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.  

Pausing Captivate's Timeline

Intro

This is the fourth post in a sequence of 5. The first post introduced features of all timelines, the second is focused on the specific aspects of the Video Demo Timeline, the third on the aspects of the normal/responsive projects (cptx) both for master slides and normal slides. To understand this article - perhaps the most important - I recommend to  read at least the first and the third article as a preparation. 

This topic is more suited for a live event: a real or a virtual training session. I expect a lot of questions, and those are easier to answer in a live event. I have presented several webinars for Adobe in the past (most about advanced and shared actions), but that practice seems to be discontinued since a while. If you want to participate in a meeting (Connect room), I'm prepared to organize it. Send me a note: either by mail (info@lilybiri.com), in the comments on this post, or use Twitter (my handle is @Lilybiri). In case of sufficient requests, I'll propose a date/hour (probably am PT, for users in USA) and will need an e-mail address for the invitations. As a bonus, will offer you some files.

Pause and Pausing points

Pausing the timeline means stopping the Playhead. However that can be done in in two ways, and they do not affect the items in the same way. Let me first explain what I mean by 'Pause' as opposed to 'Pausing Point'. You'll see that I compare them with two traffic signs: Pause with the red light, Pausing point with the Stop sign. But also in traffic, some 'items' do not respect those signs, legally or illegally. 

Pause 

This strict way of pausing can be achieved by one of these methods:

  1. With the pause button on one of the default playbars.

  2. By choosing the command 'Pause' to be triggered On Enter for a slide (doing it On Exit is not a good idea, because it will happen after the last frame, see previous post about events).  It can also be a (last) command in an advanced/shared action.

  3. By using the Success event an interactive object (like a shape button) with the command 'Pause' either as a simple command or within an advanced/shared actions. Usually it will be the last command. 

  4.  Alternative for 'Pause' command is to assign 1 to the system variable cpCmndPause (its default value is 0). This system variable controls the pause.

If you use a playbar, you'll see that the progress bar is stuck when Pause is encountered. To understand even better, I recommend to insert the system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame in a text container, displayed for the whole project (on top). 

UnPause?

You can use the Play button on the playbar, or need the command Continue, which is available as simple action and in the dropdown list in advanced actions.

Pausing point

Pausing points exist on some special slides, or you can add them by inserting an interactive object for which Pause the slide is activated in the Timing Properties panel. In many cases the pausing point will be visible on the Timeline (see previous articles), but not always. Contrary to the absolute pause, here the timeline is 'waiting' for an action by the user. For that reason the STOP sign is a better metaphor than the red light. Here is an overview of the pausing points, which will be visible on the Timeline:
  1. Quiz or question slides: the pausing point is visible on the slide timeline, but not in the Timing Properties panel. Only way to move is by dragging. Default timing is at 1,5secs, and pause cannot be unchecked. Pausing point is linked with the two-step process triggered by the Submit button. However when selecting the Submit button, you'll not see the pause in the Timing Properties panel (as is the case for the D&D Submit button). Waiting is here for the user to click the Submit button, then to press Y or click on the slide
  2. Score slide: same situation as for the quiz slides: visible in the slide timeline, not in the Timing Properties. Default timing is at 1,5secs. Pausing point is linked with the Continue button, but will not show in the Timing Properties panel of that button. Waiting here is for the user to click the Continue button.

  3. Drag&Drop slide: is pausing at 1,5secs but the point is not visible on the timeline. You will not see it in the Timing Properties for the slide, but in the Actions tab of the D&D panel. It is linked with the Submit button, when selecting that button the Timing properties panel will show the timing of the pausing point. Waiting for the user to click the Submit button, or in case of Auto Submit waiting for a correct answer.

  4. Interactive objects (click box, button, shape button, Text Entry Box) can have a pausing point, to be defined in the Timing Properties panel. That pausing point will be visible in the Timeline, and the part before the point is indicated as 'Active', part after the pausing point as 'Inactive'. Since a click box is invisible to the user, it has not inactive part, its pausing point will always be at the end of its timeline. Waiting is for the user to click either on or outside of the interactive object (click box, shape or normal button) or to confirm the Entry in a TEB. You can edit the pausing point by dragging in the Timeline or in a precise way by editing the Timing Properties panel. It is also possible to uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 3 in the Gallery).

