Customize your Quiz using Advanced Actions (CP5)

Captivate has a lot of predefined question slides on board of all kinds. Formatting options have been greatly improved in version 5 using the Object Style Manager and the Property Inspector. But those Question slides are different from normal slides, and you have much less control over them. Just some examples:

  • you do not see the different objects on the Timeline, it shows only one 'interactive object', although you have a lot of Text Captions, dropdown lists, Text Entry Boxes and buttons on the slide
  • you can have only one type of Question on a slide,
  • the score for a Question slide is always 'black/white', correct or incorrect, you can never have a partial score
  • you can add only non interactive objects on the Question slide (no buttons, no click boxes, no Text Entry Boxes)
  • you can customize the success/failure captions for each Question slide
  • even have up to 3 different failure captions but... Review message wiil be the same for all Question slides

To have more control you can create your own Question slides. Of course this is possible using Flash (or Dreamweaver). Using standard objects, variables and Advanced actions can however result in constructing most of the Question slide types, except for the types that involve drag-and-drop (as can be used in Sequence and Matching Questions). I published several articles for different usecases. In the articles I provide a Captivate SWF to show the result and start files (for downloading), to enable you to practice the workflow described in the article. Here are the links:

  1. Creating a test resulting in multiple scores: using Advanced Standard and Conditional actions you will construct a test that will collect scores about the learning type of the user (Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic). Contrary to a normal Quiz resulting in one score, here you will obtain three scores. Those scores will be used in the next article:

  2. Conclusion based on multiple scores: based on scores obtained in the previous article, you will use one Advanced Standard and one Advanced Conditional action to show the conclusion. I meant this article to be an introduction to the new User Interface of Advanced actions.

  3. Create question slides with partial scoring and customized feedback: one of the issues with the default Captivate Question slides is that the user never can get partial scores if his answer is partially correct. In this article I created a hotspot question slide with multiple hotspots and the user can get a partial score.

  4. Create customized feedback: in this video tutorial you will learn how to use an Advanced Conditional action (with multiple decisions) to show differentiated feedback based on the score of a Quiz constructed with the default Question slides of Captivate. This video is meant as an introduction in the terminology and workflow of Conditional actions.

I hope this can help to start using Advanced actions. Please, feel free to comment and suggest other usecases.

Editing Motion Paths and Reusing Customized Effects

One of the new features in Captivate 5 are Effects. Krishna Kiran posted an interesting introduction to those effects in the Captivate blog. Here is the link:
Effects allow you to apply special formating such like dropdown shadows and bevel and to create simple animations without having to use Flash. In this tip I will show how you can adapt motion paths when using motion effects. It is possible to save customized effects and use them again in the same project or in another one. Once you have re-used a customized effect, it will be added in the dropdown-lists to a special category, labeled  Custom. If you want to see the custom effect also in the Advanced actions dropdown list, you'll have first to apply it in a time-based version to an object.
It is also possible to reorganize the effects in folders, but this involves deleting the Preferences folder in order to have this reorganisation reflected in the dropdown lists of the Effects panel.
I created this demonstration SWF to show how to customize a motion effect, to save and to reuse it.

Curious about Variables in Captivate?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tip: Flowing Text in Shapes

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