SVGs for custom Hotspot question

Intro

About 5 years ago I published this blog explaining the workflow for such a question using shape buttons. The embedded example in that blog was of course a SWF output.  With release 11.5 the possibility to use SVG’s as buttons, and to control the clickable area, combined with multistate object made me feel it is time to update this old post.

Why a custom Hotspot Question?

The default hotspot question slide has several limitations. To me the most frustrating limitations are:
  • hotspots have to be rectangular
  • partial scoring is impossible
With a custom question you can have
  • hotspots with any shape
  • partial scoring, which still can be reported to a LMS
  • full control

Limitations of custom questions

  • developing custom question slides always takes more time
  • although the total score will be correct when using partial scoring, some quizzing system variables will consider each correct hotspot as separate question. You need to keep that in mind for the fields in the score slide (number of questions/correct questions not correct)
  • to the full functionality (Retake/Review) takes a lot of time.

In this post I will show a pretty simple example, no retake/review but with the possibility of having the score stored in the quizzing system variable cpQuizInfoPointsscored.

Example

Have a look at this two-slide file (rescalable HTML5). On the first slide you will be asked to click 4 West-European countries. On a correct click, the country flag appears bottom left. You will not be able to click that country anymore. Move to the second slide (Next button) to see the final score.

Please be a bit patient when you see a ‘pink’ feedback (which is the correct style). It may be due to the amount of SVG’s on the slide, but it takes time to hear the audio and see the flag appear and animated.
If the embedded movie is too small for your device, you click this link.

Setup

Look at the screenshot, which shows the Timeline and the Properties, Actions tab for one of the non-correct SVG-buttons  (Luxemburg). In the Style tab, the option ‘Enable Click in Bounding Box’ is disabled to limit the clickable area to the shape of the SVG itself (see recent post). In the screenshot both groups (countries/flags) are expanded. 

For the SVG buttons (countries) Success message is activated and used to display feedback. Those messages have two different styles: grey for the wrong clicks, and pink for the correct ones. After the correct message, an audio clip sounds and the flag of that country will appear at the bottom left. Both for correct and incorrect SVG’s the state will change to the Visited state when clicked: That visited state is grayscale for incorrect clicks. No advanced actions needed so far.


Actions

The on enter event of the question slide triggers the simple action ‘Hide Gr_Flags’

Success event for the correct countries, needs an Advanced action. In this case a user variable will store the score. It is not really necessary because the clicks are reported and have a score, the system variable cpQuizInfoPointsscored will have the correct scoe as well. Have a look at the action for Belgium:

The first three commands are self-explanatory. Why did first apply the effect (line 4) to the group, and wait 0,1 sec before showing the flag? Because that will avoid flickering, a trick I learned from another user many months ago.

Duplicate that action, and edit it for the three other correct SVG’s.

Why did I not use a Shared Action?

If you are a fan, you know that I mostly use Shared actions when possible. This was also the case for this example.Of course, I created first a shared action. But a strange phenomenon appeared: the Effect was not applied for each instance of the shared action, only for the first one. I wanted the whole group to be animated after a correct answer. Yes, I could have ungrouped and changed the action, but then that meant another advanced action On Enter for the slide (where I now hide the group). Moreover I like to have the effect emphasize the whole group instead of one flag.

Still looking out for the reason of this non-consistent behavior. Really this is the first time I encounter a difference between an advanced and shared action behavior. Be sure, will update this post when I have an answer.

Power of SVG Buttons

§Intro

In previous posts I have talked about the advantages and disadvantages of the 6 button types, and how you can edit the colors of SVG’s, even in states and when they are used as buttons. SVG’s, being vector images are excellent for use in projects to be viewed on multiple devices, whether it is a scalable non-responsive or a responsive project (fluid boxes or breakpoint views).

Unique about SVG’s used as buttons, is the fact that you have control over the clickable area, which is not the case for other  button types. In the example below you’ll see buttons which would have been impossible to realize with any other button type.

Example file

Watch this two-slide project. The Title slide is taken from the QSP ‘Legacy’ (non-responsive), but I have changed fonts (not fan of Arial). The second slide uses an edited master slide from that same QSP. Click the buttons in circular image in any sequence, and you can also reset the slide (used the Scenario 2 technique described in Replay Slide)

Setup Clickable Area

Six Buttons

The 6 buttons in the circular arrangement have overlapping bounding boxes. Have a look at this screenshot:


By unchecking the option ‘Enable Click in Bounding Box’ the clickable area will be limited to the space within the colored shapes, and those do not overlap. 

I kept only the Normal and Visited InBuilt states of the buttons . In the Visited state I added an icon (also SVG) from the Assets panel,  colored in the same color of the button (which was dimmed). That icon also covered up the number, which was part of the button SVG. Here is the Object state panel for button 6:

Reset Button

For this button I used an icon from the Assets panel. and added a text caption close to this button. The bounding box of the SVG is encreased so that the Reset text looks to be inside of the box. In this case The default option under the Style tab ‘Enable Click in Bounding Box’ remained checked. It now looks as if the learner can click both text and icon. I didn't use the padding option, which would make the icon smaller inside the bounding box.

Other Items

The information is stored in a multistate shape, where the Normal state is invisible (Alpha and Stroke set to 0). A two state shape is used for the final image, which is in a custom state of a circular shape. That circular shape also has an invisible Normal state. 

For the multistate objects the option ‘Retain State on Slide Revisit’ remains unchecked. Since the Reset button is re-entering the slide, all multistate objects will automatically revert to their Normal states.

Actions and variables were custom made, I didn’t use any of the click-reveal interactions from the QSP’s. Sorry about that, but I’m so used to create that type of interactivity that it comes almost naturally. One tracking variable for each buttons was needed to have the final image appear after all buttons have been clicked. 

Overview 6 Button Types

Intro

Captivate ‘s most recent release, 11.5.0.476 added two types to the button treasure chest. You all know that the button is perhaps the most used interactive object. If you are only creating non-responsive projects, you may sometimes replace it by a click box, but that is not a possibility for Fluid Boxes projects.  In this post you’ll find an overview of all button types, with their advantages and disadvantages. It will be a lot of reading, if you want a short overview and check some details later, check this post.

