That means that the On Enter action is not executed again. The second button 'Replay2' will re-enter the slide. Listen and watch the difference (look at the counter on the second slide). Refresh the browser when you are ready to watch this example. Refreshing will also get you back to the start of the movie.

'Replay1' - On Enter action is not repeated

If you do not need a resetting action On Enter, a replay button can be coded very simple. If you are on the slide with the label 'Intro', this simple code will do the trick:

    Jump to slide Intro

However you'll not find the slide 'Intro' in the dropdown list for the 'Jump to' command in the Actions tab. You need to choose 'Execute Advanced Action', and create a one-line standard advanced action.

It is simple but I do not recommend to use this work flow. It means creating a new advanced action for each slide. A first alternative would be a shared action, defining the slide name (or number) as a parameter.

If you need this action for many, even all slides in a project, there is a much better work flow. Create this advanced action:
  
Why do you need an expression to subtract 1 from the number of the current slide, which is stored in cpInfoCurrentSlide? The index of the system variable cpInfoCurrentSlide starts by 1 That way it can be inserted on a slide indicate the slide number. Its value for slide 3 is '3'. To show the slide number you insert cpInfoCurrentSlide in a text container on the master slide or timed for the rest of the project.

The index of system variable cpCmndGotoSlide starts not by 1, but by 0 (usual in programming languares). If you want to navigate to slide 3, you have to give a value '2' to cpCmndGotoSlide.  So far the reason for that Expression in the advanced action Replay1.

This command is functional both for SWF and HTML5 output. I tested this in several browsers.

This action is triggered by both Replay1 buttons in the Example movie. The On Enter action is not executed with this Replay, which results in:
  1. For slide 'Title': the audio clip will not be heard.
  2. For slide 'Pills': the variable v_counter is not reset to 0, and will continue to increment.
Watch the variables I inserted top left of the slides: they show the current frame, and the frame number stored in the user variable v_enter.  If you wonder why the frame number never starts with 1, read the explanation under the next subject 'Replay2'.

TIP

be sure to create this action as a shared action, no need to define the system variables as parameters. Store that action with much used shared actions in a separate project. In any project you can open the Library of that project as an external Library and drag that Replay action to the library of the new project.

Replay2 - On Enter action is repeated


As explained under 'Questions', you'll have to enter the slide in this case, not just jump to the first frame as was done with the Expression in the scenario for 'Replay1'.

This is a bit more complicated. I had to use 'micro-navigation', a term introduced by me in this old  blog post: navigating between frames. Look at the advanced action created for the 'Replay 2' buttons:
This is the work flow:
  • Create a user variable v_enter that will be reused on each slide that needs a Replay button of this kind. That variable will store the number of the first frame of the slide. To achieve that I have to add a command to the already existing On Enter actions. Here are the actions for both slides:

  • When the Replay button is clicked, there is first navigation to 2 frames before the first frame of the present slide. Why 2? Theoretically 1 frame should be OK, but for HTML5 output (slower) I learned that it is better to use
  • Although I use the system variable cpCmndGotoFrameAndResume for navigation, which should release the playhead and navigate very quickly to the next slide, I detected that adding the second command 'Go to Next Slide' made the process more fluent (again for HTML5 output). 
The result is very clear in the Example movie:
  1. For slide 'Title': the audio clip is played
  1. For slide 'Pills': the variable v_counter is reset to 0.

Frame enigma - TIP

If you watched the frame number closely, you will have seen that the 'first' frame (on slide 'Title') is not 1 but 3 or 4. Here is the explanation: since I wanted the Replay2 button to be active on this first slide, I needed a slide before that first slide for the micro-navigation. That slide will not be visible to the user because it is only 0,1 sec long. At a frame rate of 30fps, that means ...3 frames.



1 action = 5 Toggle Buttons

Intro

In the past I wrote some posts about creating Toggle buttons. The oldest article explained the use of an Expression and a system variable for a button that kept the same style but could turn on/off a functionality (created for versions 5/5.5). My excitement about shape buttons, appearing in version 6, was the inspiration for several scenarios in which the style of the toggle button changed with the on/off situation. 

