Warning! Source/Destination Theme switch?


Since the release of 11.5 I have written a blog post about Theme enhancements , another one with Tips for the Assets panel, and one for the use of QSP projects.  About the Copy/Paste Appearance I have warned that this can be a great feature in some situations (states, temporary testing, use for text styles) but should never replace Object Styles if you are or professional eLearning developer. Why do I mention this post? You’ll find a similar warning in this blog about using the  switch to destination theme, when inserting (QSP) slides from a project whiif that new slide is inserted after a slide with another theme:

In the screepnshot you’ll see the button which appears in the Timeline under the inserted slide. Default setting is to keep the Source Theme which is the theme used in the project from which you inserted the slide (in this case from the QSP ‘Wired’, non-responsive). For consistent projectt design, it is tempting to switch immediately to the Destination theme which is the main theme of your project (provided you had a one-theme project before inserting the slide).  Believe me: do NOT switch without preparation because the result can be disastrous. I have seen this happening with trainees, and in a webinar presented by Adobe.

This post is meant to give you some insight in the reasons for my warning. I may refer to older posts about themes, which is a topic that is not popular probably because the Theme impact on courses is largely underrated. Too often, when asking on social media about the used theme, I get the answer 'I do not use a theme', something which is impossible!

Let us start with a summary of what happens when you click the option ‘Use Destination Theme’.

Result of switching to Destination theme

All components of a theme can be switched without any warning. Here is an overview:

Theme Colors

Each theme has its theme colors palette. Recently I wrote about using Adobe Capture or Adobe Color to start such a palette, which will mostly be based on the stylesheet of the company. In a well-designed project only colors from that palette are used: 10 main colors + 50 tints. When switching a palette, you have no control over the mapping of the colors. For the present situation this means that  color 1 of the source palette will be replaced by color 1 of the destination palette, etc. That can already lead to strange results, because not every palette keeps dark and light colors in specific locations.  Here is an illustration of two totally different palettes. The first is in my test the destination palette, second the source palette of a QSP theme: can you guess  what happens when the colors are switched?

No Usage button is available for colors - too bad.  After the theme switch you’ll have to manually edit if the colors are not appropriate. If it was possible to map colors between the palettes this would be easier: I could tell that the first color of the source theme had to be replaced by the third color of the destination theme, that color 4 was OK to be replaced by color 4 etc. One of my feature requests.

Theme fonts

Situations is similar.. In most cases you will see three fonts in the Theme Properties. Some QSP’s use the same font for all text whatever the style. If your destination theme uses 3 fonts and the inserted QSP slide uses ony one font, all the text styles after switching to destination theme will be replaced by the first font in your original project theme. This image explains what I mean: the source theme in Wired has only Arial as font. When I insert it in my demo theme, which uses three fonts (Trebuchet is the least  used but for some reason appears as font 1), there is no way for Captivate to know to which styles font 2 and 3 need to be applied. Result: all fonts will be Trebuchet. In this case that font was only used in feedback messages, Filson Pro was the main font for all text, Termina for Titles. There is – same as for colors – no way to change the sequence of the fonts. Mapping wouldn’t help here, a Usage button however would be welcome. My demo theme is fully documented, which is not the case for the QSP projects.

Object Styles

Now it is getting tough, because each of the QSP’s has its way of defining styles. Some use default object styles, others don’t use them (do not understand the reason).  Fonts and colors will be replaced as I explained above. But the remaining components of the object styles will only be replaced by the style of the destination theme if  they use the same style name. For the QSP’s that is rarely the case. Typical example is the [Default Title Smartshape Style]. It exists in my test demo theme, it exists in each of the QSP’s but is never used. Result: the existing object styles in the QSP will be added to the styles in the destination theme. If you use a lot of inserted slides, you’ll end up with a very long list of object styles added to the existing styles in the original project theme. Very hard to manage those styles!

Master slides

Similar to the object styles, if a master slide exists with the same name in the destination theme, that master slide will be applied (have seen this happening several times). That can be really catastrophic, especially for responsive projects because the fluid boxes structure of the destination theme will probably be totally different. It is less dramatic for non-responsive projects but could be frustrating as well.