This long article offers more details than the published output in Tips for use QSP

Common features for all button types

Here is a short list of what you’ll find in any button, whatever its type:
  • The ability to pause the playhead or not by adding a pausing point, which you can do in the Timing Properties panel. The pausing point will appear with the typical pause symbol on the button timeline. Pausing point will not stop everything (see Pausing Timeline).
  • Two events ‘Success’ and ‘Last Attempt’ (this is not available with Infinite attempts) which you can use to trigger any possible action. Success event means clicking the button, Failure means clicking outside of the button.
  • Add-on of two extra InBuilt states on top of the Normal state Rollover and Down states. A fourth InBuilt state exists but is not automatically created; Visited. Inbuilt states typically appear in a situation. The form of the button in those states has size and location locked to the Normal state. however you can add more items in each state and define Custom states as well.

The 6 types can be divided in two groups of 3:

  1. Old types (which I have known since I started using Captivate).
  2. Newer types: one was added with Captivate 6, 11.5 added two more.

Old Button Types 

Those are Text buttons, Transparent buttons and Image buttons. They can be added using the Interactions button, option Button.  You will always get a Text button. If you want a Transparent or an Image button, you have to open the dropdown list under Style Name in the Properties panel. Image button is the second choice, Transparent the third. In this screenshot (same for most included themes) two more styles are visible, both for quiz buttons (which are also transparent buttons).


Common features for older types:

  • Button(s timeline is green.
  • They have  a default object style, which you can define in the Object Style Manager. The object style includes the InBuilt states Normal, Rollover and Down (not Visited). Like all object styles they will be included in the (custom) theme. Multiple object styles are possible for each type. To reuse such a button use either the theme, or you can export/import individual styles in a new project.
  • Bounding box of the button is the clickable area, whatever the shape of the button (for image buttons).
  • They cannot be used on master slides.
  • They cannot be timed for the rest of the project.
  • They can be used for the embedded buttons on quiz and score slides.
  • They cannot be used as extra (custom) button on a quiz or a score slide.
  • You cannot use copy/paste appearance, not even between buttons of the same type.
  • They will not show up in the Library.

Text Button

This type is always rectangular. Fill nor stroke can be edited. You can only make the button transparent, which results in only the Label showing up (see screenshot with dropdown list for the checkbox ‘Make Transparent’. Look at this screenshot for a possible ‘look’ of the states:

The text on the button needs to be typed under ‘Caption’ in the Properties panel, not in the button itself. The text can be formatted: font, font size, font color and attribute.

Tips for use

Since Captivate 6 I have never used this type anymore. Not being able to use theme colors for its style is a show stopper for me. Using the option ‘Make transparent’ is not very appealing since it still keeps the bounding box as clickable area. Personally I regret that this button type is the default type when using the Button option under Interactions.

Transparent Button

This type can be a rectangle or a rounded rectangle.  Fill can be edited, offers the same options as shapes: Solid color, gradient, texture or image fill. The button text needs also to be typed in the Properties panel (same as for Text button). Font styling has same features as with text button. There is no ‘Make Transparent’ option, but you can edit the Opacity for the fill and the width of the stroke. Setting both to 0 will result in transparency. The name of the button type is bit confusing, don’t you think. Usually that button is not transparent, but the most flexible of the old types. Have a look at this example:

Tips for use

Since quiz and score slides need an old type for the embedded buttons, this one is my preferred type. That is due to its better styling options, which makes it possible to give the transparent button exactly the same look as a shape button (which is still more flexible). You may wonder: why not an Image button? Read below why.

Image button

Before shapes appeared with version 6 I have created a lot of image buttons. You need a graphics application to do so:

  • Create three graphics (bitmap), you are free to choose the type. I mostly use PNG (allows alpha channel), but you can use BMP (was the original choice), GIF… Graphics need to be exactly the same size.
  • The images need to have the same name, but followed by _up, _over, _down.  You can see a lot of image buttons in the GalleryButtons under the installation folder:
  • Save the buttons in the same folder, doesn’t have to be the Gallery folder.You would need administrator rights to add them in that folder.
  • After inserting an image button, use either the dropdown list (for included image buttons) or the Browse icon (for custom image buttons stored elsewhere) and point to one of the graphics. Which one is not important, Captivate will recognize the other graphics and use them for the appropriate state.
    You see that the name on the button needs to be part of the image which is one of the disadvantages of this type of buttons. You need a lot of duplicates, each with its proper label as you could see in the excerpt from GalleryButtons shown above. You see also that the size of the button is mentioned next to its description, for the included buttons. Since those are bitmap image, it is best to use them at their original size. Increasing the size leads to loss of crispness as is very well visible in the last screenshot.
  • Whatever the shape of the image, the clickable area remains the surrounding bounding box.

Tips for use

Since shapes became available, which can be filled with an image (see Turn an image into a button) I never used image buttons. Now, with 11.5 you can use both bitmap images and SVG’s directly as buttons. In my series about Tweaking Quiz slides, I mentioned them as only solution for a Fluid Boxes project to Tweak a Results slide. As you can read in that post, I used it exactly because it was possible to make an image button totally transparent, which is not possible for a Text Button nor a Transparent button because of the label. That is the only exceptional situation where I recommend an Image button?-.µ

None of the previous types are available in the new Assets panel.

Newer Button Types

Common features

You did read in Part 1 about the common features for all buttons, and those common to all the three older button types. These are the common features for the newer buttons:
  • They can be used on master slides. Those will not have an ID, cannot be controlled by actions.
  • They can be timed for the rest of the project. That way you create one button with a unique ID which can be controlled (Hide/Show, Enable/Disable)
  • They can not be used as embedded buttons on quiz and score slides.
  • They can be used as extra (custom) button on a quiz or a score slide.

This list is not as long as for the old trio. To see specific features for each type continue reading.

Shape Button

A smart shape with the option “Use as button’ checked in its Properties, is not so new anymore. Since many years my number 1. Why?  Have a look at this 7 years old blog post: “Why I like Shape Buttons“. I even presented several webinars for Adobe about this type of button.