When shared actions appeared with Captivate 7, I posted some articles about the difference with advanced actions. Captivate 8 enhanced shared actions by allowing variables and literals as candidate parameters. Although Captivate 9 seems not to add any improvements to shared actions (had hoped secretly for an easier way to edit them), combining shared actions with the new multistate objects will save a lot of time. The use case described here is a good example. Start by watching the example movie to understand my interpretation of Toggle buttons.

Example movie

This movie has 4 slides, the third slide shows the toggle buttons. Try them out, there are two instances of the shape button that toggles the visibility of an image or a group. They use a different user variable. Beware: images do overlap on the slide. The other shape buttons are muting/playing audio, showing/hiding Closed Captioning, Table of Content and Playbar. I choose shape buttons over normal buttons because they offer more freedom for styling the InBuilt states. To navigate to the last slide you have to 'toggle' on either the playbar or the TOC for navigation.

Concept 

All toggle buttons have in common to be associated with a variable that can be toggled by the developer: I'm talking about Boolean variables, which can have only two logical values '0' (False/No) or '1' (True/Yes). Both system and user variables are possible. On this screenshot you see the Timeline with the 6 shape buttons, labeled to identify their functionality (SB is my indication for Shape Buttons):

Variables

The associated variables are in the same sequence as on the timeline, from top to bottom:

  • v_visgrp (user variable with Default value = 0) for SB_visib_group

  • v_visib (user variable with Default value = 0) for SB_visib

  • cpCmndShowPlaybar (system variable with Default value = 1) for SB_Playbar

  • cpCmndTOCVisible (system variable with Default value = 0) for SB_TOC

  • cpCmndCC (system variable with Default value = 0) for SB_CC

  • cpCmndMute (system variable with Default value = 0) for SB_Audio

This list shows that one of the system variables doesn't have '0' as default value, cpCmndShowPlaybar. Solution for this discrepancy can be found in switching the states for the associate button, or in switching the variable itself to '0', thus hiding the Playbar. I used the second scenario: with the On Enter action for the third slide I did Hide the Playbar, which toggles cpCmndShowPlaybar to 0

The shared action can be used for any button with such a, associated Boolean variable, system or user variable. Some examples are shown in the last slide of the example movie: cpLockTOC or a user variable to toggle an audio object.

States

The shape buttons have three InBuilt states: Normal, Rollover and Down. For each button I added one custom state. That state will change the shape button to show the 'OFF' state, and if necessary additional objects are added in this state. In this screenshot you see the 4 states for the shape button SB_Audio:

This shape button has a SVG added in each state. At this moment SVG cannot be used as a Fill image for a shape button (maybe in a next version?), they are separate objects. For some states I also changed the style of the shape itself (Fill):

  1. Normal: has a SVG indicating you can mute  audio (since cpCmndMute has a default value of 0, which means that audio is playing)
  2. Rollover: Speaker only (SVG), Fill different
  3. Down: Speaker only (SVG), Fill different
  4. AudioOn: has a SVG indication to play audio; this will be the state that is visible when audio is muted, cpCmndMute = 1.

The buttons SB_TOC, SB_CC and SB_Playbar have a similar setup: for the InBuilt states text was inserted in the shape. The custom fourth state adds two line objects (cross) over a duplicate of the Normal state. Look at the screenshot for the SB_Playbar:

Both instances of the Visibility toggle button use SVG's to change the style of the shape button (similar to SB_Audio), but they add other objects for the 4th custom state as you can see here:

Shared Action

The action has to be conditional, checking the value of the Boolean variable. Only two commands are needed, both in Then and Else part: to change the state of the shape button itself and to toggle the variable. Toggling the variable between 0 and 1 will switch the functionality between On and Off. If you write this out as an advanced action, in this case for the Audio button, it would look like this:
When creating a shared action, it is important to identify the parameters. Compulsory parameters in this action are:
  1. the button itself (SB_Audio in the screenshot above)
  2. the state 'Normal' which is used and
  3. the state 'AudioOn' which is used as well

Candidate parameters are:

  1. The variable cpCmndMute: it has to be a parameter, because we need other Boolean variables for the other buttons
  2. Literal '1': because I choose the 4 th state (custom) for each button with this action in mind, it is not necessary to define this literal as a parameter

This leads to the definition of the shared action with 4 parameters, the compulsory and one candidate parameter. In this last screenshot you see the parameters with their values for another button, SB_Playbar. Watch the description of the parameters.

