Edit SVG in Captivate 11.5

Intro

If you have read my first blog about this major update, you will know that the extended functionality of SVG’s for use as buttons is one of my favorites. I didn' t mention that you get some editing features within Captivate. Thisat means that you don’t have to do a roundtripping with Illustrator (or use another vector editing application) if you just want to change some colors. This post is meant for those who are rather new to vector images, and the way paths are used.  Next post will be about roundtripping with Illustrator for more complicated editing.

You may also ignore that the new Assets Panel (wait for an in-depth exploration in the near future) includes a set of ‘icons’ which are SVG’s. The hotspots used in 360 slides are SVG's as well, the editing functionality was added to make customizing their colors possible. All SVG’s in your project end up in a dedicated folder of the project Library.

Remember: SVG used as button is only possible for HTML5 output, not for SWF output

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Example slide

The example uses only included  assets from the Assets panel, to be found in the Audio and Icons part. All icons have edited colors (not meant as a design example) to illustrate the workflow I will explain in this post (and later on in an interactive video). The biggest SVG in the center of the slide is configured as a button. You can click it as many times as you want, you’ll be able to listen to some of the audio assets. There is no poster image in this example, just the default Play button.



Step-by-step ‘Edit colors’

I will explain this for the Normal state of the big SVG which you clicked in the example slide.

1. Insert SVG and resize

As I explained in the intro, this SVG is one of the Icons in the new Assets panel. Insert it from that panel (name ‘Cover’). You can resize either by using the Options tab of the Properties panel for the SVG, or by dragging a corner with the mouse while keepoing SHIFT pressed to preserve the width-height Ratio. Since this is a vector image, you’ll see that it remains crisp even when enlarged considerably.  The original icon uses a uniform dark grey. I check the option to use it as a button, and uncheck the option to make the whole bounding box clickable (Enable Click in Bounding box). You can see that the bounding box extends above the image. There is an option to ‘Fit to Bounding box’ but it would have distorted the SVG.

Step 2: Edit mode

To enter edit mode for the SVG double click the SVG. You find the tooltip when hovering over the Fill in the Properties panel. Do not use the button ‘Edit SVG’, which would let you choose an editing application on your system, nor the option Edit with Illustrator.

Step 3: Select a ‘path’

A vector image is composed mostly from several paths, which can have a width (may be variable) and/or a Fill. The image I used as example has 3 paths, all closed and with a fill. You select a path by clicking it. Selected path will have a blue surrounding line as you can see in this screenshot:

Step 4: change color

Click the Fill icon in the Properties panel to open the Color dialog box. For this simple demo slide I used the color wheel to select a color. In a normal project I would have used the Theme Colors palette of course. Click OK to confirm the color change. Repeat that workflow to the remaining shapes.

SVG button states

When you convert a SVG to a button, the InBuilt states Rollover and Down are added automatically. You can use the edit workflow described above for each of those states. I added also the Visited state (with a speech bubble) and the custom state ‘Done’ which appears after you have listened to the 5 available audio clips. Here is the Object state panel of the big SVG button:

The Visited state is selected in this screenshot. Look at the Properties panel: you see that the opacity is reduced to 50%. This always applies to the full SVG, but in this case only to this state of course. You see a user variable inserted in the added speech bubble. That bubble has no reduced opacity, it is not part of the original SVG but an added shape£.

More?

Main topic is finished, you may stop reading if you want. But for the curious fans,  the audio clips are attached to a state in a second multistate object, which is a shape to which I added an icon in the Normal state (no audio) and an audio clip with its name to the other states.

The Advanced action triggered by the big SVG buttone:

No need to trigger the Visited state, it appears automatically after the first click on the SVG button.

Showing Hint with a Delay

Why?

Recently in this thread user asked how to control the appearance of a hint caption.  It was meant to save some frustrations to the learner: hint should appear automatically after some seconds (to be defined), but should not appear when the learner had performed a certain action before that time. This is clearly not possible with the inbuilt Hint messages for interactive buttons. They only appear when the learner is approaching the place where he should click. A custom solution needed to be found. Three solutions were posted, interesting to have a look and compare them. Personally I always bear in mind that someone would like to use this workflow in a fluid boxes responsive project, and that limits the possibilities because stacking is not allowed in normal fluid boxes. We have multistate objects and since a couple of versions a “Delay Next actions….” command.