Such a shape button has some features taken over from the old trio:

  • Its timeline is green. A Smart shape has a blue timeline, which turns green when you check the option ‘Use as button’, identifying it as an interactive object.
  • Shapes have multiple default object styles, which you can check/define in the Object Style Manager. However you do not see a default style for a Shape button. Since any shape can be used as a button, each of the styles has the  InBuilt states Normal, Rollover and Down (not Visited) included. Similar to all object styles shape (buton) styles will be included in the (custom) theme.
  • They will not show up in the Library, are not available in the Assets panel neither.

Shape button has also some similarities to the Transparent button, concerning the style: you can fill a shape with a solid color, a gradient, a texture or an image. You can also indicate color and width of the stroke. But, a shape button can have any shape, transparent buttons are limited to rectangle and rounded rectangle shape. This  is even valid for the states: you can switch to another shape in the InBuilt or custom states. Only rule is that the original bounding box location/size of the Normal state has to be preserved. Look at the Object state panel of (maybe too exaggerated style) of this shape button:

Personally I appreciate also the fact that the label can be typed in the shape, you don’t need to use the Properties panel (Text and Transparent button). I defined an object style for this button. It will include the edited image (Normal and Down state), the gradient and the text style for the Rollover state, and all strokes. Object style will not have the different shapes (Normal state is a freeform shape).

Shape button is the only button type which will allow Copy/Paste appearance as well! Read more in Copy/Paste Appearance.

If you are not yet convinced that this a very flexible type of button, look at the common features for the three buttons in this post.

Here are some minus points:

  • If you want the shape to be filled with an image, only bitmap images can be used (as for trnasparent buttons). To have a crisp looking image, create it in exactly the same size as the shape button. More details in ‘Turn an image into a button
  • You will find no Shape buttons in the Library,  only images if you used them s fill. I recommend to create a subfolder for images used in shape buttons. The Buttons section in the Assets panel neither has shape buttons.
  • Shape buttons automatically shrink when pressed, trying to simulate a a real button.  Some developers do not like that effect (which you’ll also see in the two other button types of this post). Mixed feelings: I don’t care about this feature, but not everyone agrees. It would have been better to leave the choice to the Captivate developer.

Bitmap image as Button

New type available since version 11.5. Instead of filling a shape with an image you can now convert a bitmap image (PNG, JPEG, GIF…) directly to a button. Just check the option in the Properties panel. You’ll see immediately that the default three InBuilt states appear in the panel:

You can swap images in the states, using the button indicated in this screenshot by a red rounded rectangle. In this example I used three different images from the series Brady (Illustrated category). You can add a text container in each state, but it is not really embedded in the image itself, or you can choose an image which has text in the graphics. Here I just used the character images.

You cannot define an object style s.

If you open the Assets panel, you’ll find a group titled ‘Buttons’. All the buttons in this group are of this type. However, the three InBuilt states will show identical images. In a previous article about the Asset panel I offered a tip to make it possible to have different images show up when inserting a button from this panel. That make it a lot easier to reuse buttons from this type: insert them from the Assets panel.

Common features described at the start are valid for this type as well.

Features which are less appealing:

  • Contrary to all buttons discussed before, this type keeps the blue timeline of any non-interactive object.
  • It is a bitmap image, which means quality loss when rescaling. Rescaling happens for Rescalable HTML output and in responsive projects.
  • Shrinking happens for this type as well, may be very visible (with simple buttons like the ones in the Asset panel) or barely visible for a big character button like I showed in the screenshots.

SVG as Button

I have already blogged about this type in the already mentioned blog with Tips for the Assets Panel, but also in “Edit SVG’s“. Up till now it has never been possible to use a SVG in an interactive object like a shape button or a transparent button. For the first time you can use a vector-based image as a button, which is great news for responsive projects and rescalable HTML5 projects. They share the common features with the two other types of this post.

SVG’s also may have a smaller file size than their bitmap counterparts. I have converted some png-files from the Characters, Illustrated category to SVG’s. File size reduced to about 30% of the png filesize.Look

At least as exciting is the fact that the clickable area for a SVG need NOT be the bounding box of the image. Look at the Properties panel:

Watch the option ‘Fit to Bounding Box’, with the associated slider (blue rounded rectangle). In the default situation the slide will be at its maximum (to the right) which means the bounding box is filled with the SVG. I created some padding as you can see, by moving the slider to the left. The green rectangle indicates the option to define the clickable area. Default setting is ‘Enable Click’ which means the legacy situation where the bounding box is clickable everywhere. I unchecked it, and now the clickable area is limited to the SVG space. Expect in the near future to see a use case where this innovative feature will be used.

Similar to Bitmap image as button, no object styles are possible. The used SVG’s will appear in the Project Library. If you used the same SVG for each state its name will appear with a usage of 3 or more (if you have more states). For a more complicated image, I recommend to create the SVG’s separately (I use Illustrator) and import them to the Project Library. In this screenshot you see a Delete button, for which I used one of the provided Icons in the Assets panel, converted it to a button.  But unlike the Bitmap images, there is no way to include a different image for the other InBuilt states.

Negative points:

  • Like its twin (Bitmap as button), this type keeps the blue timeline of any non-interactive object. Should have turned green (logged feature request).
  • Shrinking happens for this type as well,
  • No easy way to reuse a SVG button with all its states.

Conclusion

Here are my personal conclusions:

  1. If I need a button which maintains a high quality image on many different screen resolutions use a SVG aton.
  2. If reusability of certain buttons is important, and I need to localize them as well, I will use a shape button except…
  3. For quiz and score slides as embedded buttons I have no choice but need to use Transparent buttons.
  4. I am not tempted by bitmaps as buttons, except for a rare complicated button. Even though it is bit more cumbersome, in all other situations will use a shape button filled with the image.
  5. I never use Text buttons.
  6. I only use an image button in that Tweak situation described in the first post.

Would love to hear your ideas!