Conclusion

In many situations using a Captivate playbar is not a good choice, and with states, one single shared action from your script library it is now really simple to create not only Next and Back buttons, but also every other toggle button needed on the course slides. If using shape buttons (as was the case here) you can put them on the first slide of the course, time them for the rest of the project. They will have each a unique ID, which allows you to take control of those shape buttons, to hide them when they are not needed on some slides. Good luck!








Playing with Captivate 9

Intro

There are some time slots left for a personal free consult at Las Vegas (29-30 September). Have a look at Peer-to-Peer advice  and fill in the form.
 
Version 9 has been released about 10 days ago, while I was on vacation. My fans know that I seldom will post immediately a 'full' review, because I want first to play around a little bit, to try out some reported new features before offering my personal reflections and tips. You will not read anything about the new Quiz features, nor about the enhancements to Responsive projects today, maybe later on in another article. There is too much to write about!

First project

No better way to get the feeling of new features than to create a real project from scratch. In the following movie (only one slide) you'll see that I recreated a slide that was posted in the first article about shared actions. I didn't upgrade the project, didn't use the objects, nor the actions/variables from the old project. If you watch it closely, you'll detect that I used:

  • new states work flow, both for static and interactive objects
  • imported SVG's and roundtripping with Adobe Illustrator
  • Effects 2.0 with custom curved motion paths
  • new commands in Advanced/Shared actions

I will offer some tips about those 4 major new features when you have played with this slide. Refreshing the browser will allow you to restart the movie. Of course I discovered also some little gems hidden between the big diamonds, while exploring. 

Example movie

Multiple States

In Captivate 8 it was possible to create 3 states for shape buttons, both in the Object Style Manager or individually using the Properties panel, Style tab. In this example you did see that the 'default button states' (Normal, Rollover, Down) can even have a different label, not only a fill and a stroke applied to them. Look at this screenshot of the Object State panel for the central oval shape button in the movie. Watch the default states (marked by red rectangle) and the extra 4 states I added to end up with 7 different states. 

For the four extra states I used SHIFT-CTRL-ALT-Z to Duplicate State a couple of times. You'll find the option also in the right-click menu on a state.

Drag&Drop objects also have InBuilt states, but will blog about Drag&Drop in a future post.

Hidden gem

In the Object Style Manager (I saved the style for that central shape button) the different default states for shape buttons show up, just like for any normal button. They were also saved in the OSM for Captivate 8, but not displayed in this 'cool' way :)

SVG - Illustrator roundtripping

I call this the (until now) missing link in the beautiful bracelet of Adobe applications that allow you to create amazing eLearning courses: Captivate, Photoshop, Audition, Edge Animate, Edge Inspect and now finally Illustrator!! Scalable Vector Graphics, contrary to bitmap images, do not suffer from quality loss on re-scaling. Moreover for simple graphics the file size is incredibly low, which is certainly an advantage when you are creating for mobile devices. Beware: file size can be large if you have complicated graphics. Look at this screenshot: I used 8 SVG's - they end up in a dedicated folder in the Library:

You see the usage in the Library as for other assets. Example: the SVG ManGreen has been used 4 times, in the 4 states of the central shape button.
The man-SVG's are very small, but the lightboxes with text are using a complicated filter and size is much bigger. The settings used in Illustrator to save these files as SVG are visible in the next screenshot. To preserve the font, you have to convert it to outlines.

