Rare Tips for Shared Actions


It is not a secret that I am a big fan of Shared Actions. A project without at least one shared action is a big exception to me. From what I hear and read, lot of you don't realize how much time you can save with those mysterious action. This short article will offer some ideas where Shared Actions are used for (maybe) a totally different situation than you expect.

1. Creation of Variables

If you are reading this post, it is very likely that you use system variables as well as user variables. Do you create user variables in each project, and include a proper description and eventually default values?  I have a list of variables which I use very often in projects, here are some examples:

  • v_null: an empty variable used to check if Text Entry Boxes remained empty after a learner clicked its Submit button, or to reset the variable associated with a TEB.
  • v_counter: as the name tells to track a number of clicks, attempts....
  • v_visit: for situations where the content of a slide has to be different on a later visit, you want to track if the slide has been visited
  • v_one, v_two, v_three....: number of variables that can be used for different use cases, like tracking clicks on hotspots, finishing chapters...

Knowledge fact: when you import a shared action in another project, variables not defined as parameters, will be created including the description and default value.

I have a shared action with a list of Assign commands, one for each of those often used variables. It doesn't matter what you assign at all. I drag that shared action from my external Library with shared actions to each new project. Variables are ready for use, even as parameters in other shared actions. 


2. Shared Action without Parameters

Sounds very strange, because the reusability of a shared action is based on parameters? I already gave a first example of such a parameter-less SA under 1.  It is much safer and easier to transfer a shared action to another project than an advanced action. You use the shared action directly or convert it to an advanced action if you prefer (maybe for more editing). Here is an example:

 I use this action to calculate the reference time in seconds (to be used later in calculations) of a frame, mostly the first or last frame of a slide. Defined as a shared action, it needs no parameters. Once dropped into the project Library, I can use it for any frames where I want a reference time.

3. Shared Action as Template 

You can copy an object or a slide, which has advanced actions attached to a new project. But that is not always working great. If you have navigation in the advanced action 'Jump to Slide', that command will often be reset to 'Continue' if that slide is not found. Same for objects, variables etc. 

Less known is that any shared action can be used as a template to create an advanced action. In the top left of the Advanced Actions dialog box, you are used to see 'Blank' which is the default template for an action. Open the dropdown list, and you'll find all shared actions in the project as extra templates:

Choose one of them, you'll have to fill in the parameters, add a name, edit the commands (delete, add as you want) and save as an advanced action. 

Example: a shared action triggered On Enter for a dashboard, checking a number of tracking variables and showing something special after all variables prove that everything has been visited. You can set up the shared action for 4 variables. If you need less or more variables, convert the action to an advanced action and edit it!

What about you?

Do you use shared actions? Did you like these tips? Do you want to have some training about variables/advanced/shared actions?  I love seeing comments on my posts, and promised: you will always get an answer!

Rollover in Fluid Boxes?


One of the type of objects that is indicated by the tracker as not compatible with HTML output are rollovers: rollover caption, rollover image, rollover slidelet, rollover shape. However if you ignore that warning for a non-responsive project, the rolloverrs will work fine when used with a mouse on a desktop or laptop screen (with the exception or the slidelet, which you should avoid at all times). Its functionality will not work on a mobile device, even not when using a stylus. But the 'mouse' users have that functionality.

However when you create a responsive project using Fluid Boxes, the options for inserting a rollover are greyed out. There is no way to add them. Is there a workaround to have rollovers for desktop/laptop users? That question appears once in a while in forums or social medai. In this post I will talk about my tentavies to mimick a rollover..

Example Movie

I cannot insert a responsive movie in a blog post. Use this link to have access to it. Try it out on a laptop or desktop screen: roll over the buttons in the left and in the right most Fluid box. You'll see rollovers for the big Blue buttons which do not have a real button functionality. The red buttons on the right are active, a hint message appears when rolling over the buttons. You can click those red buttons. This is a static screenshot of that slide (which appears after the poster image and the first slide):

If you try this on a tablet or a smartphone, rollovers will not appear. I tested on iPad and on an Android (HTC) phone.

First Mimick: Hint Messages

You did see the Hint messages for the red buttons when hovering over them. If you use a tablet or a phone they will not show up. Those buttons have the InBuilt States 'Rollover' and 'Down', but only the Down state will be visible on those mobile devices. This is the Object state panel for the second button:

For interactive objects it is possible to check the option 'Hint message' in the Actions tab. In all themes included with Captivate those messages are no longer in a caption but in a shape. The hint message appears wh

There are some problems with this solution:

  • Buttons and Hint messages will share the real estate in the (normal) Fluid Box.
    That is a waste of space especially for mobile screens where those hints never appear. and the buttons may shrink too much as you can see here:
  • I tried to use a static fluid box for each button+hint to be able to stack the Hint message over the button but that leads to very ugly flickering and is excluded.
  • You don't have control over the exact size of the buttons, and certainly not over the HInt messages (look at the screenshots above). This may be not so important since you'll only watch on a big screen, but nevertheless.