Secret of Hidden Score Slide

Intro

You may be aware of the fact that it is not possible to delete a score slide, once it has been inserted automatically because you created a quiz. It will become 'hidden'. For normal slides that means it will not be included in the output of the Captivate file. However, you may also know that quiz and score slides are bit 'special', because they have embedded objects (no timeline) and a lot of inbuilt functionality.

You need to be careful with that Hidden score slide, as a user in the forums experienced. Read on, if you want to discover another secret of the Score slide.

Problem and Solution

User didn’t want to show the score slide after a quiz, but created a a slide to jump to in case of Success, and another in case of Failure. Setup of the Quiz Preferences are visible in this screenshot:

The default way of achieving this is to click the Continue button on the score slide. But the user didn’t want to show the score slide. It is not possible to delete the slide but it was hidden. A slide which is hidden normally is not part of the published output. However Quiz and Score slides cannot be considered to be ‘normal’ as you’ll find out. His problem was that, whatever the result, the first of the two custom slides was always shown. Hence his complaint that the actions were not working.  Try it out, use this example published file and you’ll see that you always are navigated to Failure slide, which is the first slide, even if you have a 100% result:


Wrong setup

When I heard that the user didn't use the score slide, guessed the origin of the problem. It is due to the very special ‘status’ of the score slide, even when it is hidden. The Filmstrip of the previous example looks like this:

I hear you! What is wrong? Can anyone guess? Try the same course after a small edit:

Correct setup

I moved the score slide in a position before the slides Success and Failure.

Why did this fix the problem? Quiz is considered finished when you reach the score slide, even when it is hidden. Now the quizzing system variables have their final value, including  cpQuizInfoPassFail which is responsible for the choice between Passing Grade and Failing Grade. When the score slide was after the Success/Failure slides Captivate expected more questions to come and didn’t evaluate that variable.

Another way of solving the problem, bit more work, is:

  • Keep the score slide visible, but always before the custom Success/Failure slides.
  • Use the On Enter event of the score slide to trigger a conditional action, checking the value of cpQuizInfoPassFail, navigate to the Failure slide if its value is 0, to the Success slide if it is 1. No need to set the Quiz Preferences actions in that case. And you automatically skip the score slide, learner will not see it.

Conclusion

Never trust the word 'hidden' if it is a Score slide!


Tips for using Quick Start Projects (11.5)

Intro

The most recent version, 11.5.0.476 includes the new Assets Panel which I presented in this post.

You are able to use Quick Start projects, or slides taken from those projects to avoid having to design and to work out interactions for your project from scratch. Those projects/slides are available in a responsive (Fluid Boxes) and non-responsive version. I tested it out for a tutorial which you can watch using this link (it is a responsive fluid boxes project):

Button Types

If this topic, also related with 11.5, seems interesting, I will post a more detailed description in the near future. But today you'll get some tips from what I learned creating this tutorial.

QSP tips

You can use a Quick Start Project in two ways:
  1. Open the project, and delete or hide the slides you don’t want to use in your course.
  2. Open a non-responsive or a Fluid boxes project, and insert slides from the Assets panel.

I used the second approach for the tutorial, for a logical reason: I didn’t use even half of the provided slides in the Aspire project. Project has only 17 slides, including a lot of duplicate instances of slides. I used these slides from Aspire:

  • Welcome layout
  • Timeline Interaction 02
  • Main Menu layout 02
  • Subtopic Header layout (used 6 instances)
  • Tab Interaction 01 (used 3 instances)
  • Related Content Interaction (used 3 instances)
  • 3 Column layout
  • Exit Layout

Tip 1 Duplicate slides

If you need the same slide multiple times do NOT insert it multiple times in your project, because that will corrupt the Advanced actions (most slides use them). To avoid this you need to follow this workflow:
  • Insert one instance of the needed slide
  • Go into the Filmstrip, slide will be active (surrounded by a blue rectangle)
  • Duplicate that slide, either with the right-click menu or with the universal shortcut for duplicate: CTRL-D.
  • Move the slide by dragging in the filmstrip to the wanted location.

You can repeat this workflow as many times as needed. Due to Captivate’s smart labeling, the advanced actions will not corrupt in most situations. Why not always? See next tip.

Tip 2: Check Navigation commands

In a slide like the Main Menu Layout, the topic buttons point to another slides in the total project. On insertion of that slide only, without the target slides, all commands will revert to the default navigation command ‘Go to Next Slide’. You have to replace it by ‘Jump to….’ while indicating the correct target slide (in the project the slides of the Subheader Topic layout). This will prove easier if you use the next tip:

Tip 3: Rename slides

Labeling is always a good practice, but for sure in this type of project. Multiple instances of the same layout slide will have the same name (and are very long as well). Taking the time to give them a custom name will save time when you need to find a slide. Moreover, if you want to use the Table of Content, the names will be meaningful.

Tip 4: Replace image

Switching to another image is mostly very easy:
  1. Select the image.
  2. Click on its name in the Properties panel
  3. Choose another image from the Library dropdown list, or use the Import button to find it on your system.


However, on many slides an image is used as Fill for a Fluid Box. Look at the Subtopic Header slides (there are 6 in the example): having the image as fill allows to add an image on top of the fluid box. Normally you cannot stack two images, this is a useful solution for that limitations.

If you want to replace the fill for a Fluid box, you need to select that fluid box, you cannot just click the image. After selecting the FB you see that the fill is set to Image, click the second Fill button, use the Browse icon to find an image to replace the image. Be careful to check the Position properties if the new image doesn’t have exactly the same size as the original one.

Tip 5 Multistate objects

The layout slides use a lot of multistate objects.  That is the case for all the Click to Reveal slides (labeled ‘Tab Interaction’ and ‘Related Content Interaction) and probably for many other interactions. You really will need to learn how to use them. Click the State view button in the Properties panel, to open the Object State panel.

More questions?

You may have seen that I have edited some slides quite a lot. This post has only simple tips, not the full explanation of all changes. If you want to know more, post a comment to this blog.

Themes are Time savers. What is NEW in 11.5?