  5. Shape button on a master slide can have a pausing point. Since objects on a master slide have no duration, no Timing Properties panel, you have to indicate that you want it to pause, in the Actions tab of the Properties panel (see screenshot 4 in the Gallery). You can uncheck the pause there as well. The pausing point will be at the end of each slide, based on that master slide. It will not be visible in the timeline
  6. Interactive widgets or learning interactions have a pausing point at 1 sec. It will not show up in the Timeline, you can find it in the Timing Properties.  Pause can be unchecked, but you'll not want to do that for this type of interactions.That is the place to edit or uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 5 in the Gallery). Static widgets/interactions do not have a pausing point. More info about difference  between interactive and static in: Widgets and Interactions

Bonus: You can download a (watermarked) pdf with this overview from PausingPoints.

UnPause?

It depends on the kind of pausing point:

  1. For Question slides: the playhead is released after the second step of the Submit process and the actions defined in Question properties will be done.

  2. For Score slide: similar, but after clicking the Continue button.

  3. For Drag&Drop: exactly the same as for the Question slides, after clicking the Submit button.

  4. For interactive objects on master or normal slides: if an advanced action is executed (Success/failure) the playhead is not released automatically. If you want this to happen you have to include a Continue or a navigation command like Jump to as last command in the action. If you use a simple action, the playhead will be released by default, but in CP9 it is possible to uncheck that default setting 'Continue playing the Project' (not done in this screenshot).
     

What is Paused?

Not everything is paused by the absolute Pause command, nor the Pausing points. Watch the interactive movie to understand better. Some items are never paused, some are paused by both Pausing points and the Pause command, some are only paused by the Pause command, not by the pausing points although there may be a workaround. 

The position of the playhead when pausing is important: objects for which the object timeline starts later than the pause will not appear until the playhead is released.

Same is the case for Effects which have a duration, a timeline: if the pause occurs while the effect is not finished, it will stall in the last position and continue only when the playhead is released.

Animations however are never paused, not even when you use the Pause command triggered by the On Enter event of a slide. They will always play.

Video clips inserted as Event video are totally independent: if they are playing when pausing, they'll continue to play. If a pause is occurring and the video is not yet started, the user will be able to use the Play button of the video control panel to watch the video. Video clips inserted as Multisynchronized video however will be paused by the Pause command and by a pausing point.

The situation is a lot more complicated for audio:

  • Background audio is totally insensitive to Pauses or Pausing points: it will continue to play.

  • Slide Audio: will automatically be paused by the Pause command, but not by a pausing point. It is possible to pause slide audio at a pausing point, to resume when the playhead is released if you check 'Stop Slide Audio' on the Options tab in the Properties panel of the interactive object.
  • For the default pausing points on quiz slides, score slide, D&D slides you cannot pause the slide audio however. This seems confusing, and can lead to a problem. Slide audio clips automatically will increase the duration of the slide. You learned that the default pausing point of this type of slides is always set to 1,5seconds. If the playhead is released with the command 'Continue', it will have to visit all the remaining frames on the slide, those frames in the 'big' inactive part of the slide. To avoid that, I recommend that you change the default pausing time and make it just a little bit smaller than the slide duration. This is not necessary if the actions when releasing the playhead from its pausing point are a navigation to another slide, because the inactive part of the slide will just be skipped.

  • Object audio: will be paused by the strict command Pause, but not by a pausing point! There is no workaround for this behavior for a Pausing point.

  • Audio started with 'Play Audio' cannot be stopped not by Pause nor by a pausing point, the only way to stop it is by launching the command 'Stop Triggered Audio'. 

Why pausing?

This blog post has become very long, for which I apologize. For that reason I will write out some use cases, to illustrate the just described theory in later posts. You're welcome to post some ideas as well. Here are some appetizers:

  • Instead of creating very long slides to fit the narrations, use the Play Audio command and have a pausing point on the slide. That can be a Next button, which offers total control to the user.