Second Mimick: Rollover State

With the blue shape buttons I demonstrated that you can fill the Rollover state with Text (mimicking a rollover caption), with an image (mimicking a Rollover Image) and with both. Here is a screenshot of the second shape button, having an image and text:

The effect is quite nice, provided you use rather big shape buttons as was the case here:

There is a possible problem when using images: they can be distorted if the option 'Maintain Aspect ratio' is unchecked. That was the case in the example, and can lead to distortion:

Shared Action for Red buttons

The active red buttons trigger a shared action which will change the state of a shape (showing explanations), add a star to a progress indicator and have it animated. If you have read blog posts written by me, you know that I am a big fan of Shared Actions.

Tips to localize a quiz


This article will not be interesting for you if you always create courses in the same language, and you have Captivate in that same language. In my casen Captivate is not released in a Dutch versoin, and moreover I sometimes also need to create French courses, along with English courses. Practical tips to save time when localising are always welcoem. Today i will focus on Quizzes. I have an English version of Captivate but want to create a quiz in Ducht and in French. What is the work flow?

Quiz Preferences

Start by localising Default Labels  in the Quiz Preferences. That dialog box allowas you to translate messages and labels on buttons. You don't have to trabslate labels that you'll never use. As you can see in this screenshot, I never use Skip/Back, Submit All nor the Timing message. 

After savibg the Preferences, usie File, Export, Preferences. You can import them later on in any project where you need the same language for a Quiz.

Master slides

The changes you made to the labels are not relected in the quizzing master slides, which is a pity. It can be necessary to increase the width of the buttons if the new labels are considerably longer than the original ones. I will not bother about that now, nor about editing any of the texts, like "True" and "False" which need translation. The embedded object 'QUestion title' is a placeholder, will be replaced by the questiob type on quiz slides, you cannot even edit it if you want those indicators translated. All can be done with:

For the score slide, you have to edit the master slide if you want the field labels to be localized.  Those labels are not included in Quiz Preferences which is too bad. As master slides are part of the theme you can include them in a custom theme. It would be great if the labels translated in Quiz Preferences were included as well, but that is not the case.

GIFT text

Several versions ago the possibility to import a GIFT file to create quiz slides was introduced. That is not only a great way to import lot of questions, but also to localise the questions. I include a txt file created with the GIFT rules, to allow you to try out this feature (and to learn some Dutch ).  Here is an example of a question, MCQ with multiple corect answers and partial scoring:

// === Multiple Choice MA ===
::Meerkeuzevraag (meerdere correcte antwoorden) ::
Welke componenten maken deel uit van een thema?
~Aangepaste Effecten
~%30%Master Slides
~Taal met spellingcontrole

After importing the GIFT from Quiz menu, the rhird question shown above, looks like this:

Watch how the Question title placeholder now has a Dutch text. The feedback messages are translated as are the labels on the used buttons: 'Submit' became 'Indienen' en 'Clear' is now labeled 'Wissen'. The tiny progress indicator is translated as well. You may have to check the score, because the partial scoring will have rounded numbers. In this case it is not necessary: 3 points go to the second and fifth answer, 4 points to the third answer. 

Final edit T/F slides

Something cannot be done automatically, which is the translation of the words ‘True” and “False” on that type of slides. For that finishing touch, which can only be done after inserting the Quiz slides, I use the Find and Replace functionality. 


Quiz Slides with Fluid Boxes


Today this question appeared on the forums:  "Easy way to give better feedback in Fluid boxes in the Quiz"

So for the second time in a couple of days a blog post based on such a question. If you missed my workflow to tweak Feedback messages for Drag&Drop, here is the link.

That question is related with a blog post I have been writing about the setup of Fluid Boxes in Quizzing Master slides. If you have read that post, it explained that all feedback messages on those master slides are stacked on top of each other, and for that reason that Fluid Box needed to be converted to a Static Fluid Box. I didn't mention in that post the workflow I am using to create individual feedback messages on the quiz slides which is the purpose of this short article. You can see it as a add-on for the article about fluid boxes in Quizzing master slides, and maybe also show some features of that static Fluid Box, which are not very well documented but which I discovered when trying to find the easiest workflow.


Before starting the work flow described below, check the quizzing master slide. Make sure the used styles for the messages are correct and that all the message containers have the same size and are aligned. For the packaged themes that is not always the case.

