Captivate Timelines: color coding and shortcut keys

Intro

This last article about the Timeline is sort of a bonus for those who want to know 'everything' about the timeline panel. The color codes can be a quick visual help to recognize object timelines, and I personally use the shortcut keys quite a lot to avoid the many mouse movements to the different tabs in the Properties panel. 

If you have problems with the used terminology, maybe you missed some information from this articles, already published:

Captivate's Timelines demystified - Intro

Video Timeline demystified (cpvc)

Captivate's Timelines cptx-project

Pausing Captivate's Timeline (cptx)


Color coding

The color coding is the same for master slide timelines and slide timelines.  The hexadecimal code is just an indication because a lot of the timelines have a gradient fill..

  • Audio timeline: dark grey (about #4E5156)
  • (Master) slide timeline: beige (about #DBD7CE)
  • Placeholder objects: orange (about #DCC399) with some exceptions (Content/Rollover Caption/Rollover Image)
    • Content Placeholder: light blue (about #AFD7FF)
    • Placeholders for Rollover Caption/Image: green (about #BFDD8B)
  • Static objects: light blue (about #BEE8FB). Static objects are Text Captions, Text Animations, Shapes (not used as button), Highlight Boxes, Web objects, SVG's, Images, Videos, Animations, Characters, HTML animation. There are some exceptions
    • Rollover Caption/Image have the green color like for the placeholder (about #BFDD8B)
    • Rollover Slidelet is sort of a hybrid, between static and interactive: is also green (about #BFDD8B)
    • Zoom object: also green (about #BFDD8B)
    • Static widget/interaction: also green (about #BFDD8B)
  • Mouse object: beige like the slide timeline (about #DBD7CE)
  • Interactive objects: green (about #BFDD8B). Those include the buttons, click boxes, Text Entry Boxes, Shapes used as buttons, Learning interactions (static and interactive)
  • Effect timelines: light red (#FBDAE1), turning to darker saturated red (#F584A7) when selected

  • A selected timeline, with the exception of the slide audio  at the bottom, and effect timelines will always be blue (about #99BCBF)

Shortcut keys

I love shortcut keys, once published my favorites for moving/resizing objects (which are still functional). The timeline panel has also several shortcut keys, which can save time because you don't have to switch to the Properties panel all the time. Some of the shortcut keys also work for Effect timelines, but not all.
 

Zooming : Zooming in/out has to be done with the slider at the bottom of the Timeline panel. No shortcut keys are available.  

Spacebar or F3: alternative shortcuts for the play button on the timeline panel or the option Play Slide (confusingly stored under the big button Preview). This method (no Preview) can be used for editing timing, for synchronizing. Use this 'Play slide' (or scrub) to position the Playhead, and you can then easily synchronize start times of objects with this Playhead position. Inserting an object when the playhead is at a certain frame will result in having the object timeline starting with that frame.

HOME/END: moves the playhead to the start/end of the slide timeline

CTRL-E: to extend the duration of a selected object till the end of the slide.
This shortcut key is not valid for individual Effect timelines

CTRL-L: to move the start of an object timeline to the Playhead position, a great way to have multiple objects appearing on the same moment  (still waiting for CTRL-R to align end of timeline with playhead)
This shortcut key is not valid for individual Effect timelines but they'll move automatically with the object timeline   

CTRL-P: to move the start of an audio timeline to the Playhead position

LEFT/RIGHT arrow: moves start of an object timeline 0,1sec in the indicated direction. Applied effect timelines move with the object timeline. Shortcut keys also work for audio timelines
This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting they can be moved independently from the object timeline

CTRL-LEFT/CTRL-RIGHT arrow: moves start of an object timeline 1sec in the indicated direction (also audio timelines), applied effect timelines will move along.
This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting they can be moved independently from the object timeline

SHIFT-LEFT/SHIFT-RIGHT arrow: decrements/increments duration of slide timeline or object timeline with 0,1sec. Applied effect timelines will not be changed. This means that an effect timeline could end up being outside of the object timeline; in that case the effects will play but not with the intended duration or start.
This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting you can increase/decrease the duration of the effect timeline independently from the object timeline

SHIFT-CTRL-LEFT/SHIFT-CTRL-RIGHT: decrements/increments duration of slide timeline or object timeline with 1sec; same behavior for the effect timelines as described above.
This shortcut key is valid for individual Effect timelines, after selecting you can increase/decrease the duration of the effect timeline independently from the object timeline

Conclusion

This was the last article in the (long?) sequence about Captivate's Timelines.