If the master slide has a name which is not available in the destination theme, it will be added to the master slides. Similar to object styles, there are no common design 'laws' for the QSPs.. I can only post some more details for each individual QSP. One example: the responsive ‘Wired’ QSP has a complete set of master slides with fluid boxes, the non-responsive ‘Wired’ doesn’t use any master slide, all slides are based on the blank master slide which is very weird and not at all user friendly.


Setup of the skin is not affected by destination or source theme. It will be one skin for the project, based on the original theme which you used to start the project. Only theme component you don't have to worry about!


Hope you understand now why I did introduce this post as a warning post.  In most cases I would recommend never to use the opportunity to switch to the destination theme when inserting a slide, unless you know the themes of the source and destination theme in-depth. That is not easy for QSP-slides. I may post more recommendations for a workflow that can avoid most of the problems when trying to embed those slides with respect of your custom styling.

SVGs for color-based quiz


Being able to use SVG’s, for which you can limit the clickable area to the SVG itself, creates a lot of opportunities. In a recent post I explained how you can use them for a custom Hotspot question. 

This time I played with Flags, in Europe a lot of national flags have a cross embedded. Play with this example file. After the title slide which has some explanation, you have to color 5 knowledge check slides, Have fun. 

Small warning: if you are on a small screen, you may have to insist to color the small parts (especially on the UK slide). The part is really clicked when you have seen it shrink. You can play from this link (scalable HTML) or with the embedded version (fixed size):


You’ll find details about the setup,with topics:

  • Objects (including timeline)
  • Variables and Events
  • Advanced actions
  • Shared action (has been used 47 times)

Objects – timeline

Have a look at the Timeline of slide 2 which is the first quiz slide (flag 1, Denmark):

From bottom to top you see:

  • SS_Proback1: (smart shape) the white background of the progress bar (bottom left). Since the flags have different amounts of parts, I preferred to have an individual background on each flag slide, whereas
  • SS_Progress: (smart shape) progress bar is timed for the rest of the project. It has a normal state which is invisible (no Alpha nor stroke), and a state for each added green star, totals 18 states but not all states are used on each slide.
  • Gr_Denmark: has all the flag parts, on this slide 5. All parts are SVG’s used as buttons with the default pausing poins at 1.5secs. Each SVG has 3 object states: Normal (with a black pattern), Correct (colored), Wrong (Gray tint). Here is the screenshot with object states for the Cross part of the UK flag:
  • Gr_Colors: group with 5 colors, timed for the rest of the project because same colors are used for all flags. Colors are shape buttons, default pausing point at 1.5s. They have 3 states: Normal, Current and Dimmed. Here a screenshot for the Red smart shape.
  • Country_DK: country name (text)
  • SB_Next: shape button timed for the rest of the project, no pausing point, with 3 InBuilt states (Normal, Rollover, Down)
  • Title

Variables and events

Three user variables are created for the actions:

  • v_color: will store the name of the color chosen from the color shapes; the exact names are needed which are Blue, DarkBlue, Red, White and Yellow.

  • v_counter: will track the number of correct flag parts which have been colored (is equal to the number of stars displayed by the progress bar).

  • v_max: the number of flag parts to be colored. For the first two flag slides this is 5, for the two following slides it is 9 and the last flag slide has 17 parts.

I didn’t provide a replay course button at the end, to limit the number of events and actions. The used events  are:.

  • On Enter slide event for all flag slides. They trigger a similar advanced action, depending on the number of flag parts: 'Enter5' (first two flag slides), 'Enter9' (two following slides) and 'Enter17 'for the UK slide.

  • On Enter slide event for the End slide triggers 'EnterEnd'.

  • Success event for the Color shape buttons trigger a similar advanced action 'Blue_Act', 'DarkBlue_Act', 'Red_Act', 'White_Act' and 'Yellow_Act'.

  • Success event of the SVG’s which are the flag parts (used as buttons), trigger all the same Shared Action 'FlagAct'.
I will explain why I choose for advanced or shared actions for those events.