  • Question slides with narration as slide audio: you need to move the pausing point.

  • Create custom navigation: use shape buttons on the main master slide, only one of them needs a pausing point to give each user all the time needed to watch the slides.

  • Create a slide with light boxes.

  • Have multiple TEB's on one slide with a unique Submit button.

  • Create a dashboard with buttons to display multiple vodcasts, images, podcasts.

Custom Failure Messages/Attempts - Drag&Drop

Intro

This article is written as an answer to a question on the forums: Drag&Drop with Advanced Action

For quiz slides you have the option to show more than one Failure message, linked to the attempts. That functionality is not available for Drag&Drop slides. As you can read in the thread, another user posted a solution using the Object actions which are executed after each drag action.  The solution I describe here is more similar to what happens on other quiz slides: the messages will appear after clicking the Submit button. This work flow is only valid for Knowledge Check slides, which was the goal of the user on the forum. As you can read in one of my former blog posts, a D&D slide which is not scored, is reset automatically when leaving the slide. This functionality is used here. You'll also see that I used the InBuilt states for the drop target, which i described in this post.

Example 

Watch this interactive movie to see the result. It is Flash-based, do not watch from a mobile device, please.

Setup D&D Slide

The Drag&Drop slide's Timeline looks like this screenshot:

From Bottom to Top you find these object timelines:

  • DragOne, DragTwo and DragThree which are the 3 Drag sources. Those objects have only one extra InBuilt state: the transparent DragOver State. D&D is set up so that the drag sources disappear behind the drop target.

  • DropContainer which is the unique Drop Target. It has 3 states as you see in this State panel
  • Text Tx_Question which has the Question

  •  Gr_Feedback with several objects; the whole group is hidden in Output
    • I_Fail and I_Success are the two sticky images
    • Shape button SB_Continue with a pausing point at 2 secs, which is later than the (default) pause of the D&D (1,5secs)
    • FB_One, FB_Two and FB_Three are the failure feedback messages for the 3 possible failures. The first two have an inserted variable v_attempt.

You don't see a Success feedback on the timeline, because I kept the default Success message for the D&D slide (unchecked the Failure message)? That Success message has just be edited (freeform shape).

The D&D panel, tab Actions has been set up as visible in this screenshot. Although the user provides 3 attempts, you see that I set the attempts to 1 in this panel:

Variable, Events and Actions

I used only one variable: v_attempt, with a starting value of 3. If you want to have more attempts than 3, just change that starting value. You can see its value in the example movie, center of the bottom bar. That variable is also inserted in the first two Failure messages.

SubmitAct, triggered by the Failure event of the D&D (see panel above)

This conditional action has 4 decisions, can easily be edited to have more than 3 attempts

  1. Decision 'Always' is a mimicked standard action, decrements the value of v_attempt by 1
  2. Decision 'First' checks if v_attempt is equal to 2, which means the first attempt (because the original value has been decremented in the first decision). If that is the case 3 objects out of the feedback group are shown: the first feedback message (FB_One), the image I_Fail and the continue button SB_Continue
  3. Decision 'Second' checks if v_attempt is equal to 1, which means the second attempt. The actions are identical to 'First', with the exception of the feedback message (now FB_Two)
  4. Decision 'Third' checks if v_attempt is equal to 0, which means the third and last attempt. It has similar actions to the previous two decisions. 

Here is a screenshot of the complete action:

SuccessAct, triggered by the Success event of the D&D (see panel above)

This standard action will set the variable v_attempt to 0 (necessary to have the last action ContAct executed correctly), shows the image I_Success and the Continue button. The success message appears automatically, since it is de original embedded message.

