Curious about Variables in Captivate?

Since Captivate 4 you have access to a whole bunch of system variables, and you can create your own variables. It is possible to change variables and thus taking more control over your Captivate-movie.

If you feel uncomfortable with or puzzled by this introductory paragraph, please read on. Probably you never used a scripting language, or you never liked... maths? But I think it is really worthwhile to get some hints about the power of those variables are and their possible use. For this reason I did create a starters tutorial, with practical examples and ... without writing any script (called Advanced actions in Captivate). If you want more later on, I do plan to write a second part, where simple advanced actions will be used to give you even more power with the variables. All examples can be used in Captivate 5 as well as in Captivate 4.

Not curious yet? Do you know how to hide the playbar temporarily for a couple of slides? Or to turn off the navigation in the Table of Contents? Or to show the score of a question slide without having to type a lot? Then have a look at the examples in this tutorial:

Use the power of variables in Captivate 5 and 4 - without advanced actions 


Warning: be Careful not to Assign same Shortcut Key to Multiple Objects on a Slide

Normally the action linked to a button or a click box is activated by clicking on them. However it is possible to add a shortcut key as an alternative method of activation or even to replace the click entirely by a shortcut key. You should be careful: it is not possible to have different active objects (like buttons, click boxes) on one slide to have the same shortcut key, not even when they are visible at different moments in the timeline. If you assign the same shortcut key, only one object will react to it: the object that is the lowest on the timeline (= the first created object if you did not change the order). Flash-adepts will use the words Z-order or stacking order.

To illustrate this I realized a small SWF with Captivate. It has two introduction slides. On the second introduction slide I used the Interactive label Widget, created by Yves Riel (@Whyves_  on Twitter - Slides 3-6 seem identical, they have four interactive objects, two buttons (that show a hidden Text Caption) and two click boxes over a drawing shape that jump to a following slide (YellowSlide/BlueSlide). The only difference between the four slides is the stacking order: on each slide another interactive object will have the 'priority place' in the timeline. The shortcut assigned to the objects is the Enter-key and it is not an alternative, it is the only way to activate the button or click box. Try it out, use Enter on pages 3-6 and you will see that on each slide only one object can be activated. You will be able to see an image of the Timeline corresponding with each slide to check the stacking order. Timeline is in a rollover image, that you can open when rolling over the information caption.

Tip: Flowing Text in Shapes

Flowing text in shapes is no longer available in CP-versions later than 5.5.

I plan to post some small tips for Captivate 5. This first tip is a less known, but useful new feature: you can put text directly into a closed shape, such as rectangles, ovals and polygons. Moreover the inserted text will automatically adapt to the form of the shape. In previous versions of Captivate this was a tedious process: put a Text Caption on top of the shape, and try to adapt the text by inserting spaces and breaks.
I created a small Captivate-demonstration to show the workflow. Hope you enjoy watching it!