Example movie

Watch this simple example before reading the explanation:

You will see two slides where a Hint can appear if you are not successful within a delay: slide 2 (arrows) and the Drag&Drop slide (3). I used an almost identical workflow for both slides with a Shared Action triggered with the On Enter Slide event, and a simple advanced action triggered by the arrows (slide 2) or by the object actions (slide 3). Both slides have a hint which is a multistate shape. No variables were used. Slides 4 and 5 show the used actions.

If you prefer to watch the rescalable version, use this link.


Workflow

Hint = multistate object

Both Hints on slides 2-3 are multistate objects. The normal state is the green text bubble, the second state ‘Void’ is completely empty:

On Enter Shared Action

The on Enter action has to perform 4 commands:
  • Hide the Hint shape
  • Wait for a number of seconds
  • Show the Hint shape
  • Apply an effect (I used an emphasize effect).

Only two items needed to be defined as parameters: the Hint shape itself (compulsory parameter) and the literal used for the Delay, to make it possible to have a variable delay if wanted. The Parameter dialog box will look like this:

TIP: although both slides 2 and 3 are pausing at 1,5secs (default pausing point), the command ‘Delay Next Actions by…. ‘ will NOT be paused, timer just continues. That behavior is a big advantage for this particular use case!

Advanced Action ArrowAct

It would have been possible to use a simple action in this case, but the advantage of an advanced action was that I could assign it in one workflow to all the arrows on this slide.

What is the purpose of the Continue command? An advanced action will not release the playhead automatically as is possible with a simple action. On slide 2 a Next button has been added, with a timeline starting after the pausing point of the Arrow shapes acting as buttons. Release of the playhead is necessary to make the Next button visible.

Advanced Action DragAct

Although the advantage of being able to assign the advanced action at once to all the object actions doesn’t exist (could have used a simple action), it was so easy to create a duplicate of the first action that I kept with an advanced action/

It has been assigned to the 4 possible Object Actions in that dialog box, which you find in the Properties panel for the Drop target, under the Format tab. 'Object Actions'.

Custom Play/Pause button - version CP2019

Intro

Several years ago I have already created a blog about this topic.

Meanwhile Captivate has added a lot more features: multistate objects, changes in system variables, easier commands etc. Since that question often appears on social media and the old post is also still visited daily, time to offer an easier way. It is also a use case illustraing use of a system variable, following to my recent posts about system variables.  Here you'll discover how you can use an Interactive Video to as training asset for a workflow. It is up to you: video or step-by-ste textual instructions with screenshots.

Why do I prefer a Shape Button?

Buttons have InBuilt states and can have supplementary custom statesI. You can find more info in this  article: States and State Commands

Captivate has 4 types of buttons, which  have 4 InBuilt states: ‘Normal’, ‘Rollover’, ‘Down’, and ‘Visited’. They can all have extra custom states, which allows to create nice toggle buttons showing the situation at that moment. Examples: TOC open/closed, Audio playing/muted, CC visible/invisible etc (have a look at: 1 action = 5 toggle buttons).  The three first states are included in the object style of the button or the shape, the Visited state is not included. Custom states are neither included in the button style.

Text buttons, Transparent buttons (which are not necessarily transparent), Image buttons can NOT be used on master slides, can NOT be timed for the rest of the project.  A shape button can be used on master slides, can be timed for the rest of the project. For a toggle button Play/oause this is a big advantage: you need only one shape button for your project. If you prefer one of the older button types, you would need a button on each slide.

Workflow - Interactive Video

The movie is based on a Video Demo. The CPVC-file was captured at 1280x720. It is embedded as interactive video in a cptx-rpoject with a resolution of 1024x627. The ratio widht/height is not the same because the synchronized interactive video has a top control bar. I extended the functionality of Interactive video, you'll find some tips in my next post.