You have to know that it is NOT necessary to unlock an object from a static fluid box before moving it! That is only the case for the normal, non-static fluid boxes. In static fluid boxes the objects are not glued to the fluid box in the same level. You can even move them out of the fluid box.

Remember: if you screw up something when trying out the workflow, you can always return to the normal situation by clicking the button 'Reset Master Slide' in the Properties panel of the slide.

Step 1

Select the top message. In the default stacking order it will be the Success message. Edit the text. If you are seeing the text of the other images below, check the opacity of the fill, and increase it. 
After editing keep the message selected and move it out of the way. I mostly use the shortcut key CTRL-UP in this case. With each use of that shortcut the message will move up 16px (which is the default size in the grid). Be careful: the message will be over the fluid box containing the answer area. It will not snap to that fluid box, but you'll not be able to select it anymore. That doesn't matter.

In the used theme shape for this message had an Opacity = 0. I changed it to 80% to be able to read and edit the text. No need to  reset the style, will be done in the last step.

Step 2

Edit the next message, in default setting it will be the Incorrect message. 


If you have more messages, move the second message up, edit the third etc..

Last Step

Pretty easy: reset the master slide as shown in the first screenshot.


It remain a cumbersome workflow, but at least you don't have to unlock from the fluid box as many tell, nor getting them back into the fluid box. If you looked at the thread you see those unnecessary steps mentioned by the Adobe chat and another user. Probably misunderstanding the differences between static and normal fluid boxes. It is still a new workflow, Fluid Boxes, and really quite different from designing a non-responsive project or even a responsive project with Breakpoints.


D&D Feedback messages


Yesterday an interesting question appeared on the forum concerning Drag&Drop

The second question is answered in that thread, was about setting up the Accept for the drop target as I have already explained in previous blog posts. The first question however is at the base of this short article. I quote:

"Is it possible to show separate messages for cases such that the user not selecting the answer (Choose an answer msg) and selecting the wrong answer (Incorrect answer msg).  It currently shows 'Incorrect Answer' msg for both cases."

I asked for some details about the setup: 

  • Several drag sources, only one was correct
  • One drop target, based on my answer to the other question, it accepted all drag sources but only one by one. When dragging another source it would replace the first one.
  • Infinite Attempts

Drag&Drop confusions

Drag&Drop slide have some limitations such as: all drag sources and drop targets have to be on the slide from the first frame.  You can define it as a score slide or as a KC slide (see Drag&Drop Tips).  It has a lot of the behavior of a quiz slide, but it is not a full-blown quiz slide or KC side. Here are some points in its UI that I find really confusing and would love to see changed (logged feature requests about that since version 6):

  1. D&D slides are automatically pausing at 1.5secs but that is NOT visible on the Timeline, only in the Timing properties, whereas for quiz slides the pausing point is visible on the Timeline but NOT in the Timing Properties. This is confusing.
  2. D&D slides have an On Enter event and an On Exit event, whereas quiz slides only have an On Enter event. That is OK.
  3. Submit button both for D&D slides and for Quiz slides have one or two events, depending on the number of allowed attempts. For quiz slides, the actions triggered by those events will happen after the first step of the Submit process (where feedback messages appear), for D&D slides there is only one step in Submit process. That is OK, you just have to realize that.
  4. I talked about one or two events:
    1. If the number of attempts is limited you have two events: you allwasy have the Success event. That event and its linked action occur when the answer is validated and correct. That is fine, works the same for quiz and D&D slides. If you want to give the learner the time to read a Success message, which can appear automatically you have to leave some time to the learner by choosing the correct action On Success. Example: if you set the Success action to 'Go to Next Slide', learner will not be able to see a Success message. Change to 'Continue', and eventually increase the duration of the slide. Works fine, just that slight difference.
    2. If the number of attempts is limited, the second event is the Last Attempt event. That is indeed the indication in the Actions part of  the Quiz Properties.  The Failure message will always pop up with every Failure attempt, but the event that triggers an action only occurs when all attempts are exhausted. However in the Actions tab of a D&D slide it is wrongly labeled as Failure event. Many users  believe that the specified Failure action will occur for each Failure attempt which is NOT the case. This is confusing 
    3. If the number of attempts is unlimited you have only one event, the Success event. It is logical because you are supposed to try until you get the correct answer. For quiz/KC slides this is very clear because the Last Attempt event is dimmed when you choose for unlimited attempts. However for D&D slides the (alreadly wrongly labeled) Failure event is not dimmed, although it will never happend. This is very confusing IMO.

Sorry for this long explanation, needed to understand the workflow I explored to answer the question mentioned in the intro. I hope some of you, readers, will support my feature requests to 'repair' the UI and avoid confusion.