ContAct, triggered by the Success event of the Continue button

Here is the 'trick'! After each attempt I want the D&D slide to reset automatically. This is only possible when you leave and re-enter the slide. To achieve this, I used a similar (but easier) approach as explained in the blog post ReplaySlide. I inserted a dummy slide before the D&D slide, with a very short duration (0,1secs). Have a look at the script triggered by the Continue button, which is a one-decision conditional action:

When there are attempts left (v_attempt > 0), these commands are executed:

  • Expression cpCmndGotoSlide = cpInfoCurrentSlide - 2
    The first system variable cpCmndGotoSlide has an index starting with 0, whereas cpInfoCurrentSlide starts with 1. That is the reason why 2 is subtracted. In human language this command means Go to Previous Slide.You can replace it by 'Go to Previous slide' as well, but I like to repeat explanations like this. Sorry!
    Alternative: Go to Previous Slide

  • Continue: is necessary so that the playhead is released. It will quickly speed over that dummy slide (0,1 sec) and you'll see the D&D slide almost immediately, freshly reset because it was re-entered and not scored.

When no attempts are left the user is navigated to the last 'End' slide.

Tips

If you want to allow the same scenario for this slide, when the user revisits the slide, you have to reset the variable v_attempt to its original value, which can be done with the ELSE part of the action ContAct. It will have 2 commands in that scenario:

  • Assign v_attempt with 3
  • Go to Next Slide

To change the number of attempts, for example from 3 to 4:

  • Change the default value of v_attempt to the new literal
  • Create an extra Feedback message FB_Four and include it in Gr_Feedback (select both new message and group, followed by CTRL-G)
  • in SubmitAct
    • Duplicate the last decision 'Three', and label it 'Four'
    • Edit 'Four', replace 'FB_Three' by 'FB_Four'
    • Edit 'Three': replace the literal '0' in the condition by '1'
    • Edit 'Two': replace the literal '1' in the condition by '2'
    • Edit 'One': replace the literal '2' in the condition by '3'

No other changes are necessary.


Captivate's Timelines (master slide/normal slide cptx) demystified


Intro

After this introductory post, and the post about the typical Video Demo timeline this article will explain the specific features of the timelines in a cptx project: both for master slides and normal slides. The common features for cpvc- and cptx projects were explained in the introduction, if you missed it please take a look at that blog post.

Timelines CPTX project

Timeline panel in a cptx project is shared by Master slides and Normal slides (Filmstrip), depending on which panel is active at that moment. There are differences in look and features between Master slide timelines and Slide timelines. 

Contrary to the Timeline in a cpvc project, each  'track' in a cptx project can have only one item:the (master) slide has its timeline, audio has a separate timeline stacked under the slide timeline, each object, whether static of interactive has its own timeline. Result is that the Eye/Lock buttons will affect only one object, that each track can have the name of the object on that track.

The vertical arrangement of the timelines, also called the 'stacking order', is important when you have overlapping objects. Be careful with covering interactive objects by static objects: depending on the output, the interactive objects will remain active even though they are not visible. 


    Master slide Timeline 

    The timing of a master slide has no real meaning, master slides nor objects on master slides have any timing. The Timing Properties panel is not available neither. The timeline will show the default duration (normally 3 secs), which is necessary to show and edit the stacking order (vertical positioning of the object timelines). Here is a screenshot of the timeline of a Master slide:

    Objects on master slides never have an ID, which explains why you seen only icons in the first column to identify the object  type. That type is also visible inside the object timeline itself. The icons for Placeholders usually are included in square brackets [], to differentiate them from normal objects (no brackets). There are some exceptions (look at the Rollover Caption/Image in the screenshot).

    The only interactive object allowed on master slides,  is a shape button (shape used as button). If Pause Project  is checked in the Actions tab, the pause will be visible at the end of the timeline. This is the case for the uppermost object in the screenshot: look at the Pause symbol, the pause itself is at the location of the end of that timeline. This shape button is an object, the shape two tracks below is a placeholder (brackets). 

    The tiny icons between the control panel (with play button etc) and the zoom slider do not have any value because Time has no meaning for a master slide.

    Slide Timeline

    If you create a slide, based on a master slide, not all objects inserted on the master slide will be visible in the Timeline; have a look at this screenshot:

    • Placeholder objects (beige timeline) will appear in the timeline panel (I renamed them); if you don't use them (example: you don't add text, content, image), they will not appear in output. The icons are in square brackets.
    • Content placeholder (blue timeline) acts the same way.
    • Rollover caption/image (green) if inserted as Placeholders, will appear but they'll move to the bottom of the stack as you can see on the screenshot which shows a slide based on the Master slide shown above.
    • Static objects on the master slide, will be visible on the stage, but not in the timeline. They will be visible in output, with their formatting on the master slide (there is no such object in this case)
    • Shape buttons on the master slide will be visible on the stage, but not in the timeline. They will be visible and keep their interactivity in output. In the screenshot you see that the topmost object, the shape button on the master slide, is missing in the Slide timeline.