Enter5Act/Enter9Act/Enter17Act (advanced actions)

Those very similar actions are triggered On Enter of the flag slides, depending on the number of flag parts. Here is a screenshot of 'Enter9Act':

You see it is mainly a Reset action. Because the color shape buttons are timed for the rest of the project, it is necessary to reset their state to Normal when entering a new slide.  That wouldn’t have been the case if I had repeated the colors on each slide, and left the option ‘Retain state …’ unchecked. However such a setup would have complicated the actions a lot more, than using this advanced action On Enter. The actions for 5 and 17 parts are almost identical, only the value of the variable v_max will change (command marked in red in screenshot). Because of the limited number of actions (3), and the fact that only one command had to be edited,  I prefer duplicate advanced actions over a shared action with multiple parameters.


This simple action will hide several items which were displayed for the rest of the project and no longer necessary on the Congratulations slide:

Blue_Act, DarkBlue_Act, Red_Act, White_Act, Yellow_Act

These advanced actions are triggered by the success event of the color shape buttons.

The 5 actions are also very similar, here is the screenshot of the Red_Act:

I could have used a shared action, but preferred duplicate advanced actions. Four of the color buttons need their state to be changed to Dimmed, the active clicked button to Current and its color has to be entered as value for v_color.

It is very simple to duplicate the actions for the other colors, and change the first command and switch one dimmed and current state to adapt the action to the new active button.


Shared action triggered by the Success event of the flag parts (SVG used as button). In older versions than 11.5 this setup would not have been possible since many bounding boxes are overlapping. The shared action, which I used 47 times, looks like this:

I indicated the 6 parameters by a color code. Four of them are always the same, but they are compulsory, need to be parameters (Progress bar, Next button, Wrong and Correct states). Only the color and the flag part are important to set up correctly. A good labeling system for the flag parts can help. You may have seen that I took care of labeling in a consistent way.


Hope this example releases your creative ideas for similar use cases, both for adult learners and (of course) kids.  It would be great if you commented about that. Or do you have questions, suggestions?

Fonts in Captivate


Since the most recent release (11.5) of CP2019 there has been a lot of noise and questions about Fonts in Captivate. You probably heard about the Replace Fonts issues which many users experience (not me, sorry). From those discussions and the multiple times I tried to explain the different fonts possible in Captivate, I concluded to write this short article.  It is not really about the science of font use - Typography - nor about design. Just some down-to-earth explanations, and practical recommendations based on my experiences with clients and their sometimes irrational requests (sorry for that word).

Normal expectation of any designer is that the 'clients' (in this case the learner) will see your course looking totally the same as you see it while developing. Captivate is by default NOT embedding fonts. For that reason you may get in problems, as you'll read here.

Font groups

I don't mean Font Families, but the way fonts are grouped in Captivate.

Have a look at the dropdown list for Character when you are in the edit mode for a text container, caption or shape. You will see that 4 groups are listed up, from top to bottom: 

  1. Theme fonts: new group in version 11.5. If you use only one theme in the project, this group will show the fonts used in that theme, same information as under the Theme Properties. If you have multiple themes in the project, this group will show the fonts for the theme used in the active slide.  You can use this group to switch between the fonts of that particular theme. The active font is highlighted as you can see. Since all fonts of the three other groups can be used in a theme, these fonts do not guarantee that your learners will see them correctly.
  2. Adobe fonts: formerly those fonts were indicated as Typekit fonts. This group may be empty for you, only fonts which you licensed using the CC (Creative Cloud) app, tab Fonts:

    Fonts from this group can be used safely, your learners will see them! When publishing you have to indicate which domains will be added to the license. The number of fonts you can license, and the number of domains, depend on your plan for Adobe Fonts.
  3. Web Safe fonts: a limited group of fonts which are safe to use (my screenshots are on a Windows system):
  4. System fonts: this last group shows all fonts installed on your system. That group will likely include the brand font(s), those who are commonly used for print in your company (or your client's company). Problem with using those fonts is that they will only appear in all circumstances if the learner has the same font installed on her/his system. 