I learned from the contacts with Captivate users, as forum moderator, trainer and consultant, that the Timeline is the most important stumbling block for starting Captivate users. For that reason I spent quite a lot of hours trying to assemble this 'soap' about it. Based about that same experience, and the statistics of my blog posts, I see two other similar issues causing problems to Captivate newbies. In the next article I will try to elaborate on those 'big' 3 and offer links to tutorials/articles that explain them in depth.  

Pausing Captivate's Timeline

Intro

This is the fourth post in a sequence of 5. The first post introduced features of all timelines, the second is focused on the specific aspects of the Video Demo Timeline, the third on the aspects of the normal/responsive projects (cptx) both for master slides and normal slides. To understand this article - perhaps the most important - I recommend to  read at least the first and the third article as a preparation. 

This topic is more suited for a live event: a real or a virtual training session. I expect a lot of questions, and those are easier to answer in a live event. I have presented several webinars for Adobe in the past (most about advanced and shared actions), but that practice seems to be discontinued since a while. If you want to participate in a meeting (Connect room), I'm prepared to organize it. Send me a note: either by mail (info@lilybiri.com), in the comments on this post, or use Twitter (my handle is @Lilybiri). In case of sufficient requests, I'll propose a date/hour (probably am PT, for users in USA) and will need an e-mail address for the invitations. As a bonus, will offer you some files.

Pause and Pausing points

Pausing the timeline means stopping the Playhead. However that can be done in in two ways, and they do not affect the items in the same way. Let me first explain what I mean by 'Pause' as opposed to 'Pausing Point'. You'll see that I compare them with two traffic signs: Pause with the red light, Pausing point with the Stop sign. But also in traffic, some 'items' do not respect those signs, legally or illegally. 

Pause 

This strict way of pausing can be achieved by one of these methods:

  1. With the pause button on one of the default playbars.

  2. By choosing the command 'Pause' to be triggered On Enter for a slide (doing it On Exit is not a good idea, because it will happen after the last frame, see previous post about events).  It can also be a (last) command in an advanced/shared action.

  3. By using the Success event an interactive object (like a shape button) with the command 'Pause' either as a simple command or within an advanced/shared actions. Usually it will be the last command. 

  4.  Alternative for 'Pause' command is to assign 1 to the system variable cpCmndPause (its default value is 0). This system variable controls the pause.

If you use a playbar, you'll see that the progress bar is stuck when Pause is encountered. To understand even better, I recommend to insert the system variable cpInfoCurrentFrame in a text container, displayed for the whole project (on top). 

UnPause?

You can use the Play button on the playbar, or need the command Continue, which is available as simple action and in the dropdown list in advanced actions.

Pausing point

Pausing points exist on some special slides, or you can add them by inserting an interactive object for which Pause the slide is activated in the Timing Properties panel. In many cases the pausing point will be visible on the Timeline (see previous articles), but not always. Contrary to the absolute pause, here the timeline is 'waiting' for an action by the user. For that reason the STOP sign is a better metaphor than the red light. Here is an overview of the pausing points, which will be visible on the Timeline:
  1. Quiz or question slides: the pausing point is visible on the slide timeline, but not in the Timing Properties panel. Only way to move is by dragging. Default timing is at 1,5secs, and pause cannot be unchecked. Pausing point is linked with the two-step process triggered by the Submit button. However when selecting the Submit button, you'll not see the pause in the Timing Properties panel (as is the case for the D&D Submit button). Waiting is here for the user to click the Submit button, then to press Y or click on the slide
  2. Score slide: same situation as for the quiz slides: visible in the slide timeline, not in the Timing Properties. Default timing is at 1,5secs. Pausing point is linked with the Continue button, but will not show in the Timing Properties panel of that button. Waiting here is for the user to click the Continue button.

  3. Drag&Drop slide: is pausing at 1,5secs but the point is not visible on the timeline. You will not see it in the Timing Properties for the slide, but in the Actions tab of the D&D panel. It is linked with the Submit button, when selecting that button the Timing properties panel will show the timing of the pausing point. Waiting for the user to click the Submit button, or in case of Auto Submit waiting for a correct answer.