Workflow for  messages

User wanted to see a different message popping up:

  1. When the submit button is clicked but no drag action has been done
  2. When the submit button is clicked and the drag action was wrong

Both situations are considered Failures, but Failure doesn't generate an event until the last attempt. Since it is set to Unlimited Attempts, there will never be a Failure event. No way to replace the messages by custom text containers, if you cannot trigger advanced/shared  action on Failure.

The popup messages (Success, Failure) cannot be controlled, they don't have an ID.  You can create states for such a message, but since you cannot address the message, you cannot change the state by an action.

A possible solution is to replace the text in the Failure message by a variable, in this case I labeled it v_failure. It is possible to change the value of a variable. This is the screenshot in editing phaes of an example slide:

As default value on defining the variable I used the text to show when the learner has clicked the Submit button without doing any drag action:

The value of the variable has to change when at least one drag action has happened, which was not the correct action. Besides the events occurring after clicking the Submit button, D&D slides have also Object Actions. I will use those actions to assign another value to the variable v_failure. Open the dialog box in the Format tab for the selected drop target. In this very simple example, I used an Assign command as you see in this screenshot. I only needed it for the two wrong drag sources. For the correct source, no need to change the Failure message, since the Success message will appear. Since I used a simple action, needed to uncheck the box 'Continue Playing the Project'.

If you need to change a lot of those actions, and it is OK to have always the same Failure message, please create an advanced (oneline) action, will save you time when applying in the Object Actions. If you want a different feedback message for each wrong source, use either the Assign command (as above) or use a shared action.






Advanced to Shared Action: Step-By-Step (micro-navigation showcase)


After the introduction to Micro-Navigation I explained how to use it for forcing the first view of a slide, and for playing an audio file on first visit. When looking at the resulting advanced actions they are pretty similar in both posts. Moreover you probably will want to use the action on multiple slides in the course, and maybe also in future courses. That sounds like a perfect scenario for conversion of the action to a Shared action. I have been blogging already several times about Shared actions. In the present article I try to explain how to reflect on the use of parameters. Static objects need to be parameters as are states and groups, I label them as 'compulsory'. But Variables and Literals are 'candidate parameters', a well-founded choice for change them in parameters,  can save you lot of time later on. Consider it a good practice example.


When comparing the two advanced actions created in the mentioned articles, there is a small difference: the first decision (which is a standard action) has one command extra in the second advanced action (for Audio). For the ForceAct, the number of seconds to be jumped over is directly entered in the Expression command, for the SkipSlideAudio, Assign is used to store the number of seconds in the user variable v_skip. Both versions work well, but personally for a shared action I prefer the one with the extra Assign command.

What are the parameters for the shared action?

For the first decision (labeled Always in both advanced actions):

  •  'Assign v_skip with 16.5': this first command has two candidate parameters, the variable v_skip and the literal 16.5. The variable can be reused on each slide where the action is needed. Both advanced actions used the same variable in the interactive movie. There is no need to promote that variable to a parameter in that case. However the literal '16.5'  is the number of seconds to be jumped, will have a unique value on each slide, it has to be promoted to a parameter. Parameter 1 = literal. You have to be careful with literals: double-check that the same numerical value is not used anywhere else in the action. In this example there is a second literal '1' in the second decision, Increment command. It has to be different from the first parameter, which is the case.

  • 'Expression v_skip = v_skip * cpInfoFPS': the user variable v_skip is no parameter (see above). The system variable cpInfoFPS has never to be replaced by another variable, will be no parameter neither.

  • 'Increment v_visit by 1': the user variable v_visit has to be unique for each slide, as you can see in the action SkipSlideAufio where another variable has been used. This means that we have to promote that variable to a parameter, parameter 2. The literal '1' however will always be the same, no need to turn it into a parameter. We already double-checked that the literal in the first decision was different from 1.

The second decision is conditional:

  • 'IF v_visit is greater than 1': has two candidate parameters as well. We already indicated that v_visit is a parameter. The literal in this case will always be 1, will never be changed and need not to be a parameter.

  • 'Expression cpCmndGotoFrameAnd Resume = cpInfoCurrentFrame + v_skip': has 3 candidate parameters. Above was already decided that v_skip can be reused on each slide, and the system variables will always be the same.

Shared action Skip_Frames

When you choose to save any of the advanced actions used to skip frames as a Shared Action you'll see that all possible parameters are marked as OK. The reason is that there is no compulsory parameter in this action:

As a result of the analysis above, we need to mark to items as parameters: the tracking variable and the number of seconds to be jumped on later visits. The result will look like this. It is important to give a good description not only for the shared action but also for the marked parameters:

You can assign the shared action to all the slides where you want to jump frames on a later visit. You only have to define a tracking variable and estimate the number of seconds to be jumped. Here is one example setup for the slide where audio had to be jumped on later visits:

You can check in the Library for the Usage of the Shared action, much easier than for advanced actions.