    The stacking order of the objects on the timeline can be changed by dragging the timeline or by using the Arrange option under the Right-click menu. Objects can be staggered on the timeline to appear at in sequence or overlapping partially. Contrary to the typical video timeline for a CPVC-project, all objects will be visible on the stage, independent of the time they'll appear. For people used to avideo work flow this can seem confusing, but it is very helpful for arranging objects on the stage. You can always check the sequence of appearance by Playing the slide (which is not a Preview). You'll see the playhead moving, and can stop it with the space bar or the Pause button to edit/synchronize (see also Shortcut keys later on).

    The specific indicators that can appear in the timelines for a cptx project on normal slides are:

    • Audio icon : if you attach audio to an object, a similar audio icon as you had for video clips with audio in a cpvc-track,  will appear in the timeline

    • Pause indicator: consists of two parts, the pause symbol (double vertical lines) and the exact location of the pause (thin vertical line) to the right of the symbol. You'll see this indicator in
      • Question slide timeline: mostly at 1.5secs for a default slide duration of 3 secs - pause is linked to the Submit button
      • Score slide timeline: identical setup as for question slides - pause is linked to the Continue button
      • Interactive object timeline:  if you insert a pausing Click box, the pause will be at the end of its timeline; for buttons, shape buttons, Text Entry Boxes, the pausing time is by default 1.5secs after the start of the timeline, it can be changed by dragging the thin vertical Pausing line or with the Timing Properties panel. That same panel can be used if to uncheck the pause.

        Other timeline pauses that are NOT visible on the timeline, only to be found in the Timing Properties panel:
      • A pausing shape button on the master slide. The pause is at the end of each slide timeline, but not visible on any slide timeline
      • Drag&Drop slide is by default pausing at 1,5secs (under Actions tab in D&D panel), but that pause is not visible on the timeline (linked to the Submit button, playhead will be released by either the Success or the Failure action)
      • Interactive widgets/interactions: do have a pause at 1 sec (check the Timing Properties panel). Beware: most widgets/interactions are static, not interactive. Examples of interactive widgets are the games. For a complete overview of interactions, have a look at two older articles on my blog: Learning Interactions  and  Widgets
    • Group  indicators: if you group objects, you can collapse the group with the collapse button and expand with the expand button.
      Tip: never group objects having effects, because the effects will be deleted without warning. You can apply an effect to a group.       

    • Effects: if you apply effects to an object the indicator 'fx' will appear on that timeline (and on the stage).  You get the same expand/collapse buttons as for groups. 

    • (Sticky) triangle: red triangle at the end of an object timeline means that this timeline is linked to the end of the slide; if you increase/decrease the slide duration the object timeline will move to keep the end glued to the end of the slide, without changing the duration of the object timeline.
      Do not confuse with an object timeline that is set to Display for the rest of the slide (CTRL-E): such an object timeline will have a fixed start point, its duration will change when the slide duration is changed. It has no special indicator.

    • Double arrows at the end of an object timeline: this object is set to Display for the rest of the project. You'll see its timeline only on this first slide, on following slides the object will be visible on the stage but not in the Timeline panel.

    • A Zoom object has a very thin vertical line in its timeline: this indicated the end of the zoom movement.

    • FMR (Full Motion Recording, created in a software simulation for mouse movementsslides: red line in the center of the slide timeline
    • CPVC slides: identical look to the FMR slide, but editing functionality in the Properties panel is different (will open the Video editor)

    Tips 

    You can see the slide timeline as one video clip in your course 'movie'. Whether the user will be aware of a transition between those slides depends on your setup. The playhead will continue seamlessly from the last frame of a slide to the first frame of the next slide (which is another video clip) if these conditions are fulfilled:

    1. No slide transition between slides
    2. Keep the default actions On Enter for the second slide, and On Exit for the first slide (No action)
    3. No pausing on the slide (look above for presence of pauses)

    Captivate could have put all those 'clips' on one long timeline, but believe me, it is much easier to manage and edit objects on the shorter slide timelines and the learner will never know this.