  4. Interactive objects (click box, button, shape button, Text Entry Box) can have a pausing point, to be defined in the Timing Properties panel. That pausing point will be visible in the Timeline, and the part before the point is indicated as 'Active', part after the pausing point as 'Inactive'. Since a click box is invisible to the user, it has not inactive part, its pausing point will always be at the end of its timeline. Waiting is for the user to click either on or outside of the interactive object (click box, shape or normal button) or to confirm the Entry in a TEB. You can edit the pausing point by dragging in the Timeline or in a precise way by editing the Timing Properties panel. It is also possible to uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 3 in the Gallery).

  5. Shape button on a master slide can have a pausing point. Since objects on a master slide have no duration, no Timing Properties panel, you have to indicate that you want it to pause, in the Actions tab of the Properties panel (see screenshot 4 in the Gallery). You can uncheck the pause there as well. The pausing point will be at the end of each slide, based on that master slide. It will not be visible in the timeline
  6. Interactive widgets or learning interactions have a pausing point at 1 sec. It will not show up in the Timeline, you can find it in the Timing Properties.  Pause can be unchecked, but you'll not want to do that for this type of interactions.That is the place to edit or uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 5 in the Gallery). Static widgets/interactions do not have a pausing point. More info about difference  between interactive and static in: Widgets and Interactions

Bonus: You can download a (watermarked) pdf with this overview from PausingPoints.

UnPause?

It depends on the kind of pausing point:

  1. For Question slides: the playhead is released after the second step of the Submit process and the actions defined in Question properties will be done.

  2. For Score slide: similar, but after clicking the Continue button.

  3. For Drag&Drop: exactly the same as for the Question slides, after clicking the Submit button.

  4. For interactive objects on master or normal slides: if an advanced action is executed (Success/failure) the playhead is not released automatically. If you want this to happen you have to include a Continue or a navigation command like Jump to as last command in the action. If you use a simple action, the playhead will be released by default, but in CP9 it is possible to uncheck that default setting 'Continue playing the Project' (not done in this screenshot).
     

What is Paused?

Not everything is paused by the absolute Pause command, nor the Pausing points. Watch the interactive movie to understand better. Some items are never paused, some are paused by both Pausing points and the Pause command, some are only paused by the Pause command, not by the pausing points although there may be a workaround. 

The position of the playhead when pausing is important: objects for which the object timeline starts later than the pause will not appear until the playhead is released.

Same is the case for Effects which have a duration, a timeline: if the pause occurs while the effect is not finished, it will stall in the last position and continue only when the playhead is released.

Animations however are never paused, not even when you use the Pause command triggered by the On Enter event of a slide. They will always play.

Video clips inserted as Event video are totally independent: if they are playing when pausing, they'll continue to play. If a pause is occurring and the video is not yet started, the user will be able to use the Play button of the video control panel to watch the video. Video clips inserted as Multisynchronized video however will be paused by the Pause command and by a pausing point.

The situation is a lot more complicated for audio:

  • Background audio is totally insensitive to Pauses or Pausing points: it will continue to play.

  • Slide Audio: will automatically be paused by the Pause command, but not by a pausing point. It is possible to pause slide audio at a pausing point, to resume when the playhead is released if you check 'Stop Slide Audio' on the Options tab in the Properties panel of the interactive object.
  • For the default pausing points on quiz slides, score slide, D&D slides you cannot pause the slide audio however. This seems confusing, and can lead to a problem. Slide audio clips automatically will increase the duration of the slide. You learned that the default pausing point of this type of slides is always set to 1,5seconds. If the playhead is released with the command 'Continue', it will have to visit all the remaining frames on the slide, those frames in the 'big' inactive part of the slide. To avoid that, I recommend that you change the default pausing time and make it just a little bit smaller than the slide duration. This is not necessary if the actions when releasing the playhead from its pausing point are a navigation to another slide, because the inactive part of the slide will just be skipped.

  • Object audio: will be paused by the strict command Pause, but not by a pausing point! There is no workaround for this behavior for a Pausing point.

  • Audio started with 'Play Audio' cannot be stopped not by Pause nor by a pausing point, the only way to stop it is by launching the command 'Stop Triggered Audio'. 

Why pausing?

This blog post has become very long, for which I apologize. For that reason I will write out some use cases, to illustrate the just described theory in later posts. You're welcome to post some ideas as well. Here are some appetizers:

  • Instead of creating very long slides to fit the narrations, use the Play Audio command and have a pausing point on the slide. That can be a Next button, which offers total control to the user.

  • Question slides with narration as slide audio: you need to move the pausing point.