Static vs Dynamic Text

Shapes and captions are labeled 'static' if there is no variable inserted in the text. 

If the project is a non-responsive project, static text containers will be converted to bitmap images. This has positive and negative consequences:

  • Positive is that you can use any font, even a system font without having to embed them. The learner will see an image of the text.
  • Negative: if you publish the project to Scalable HTML output, and the project is upscaled you'll have the usual blurriness which occur for all bitmap images. Moreover if you have a mixture of static and dynamic text containers there will be a visible difference between the two types of containers.

If you have at least one variable (system or user) in a text container it becomes dynamic. This means that the text will not be converted to images but has to be generated on runtime. Typical example is the score slide after a quiz: most system variables on that slide get their value only after the end of the quiz.  What are the pro and contra this time?

  • Positive is that the font will look crisp at all time.
  • Negative: if you use a system font, and that paricular font is not installed on the learner's system, it will be replaced by a generic font (mostly Times New Roman), which looks very unprofessional. 

For responsive, Fluid Boxes project all text will be treated as dynamic text.


Fonts to use

Personally I recommend to avoid System fonts for all courses.  Keep to Adobe fonts or eventually Web safe fonts.

I hear you! How to explain to your manager or client that you cannot use the 'holy' branded fonts in their company style sheet. There may be exceptions, but in most companies those style sheets have been set up for 'printed documents', not for web and certainly not for eLearning. There is a big difference between both: Colors and Fonts are typical examples. This article is not dedicated to colors, but most ignore that CMYK and RGB can be quite different. The Adobe Fonts library has thousands of fonts. It should be possible to find a font which is very close to the 'branded print' font. You can challenge them: show two slides with exactly the same content, but one with their 'brand font' and another with the Adobe font which you found. Will the learners see the difference? 

Blurriness in non-responsive Scalable projects

The ideal solution would be that static text containers were converted to SVG instead of bitmap image, but that is at this moment just daydreaming (have no idea how complicated that is for the Captivate engineers). When I had a stubborn client who couldn't be convinced of using Adobe font, I converted all static text containers to SVG myself. It could still lead to a minor difference between the font look in static and dynamic text, but it was crisp.

A common workaround is to create an empty user variable, which you add at the end of each static text. That will force generation of the text on run time, which means you have to avoid system fonts. With that workaround you'll not see any difference between static and dynamic text.

Another possibility is to develop the project in a very high resolution, so that only downscaling will ever happen. However that has consequences for the file size.

Characters in SVG format?


The Assets panel is a nifty new feature, and I am confident that its use will be enhanced in the future. You could have read my first comments in this post. You find under Tip 2 a special feature concerning the Characters of the Illustrated category. One of the complaints often heard about downloading characters is that you have to do this one by one, which is taking a lot of time. If you like the Illustrated category, and also have access to Illustrator, you can find a tip which could save you a lot of time. It is no secret that the new features in 11.5 for SVG’s are my favorites, and they’ll play a role here as well. What would you think about characters in SVG-format, which means always crisp, never pixelated? With the possibility to edit the colors within 


Step 1: Download Illustrated Work File

Open the Assets Library in Captivate. Go to the Discover tab, and open Characters. Choose Illustrated, and eventually the wanted category and find you favorite character. Look under the (often 25) images for the Illustrated Working File. It is sometimes at the end, sometimes at the start. The sticky characters do not it. Download the file, while choosing the format AI (Adobe Illustrator), not EPS. It will be saved automatically in the Others subfolder under eLearnng Assets.

After the download you’ll be able to open the folder immediately from the popup dialog box. I mentioned already that it is under Others in eLearning Assets (under Public documents\Adobe if you are on Windows).