Using Skip_Frames in future projects

Want to reuse this action in other projects? The workflow is described in an older blog post. Short summary:

  1. Use File, Import, External Library and point to the project where you created the shared action.
  2. Library will be opened in a floating panel. Look for 'Skip_Frames' in the Shared Actions subfolder and drag it to the Library of the new project.
  3. Because v_skip is not a parameter in the shared action, it will be created automatically, including the description.
  4. You have to create a tracking variable for each slide to which you want to assign the shared action, and define the duration in seconds to be skipped. Ready!

Play Audio once on First Visit


In a previous post I explained the possible workflows to force the learner to view a slide completely before the Next button appears, but only on first visit. This new use case is similar but for another goal. Most courses will have narration explaining how to use the functionality of the course: how to navigate, how to use the TOC, how to pop up extra information, how to use a dashboard/dynamic menu etc.  When the learner is free to come back to those slides, it can be annoying if she/he has to listen to the audio again. To avoid this I will explain two possible workflows:

  1. Using the On Enter event to trigger an advanced action, which will use the Play Audio command based on checking which visit it is to the slide. It is an easy workflow, with one drawback: for the Play Audio command it is not possible to use the Closed Captioning feature packed with Captivate.
  2. Since Closed Captioning is only possible with Slide audio, this alternative workflow will use micro-navigation to jump to a frame after the end of the audio timeline. If you didn't read my introduction to Micro-navigation, please use this link

Both workflows can be watched in this interactive movie. Be sure to check out later visits by using the Back button. As explained in the previous post, we'll need a tracking user variable. It starts with a default value of 0 and is incremented with each visit to the slide. 

Workflow 1: Play Audio

For each slide where you want to use this action, you'll need a tracking variable. For the slide in the movie where this action was used, the variable was labeled v_visit_PlayAudio. Look at the Preview of the action, which is triggered by the On Enter event of the slide:

It has two decisions:

  • TrackVar is not conditional, will increment the tracking variable (which started at 0).
  • CheckVisit checks the value of v_visit_playaudio. If the value is greater than 1, which means it is not the first visit, nothing will happen (Continue), if it is not greater than 1, which means the first visit, the audio clip will be played.

Workflow 2: Skip frames

Look at the timeline of the slide with the Touareg salt caravan (Ténéré desert):

The Next button appears at 16,5secs. If the visit is not the first, all frames in 16,5secs have to be skipped. We need a tracking variable, which will be labeled v_visit_SlideAudio. It is not possible to reuse the variable which tracked the visits to the previous slide where workflow 1 (Play Audio) was used. I suppose  free navigation is possible, hence tracking visits will need a variable for each slide where you want to use the workflow. However, the variable v_skip, which is used to store the number of frames to be skipped, can be reused for each slide where you want to use this second workflow. It doesn't matter if you want to skip part of the slide to avoid an audio clip to be played the second time, or to avoid that animatios are playing the second time. As you see in this screenshot, the advanced action looks very similar to the one in the first post 'Force first view'.

It is so similar that it was possible to create this action as a duplicate from the one in the post 'First View'. If you are not familiar with duplicating an action, have a look at  Advanced Actions Dialog Box


Such a situation with two (or maybe more) similar actions,  immediately triggers this question for me: can I make this easier, can I save time if using this action multiple times. Two possibilities:

  1. Change the advanced action so that the same action can be applied to both situations? There are two differences in the situations: the literal which is the duration in seconds to be skipped (was 10sec in the first post, 16,5sec in this timeline) Second difference is the tracking variable. For the literal a solution could be found, but that is not the case for the tracking variables because they have to be unique for each slide. This approach is not possible for the present situation.

  2. Convert the advanced action to a shared action, with as little parameters as possible. That would also make it much easier to transfer the action to future projects, and as you learned from my webinar (see summary in this interactive movie) due to the presence o the shared action in the Library, much easier to manage. How to do the conversion and use the shared action, will be the topic of my last post in this sequence.

Force First View (micro-navigation)


This question appears often: how can I force the user to view the slide completely before the Next button appears; but when revisiting the slide the Next button should appear immediately. From a pedagogical point of view, I don't think this will improve the efficiency of the learning, but that is off topic. 

Watch this movie: forcing view is used on the slide with the animated dices. The workflows for the audio slides will be explained in a future blog post.

I will explain my analysis and how to create the needed variables and advanced action.


Look at the timeline of the animated dices slide from the movie.