Effects 2.0

The previous Effects panel is gone! Effects timelines are now embedded under the object to which they apply. Live preview with the Play button in the Timeline (or use Space bar), you can have all motion paths on different objects visible at the same time. That makes life so much easier. Curved motion paths are possible. When you hover over an effect in the Effects part of the Timeline panel, you'll see a preview of that effect. This works even with custom saved effects:


Hidden gems

  1. You can use the same shortcut keys for effect timelines as for the object timelines to increase/decrease its length. That is a valid alternative for typing in a value in the Timing panel or for dragging with the mouse. Example: right arrow key will move the whole effect timeline 0.1sec to the right, CTRL-Right will move over 1sec, SHIFT-Right will increase the timeline duration with 0.1sec. All arrow combinations shortcut keys described in this old article: TinyTimeline Tidbits are functional. I regret that CTRL-E, which extends the duration till the end of the slide has not been included for Effect Timelines. Neither does CTRL-L move the effect timeline to the playhead position, it will move the object timeline with the Effect timeline even if the Effect timeline is the selected one.

  2. For the custom motion effects (scribble, curved, line) start with the cursor over the present location of the object, and the beginning of the path will snap to the center point of that object (more precise: the center point of the bounding box).

  3. You can uncheck 'Show motion paths' if your screen is getting too crowded, look in the Timing panel just above the fields for Effect Start and Effect Duration. BTW you can increment the values in those fields using arrow keys: UP for 0,1sec, SHIFT-UP increments to the next full second. Field has to be selected in that case. If field is not selected you can use the typical Adobe scrubber.

New Commands

These commands have been added:

  1. Go to Next State: only available in the list for simple actions, for all events

  2. Go to Previous State: only available for simple actions, for all events

  3. Change State: available for simple, advanced and shared actions. This command needs two paramaters: the object and the state; for a shared action both will be compulsory parameters. I used this command a lot in the example movie, both in a conditional advanced action (on the central shape button) as in a shared action triggered by the four bubble shape buttons.


  4. Delay Next Actions by: finally you will be able to time commands in the sequence for standard/conditional advanced and shared actions. This new command takes one parameter: the amount of time which can be a literal or a variable. In the next screenshot you see that I used it to play the audio clip after the custom effect (with a duration of 1.2secs) has been finished. That parameter is a 'candidate' parameter, not compulsory, when you use it in a Shared action. For more information about parameters see the article Parameters in shared actions. The situation is the same in Captivate 9 as it was in Captivate 8.
    Personally I am very excited about the this new command, which allows better control over timing by advanced/shared actions. 

Hidden gem

Also about timing, not a new command but an improvement of the command Apply Effects in an advanced/shared action: you can now add values for the Start time and the duration of the effect.

More Small Gems

  1. Drag&Drop until Captivate 8 didn't have a Success Caption by default. I explained a workaround in Drag&Drop Tips. You can forget about that tip in Captivate 9, Success caption is now available. It uses the default Success Shape or Success Caption style, depending on your Preferences and theme.

    Objects used in Drag&Drop similar to interactive objects, have also 'Inbuilt states'. That is not a little gem, will post a new Drag&Drop Tips article for version 9 in the future


  2. Intelligent naming of copy/duplicate. In former versions, a copy or duplicate of an object in the same file or in another file would get a generic name. In Captivate 9 if you copy/duplicate an object with a meaningful name the copy will keep that name with an added underscore+number. Big improvement, and now you have even more reasons to set up a good naming convention for your projects. Look at this screenshot: this is a copy of the central shape button to another file:


  3. Simple action feature: another popular post (and a Youtube video) can be dropped in the trash can for Captivate 9 but I don't regret it at all. You no longer have to create a standard oneline advanced/shared action (or use micro navigation) to prevent the playhead from continuing. Just check the box that is highlighted in this screenshot:




Dynamic Buttons

Guidance

If you’re planning on attending the Adobe Learning Summit, DevLearn, or both this fall, read on….   (If you can’t make it this year, there’s a consolation! Skip to the bottom of this post to get a tip about dynamic buttons.)

Most of you know that I frequently blog and post about Adobe Captivate. Well, Adobe has given me the wonderful opportunity to offer free in person peer-to-peer Captivate project help at the MGM Grand Las Vegas on September 29th and 30th. Since I’m flying from my home in Belgium to present at the Adobe Learning Summit, this is a great chance to meet and help you face to face, not virtually.