I will not embed the video in this post, it would be too small. I offer you two links: the first is to the unscaled published movie, where you'll have the best quality which is important to watch the sometimes very tiny features of the Captivate UI. If you want to see it oscaled to your browser resolution, you can use the second link, which is to a rescalable version. It may look more blurry on a very big screen, but you need to use this version if you want to watch on mobile devices:

Fixed resolution: Custom Play/Pause

Rescalable: Custom Play/Pause


Workflow Step-by-Step

Step 1: Creation of the Shape button

You have to know the  situation at the start of the  course. By default (after having launched the course) this will be 'Play’ situation. Consequence: the start look of the Shape button has to be ‘Pause’.  It is not possible n Captivate to create states for a shape button on a master slide . You have to create that button on a normal slide,.
  • Create a shape and check off the option ‘Use as Button’.
  • Open the State panel, using the button ‘State View’ in the Properties panel.
  • In the Normal state, fill the shape with an image and/or text you want to show when the course is playing, to pause the course.
  • Delete the InBuilt states ‘Rollover’ and ‘Down’, using the right-click menu on those states (you cannot use a simple Delete key).
  • Add a Custom State, and name that state  (I use 'Play' as label)
  • In this custom state fill the shape with an image and/or text you want to show when the course is paused, to resume Playing.

Here is a screenshot of the states I created in the video:

Step 2: Location Shape button

Once the button is ready, you have to decide where to put it, and take out the Pausing point. Reason: you want this button to be available all the time, but not a pausing point like you need for a Submit or a Next button. There are two possibilities for its location;

1. On Master slides

If you want to use the Play/pause button on all slides, and you are creating a non-responsive project or a responsive project with breakpoint views, the easiest way is to copy/paste the button to the Main master slide. The daughter master slides can inherit the button. Careful: in some themes the Title master slides is not using the main master slide objects, you’ll need the button also on that master slide in that case.

For a fluid boxes responsive project, you cannot use the main master slide (cannot have fluid boxes). You will need to insert the button on each used master slides where you want that functionality.

To turn off the pausing point: open the Actions tab of the button, and uncheck the option ‘Pause project until user clicks’.

2. Timed for the rest of the project

The alternative for the master slides, is to have the Play/pause button on the first slide, and time it for the rest of the project, always on top. That has to be done in the Timing Properties of the button. At that same place you can also turn off Pausing:

For a Fluid Boxes project: object timed for the rest of the project is normally not possible. I explored and found it iw possible but with the requirement that you use the same master slide for all content slides.

Step 3: Create Advanced Action

The success event of the button has to trigger a rather simple advanced action. Check the ‘Conditional Tab’ and create this action:

Explanation: I am checking the value of the Boolean variable cpCmndPause (see article). If that value = 0, the course is playing.

In that situation I will use the command ‘Pause’ (‘Pause’ is exactly the same as ‘Assign cpCmndPause with 1) and change the state of the button SB_PausePlay to the Play state.

If the course is paused however, that variable would not have the value = 0 (but = 1) and the ELSE commands are done: the state of the button is reset to Normal, and the playhead is released by the command ‘Continue’ (which is the same as Assign cpCmndResume with 1, which is also setting cpCmndPause back to 0).

Warning: not everything is ‘paused’!

As I explained more in detail in my sequence of blogs about the timeline, even an absolute pause (‘Pause’) will not pause everything.  Here in short the most important:

  • Animations of all type (animated GIF, SWF, OAM….).
  • Event video if it is playing
  • Audio which was started with the command ‘Play Audio’

For more information:

Pausing Captivate's Timeline

Pausing Timeline and Audio

You would have the same  situation  with the Pause button on default Captivate playbars. It is not due to the fact that this is a custom button.


Hotspots in non-VR project? Workflow 1

Why?

This is not a blog post for intermediate or advanced users. Since CP2019 is released, with the hotspots for 360 images and videos in a VR project or a normal project, I see the same question appearing regularly: why cannot we have that feature for a 2D image? Hence my idea to offer you some possible workflows with a step-by-step explanation and a free downloadable project file. This first post shows a project where the functionality of VR hotspots is being duplicated as close as possible:

  • When user clicks a hotspot, text, image and/or audio will appear, and automatically disappear after a specified time (here you can also use video, which is not possible in a VR project)
  • The hotspots get a checkmark after having been clicked.