This particular slide is just an example. You see that the Next button (a shape button) appears after the last animation has finished, the learner is forced to watch everything that happens on this slide before the Next button becomes available and learner can proceed. We don't want to put him/her throught the same ordeal when revisiting the slide. Here are three possible workflows:

  1. Create two Next buttons: the one at the end (visible at first visit) and another hidden button, with a timeline that starts from the start of the slide. That second button has to be made visible on second and later visits, whereas the first button will be hidden. Advantage: learner can watch the animations if he wants to, but also skip them by clicking the Next button.
    Problem: this will not be possible in responsive projects with Fluid boxes if you want the two buttons in exactly the same location. Even though they are not timed to appear at the same time, a normal fluid box doesn't allow this.

  2. One Next button, timed from the start of the slide, to be shown/hidden. Use the On Enter event to check tf it is a first visit. If that is the case, hide the Next button, use the command 'Delay Next Actions by....' and enter the time that you want to keep the Next button invisible, then Show the Next button. This looks a good workflow but you have to avoid to offer the possibility to the learner to pause the slide. The Delay command takes not into account any pausing. If  you cannot figure out how to script this solution, send me a note.

  3. Use what you learned about Micro-navigation:  except for the first slide visit, jump directly to the start frame of the Next button's timeline. That means that everything will be in place, animations are finished in this case. Check to have all objects timed for the rest of the slide (CTRL-E).  Since there is no stacking in this workflow, this workflow is also functional for responsive projects developed with Fluid Boxes. Focus of this article  is on this last workflow. Check the Timeline screenshot: the jump should be equivalent with 10secs , start of the Next Button timeline.

All workflows need to track if the learner visits the slide for the first time or not. That can be done by a user variable. We could use a Boolean, or a variable that is incremented with each visit. It is the increment approach that will be used here.

Advanced Action + Variables

The variable that will track the visits got the name v_visit, and a default value of 0. It will be incremented by 1 on each visit. Eventually you can show the number of visits by inserting that variable in a text container:

We have to jump 10secs ahead, which has to be converted to frames.You can use the system variable cpInfoFPS. We'll use another variable v_skip to store the number of frames (that variable could be reused on several slides):

v_skip = cpInfoFPS * 10

The advanced action will have two decisions, as you can see in this Preview:

In the first decision 'Always' which is not conditional, the number of frames is calculated and the tracking variable v_visit is incremented. The second decision 'JumpFrames' is conditional: if it is not the first visit, the playhead will jump as many frames ahead as calculated in v_skip. Since this action is triggered On Enter of the slide, the system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame corresponds with the first frame of the slide.


How will you manage if you have a lot of slides that need to get this 'Forced view' action?  What can be reused? Will you duplicate and edit the actions? What has to be edited? Try to find an answer to those questions. Look out for my reflections in two future posts: next one will show that a similar advanced action can be used for another use case, and in a third post I'll explain why this perfect to be converted to a Shared action, how to convert the present advanced to a Shared action to make it as flexible as possible.

Micro-navigation (introduction)


Recently I presented two sessions about the Timeline at the Adobe eLearning Conference in DC (25th of April 2018). Maybe you did read a previous post, where I offered some easy Timeline Tweaks, taken from the first presentation 'Demystifying Captivate's Timeline' which was aimed at clarifying basic features of the timeline, including the different ways of pausing the timeline. The second presentation 'Mastering Captivate's Timeline' plunged deeper into exploring advanced workflows, including use of variables, advanced/shared actions and.... micro-navigation. I created that term in this (old) article. The word has been adopted by many Captivate users. Time to upgrade this article to integrate the changes within newer versions (system variable names) and the switch from SWF to HTML output. If you have a look at that article, please use a Flash Player enabled browser to watch the embedded interactive movie (SWF).  The present post can be considered as an introduction to 'micro-navigation'. We will start with a comparison between navigation between Slides (macro-navigation) and navigation between Frames.


Between Slides

You, Captivate user,  are aware of slides and master slides. Slides appear in the Filmstrip and each slide is based on a master slide Master slides have a dedicated panel, which looks very similar to the Filmstrip. In the Newbie UI when activating the Master Slide panel it will replace the Filmstrip in the left docking station. The Timeline panel can be used both for slides and master slides. Timing (horizontal scale) itself has no real meaning for master slides,  panel is used to change the stack order (or z-order) of objects. If you insert a shape button having a pausing point on a master slide,  pause will be visible at the end of the timeline. 
For sure you have used navigation commands for slides. In the dropdown list of the Actions tab for any event (slide event, interactive object event) or hyperlink navigation commands are available. They allow you to override the default navigation. 'Default navigation' means when the playhead reaches the end of a slide it will automatically move to the next slide.
The slide navigation commands are:
  • Go to the next slide

  • Go to the previous slide

  • Jump to slide ...