    The default duration of a slide is set to 3 seconds. There are (only) two possible valid reasons to increase that duration:

    1. If you add a Voice Over audio clip to the slide (slide audio).  The slide duration will have to match or be superior (allowing small gaps before and after audio) to the duration of the audio clip.

    2. If you want objects to appear in a certain sequence, staggered on the timeline, even if you don't have slide audio.

    What is NOT a valid reason to increase the slide duration: to give the user time to see/read everything, or in case of object audio to listen to everything. Captivate is meant to create interactive courses! Give your learner control, by pausing the slide. In that case he can take as much time as he wants to listen, watch the slide. This subject (about adding pauses) is so important that I'll treat it more in detail in a later post.

    In that case, give the user control over the movie, by adding Pause(s) to the timeline. 

    Video Demo Timeline demystified (cpvc-project)

    Intro

    In a first article about timelines, I described the common features: timeline ruler, playhead, eye button, lock button, control panel and the tiny icons at the bottom of the second column of the Timeline panel. This post will explain the more specific features of the Timeline panel in a Video Demo project (cpvc file).

    Timeline in a CPVC or Video Demo Project

    CPVC-files are created with the Video Demo application packed with Captivate. Those projects are pure video files, they can only be published to a video format (MP4 - H264 codec).  It has a dedicated video editor, which has some panels similar to those in a cptx-project. One of those panels is the Timeline panel, which is not hidden when entering the Video editor, contrary to the newbie UI for cptx-projects.. Here is a screenshot of a typical timeline of a video demo in the Video editor:

    Similar to other video applications, you'll see one continuous timeline for the whole movie. I will use the word 'track' for each horizontal line in the Timeline panel. Immediately after creating a video demo only one track will be visible in the panel, the bottom track labeled as 'Video/Audio'. This label is automatically attributed to the first track.

    The bottom track in the screenshot pointed at with the name 'Video/Audio' because contrary to a cptx project, the audio has no separate timeline, but is included in the video track. Another difference is that the bottom track can have several video clips. In the screenshot you see two full video clips and the start of a third clip.  

    The video clips can be in sequence (clip 1 and 2) without a gap, or separated by one or more static objects. Clip 2 and 3 have a text and an image inserted between them. Those objects were added manually, and they appear in new tracks. Only non-interactive, static objects can be added to a video demo. Similar to the multiple video clips for the Video/Audio track, the other tracks can have multiple objects (which is not possible in a cptx project). New tracks are only added when necessary, when two or more objects overlap in time. In the screenshot you see multiple objects in three tracks. This explains the generic name 'Objects' for the tracks (first column). The names of the tracks cannot be changed, customized which is another difference with the object/style timelines in a cptx project. The Properties panel has not field 'Name'. 

    Due to the possible presence of multiple items on a track, clicking a dot linked to the Eye and Lock button will affect all the objects on that track. It is not possible to lock or hide one object timeline (or one video clip). That is another big difference with the Timeline in cptx projects. 

    More specific features are:

    1.  Just below the time ruler in seconds, you'll see diamond icons (and a half icon at the start). Those diamonds indicate the start/end of a video clip. Their color is grey by default. You can click such a diamond, and the color will be green. You can add a transition from the Video Effects panel that will appear automatically in the right docking station.After adding a transition the diamond's color changes to orange. You can add a transition to the start of the first clip, hence the half-diamond appearing at the start of the Video/Audio Track.
    2. The orange In/out markers are the same vertical position as the playhead. You'll find them at the beginning and the end of the Video/audio track. If you want to focus on one video clip, you can drag the In marker to the start of that video clip, and the Out marker to its end. When you use the Play button from the Control panel (or the shortcut key Space bar), the playhead will move only within that video clip. You can also use the Trim command to delete the darkened part by dragging the In/Out markers. If I did that for the situation in this screenshot, only the second video clip would be preserved.
    3.  In the Pan/Zoom status (which is the default status of the timeline, visible in the Screenshot images so far) the track with the video clips can have Zoom indicators (loupe icon). They appear when you add a zoom and/or pan effect. The duration of the zoom/pan transition is visualized by the width of the shadow triangle before the zoom indicator.
      In this Pan/zoom status you'll find under the timeline tracks the buttons 'Split', 'Pan and Zoom' and 'Trim' to be active.