However only the status ‘Exploratory’ is used, not the ‘Guided’ status. I would be able to reproduce that as well, but the workflow will be more complicated.

Example movie

Watch the result in this movie with 3 slides. After the title slide you’ll see the hotspot slide. The last slide lists up the steps explained below, if you want to create the workflow from scratch. I will also offer you the project file, you can also copy/paste the hotspot slide to your project, thus allowing to skip some steps.

Copy/Paste Slide

You can download the project file (created in version 11.0.1.266) from this link.

You can copy/paste the hotspot slide (slide 2) to your project. Replace the image. You can edit the design of the hotspots (names start with HS_), change the content of the states in the Multistate object labeled SS_Info.

Have a look at the Library, folder Shared Actions. You’ll see that it has been used 6 times, once for each hotspot. If you change names of the states in the multistate object, you will have to edit that parameter. Same for the duration. The other parameters are always the same for each hotspot: the name of the multistate object and its Normal state.

Steps, from scratch

Create hotspot

I used a shape button as hotspot. It has several advantages over the older type of buttons. You can choose any shape or create a custom shape (here I used just a circle), you can fil it with any color from your Theme Colors as solid color or in a gradient (I used a gradient) or even fill the shape with any image. Moreover you can type text in the shape. I kept the hotspot very simple: just a question mark. But you can replace the text or the fill as you like. It is important that the shape button – hotspot has at least two InBuilt states: the Normal and the Visited state. You could also use the Rollover and Down state, which I deleted in the example file/movie. This is the state panel of the hotspot:

Duplicate hotspot

I labeled the used style as ‘Hotspot’. However, the Visited state is not part of the style (which I regret a lot). For that reason I did duplicate the hotspots (CTRL-D). In the project the names start with HS_.  In the example movie you’ll see 6 hotspots.

Contrary to the hotspots in a VR project, these hotspots have a timeline. I kept the default setup: duration of  3 seconds and pausing at 1.5secs. That pausing point is where where the playhead will pause, exactly like for the hotspots on a VR slide.

Multistate object for popups

I put all the popups in one multistate object which is also a shape: it has 1 state more than the number of hotspots. The Normal state has to be ‘invisible’ by setting the Alpha for Fill = 0 and the stroke width = 0. Each of the following states has the assets for one popup. You will see that I have states with only a text container (background in any color, partially transparent), but some have also an image, audio and one even has an event video (which is not possible on a 3D slide).  You can choose any location, it is not locked to the Normal state location. In the example file, the Object states for this shape looks like this:

Import Shared Action ‘HotspotWorkflow1’

Use File, Import, External Library and open the file you downloaded. Find this shared action in the floating Library panel which will be opened. Drag that action to the Library of your project in the folder Shared Actions. More info about external libraries in this post.

Add shared action to hotspots

Select a hotspot. In the Actions tab of its Properties panel, for the Success action choose ‘Execute Shared Action’. Click on the tiny button {p} to define the parameters which are:

  • Multistate object with the popups (labeled SS_Info) in my example file. That parameter is the same for all hotspots.
  • State: having the info to pop up for that particular hotspot
  • Time you want to leave the popup on screen, can be different for each hotspot
  • Normal state of the multistate object, is same for all hotspots.

Here is one example screenshot for the hotspot referring to the Virtual Reality project:

Conclusion

Maybe you’ll already feel that this workflow could be optimized. I would prefer to give the learner control over the time he needs to watch the popups by adding a close button. Or maybe cover up the distracting background in a lightbox style? What about the next button only appearing when all hotspots have been clicked? Or a warning if not every hotspot has been visited when the learner clicks the Next button? Lot more workflows are possible, let me know which one you would prefer?