  • Go to last slide visited

Maybe you are not aware of the availability of dedicated Shape buttons in the Shape thumbnail dialog box, that have an advanced action to go to the Last slide or the First slide of a project?
Also less known are the system variables from the category 'Movie Control'  related to slide navigation. They be used in actions:
  • cpCmndGotoSlide  can be used to replace the simple command 'Jump to Slide'; beware: index starts with 0, whereas the index of cpInfoCurrentSlide starts with 1 (exceptional to make it possible to use in a progress indicator). If you want to restart a slide without re-entering the slide, you can use "Expression cpCmndGotoSlide = cpInfoCurrentSlide - 1"  

  • cpCmndNextSlide  is a Boolean variable with a default value of 0. With 'Assign cpCmndNextSlide with 1" has the same result as Go to the next slide     
  • cpCmndPrevious is a Boolean variable with a default value of 0. With 'Assign cpCmndPrevious with 1" has the same result as Go to the previous slide

Between Frames

A published cptx-file (to HTML or SWF) is an interactive movie. Each movie '(and animation' plays at a certain speed, the 'professional' name for that speed is 'Frames per Second' rate, or FPS. The quality of a movie depends on the resolution but also on that FPS number. The default FPS for a published cptx-file is 30FPS. You can see this rate in the Project Info panel.

It is possible to change FPS rate in Preferences, Project Publish settings.

With the default rate (30), each second on the timeline has 30 frames, the smallest unit on the timeline  (0,1sec) 3 frames.  I use the word micro-navigation for navigation between frames. Contrary to the navigation to slides, there are no commands available for micro-navigation. It is only possible using advanced or shared actions which allow you to manipulate the system variables available for frames. The relevant frame system variables are:
From the category 'Movie Information'
  • cpInfoCurrentFrame: your best friend when exploring Captivate's timeline, debugging projects with advanced actions, micro-navigation etc. You'll find that variable inserted in a text container quite often in my tutorials. You can watch an example in this interactive movie   
  • cpInfoFPS: returns the FPS rate, by default set to 30 as explained above. This variable can be used in calculations (with Expression) to convert from seconds to frames.

  • cpInfoFrameCount: similar to cpInfoSlideCount (total number of slides in project) it returns the total number of frames in the project. It can be used in combination with the previous variales to calculate to the total duration of the project (as shown in the TOC).
    From the category 'Movie Control'
  • cpCmndGotoFrame can be used to jump to a frame using its frame number (similar to cpCmndGotoSlide); playhead will not be released, project remains paused.
  • cpCmndGotoFrameAndResume can be used to jump to a frame using its frame number and to release the playhead at the same time, project will continue.


It is just a proposal: test out what you learned by creating a one-slide project, similar to the one visible at the start of this post and as thumbnail.  Design is up to you, but this is required for the 'exercise':

  1. Replace 'No action' for the On Enter event of the slide by 'Pause'; the slide shouldn't start playing automatically.
  2. Insert the system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame in a text container (example has it bottom right); that will allow you to track the location of the playhead. When starting the slide it will pause immediately, it will show 1 (although the system variable starts with 0, there is a small delay).
  3. You need two buttons: one for navigation forward, and one for navigation backwards. I used two shape buttons from the category Buttons, but replaced the action (see below). In the example they are at bottom center.
  4. A number of objects staggered on the timeline. In the example I have 7 shapes aligned in a row. They appear 1 second later than the previous one. All objects are timed for the Rest of the Slide. Result will be that the slide itself will have a duration that is longer (8secs in my case). To move an object on the timeline one second to the right: select the timeline of that object and use shortcut key CTRL-right (see Colors and Keys for Timeline). Here is a screenshot of the Timeline in my example:

    You see a small gap (0,1 sec) before the first object. Reason is the delay I mentioned before: playhead is stopped at frame 1, I don' want that shape to appear immediately. Because this is a one slide project, I didn't need to pause the slide at all, not even at the end. Both buttons have no pausing point as you can see in the Timeline.

Three events are used on this slide for actions:

  1. I already mentioned the On Enter event of the slide, which is set to 'Pause'.
  2. The button SB_Next triggers a one-line advanced action that should look like this:
  3. The button SB_Back triggers a one-line advanced action that should look like this:

Test now, either after publishing and uploading to a webserver, or with Preview HTML in Browser! 
Everything is working as exptected? Great, you are ready for more advanced workflows with micronavigation. Watch out for the next article about micro-navigation: a shared action that can be used in different situations: forcing full view of a slide on first visit, but not on later visits is one of the use cases.