My friend and fellow Captivate user, Alice Acker, will host this event. To see as many Captivate users as possible, we’ve limited each appointment to a maximum of 30 minutes.  If you are part of a project team, we can accommodate your team at the appointment. These times are designed to limit disruption of your Adobe Learning Summit or DevLearn schedule. We’re co-located with the conferences at the MGM Grand, so there is no need to Uber or bike to us. We’ve made this super convenient for you.

Please bring me your most headache-inducing project, and I’ll do my best to solve your quandaries.  Since these spots are limited, make sure to sign up now with your top 3 appointment choices. The slots will be filled on a first come, first served basis. We’ll do our best to schedule you for one of them. If you just want to drop in to say hi, I’d love to see you. But, please make sure that you register so we get an idea of how many Captivate users to expect.

Once you’re successfully registered, you’ll get an email confirmation of your appointment, directions to the session, and a link to upload the project. It will really help if I can review it before the session. All information will be kept confidential. What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.

Looking forward to meeting you. Tot weldra in Vegas!

Lieve a.k.a. Lilybiri

This is the link to the registration form Form to complete


Dynamic buttons

In the archive you'll find several articles about shape buttons, which appeared with version 6. I used to call them 'chameleon', because they can be useful as shapes (images), text containers, buttons, and recently also for the automatic feedback text appearing on question slides and with interactive objects. Maybe you are not yet aware of this aspect of shape button? You can insert a variable as a label on the button. On runtime the value of the variable will appear. That value can be changed by actions, and the label will change in that case, hence my title 'Dynamic'. Some ideas to use this feature?

  • Localisation: if you use custom shape buttons on master slides (or timed for the rest of the project) to replace the play bar, you can change the label on those buttons based on the language choice. If the language is chosen from a dropdown list (learning interaction) or with radio buttons (learning interaction), insert the variable associated with that interaction. Combine this with the work flow explained in Branch Aware Quiz

  • Custom Question Slide: if you want to allow a limited number of attempts, you can add the attempt number on the Submit button, or you can change the label to 'Continue' after the last attempt. Of course you'll need a companion conditional action to change the functionality of the button as well.

  • Navigation: if you use shape buttons on the master slide, they cannot be hidden/shown. But you can change the value of the variable that acts as label on each slide. Using a Back/Next button, put a null value to the label on the first slide for the Back button, and change the Next button to an Exit or Return button on the last slide (you'll need to create a conditional action in that case as well).


Windows 10

Just a short warning: do not hurry with upgrading to Win10.  Be patient, Captivate 8 is not guaranteed to be fully functional in this new OS. Personally I will wait to see eventual issues on forums and in groups.

Matchstick Game - shared actions

Intro

This post is inspired by a question on the Captivate forum, have a look at this thread: 'Advanced actions for a Matchstick Game'. After reading the question, I accepted the challenge. Some advanced actions are used, mostly to reset the game, but the two 
most important actions are shared actions. It is also a good example for a lot of tips I have offered in this blog:
  • Setup of a labeling system that makes it easier to choose parameters when applying a shared action.
  • Sequence of statements and decisions in a conditional action is very important because Captivate will always evaluate each statement and decision in sequence.
  • Choice of optional parameters for a shared action.
  • Using On Enter Slide events to reset variables and objects.
  • Using groups to simplify advanced/shared actions.

Game - rules

You can play the game:
  • goal is to create a word from the initial set of matchsticks by removing some of them;
  • clicking on a matchstick will remove it and a ghost image will appear instead of the original matchstick
  • you can reset the matchstick by clicking on the ghost image
  • maximum number to be removed is 6; you will be warned when you reach that number
  • you can try to remove a seventh matchstick, but I consider that as cheating :)
  • you have a Restart button

Objects - Labeling

The game is on one slide after the intro-slide. This is the Timeline panel:

From bottom to top you see:

  1. Gr_Match: group with the images of the matchsticks. For labeling I divided them in 3 groups. I_MS_11 is the most left matchstick of the first group, I_MS_22 is the upper matchstick of the second group, I_MS_35 is the bottom one in the third group, etc. Those numbers will also be in the names of the Outlines, the Click boxes and the associated variables. This group is initially visible.