Intro

The most recent update to CP2019, version 11.5.0.476 is packed with several enhancements to Themes. The components of a theme, as I described in this post are still the same: theme colors palette, object styles, master slides, skin, Recording defaults. The possibility to use multiple themes in one project is probably the most eye catching enhancement. Even minor changes are very useful, will try to explain them in this post.

Themes thumbnails dialog box

In older versions this dialog box had thumbnails of the available themes in the Layouts folder (and you could browse for themes in other locations). The active theme – which always had to be unique – was highlighted with name and resolution visible. The default theme was marked by a check mark.

In 11.5 this dialog box has two parts, separated by a horizontal line. The next screenshot, and indicated explanation  is valid for projects with one theme, not with multiple themes:

The top part shows the active theme, as usual with name and resolution. For a responsive project it is the resolution for the primary view (desktop).

The bottom part shows more available themes, and you can use the Browse hyperlink to search (custom) themes which may be stored on your system. Themes show name and resolution when hovering over the thumbnail. The default theme is still recognizable at its check mark. You see above that I have set the Blank theme as default theme).

To apply another theme to the project, select the new theme from the bottom part (or browse to it) and accept the warning. All slides will be converted to the new theme, which will replace the old theme in the top part. This workflow has not changed, but you’ll see below that this changes for projects with multiple themes.

Totally NEW is the button ‘Theme Properties’, replacing the former ‘Theme Colors’. You’ll read about this new panel in next point.

Themes Properties panel

Clicking the Theme Properties panel, will open this new panel, which shows you (for a one-theme project) the Fonts used in this theme (new) and the Color palette used:

Fonts may not be totally visible the panel cannot be resized (which is the pity). But clicking the Edit button at the bottom will show you all used fonts and colors, ready for editing.

A new functionality, which can save you many working hours: it is now very easy to replace one of the used fonts by another font. I always recommend to avoid using system fonts, use only websafe fonts or Adobe (formerly Typekit) fonts. That way you’ll be sure that all learners will see the font you had in mind, even when using dynamic text (includes variables) or creating a Fluid Boxes project. In older versions, replacing a font was very cumbersome, because you had to screen all object styles in the Object style manager which included characters, and change them one by one ( see Manage the Object Style Manager ). In this editing panel you cannot see however the Usage of the fonts (feature request) but it is already a big enhancement!

As I mentioned in my first review of version 11.5, the colors in the palette have now simple numbered names. The older names (Title, Subtitle, …) were confusing because they were rarely used for those objects. Editing colors in the color palette is the same as in previous versions.

Theme in Slide Properties

Less important for a course with only one theme, but the Slide Properties have an indicator of the used theme for that slide:

Theme fonts in dropdown list PI

When you are in edit mode for text containers (captions or shapes), the dropdown list for fonts will show at the top a group 'Theme fonts', which is new. The following group are the Adobe fonts (formerly Typekit fonts) if you have licensed some. The third group is the usual 'Websafe' group. You should limit font use to those groups, System fonts have to be avoided, especially if you are creating fluid boxes project. If you use system fonts, there is no guarantee that your learners will see that font, that it will be replaced by a generic font like Times New Roman or Tahoma.

 Multi-theme projects

You can insert slides using another theme than the project theme. Once inserted you’ll see in the Filmstrip an icon, showing two options Use destination Theme or
Keep Source Theme (which is the default choice). Beware: this icon only appears when a slide is inserted. When you insert another slide, the icon will disappear, in favor of the last inserted slide.

Look at this screenshot, taken after insertion of a slide with the “Earth” Theme (one of the Quick Start Project themes). You see that the first slide no longer has the icon, it was in the theme ‘Aspire’ has no longer the icon. This project has now 3 used themes: DemoTheme (my custom theme), Aspire and Earth. What is now the destination theme for the last slide? It is not the original project theme, but the theme ‘Aspire’ of the previous slide. I find this bit confusing.

You can use one of these two workflows to change the theme of a slide (where you no longer have the icon to change to the destination theme):

  • Select the slide, use the Themes button and click the theme you want as destination theme for the slide. If there is no appropriate master slide, it will be added to the destination theme.
  • Select the slide, use the dropdown list in the Properties panel (see screenshot) and choose the destination theme. If there is no appropriate master slide, you will be invited to choose one of the existing master slides.

In the thumbnails under the big button Themes, all the used project themes appear in the top part. The ‘active’ theme shown is the one of the slide selected at that moment. If you select multiples slides, not all using the same theme, it is the theme of the first slide selected who will show its theme as active?

Clicking the Theme Properties panel will bring you to the properties of the active theme. If you want to see the Properties for another theme used in the project, do NOT click that theme in the top part of the thumbnails, because you would change the used theme for the active slide!. You need to leave the thumbnails dialog box, select a slide in the filmstrip with that other theme to make it active in the thumbnails, in order to be able to access its theme properties.

Master slides

In a multi-theme project, the master slide panel will show only the master slides belonging to the theme of the selected slide, not all the master slide used in the project. Just a warning: if you have both the Filmstrip and the Master slide panel open, which is only possible in the Expert UI, not in the default UI, the master slide panel will not refresh automatically if you choose a slide with another theme than the one showing at this moment. You have to leave the master slide panel and come back to force it to refresh.

If you change the theme of an inserted slide to the destination theme, and it uses a master slide which is not available in the destination theme, an extra master slide will be created. It will use the destination theme colors palette and its object styles.

If that happens, you may have to use the button ‘Reset master slide’ to enforce the use of the new object styles. It is not always happening automatically, if an extra master slide was needed.

Object Styles

Opening the Object Style Manager will show the object styles of the theme used by the selected slide. The logic is similar to the one I explained for the master slides. If an object style used in a slide (or master slide), which is not available in the theme to which you convert the slide, it will be added to that theme.

Theme fonts in PI

Same logic: the dropdown list in the Properties panel, will show the Theme fonts for the theme used by the selected slide.

Skin editor?

When i explored the skin, I found that only one skin exists. In the example I used for the screenshots, the skin designed for the custom theme ‘DemoTheme’ was always applied. Even when I have changed all the slides to another theme, or applied another theme to the whole project (where the message appears that skin is updated). Not sure what is going on, will update this post when I have more information.