Step 2 Illustrator – Preparation

Be sure I am not at all an expert in Illustrator, my expertise is more with Photoshop, Captivate, Audition and InDesign.  Three items in the Illustrator environment will be important, try to find them and get acquainted. The active workspace is not  important, I used Essentials:

  1. Selector tool (black arrow) which is the first tool in the vertical Toolbox, indicated by a red circle in the next screenshot. It has also a shortcut key V.
  2. Properties panel: it may be open, just find it or you can open it from the Windows menu. This panel will be used to identify the nature of a selection (step 3).  It is highlighted in light blue in the screenshot. For this particular selection it indicates as ‘Group’. You are familiar with grouping in Captivate and that knowledge will be useful in step 3. IYou can increase its size both horizontally and vertically.

The characters come with 4x6  poses.  Only face changed in the groups of 6: disappointed, speaking, normal and happy.

Step 3: Identify and change status of character

This sound terrifying, but it is not. Problem is that apparently the files for the characters were not created/finished all the same way (different teams). The ideal situation would be that each character instance was one group (of paths). You will have to check if that is the case, and if not, group manually.

Choose the Selector (arrow) and drag a rectangle surrounding (or cutting) the character you want to save.  You’ll see a lot of blue lines (paths) appear in the image. If the Properties panel indicates that this is a group, it is great, done with this step! Here is an example (character Sydney):

For the following example, the selected paths are indicated as "Mixed Objects". You need to group them which is possible with the same shortcut key CTRL-G as in Captivate. Alternative is the command 'Group' from the right-click menu , or from the menu Object. Here is an example of a selection which has to be grouped (character Jessica):

Step 4: Drag objects to Asset Export panel

Drag all the assets you want to export to that panel. Verify that you see the complete character. If by accident, you drag a character which is not grouped, you’ll get all assets separately as asset. That may be interesting for other situations (like the post I created about the Geographical Hotspot question, or a planned scored Color question).

In the panel assets get a generic name Asset1…. but you can double-click that name and edit to a more meaningful name.  See screenshot under Step 5.

Step 5: choose Export fomat(s) 

You can  indicate to which format you want to export, and multiple formats are possible. In the screenshot below you’ll see that not only  SVG, but also PNG’s in 3 different sizes was chosen. The last option indicated an exact height for the PNG. That way you can increase the quality to what you want exactly, since the original image is vector-based. You know the rule in Captivate: best quality for a bitmap image (PNG is bitmap) needs inserting the character in exactly the size you want. It can also be interesting to increase the size if you want to use only part of the character.

Let us compare with the normal download of characters from the Assets panel. You get only two choices , both with a fixed size (high and low).

Available formats are visible in this screenshot. For the characters, which have a transparent background you should not use JPEG because it will replace  the background by a solid color:.Now click the Export button. You will be asked to indicate the location for the images. You can put them in a subfolder of the eLearning assets or anywhere. They will not show up in the Downloads section of the Assets panel.


I like the Illustrator Export Asset panel a lot. Being able to use SVG format has many advantages: always high quality, and  it is so easy to edit colors in Captivate (or by roundtripping with Illustrator). This article is also meant to provide a possible workaround for having all characters available immediately without having to download them one by one. Too bad that you do not get such an overview image for the normal characters, only for the illustrated ones.

A warning: the downloaded Workfile (see step 1) nor the exported assets will appear in the Downloads section of the Assets panel. You could store them in the Others folder under eLearning Assets, but will have to import them manually to the Library of a project to use them. 

Forced view - special use case


Another blog and example output, due to a question by a user today. 

“I have groups of slides. Each group consists of a handful of slides that has event video on each slide and nothing else. The videos autoplay. The user can enter these groups at any point and must watch each video before being redirected back to a main menu. “

After I had gotten all details, I created this example file. The assets panel in 11.5 was very useful as you can see. Only Chapter 1 has been worked out with 4 slides containing event videos. For Chapter 2 and 3 only one slide is available with a back to menu button. Try it out: you can start with any video, but then the sequence will be linear: 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-1, 3-4-1-2 and 4-1-2-3 are all possible. You can use the Chapter 1 button on the main menu as many times as you wish. It should be foolproof. However… you have to watch the videos from start till end.

The embedded movie is at a fixed resolution. The project is published as Scalable HTML and you can also play it directly in any resolution from this link.