  2. Gr_Outline: group with the grey ghost images (outlines). Same labeling discipline: I_OL_11, I_OL_22, I_OL_35,...This group is initially invisible

  3. Gr_Txt: which is expanded on the screenshot has the three messages that are used in the game. This group is initially invisible.

  4. Gr_CB: group with click boxes over the matchstick images+outlines. They follow same labeling system: CB_11, CB_22, CB_35...

  5. Bt_Restart:  the button to restart, reset everything

  6. Tx_Task: the title

  7. Tx_Rules: the explanation

Variables

To track the status of each matchstick, I created a boolean variable with initial value of 0 for each of them. Labeling is similar to those for the images, outlines and click boxes: 

  • v_11, v_12, v_13, v_14, v_15   for the first group

  • v_21, v_22, v_23, v_24, v_25   for the second group

  • v_31, v_32, v_33, v_34, v_35   for the first group

Three extra variables were needed:

  • v_moves: will track the number of removed matchsticks

  • v_correct: will track the number of correctly removed matchsticks

  • v_visit: needed to track if the intro slide is visited for the first time; a jump to that slide is used in an advanced action to reset the game

Actions

Advanced actions

I will not explain the simple and the 2 advanced actions, article would be too long. In a planned cookbook for shared actions I will explain everything in depth:
  • EnterIntro: conditional advanced action with two decisions that is triggered by the On Enter Slide event for the first slide 'Intro'. It will check the value of the variable v_visit and jump to the second 'Game' slide if it is not a first visit. 

  • ResetGame: a standard advanced action is triggered by the Restart button Success event, and by the On Enter Slide event for the second slide 'Game'. It will reset all the variables and restore the initial view of this slide (no outlines, only images).

  • Simple action 'Go to Previous Slide' is triggered by the On Exit event of the second slide 'Game'.

Shared Actions

Two shared actions are used:
  1. MatchStickNOK: to be triggered by a click box over a matchstick that should NOT be removed. This shared action is used  9 times. It is a conditional action with 3 decisions: 'Doing', 'Checking' and 'Cheating'. In the screenshot you'll see this action, with as an example parameters are set to the '11' matchstick. That is a matchstick that should in this case trigger the second shared action.
    This shared action has 6 parameters. The only optional parameter is highlighted in this screenshot, it is the tracking variable v_x associated with the matchstick. No need to define the other variables (v_moves, v_correct) nor the literals as a parameter.



  2. MatchStickOK: to be triggered by a click box over a matchstick that should be removed. This shared action is used 6 times in this particular example. The first three decisions 'Doing', 'Checking', 'Cheating' are pretty much the same as for the previous shared action, with one exception: increment or decrement for the variable v_correct. This shared action has a fourth decision 'End' that will display a Success message if all correct matchsticks are removed. Since this can only happen when the user removes a correct matchstick, this decision was superfluous for MatchStickNOK action. The sequence of decisions is very important: the condition 'IF v_moves is equal to 6' (decision 'Checking') will also be True if 6 correct matchsticks have been removed, but the commands in 'End' will override those of 'Checking' because of the sequence. There are two screenshots here:

    This shared actions has 7 parameters since the Success Message has to be added. Only optional parameter that was upgraded to a real parameter is again v_x, the tracking variable associated with the matchstick.


Enhancements

I hear you! How will it be possible to use those shared actions for a Matchstick Game with another setup? I have some ideas, what about you? Please post your suggestions in a comment.





Dropdown Interaction - tips

Intro

Recently I published some tips about learning interactions, including an explanatory table. The use case in that post showed how to use checkbox and radiobutton interactions. Last week, a user asked a question about the dropdown interaction, which he used for a custom question slide: How can I check if the user has chosen an item? That is not difficult for checkbox and radiobutton, because their associated variable will be empty, but the situation is different for the dropdown interaction, hence this tutorial.
The most common failure that I detect on debugging advanced/shared actions with multiple decisions are due to a wrong understanding of the validation of those actions:
  • all decisions will be checked from left to right
  • there is no way of jumping out of the action when a correct condition is met.
In the use case from the example movie, that sequence behavior is very important!