    4. The second status, Mouse status can be made active with Edit, Edit Mouse points (use the same work flow to return to the Pan/Zoom status). The 'Pan and Zoom' button will be dimmed, inactive but 'Split' and 'Trim' buttons remain available. In this status the start of mouse trails are visible on the video/audio track as mouse icons(screenshot below): you can select them individually and edit or delete the mouse object.
    5. To trim away part of a video clip, you have to position the playhead near the location that you want to delete. When clicking the Trim button two black triangles, the Trim markers (In and Out) will appear. The gap between them will be greyed out and will be deleted when you click on the Trim button again. You can drag both Trim In and Trim out markers to select precisely the part to be trimmed. You'll end up after the trim action with two video clips, and a transition point (diamond marker) separating them.

    The objects in the CPVC timeline have no real color coding (for cptx projects, this will be explained in a later blog post): everything is blue, the Video/Audio track is bit different but still blue. A selected video clip or object will be in a more saturated blue.

    CPVC or Video Demo slide

    You can embed a Video Demo in a normal cptx-project. This can be done either by recording directly from within the cptx-project with the big button, Slides, Video Demo or by inserting an exisiting (raw) cpvc project using the menu Insert, CPVC-slide. The look of such a slide, in the filmstrip and in the Timeline panel is identical to the look of the (old) FMR-slides (Full Motion Recording) that are created in a software simulation for movements that cannot be captured in static slides (like dragging, moving objects). The only way to recognize a cpvc slide is by the presence of the button 'Edit Video Demo' in the Properties panel.

    Next post?

    Soon I'll publish a longer article about the ins and outs of the Timeline(s) in a cptx-project: master slides, normal slides, effects....


    Captivate's Timeline(s) Demystified - Intro

    Intro

    Happy New Year 2017 to all Captivate users!

    Quite a few years ago I wrote an article about Timeline secrets in Captivate 5: Tiny Timeline Tidbits

    Since the change in the UI with Captivate 8 , the newbie User Interface minimizes the Timeline panel by default which is a pity IMO. Some of the questions I read, at least partially due to that decision to hide the Timeline: 

    •  'I want to get rid of the timeline, don't need it at all'
      (user thinking that Captivate is just a Powerpoint clone).
    •  'Why is the timeline not showing the whole project, so user unfriendly'  
      (user supposing Captivate is a mini video application)

    •  'Why do I see all the objects on the slide, even when the playhead is in a part where some objects shouldn't be visible, not intuitive'  
      (user with  an Animation background)

    For those reasons I suspect it is Time to update that old article, to explain the ins and outs of the Timeline panel with its latest additions like CPVC-projects and slides, Effect Timelines, Drag&Drop. 

    Timeline panel, in collaboration with the Timing Properties panel is at the core of the Captivate applications. Personally I'm persuaded that it should be a top priority in the skillset of any Captivate developer, whatever its level.

    Since I cannot offer you a 'digestive' (limoncello, grappa, schnapps, single malt;;;) I will split up this (broad) subject in several articles. You are reading the introduction. Following posts will treat topics like 'Timeline in a cpvc-project', 'Timelines in a cptx-project, master slides and normal slides', 'Color coding and Shortcut keys for Timelines', 'Why/how to pause a timeline?'. 

    Why a Timeline?

    Many users talk about the output of a Captivate project as 'a movie'. Although this is only completely true for a file published to a video format (MP4), this indicates well that Captivate is related to video applications like Premiere Pro and After Effects.

    No one will have doubts about the importance of 'time' for video. A movie has a playhead, which moves at a certain speed. That speed is usually indicated by the term 'frames per second', or FPS.