Four Boolean variables were created: v_one, v_two, v_three, v_four. They are meant to track each if a video has been viewed completely. Only when all variables are toggled to 1, will the learner being returned to the main menu slide. The default value is 0 and will be set by a shared action (see later).

Events and actions

Enter event of video slides 1-2-3-4

This event is used to trigger an advanced action which will check the value of the 4 variables. If they have all the value 1, the learner will be navigated back to the menu slide. Have a look at  the Preview of this action:

Exit event of video slides 1-2-3

For the first three video slides this event is used to trigger a simple action, similar to this one for the first slide:

Assign v_one with 1

Only the variable is different for the second and third slide. Since the sequence is linear, after that event the playhead will continue to the next slide. There is no pausing point on the slide, which makes it possible to use this event.

Exit event of video slide 4

The action is now more complicated, because two situations are possible:
  1. All video slides are viewed (learner started with first video)
  2. Not all video slides are viewed (learner did not start with first video)

The first situation means that the learner will be navigated to the main menu slide, the second that he still has to view video 1 and maybe more. This means we need a conditional advanced action. Here is the screenshot:

Since the exit event has also to toggle the variable v_four, I used two decisions. The first one ‘Always’ is toggling that variable. The second decision is the conditional one described above.

Success event of the Video buttons (Chapter 1 slide)

You would expect them to trigger a simple ‘Jump to Slide’ action. However, since the learner will return to the menu slide, and can restart viewing Chapter 1, there is a need to reset the variables. This event was used for that purpose as well. It is a perfect example of an action where a shared action can save a lot of time, because it will have only one parameter: the slide to jump to. All variables, and the literal ‘0’ do not have to be parameters. Here is the screenshot of a filled in action for the first video button:

Since both remaining chapters will have a similar group of video slides, this approach can be used there as well, to reuse the same variables. The advanced actions described before, can be duplicated and edited. The shared action can be used as it is without any change.

Color Management - Intro


Almost 5 years ago I have published some articles about the Theme Colors. From what I hear on social media, and read in most books and manuals (and in a recent webinar) there is a lot of confusion about this topic. In Captivate 11.5, which has now Quick Start Projects and the possibility for multiple themes (with their palette) in a project, this topic becomes even more important. In personalized training, my trainees will always learn that the creation of a good Theme Colors palette is the first step for a useful  custom theme. No doubt about the relevance of such a theme in a company environment, where you need to apply the style sheet of the company. However even a standalone project benefits largely from a good theme to have consistent design.

Allow me to remember some Captivate history. Before the introduction of themes as base for course design, Captivate had introduced a ‘Swatch Manager’ panel, similar to several other Adobe applications. I still see many users/trainers refer to that Manager instead of the Theme Colors palette. Personally for the past 6 years I showed that manager only to prove it is outdated, not useful in Captivate. Reason was already in the old posts : there is no link whatsoever between the Swatch manager and the Theme Colors. Even after repeated feature requests, this is still the case in version 11.5.

Creation of Color Scheme (5 colors)

To avoid confusion with Theme Colors in Captivate I prefer to use here the word ‘Color Scheme’ for the palette with 5 colors to which I refer in this part.

Classic color schemes consist of  5 colors, when you use one of the two applications provided by Adobe:

  1. Adobe Color,  a cloud-based (free) desktop application. You can open it using the CC app or with this link.  Years ago it had the name  'Adobe Kuler'. It gets regular updates, only recently that was the case. You can find inspiration in this site because lot of schemes are publicly available. Of course it is also possible to create custom schemes, either starting from one or more colors, or from an image. The schemes typically get saved to … one of your CC Libraries. For most Adobe applications that is fine but Captivate sadly has no access (yet?) to those libraries. As a workaround you could use  Captivate Draft (has access). However since the transfer from Draft to Captivate results automatically in a Fluid Boxes project, that workaround is not useful if you need to create non-responsive projects. 