I did not check out Recording defaults, last component of any theme.

Sliding Menu

Intro 

This post is meant as an answer to a thread posted in the eLearning community. "I want to create a menu that slides on and off the screen, like a door that moves to the left and right, when the user clicks a button." I invite you to read the comment by Greg Stager who is posting some links to blogs he wrote where JS is used to create slider solutions. As you know, I often try to use only Captivate features to solve similar use cases instead of JS. This is a new example. You'll find a step-by-step workflow to recreate the example I show. The shape (which I use as 'box') is not having a menu, I invite you to (re-)read my post about Hyperlinks for the creation of a Dropdown menu. They are a great way to avoid creating multiple interactive objects in the 'box'. 

If you don't like creating advanced actions, I have an offer at the end of the post to make your life easier...

Example

Watch this short file, only three slides after the 3 seconds long Title slide. They have two buttons (from the Assets panel in 11.5): a Next button on top, and the Slide toggle button below it. You can use the toggle button as many times as you wish on a slide. To restart, refresh the browser.


Step-by-step workflow

Step 0: Next button on master slide

I used only one master slide in this project, which made it easy to put the Next button on that master slide. I kept the default option 'Pause project until user clicks' (Actions tab). That will result in having each slide paused at its last frame.

Step 1: Sliding assets

Two assets have to be created and put on the first slide where you want to use the sliding box:

  • Sliding Box: I used a rectangular shape, labeled SS_slider. You can add content to it, but make sure that you check the Options tab, because you will need both the size and the exact x/y coordinates. Here a screenshot of my setup, since it was in a non-responsive project you see both size and location in px. If it was a responsive project, it would have been in %. Put the box in the wanted position after sliding in.

  • Toggle button (SB_Slider): will be used both for slide in and out. You need to create an extra custom state for this button, I labeled it Out. Remember that Rollover nor Down state can change when you switch from the Normal to the Out state, hence make those states neutral (I did not add text to them).

Time the Sliding Box and the Toggle button for the rest of the project, with the option 'Always on top'. The Timeline of that slide will look like this:


Step 2: Custom Out Effect

Create a time-based effect to get the sliding box out of the stage. Do not use an Exit effect, but a simple motion path. I added an AlphaFromTo effect as well (100% to 0%), and reduced the duration of both effects to 1 second. 

Workflow to save this effect as a custom effect is described in detail in this post. Do use that method after you have done step 3:

Step 3: Create Guides

Show the Rulers (View menu) and create two vertical guides, through the start and end point of the motion path. See this screenshot:

They will be needed to create the In Effect, to be exactly the opposite of the Out effect. Now you can save the custom effect, and take it out from the slider box.

If you didn't use a horizontal motion path, you'll need also horizontal guides. If you need more information about using Guides and Rulers, look at 'Guides Rule'.

Step 4: Move slider box in Out position

Use the guide in the scratch area to move the slider box to the correct position. I mostly use shortcut key (SHIFT or CTRL combined with left arrow) to keep that movement horizontal. For a non-horizontal movement, you use vertical and horizontal guide. You'll see a screenshot of the new position in step 5

Step 5: Custom In Effect

Create this effect using the two guides (or four if you needed also horizontal guides). In the screenshot you see this effect, where I combined a motion path effect with an AlphaFromTo effect (0 to 100%). Save the effect, same as for the Out custom effect. 

Step 6: Hide Slider box

Use the On Enter action of the slide to hide the Slider box. 


Pause

Now comes the hard work: you could skip steps 7-9 and scroll immediately to the bottom for an offer. 

Step 7: Variable v_slider

Create a user variable, which I named v_slider. It will be used to track the status of the Slider box: in or out? Similar logic you'll be able to see for all the Toggle buttons in this older post.

Step 8: Advanced Action ResetSlide

Create this advanced action (conditional):

The items marked by in this action will be parameters if you convert it to a shared action. Beware: the name of the custom effect cannot be a parameter! I used TestIn and TestOut as names, you can replace them by your names if they are different.

Step 9: Advanced Action ToggleSlider

Create this conditional action. Like with the previous actin, I indicated the 4 parameters if converted to a shared action.

 

Step 10: Attach the actions to events

The action ResetSlide has to be triggered by the Success event of the Next button, whereas ToggleSlider has to be linked to the Success event of the toggle button.

Offer

You can obtain the described actions as shared actions for free, including a short explanation of how to use them. You could skip steps 7 to 9, but still have to do the other steps.

How? Visit my website (lilybiri.com), fill in the contact form with your request, and a small comment on my blogs or website. You'll get everything by mail. I probably will post more offers in the near future, if you don't want to hear about them, you can indicate that as well (I am European, respect the GDPR).

4 Tips - Assets Panel

Intro

Do not expect a complete overview of the Assets Panel in this article, may be later. The user interface is rather simple, intuitive. Opening  the panel is possible  with the big button Assets in the right part of the Big Button Bar. For he expert UI this will be the only button in the right part, fo the newbie UI the Assets button will be with the Properties and Library button. Opening is also possible using the Slides button,  option ‘Asset Library…’ on the left side of the bar.

At this moment the stored  assets are restricted to those available with Captivate (under Assets tab  or to downloaded assets (under Downloads tab). You cannot add custom assets fto the panel. For those custom assets remember that you can use external libraries.

The center tab – Discover – has two choices,  ‘Templates’ (confusing term, not the cptl template files) with a submenu or ‘Characters’. Both link to the site of the eLearning Brothers. Once downloaded, they will appear in the Downloads tab.

Tip 1: Projects/Slides

This is the first option under the Assets tab, opening by default with Slides selected. It allows you to choose individual slides for insertion in an existing project after the active slide. Under Projects you will see 6 Quick Start Projects (QSP), first of them is the Branching file. That file is meant for developers disliking variables and actions. It is based on the last QSP, labeled ‘Aspire’. 

All projects and slides are available in two formats:
  1. Non-responsive project (Blank project in Welcome screen)
  2. Responsive project with Fluid Boxes (none available for Breakpoints)

If you insert a slide in an existing project created in one of those types, the inserted slide will automatically be of the same type. A master slide may be added, and object styles but I’ll leave more details for another blog post about using QSP's

However, some users asked me "how do you open a full QSP in the wanted type"? There is no choice available after selecting a project.