Hotspots in non-VR project - workflow 2

Intro

A week ago I published a first showcase, explaining how to replicate the hotspot workflow for VR projects on a 2D image. This second article about using hotspots for a 2D image is not duplicating as closely that same feature: instead of showing the popups for a duration defined by the developer, this workflow will offer a close button for the popups. The learner decides when to close a popup and proceed (eventually) to the next hotspot. I also used a technique, often labeled as 'lightbox': to have the popup stand out of the rest of the content, it will have a semi-transparent cover in the background dimming the rest of the slide.

Example movie

I used the same image (welcome screen) and content for the popups as i the first workflow. Only  some small color changes and changes in the location have been applied . Watch this 3-slide movie: after the title slide (doubles as poster image) you can test the new hotspot slide, and the last slide gives a short Step-by-step list if you want to use this slide in your project. 

Try it out: quick workflow

You can download the project file from this link

If you do not need to have more than 6 hotspots, and you are happy with the resolution of the project (1024x627) and its Theme (Pink Icing), you can quickly use the hotspot slide using these steps:

  1. Create a blank project, with that resolution and theme. Create your title slide, and eventually a poster image as explained in his older article
  2. Copy the hotspot slide from the sample project and paste it into your project. The object names will get an extra number, but you don't have to bother about that. The advanced and shared action is automatically adapting to the new names.
  3. Select the Image..  'WelcomeScreen.png' and replace it by your image (Properties panel).
  4. Move eventually the hotspots to the right location. If you need less than 6 hotspots you can hide some of them in output. Deleting is also possible. Start by hiding or deleting the last hotspot(s). The sequence of the hotspots is starting with HS_Responsive (first in first row), going to the right and then to the second row. Last hotspot is for the PPT.
  5. Open the multistate object SS_Info.. which is just on top of the 'Cover' (needs to be there). Click the State view button in the Properties panel to open the Object State panel.
  6. Leave the Normal state alone. Replace the content in the other states by your content (follow the sequence described under 4.)  You don't need to rename the states, nor to delete the last unused ones (just leave them as they are).
  7. Start testing with 'Preview HTML in Browser' (F11).

 

How to use Custom Effect in Actions?

Intro

Almost 8 years ago I posted this article on my personal blog: Editing Motion Paths and Using Custom Effects. 

Since that time Effects have been improved a lot, advanced and shared actions can make life much easier. Time to upgrade that blog post, meanwhile testing the behavior of effects in HTML output in CP2019. While Flash was always to be trusted, that is not the case for HTML output. And indeed, I bumped onto a problem with the Scale effect, and sometimes the Rotate to effect. When those problems are solved, I will post a published movie. The workflow to use Custom effects in a shared or advanced action is however still the same since many versions. It is a bit complicated, I have answered many questions about it in the forums. I will write it out now step by step.

When do you need  a custom effect?

Effects have been improved in some ways. Some parameters can be defined in the Advanced Actions dialog box. Look for the start time of an effect, its duration and more numeric fields (alpha, rotation, ease in/out, alpha….). However when using a combination of effects over and over again, you can create one custom effect which saves that combination and can applied in one step including the sequence and duration of the different effects. Another practical example are the motion effects, where you need to edit the motion path, which is certainly the case for more complicated custom motion paths.  This screenshot shows an example of a complicated combination of effects on the Timeline. It was meant to be applied to simulate a swimming fish:

Step by Step

Step 1:  Create and save effect

Create the effect or combination of effects on any object as a ‘Self)time based animation and test it out thoroughly (Preview HTML in Browser for a non-responsive project) in several browsers before saving it with a custom name.

You don’t need to save it in a specific folder. I use to save it with the project I am working on as is the case in the screenshot above. Effects are stored in XML-files.

Step 2: Apply the custom effect as time-based animation

If you would try to use the saved effect in a shared/advanced action it will no be available. If this is the first custom effect you ever created, there will not even be a Custom category to choose from You need first to delete all the individual effects applied to the object (above it was to the object SV_Fish (a SVG image). Then apply the custom effect as a (Self) time based animation again, but now with ‘one’ effect chosen with the browse button.

When looking at the timeline you’ll see exactly the same result as in the screenshot at the beginning: all the effects in the correct sequence and with the duration you had chosen.