    There are plenty of tutorials around for Adobe Color. Just one example: YouTube tutorial. If you have access to LinkedIn learning, you could also find courses.
    To get the scheme into a normal cptx project, you can save a color scheme as ASE file. For a reason explained later, not the ideal format for Captivate. You can make the color values visible in Color, but I miss a way to export them easily. When you open such a file in Notepad or similar, you could extract the RGB-codes but that is cumbersome. Or you can write them on a piece of paper.Hexadecimal is fine:
    For that  reason I prefer using a mobile app, around since quite a while:

  2. Adobe Capture: available for iPad and for Android (still beta, but functional). I have it installed on my iPad and my Android phone. Short tutorials included.  You have exactly the same functionality as with Adobe Color, but can also directly shoot an image as basis for your scheme. It can also be used to create shapes (SVG’s) and gradients, but I’ll leave that for another blog. Especially with the enhanced use of SVG's in 11.5, an interesting topic.

    The advantage of Capture is that you are not limited to saving the schemes to a Library, or save to ASE-file. You can export the scheme as ‘color values’ and print or send them by mail, or social media. Much more useful for Captivate. That functionality may be hidden somewhere in the desktop application, but so far couldn’t find it. You’ll get a txt file with all details of the colors, which is the ideal form for Captivate. Here a screenshot of such a file:
    Be sure: I will not explain the different ways of defining colors (although I would love to), Captivate accepts only RGB or HEX format. However,  in the Theme Colors palette I suspect that the HSB format is used to create the tints derived from the main colors.

Transfer Color Scheme into Captivate

Do NOT use Swatch Manager

If you have read my old blog post, you will know that it is possible to import an ASE-file in the Swatch Manager. Follow this workflow:

  • Clear all swatches
  • Click Append
  • Point to the ASE file.

In this screenshot you see the result of such a workflow:

You do not need the Swatch manager, your theme will be saved with Theme Colors palette. How can you get the colors in that Theme Colors palette? Only way  is to find the color value of each of these swatches and type them in the Theme Colors editing window. Not so user friendly. This explains my present topic title: NOT to use the Swatch Manager, although I am aware that many trainers and books still mention it. Personally they could take out the Swatch manager, it is a legacy feature.

Use Color Values

Starting from the txt file you got with all the color values, open the Theme Properties panel, and go into Edit mode. To enter a color of the theme, you need 4 steps:

  1. Copy the hexadecimal value for the txt file
  2. Open a color
  3. Go to the Color wheel
  4. Paste the value

Here is a screenshot illustrating the workflow:

It is still a cumbersome workflow,. Sorry, but this is due to the fact that ASE import is impossible in the Theme Colors palettes. 

The palette has now 5 main colors, you can add 5 more. Have a good look at the existing palette: do you have enough light and dark colors to provide contrasts? Often it is a good idea to add neutral colors as black, white grey. It is not really compulsory to have/use 10 colors (+tints). In all cases if you want to switch to another palette you have to be very careful. Here I think about branding the QSP project slides.

Some users/trainers recommend and use the color picker a lot. Not a good idea at all. Check it out: you will not always get the color you want when checking its value in the Color wheel. The Theme color palette is directly available (see screenshot below).

When your Theme colors palette is finished, always colors from that palette, never use the Swatch manager. It is the best guarantee to have consistent color management. Moreover, when using other Adobe applications for asset creation or editing (Photoshop, Illustrator) you can easily transfer the colors, using the ASE file or the color values. Even though you’ll use them in a Swatch panel, because that is the default workflow in that application It should be clear now that for Captivate colors are in the Theme Colors palette, not in the Swatch manager. If you open the color dialog, and the used color of the item is a Theme color, the dialog will open in its first state (highlighted in screenshot) automatically. Forget the Swatch manager (second state), the color wheel (third state) and the color picker (last state).

If you like this introduction, could write more detailed articles. Just let me know what you’d like? 

If you want make me happy, add your voice to my repeated request to make it easier to import a color scheme (from Color or Capture) to create a Theme Colors palette.

SVGs for custom Hotspot question


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.


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.


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.


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


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


Captivate ‘s most recent release, 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.


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


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.


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