Workaround which works for me: open first a project in the wanted type, either a blank project or a responsive project. Anyway you need an open project to launch the Assets panel. Selecting a QSP to open as new project, will open it in the same type as the already opened project. You can then delete the first project..

Tip 2: Characters

Contrary to previous versions, the characters packaged with Captivate are only installed on your system as thumbnails. You can find them in the Content folder under the eLearning assets. Each character has a folder bearing a number as name, and a subfolder Children, where you find all the thumbnails. When you insert a character in a project, the image is downloaded and stored in another subfolder with the name of the character (in this screenshot David), either in the High or the Low subsubfolder, depending on the chosen quality (Normal or High resolution):

Screenshot is taken on a Windows system. If you download a extra character from the eLB site, it will be stored under Characters_11_5, not in the Content folder.

It is still not possible to download more than one or all characters from a set at once (please log a feature request). However, if you like the Illustrated category, here is a tip. Characters in that category are based on one drawing file, which you can download as well. You have some choices for the format, I prefer AI (Illustrator). If you are comfortable with that vector image application, you can extract all characters from that file and export them not only as PNG, but also in other formats inclucing SVG (smaller file size and vector based, crisp look whatever the resolution - interesting for responsive projects). Those drawing files are always labeled ‘Name: Illustrated work files’. You can also use that file as reference file. After download it will be stored in the subfolder ‘Others’ under eLearning assets, (not in Content, nor Characters).

Tip 3: Icons

The files in this assets category are SVG’s. Once inserted you can convert them to a button. Editing the colors is very easy as I explained in a previous post.

Those icons are stored in a subfolder under the Contents folder in eLearning assets. When screening that folder you'll see that the 'icons' are in JPEG format. However when you insert an icon, the SVG is created in the same folder as the original JPEG image.

Tip 4: Buttons

I am finalizing another blog about the 6 button types available in Captivate 11.5, including advantages and disadvantages of each type. Which type of buttons do you insert from the Assets panel? That was bit of a mystery at first. When you insert a button from this asset category, it is a PNG image (bitmap) with the option ‘Use as button’ checked off. The three InBuilt states (Normal, Rollover, Down) which are normally included in a button object style, are identical. You have of course the possibility to edit the image for the other states once the button is inserted. However I was bit curious when watching the name of the image. Look at this screenshot of a button:

That name ‘Deep-download_up.png’ reminded me of the name convention needed for an (old) image button. For image buttons you need to create three images in the same size, with an identical name followed by _up (for normal state), _over for rollover state and _down  for the down state. Looking in the Buttons folder (under already mentioned Content folder) taught me that all the buttons had a similar name structure ending on _up.  The folder has is similar to the Characters and Icons subfolders: numbers as folder names. Each folder contains only one image file for the ‘up’ state.

Of course you can edit the states in the project, using the Object state panel and copy/paste the button if you need more instances.  But you will not be able to reuse that button with the edited states in a future project.  I tried out a workflow based on my CP-intuition:

  • I duplicated the _up file in the Content\Buttons fokler for the button 5751 ‘Bubbly_downloads_up'
  • renamed the duplicates to Bubbly_downloads_over and Bubbly_downloads_down,
  • edited the duplicates in Photoshop, watch the result in this screenshot:

Success! When inserting the 'Bubbly....' button in a project, it had three InBuilt states. Not only when inserting in the same project, but also in other projects. You cannot have an object style for Images used as buttons, as is possible for shape buttons, text buttons, image buttons and transparent buttons. However this workflow opens an alternative for re-usability  (one domain where Captivate excels over other authoring tools). One drawback: Assets are only edited on the used device, they are not in the cloud.

More about buttons in a future blog as promised.

Using Copy/Paste Appearance in 11.5.0

Intro

Copy/paste appearance is a new feature in the most recent release 11.5.0.476 of Captivate. Many call it a Format Painter like in MS Word, but I do not agree with that statement at all. I have sort of a ‘dual’ feeling about this added feature , Even the simple Format painter in Word can be a ‘two-edged sword'.  Same for Appearance transfer in Captivate: It can be used in a wise way or make your life as developer become a nightmarel.

Do I use the Format Painter in Word? Sure, when I have to write a quick short document, which I’m sure I will never have to edit later on. Even in that case I mostly use it for paragraph formatting, seldom for text formatting. When creating courses in Word  (which happened if they were mostly text-based switched to Framemaker when I could get a license in college, because it handles graphics and other assets lot better) I would NEVER use the format painter. Even Word has Styles for a professional workflow. Captivate is style-based as well, in the sense of Framemaker and InDesign.  Object styles are part of the theme you are using in a course, and I have published several posts about themes.

In this post I will try to explain which situations are suited for using appearance duplication. It is not possible for all object types, as you will discover, and has a hidden gem which you may not have discovered (yet). Let me know if my guess is wrong.

Objects supporting Copy/Paste Appearance

Not all object types can be used for duplication of its appearance to another. I checked them out and list up those who do have the options 'Copy Appearance' in their right-click menu.

Static objects

First requirement is that the object type had an object style. This means that images, audio, video, bitmap image as button, SVG used as button do not have the feature. Check the Object Style Manager. That is also the right place to detect the included features in a style. Example:  Transition (Fade in/out with its duration) is part of the object style. When using the Appearance feature it will be transferred as well. The supported objects for appearance pasting are a minority. You cannot use it for Highlight box, zoom object, rollover items although they have an object style. Only text containers:

  • Captions: in the themes packaged with the present versions, all used captions are transparent captions. But the older not-transparent captions are still available. They always come with the Callout pointer in several directions, the used pointer will not be transferred. Have a look at the screenshot below. You can transfer the style of the left caption (pastel orange) to the right caption (default style). top left pointer will not be transferred. But color, font, font size and attribute, alignment, margins, leading (space between lines) and transition will be pasted.