    Frames remind me always of the traditional way of producing cartoon movies: each frame, drawn by a graphic artist, was slightly different from the previous and the next frame. By playing those frames at a certain speed,  movement could be simulated: the slowness of our eye/brain made it possible to see fluid movements from those frames.

    Captivate has two types of 'raw' files: the cptx-files (slide-based) and the cpvc-files (less-known, Video Demo files). Both types have a Timeline panel but with some differences as I will try to explain in this sequence of posts. Let us start with those features that can be found always in the Timeline.

    Common features

    You can either read the following text, or watch this interactive Captivate slide:

    Some items are available in all Timeline panels: for cptx and cpvc projects:
    1. Contrary to some video or animation applications, the Timeline ruler in Captivate is always in Time units (seconds), cannot be changed to frames (look at the horizontal ruler in the top of the Timeline panel). The smallest increment in the timeline is 0,1 seconds. With a default rate of 30FPS (which can be changed) 0,1seconds = 3 frames

    2. The Playhead is represented by a red rectangle. When you use the play button in the control panel (see 4), you'll see its movements. You can also drag the Playhead to a certain position on the timeline. The size of the rectangle is bit different between a cptx and a cpvc project as you can see in the screenshot.

    3. In the first column of the panel, on top you find the Eye button, and each track (horizontal line in the panel) in the Timeline has a (blue, filled with orange) dot under this button. See the screenshots:
      When clicking the Eye button on top of the column, all objects in all tracks will be hidden on the stage. This is only meant for editing reasons, it will not affect the published course.To hide items after publishing you need to click that 'other' Eye button in the Properties panel of the objects (hidden in Output). When clicking on a dot under the Eye button, next to a track, all objects on that track will be hidden. In the exampled on the screenshot, the second tracks from the top have been hidden.

    4. Next to the Eye button is a Lock button, also with dots next to each track. When you click the button itself all objects on all tracks will be locked: not available for selection nor for editing properties. However, if you click a dot next to a track, there are two states. On the first click only size and position will be locked. In that state you can still select /style the objects. The blue Lock icon is surrounded by 4 arrows, as you can see in the screenshot: for the cpvc it is the track immediately above the Video/Audio track, for the cptx project the uppermost timeline. Clicking twice on a dot results in full lock: no selecting/editing is possible. This is the case for the uppermost Objects track in the cpvc-screenshot and for the image I_topics in the cptx project. Watch the different look of the lock icons.

    5. The Control panel at the bottom of the first column (see screenshot above) has the classical (video) buttons:  'Move Playhead to start', 'Stop', 'Play', 'Move Playhead to the end'. Play and Stop can also be activated with the space bar if the timeline panel is active.
      Warning: Play Slide under the button Preview has the same function as Play in this control panel. Although it is under the Preview button it is NOT a preview at all! It is just meant to be used for editing, will not show how the slide will look after publishing. This is a common misunderstanding.
      The last button on the control panel: 'Audio' is a toggle, will mute/unmute Audio when watching using the Play button. Like the Eye button, this will not affect audio when publishing. The state of this button will apply to all open projects.

    6. In the second column at the same vertical position as the control panel described under 6 and the horizontal scrollbar, you'll find 4 tiny icons in all normal slides (they have no sense for the Master slide which has no real duration)

      1. Hourglass icon: indicates the location of the playhead from the start of the track; its tooltip is 'Elapsed Time'; this indicator is always available, even when no track nor object is selected.
      2. Vertical line + right arrow (Selected Start Time) will only have a value when a video clip or a static object is selected; it will indicate the start time of the selected video/object. In the screenshot the Smartshape on top is selected.
      3. Vertical line + right arrow + vertical line (Selected duration) will show the duration of the selected clip/object, is only available when a video/object is selected on a track.
      4. Chrono icon: Total duration of the slide 

        The Zoom slider to the right of this total duration,  allows the timeline to zoom in/out. 

    Next post

    The next article will be about the specific features of the Video Demo timeline (cpvc-project) and the cpvc-slides. You'll not have to wait long, neither for the third article about the specificity of timelines in a cptx-project (master slides and normal slides).