Where is Null in CP2017?


One of my most visited blog posts published 7 years ago (Captivate 5, 5.5)  is Where is Null?

Beware: the embedded movie is a SWF, you need a browser with enabled Flash Player to watch that movie. Everything worked fine for SWF output also in later versions. However it is now partially broken for HTML output in CP9 and CP2017. Several users contacted me to ask for a solution, hence the reason for this new post.

Use Case

The use case can be split up in two phases:

  1. Checking the entry in the Text Entry Boxes): user has to enter something, but it is not to be validated, cannot be empty. Because the way Captivate is treating the value of variables, you need to create an empty variable, which I use to label 'v_null'. If the TEB field(s) is (are) empty, a warning should appear for the user.
    That part described in the old blog post is still valid!  For that reason I will restrict the explanation in this post to one TEB on the slide.
  2. Reactivating the Text Entry Boxes) to allow a new attempt for the learner. Once the Submit button is clicked the TEB is deactivated by default. It is this second part that is no longer functional in recent versions for HTML output.  Focus will be on this second part.

Example Movie

You can watch the example movie by clicking this link


Workarounds for Reactivating TEB

I propose two workarounds: the first workaround uses the dummy slide as described for another use case in a recent post as Tip 2 (Reset Slide). Since you will re-enter the slide, you can use the On Enter event to restore the initial settings. The second workaround uses micronavigation, which was also used in the original setup. But in this case micronavigation will be not be used to move the playhead before the pausing point of the TEB, but to re-enter the slide.

Solution 1: Using Dummy slide

In the movie this solution is on slide 3, the dummy slide (duration 0,1sec) is slide 2. You see the slide numbers at the bottom in the movie. That is the biggest drawback of this solution, you will have extra slide(s). Three events are used on slide 3:

  • On Enter event triggers the advanced action EnterEmpty which resets the situation when re-entering the slide: clears the TEB associated variable v_MyName, hides a Group Gr_Retry (message + button) which will be shown when the TEB is empty and hides another group Gr_OK (message + Next button) which will be made visible when the TEB has an entry.

  • Success event of the TEB triggers the shared action Check_TEB which is also used in the second workflow. It has 3 parameters: the variable associated with the TEB, what (group or object) has to be shown when the TEB is empty, and what (group or object) has to be shown when the TEB variable has a value. In this case the two last parameters are groups: Gr_Retry and Gr_OK.
  • Success event of the Retry button has the simple action 'Go to Previous Slide'.

Solution 2: Using micronavigation

You see this solution on slide 4. This solution needs one more user variable v_start to store the first frame number of the slide, using the On Enter event of the slide. The Retry button will use this number in combination with the system variable cpCmndGotoFrameAndResume to navigate the playhead to one of the last frames in the previous slide. This will avoid the creation of extra slides as with the first solution But the workflow is a little bit more complicated.  The used events and actions are now:

  • On Enter event triggers the advanced action EnterEmptyBis which resets the situation when re-entering the slide: clears the TEB associated variable v_myName, hides a Group Gr_RetryBis (message + button) which will be shown when the TEB is empty and hides a message  Tx_Welcome_20 (kept the generic name) which will be made visible when the TEB has an entry. It also defines the value of v_start with the current frame number, which will be the first frame of the slide. 

  • Success event of the TEB triggers the shared action Check_TEB  used in the first workflow. It has 3 parameters: the variable associated with the TEB, what (group or object) has to be shown when the TEB is empty, and what (group or object) has to be shown when the TEB variable has a value. In this case third parameter is not a group but the message Tx_Welcome_20.

  • Success event of the Retry button triggers an advanced action RetryAct with two commands: clears the variable v_myName, and calculates the frame number that is 2 frames less than the start frame of the slide. I prefer 2 instead of 1 frame because there could be a small delay which makes v_start equal to the second frame number of the slide.


Drawback of both proposed workarounds, compared with the original solution (broken now) is possible flickering when the slide is re-entered. I have tried a lot of ideas to avoid that flickering which is an annoying issue since many versions (if my memory is correct since version 6): transitions (not slide transition which is unsupported for HTML output), Delay command, delay on timeline etc.. 

Drawback of the first workaround is that the total number of slides (cpInfoSlideCount) and the current slide number (cpInfoCurrentSlide) cannot be used directly to indicate slide progress due to the inserted dummy slides.

For the second workaround: if you want to apply this to multiple slides, it is possible to reuse the variable v_start which stores the first frame of each slide. If you use the shared action, the variable v_null is not defined as parameter. That means it will be automatically created when import or drag this action to the Library of a new project. As you probably know I am a big fan of shared actions. Maybe I will post some of my tricks to save time with shared actions. in a future post.