The result of this second application is that the Category ‘Custom’ will now have been created, and it will have the new custom effect ‘Swimming’.

Step “: use in advanced or shared action

If you only wanted to apply this action using an interactive object, you could use a simple action. The field Category will now have the Custom category.

However often effects are used in Advanced or Shared actions in combination with other commands. In this example the Fishes are originally hidden, so I need to Show them and apply the effectn eventually also have an audio clip playing separately.

The two buttons on this example will trigger the same shared action. Both fishes are hidden in output at the start. When creating the advanced action, the category Custom can now be used, and the available parameters (start, duration) could be edited, but mostly you’ll not want to do that.

Because I needed to use this action twice, maybe also later in other projects unchanged or as template for other actions, I preferred a shared action which will have only one parameter: the object itself. An effect cannot be a parameter. However, the effect can not only be applied to one object, but also to a group. I can replace one fish by a group of fishes.


Interactive Video, Navigation Bookmarks

Intro

Interactive Video is without any doubt my favourite new feature in Captivate 2019. It makes adding some interactivity to a passive video very easy compared with the old workflows which I used to simulate such an interactive video in previous versions. I had in mind to blog about some possible workflows that could add even more functionality. A user posted a question today about Bookmarking for Navigation. I had already some workflows in mind, and want to share one of them with you. I tried it out on the sample project provided with Captivate. That project has only two bookmarks, which are labeled 'ExerciseBenefits' and 'O3Jump'. the workflow can easily be extended to more bookmarkst. We'll create a shape button to pop up a menu. 

Popup menu

To create the menu, which is hidden when the video starts, I used a shape,  but you can use a text caption as well. I filled that shape with one word for each of the bookmarks. In this case I used the words 'First ' and 'Second'. Those words will be indicated as hyperlinks. Hyperlinks have a lot more functionality than just pointing to an URL, as I explained in some blog posts.

Close button

Dropdown menu

The menu for hyperlinks is missing some options (which I regret): you will not see the option 'Jump to Bookmark' nor 'Execute Shared Action'. My only choice was to use the command 'Execute Advanced Actions'.  That means that you have to create as many advanced actions as you have bookmarks. They are very simple oneliners, but with a simple action or a shared action it would be a better workflow.  It is also impossible to prevent release of the playhead, but that is not really an issue in this case since we are creating navigation actions, and the video may continue to play when it gets to the chosen bookmark.

The shape with the hyperlinked texts needs to be invisible in output, and timed for the rest of the slide. If you have multiple video slides, and you want one menu for all videos,  time it for the rest of the project. Because the overlays are possible, you'll not have any problem to have the shape being visible on top of the video.

Menu Button

The menu button (which you could see in the screenshot with the popup shape) is a shape button. I added a custom state 'Close' to the 3 InBuilt states, where the label is changed from Menu to Close. To avoid confusion I took out the label from the Rollover and Down state which are used both for the open and closed version of the button:

The button is a toggle button, to track the visibility of the popup shape I needed a user variable (Boolean) which I labeled v_visib as usual. Default value = 0, which means the popup shape is closed and the Normal state of the button is active. When the button is clicked to open the popup, the state will change to Close, and the variable will be toggled. This leads to a conditional action which I have described/used already many times:


Conclusion

I hope you liked this workflow which is not included by default. You can add this toggle button to other buttons like an Audio/Mute and a CC button. If you missed it, you can find a workflow for that type of buttons in this blog post:.



Rare Tips for Shared Actions

Intro

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

1. Creation of Variables

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

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

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

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

  

2. Shared Action without Parameters

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

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

3. Shared Action as Template 

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

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

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

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

What about you?

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


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

Intro 

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

Analysis

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

What are the parameters for the shared action?

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

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

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

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

The second decision is conditional:

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

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

Shared action Skip_Frames

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

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

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

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

Using Skip_Frames in future projects

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

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








Play Audio once on First Visit

Intro

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

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

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

Workflow 1: Play Audio

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

It has two decisions:

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

Workflow 2: Skip frames

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

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

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

Afterthoughts

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

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

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