  • Shapes: can also be a text container, but that is not compulsory. Fill, Stroke, Transition and Text properties will be transferred. The shape itself is not part of the style and will not be changed.

After using the Copy/paste featuure

Look at the style names. For the shape the style has been taken over on the second shape, which is great!. However the style of the left caption has been applied but shows a + sign to indicate an overridden style.  I have tried this for quite a lot of captions, it seems to be always the case  and that is bad news! When later on you want to change something in the applied style (here MyCaption), that change would not be applied to the right caption shown  in the screenshots. Hence my

Warning

If you use Copy/paste appearance on text captions, and you have decided on the final look you will need to double-check the styles and avoid all overridden styles. If you forget to do so, the slightest edit you’ll have to apply in the future to that style will become a nightmare.

This problem doesn’t exist as you can see for shapes used as text containers. Double-checking at least some never harms of course. Another reason to reinforce my decision to use only shapes as text containers.

Interactive Objects

Text Entry Box, Text Button, Transparent Button, Image button have object styles but you cannot use the Copy/Paste Appearance for those objects, you need to apply object styles. A click box is invisible, so it doesn’t have an object style.

The only interactive object to accept Appearance duplication is the Shape button, my favorite Captivate object! Its object style includes the look of the Inbuilt Styles Normal, Rollover and Down (not Visited).  What is the result of a Copy/paste Appearance. Here are two shape buttons, and their Object States panels. The left button has a custom style MyShapeButton, the right button uses the Default Smart Shape Style of this theme:

Both buttons have the 4th InBuilt state - Visited - added. Its default look starts as the Normal state but I edited the style. After copy/paste appearance from the left to the right button, you expect to see this:

The good news is that the second button has now also the style MyShapeButton applied to it, same as for a non-button shape. Have a look at the new Object State panel of the right button:

As expected, the Visited state didn’t take on the look of the original MyShapeButton style, except …. for the font and its size! This observation leads me to the related:

Hidden Gem

Captivate has no individual Text Styles (no Character styles, no Paragraph styles), they are included in the object styles of the text containers (like shapes and captions, text entry boxes). Up till now I used Copy/Paste appearance to transfer styles between objects from the same type: caption to caption, shape to shape, shape button to shape button. However it is possible to copy/paste the text style between objects who are not the same type. That may not  seem unexpected between shape and shape button, but it IS ALSO possible between Caption and Shape or Shape button!

Workflow:

  • Go into Edit mode for the Caption, and select all the text if you want also to transfer the leading (F2, CTRL A)
  • Right-click, Copy Appearance
  • Go into Edit mode for the Shape, select all text (see above)
  • Right-click, Paste Appearance

If the shape is a shape button, the text style will appear in all the InBuilt states.

Of course the name of the styles will not be transferred, since a text style has non name. The style will show a +, which means it is overridden. If you decide to keep the text change in the shape, please create a new style.

Using Appearance Duplication

This new feature can be useful, but should never replace Object styles.  I would use it when being in “Draft” mode at the start of a project, when  discussing with the client about style choices. Certainly the easy way to transfer text styles is appealing to me, if followed by creation of an object style. But due to the fact that you can never be sure object styles will not be overridden (as is the case for captions) there is no way to create the custom theme before double-checking all styles. I start each project with a custom theme, because it can save so many hours of work in the future. The changes for themes in this new update are also very welcome, but that will be in another article.

Copy/paste appearance can be very useful when creating multistate objects to transfer the style of the normal state to other states. Think about a shape button, where the font style of the label is not always transferred to the other InBuilt states. 

Scrolling Text Interaction to replace Text Entry Box

Intro

Although I have already posted about one Submit button for multiple TEB’s, recently users tried to apply that blog to non-validated TEB’s, which was not the goal of that original post. Moreover giving another attempt to a TEB where the Submit has been done has become less easy with HTML5 output. SWF output had so many advantages (rewinding the playhead a couple of frames was simple), but that is the past.

Instead of writing long answers to the most recent thread, to explain why choosing Scrolling Text Interactions was a better choice for non-validated fields, I created a short example file. The workflow explanation will be in this article..

This example was created with version 11.5.0.476, the most recent version of Captivate. I uses some image and button assets from the new Assets panel. However, nothing has changed for interactions in this major update to version 11. I am confident that the solution will work for every version since 8, meant for HTML output.

Example

File has two slides. Only the first slide is relevant for the workflow, the second is meant to test the Continue button (with action "Go to Next Slide").

The first slide has three fields to fill.  If any field remains empty, a textual warning will appear and you can retry. The Continue button appears when all fields have an entry. Project has no poster image, just the default play button. It is not rescalable. Here is the link


Setup

Variables

For three fields you need 3+1=4 user variables, none of them needs a default value in its definition:
  • v_one, v_two and v_three will be used witl be associated with the Interactions
  • v_null is needed for the advanced conditional action to test if the field is blank; more info in ‘Where is Null’

Scrolling Text Interactions

Next to each Text container (used a shape) an instance of the Scrolling Text interaction. Here is a screenshot of the setup of the first of them. Important is to link one of the variables and to uncheck the option ‘Read only’:

You see in the dialog box that I edited the font (used an Adobe font), the font size and attribute.  Just a reminder: it is not sufficient to type in a variable name to define it, you need to define it in the Variables dialog box. 

Although I resized the interactions to the same height as the Text containers with the questions, the height is decreased in the output file. Be careful with copy/paste to duplicate an interaction, prefer the Duplicate functionality within Captivate (CTRL-D).

Advanced Action

This action is triggered by the Submit button. I used the On Enter event of the slide to hide the warning that will pop up if at least one field is empty. This is the Preview dialog box. The operator 'is equal to' is replaced by the JS equivalent needed '=='. The logical operator OR is replaced also by its JS equivalent |  As you perhaps know, an advanced action will be converted to JavaScript on Runtime.

The replacement of the grayscale image by the color image, disappearing items on the slide: all is achieved using  the timeline. For those interested, here is a screenshot of that timeline, I didn't group any items, but their label clearly shows what they are.

Conclusion

As usual I appreciate any comment, whether to add an alternative or to ask questions. You are welcome on my website as well.