Dropdown interaction

The properties dialog box is pretty limited:

In this example you see that:
  • entries are separated by commas
  • formatting allows to choose a font, font style and attribute (faux style), but font size is limited to 14pt maximum
  • the color dialog box doesn't show theme colors
  • the update button allows to see a preview of the look after formatting
  • if you want to validate the choice in the list, you need an associated variable (here v_drop); beware: you have to create the variable in the Variables dialog box
  • the first sentence mentions 'combobox' but as I understand the word combobox this is not correct: in a combobox you can not only choose from a list but you can type in a word (there was an older combobox widget), this learning interaction doesn't allow that.
Maybe you are bit puzzled by the first entry 'Choose a language'? Contrary to the radiobutton/checkbox interactions, the variable associated with a dropdown is never empty! By default it has a value equal to the first item in the list. In the example movie, you will see before choosing, and after resetting that v_drop is equal to 'Choose a language'.

Resetting: it is indeed possible since this latest version of Captivate not only to change the value of a variable by an action, but also to have this change reflected in the Display of the interaction. This new feature is used for the Clear button in the example movie.

Beware: for some reason, the first time you use the interaction you will have to click twice, first click to put focus on the interaction, second click to select item. Strange :)

Example Movie

This movie has only 4 slides. After the 'Intro'-slide you can choose a language on slide 'Drop'. Watch the variable v_drop that is visible in a text caption next to the learning interaction. You get 3 attempts to guess the correct language, reason for the variable v_attempts. The 'Drop' slide has two interactive objects: Submit and Clear. Try out Clear to see how the interaction is reset to its initial state. You can click Submit without choosing a language, you can choose a wrong language or the correct one. The third slide you'll only see when your answer is correct. If you exhaust the three attempts without correct result, you will end up at the 4th slide 'Retry', where you are able to get back to the 'Drop' slide and start guessing again.

Variables

Here is a screenshot of the user variables

As explained before v_attempts tracks the number of attempts and starts with value=3, v_drop is the associated variable for the dropdown interaction.

I used v_dummy, a variable containing the text  'Choose a language' out of laziness, to avoid having to type that text over and over again. Be careful: it has to be exactly the text in the first item, it is not possible to use a variable in the item list.

The variable v_groet is used on the third slide, to customize the text based on the current time of the user (cpInfoCurrentHour). The variable v_wrong is a Boolean (value=0) that will be set to 1 when the attempts are exhausted without finding the correct language.

Events and Actions

EnterDrop, triggered On Enter for slide Drop

This standard action resets everything on the second slide 'Drop': the group Gr_Feedback with empty, wrong and correct feedback messages (empty, wrong, correct) is hidden, group Gr_Bt with the two interactive objects made visible, variables v_drop and v_wrong are reset to the default values.

ResetAct, triggered by the Success event of the Clear interactive object

A standard action that restores v_drop to its default value and hides the group Gr_Feedback.

CheckSubmit, triggered by the Success event of the Clear interactive object

This conditional action has 5 decisions, one for each possible situation:
  1. EmptyDone if the user clicked on Submit without making a choice and it was the last attempt
  2. Empty if the user clicked on Submit without making a choice and there are still attempts left
  3. Correct
  4. WrongDone if the user choose a wrong language and it was the last attempt
  5. Wrong if the user choose a wrong language and there are still attempts left

The Sequence is important: if you put Empty before EmptyDone, it goes awry if it is the second attempt, because Empty would have decremented v_attempts and that means that EmptyDone would result also in a True condition, and user will lose an attempt. Same for WrongDone and Wrong, they cannot be switched. 

ExitDrop, triggered by On Exit event of slide Drop

Exceptionally I use the On Exit event, because in this case it will function perfectly. 
A simple conditional action, based on the value of v_wrong.

More...

There is a simple Jump to slide 'Drop' on the last slide. Resetting will happen with EnterDrop action.

The third slide has an On Enter action, to show the right caption based on the system variable cpInfoCurrentHour. 
Do you accept the challenge to figure out that (conditional) action? No need to use my tongue :)