A while ago I posted a blog comparing the use of a Theme for consistent design of a project, with the older Template workflow (which is buggy in the recent versions):
I always start any project by the creation of a custom theme, starting mostly from the Blank theme (has the minimum amount of master slides needed for a theme). More recently I offered some tips in Themes Q&A
Due to my past as civil engineer, I see a theme as the structure of a building :
- Theme colors palette (see Theme Colors) is the foundation. Palette is independent on type of theme: whether iit is non-responsive, responsive with fluid boxes or with breakpoint views.
- Object styles, the topic of this blog are the pillars (vertical structural elements). For Breakpoint views you need slightly different styles for objects containing text.
- Master slides are the beams (horizontal structural elements). As in a building there is a lot of interaction between beams and pillars, together they are the structure You will often going back and forth with object styles while creating the master slides. Master slides depend on type of theme.
- Can be considered as optional: Recording defaults and Skin, depending on the project if you need them
Now you are ready to complete the building by filling in the walls, floors…. In Captivate we call them slides.and objects.
Captivate’s Object Styles
Contrary to a word processor, Captivate has no Text styles as you know from MS Word: a bunch of paragraph styles (includes leading, space before and after paragraph, indents, bullets….) and word/character styles. I will post a future blog about the Object Style Manager where you’ll find all object styles used in Captivate’s themes. This blog will show some screenshots taken from the OSM, because you can see what is included in each style:
Caption style: includes indeed the font, font size, eventually attributes (bold, italic, light), font color and leading, alignment but also the type of caption, margins within the caption, and the transition type. In the themes packaged with Captivate the caption type is mostly set to transparent, but that was not always the case in older versions and doesn’t need to be always transparent. It comes closes to what you know as text styles, but still... transition is unknown in MS Word..
Text Entry Box style: has the formatting of the text but also the Fill (color and transparency) and Transition setting. You cannot edit the stroke, not included.
Button style: is more complicated, includes formatting of 3 Inbuilt states (Visited, 4th state is not included). In the screenshot, which shows a so-called 'Default style' (see later) you see that when you insert a button (Interactions, Button) in these settings a Transparent button will be inserted. For each state the text formatting of the label is defined (in case of a Text or a Transparent, button. That setting will not appear for an Image button which cannot have a label. For the transparent button , style includes also the fill (here a gradient, with full opacity), stroke (color, width and style) and the corner radius. Formatting for the two other types is much more limited.
Smart Shape style: the most versatile object in Captivate can be a text container, hence the text formatting similar to captions. SInce it can also be used as a button, you can define the formatting of the same InBuilt states as for the Transparent button. The corner radius is missing You can choose a rounded rectangle as start for a shape button, and it has a yellow handle to edit the corner radius.
It seems useful to list up some important terms concerning Captivate's Object Styles:
Default Style: Previous screenshots showed styles set as ‘Default style’. The checkbox to mark a style as default, is automatically dimmed in that case. When you insert an object of that type, it will automatically be inserted with that default style. The other styles, not marked as default style, can be used but you’ll have to change them manually after inserting the object. Here is an OSM screenshot showing the presence of 3 possible TEB styles. In a previous screenshot I had the Yellow Fill set as default style, this is one of the other styles that can be used:
Overridden Style: If you edit some formatting after inserting an object with its default or manually changed style on the stage, a + sign will precede the style name as you can see in this screenshot (I changed the transparency of the fill and the font size). This is labeled as an ‘overridden style’.
Using overridden styles is considered bad practice in any style-based application. Why? It means that if you have to make changes later on, this object will not be touched anymore. Maybe your client/boss wants to have another font for the TEB? If this is the only TEB in the course, you can find it and edit this TEB in place, thus creating an overridden style. When dealing with more TEB’s it is much easier to edit the object style itself (see later). The edited style will be applied automatically to all TEB’s in the course, exception are those with an overridden style.
Style menu in Properties panel : many sections in the Properties panel have a so-called ‘hamburger’ (or hotdog) menu button. The Styles part has such a mneu button. In this screenshot you see the style menu expanded for theTEB with the overridden style (previous screenshot). You can choose to create a New style (if I want to keep the default style for later to be inserted TEB’s) or Save the changes to the existing style if you want all the TEB’s in this project to have this edited style. There is also a Reset Style to revert to the original style in this menu.
The option Apply this style to…. is a bit confusing for this situation. Suppose you have another TEB using the Default TEB Blue Fill Style you can use ‘Apply this Style to all objects with Style Default TEB Blue Fill, but it will be the original Yellow style that will be applied, not the overridden style. I would prefer to save first the edited Yellow style.
Creation of a Custom Style
You can create a style in the Object Style Manager, as I will explain in a later blog, but it is easier to use the ‘from example’ workflow. Step-by-step:
- Have a quick look at the Object Style Manager to see what is included in the style for your object type. I showed several screenshots above. It is not always clear from the Properties panel which features are included in the style. Example: Transition is included in some styles, not visible in the Properties panel but in the Timing Properties panel.
- Insert an object of that type on the stage. It will be inserted with the style set as Default style.
- Edit the features which you detected under 1. until you have the wanted look. That is easier to verify on the stage than with the tiny Preview window in the OSM.. Do not forget the states (Normal, Rollover, Down) for interactive objects. The style field (Properties) will show the +sign to indicate the overridden default style.
- Open the Style menu (hamburger) and choose the option ‘Create New Style’
- Give the style a significant name and confirm with OK
The style will appear in the Object Style Manager. But you don’t have to use the OSM for these actions
- Set the style as Default style: is possible from the same Style Menu. Beware: for the example of the shape button, I would not set this as the default style because all shapes would take on that style. Really hope that we can have a default shape button style which is different from the default smart shape style in a future release.
- Apply this style for all objects with a specific style. This is a workaround I sometimes use: for shape buttons I don’t use the default smart shape style, but one of the other styles (like a hint shape style if I don’t use it in the project) as long as I am not sure about the wanted button style. When I decide to create the definite style for all shape buttons, I can use the Apply this style to replace all those ‘hint’ shape styles by the new shape button style.
This problem only exists for shape buttons. Most other object types are not used for two different goals.
If you want to include features which are not part of the style in a quick way, use the duplicate functionality (CTRL-D). It will keep not only the same style in the copy, but all features, including eventually attached advanced actions.
Third element of your theme (structure) will be the master slides. Advantage of defining object styles before the master slides is that the inserted objects on the master slides will have the new default styles. That can save time. Just one example: if you use shape buttons on master slides, you will not be able to use 'from example' workflow to create a style for those shape buttons. Reason: the State view cannot be opened when on a master slide, and you need to set up the states. For object styles with a Transition feature, you'll not be able to define them on the master slides neither, because you miss the Timing Properties panel for them.