  • Create custom navigation: use shape buttons on the main master slide, only one of them needs a pausing point to give each user all the time needed to watch the slides.

  • Create a slide with light boxes.

  • Have multiple TEB's on one slide with a unique Submit button.

  • Create a dashboard with buttons to display multiple vodcasts, images, podcasts.

Captivate's Timeline(s) Demystified - Intro

Intro

Happy New Year 2017 to all Captivate users!

Quite a few years ago I wrote an article about Timeline secrets in Captivate 5: Tiny Timeline Tidbits

Since the change in the UI with Captivate 8 , the newbie User Interface minimizes the Timeline panel by default which is a pity IMO. Some of the questions I read, at least partially due to that decision to hide the Timeline: 

  •  'I want to get rid of the timeline, don't need it at all'
    (user thinking that Captivate is just a Powerpoint clone).
  •  'Why is the timeline not showing the whole project, so user unfriendly'  
    (user supposing Captivate is a mini video application)

  •  'Why do I see all the objects on the slide, even when the playhead is in a part where some objects shouldn't be visible, not intuitive'  
    (user with  an Animation background)

For those reasons I suspect it is Time to update that old article, to explain the ins and outs of the Timeline panel with its latest additions like CPVC-projects and slides, Effect Timelines, Drag&Drop. 

Timeline panel, in collaboration with the Timing Properties panel is at the core of the Captivate applications. Personally I'm persuaded that it should be a top priority in the skillset of any Captivate developer, whatever its level.

Since I cannot offer you a 'digestive' (limoncello, grappa, schnapps, single malt;;;) I will split up this (broad) subject in several articles. You are reading the introduction. Following posts will treat topics like 'Timeline in a cpvc-project', 'Timelines in a cptx-project, master slides and normal slides', 'Color coding and Shortcut keys for Timelines', 'Why/how to pause a timeline?'. 

Why a Timeline?

Many users talk about the output of a Captivate project as 'a movie'. Although this is only completely true for a file published to a video format (MP4), this indicates well that Captivate is related to video applications like Premiere Pro and After Effects.

No one will have doubts about the importance of 'time' for video. A movie has a playhead, which moves at a certain speed. That speed is usually indicated by the term 'frames per second', or FPS.

Frames remind me always of the traditional way of producing cartoon movies: each frame, drawn by a graphic artist, was slightly different from the previous and the next frame. By playing those frames at a certain speed,  movement could be simulated: the slowness of our eye/brain made it possible to see fluid movements from those frames.

Captivate has two types of 'raw' files: the cptx-files (slide-based) and the cpvc-files (less-known, Video Demo files). Both types have a Timeline panel but with some differences as I will try to explain in this sequence of posts. Let us start with those features that can be found always in the Timeline.

Common features

You can either read the following text, or watch this interactive Captivate slide:

Some items are available in all Timeline panels: for cptx and cpvc projects:
  1. Contrary to some video or animation applications, the Timeline ruler in Captivate is always in Time units (seconds), cannot be changed to frames (look at the horizontal ruler in the top of the Timeline panel). The smallest increment in the timeline is 0,1 seconds. With a default rate of 30FPS (which can be changed) 0,1seconds = 3 frames

  2. The Playhead is represented by a red rectangle. When you use the play button in the control panel (see 4), you'll see its movements. You can also drag the Playhead to a certain position on the timeline. The size of the rectangle is bit different between a cptx and a cpvc project as you can see in the screenshot.

  3. In the first column of the panel, on top you find the Eye button, and each track (horizontal line in the panel) in the Timeline has a (blue, filled with orange) dot under this button. See the screenshots:
    When clicking the Eye button on top of the column, all objects in all tracks will be hidden on the stage. This is only meant for editing reasons, it will not affect the published course.To hide items after publishing you need to click that 'other' Eye button in the Properties panel of the objects (hidden in Output). When clicking on a dot under the Eye button, next to a track, all objects on that track will be hidden. In the exampled on the screenshot, the second tracks from the top have been hidden.

  4. Next to the Eye button is a Lock button, also with dots next to each track. When you click the button itself all objects on all tracks will be locked: not available for selection nor for editing properties. However, if you click a dot next to a track, there are two states. On the first click only size and position will be locked. In that state you can still select /style the objects. The blue Lock icon is surrounded by 4 arrows, as you can see in the screenshot: for the cpvc it is the track immediately above the Video/Audio track, for the cptx project the uppermost timeline. Clicking twice on a dot results in full lock: no selecting/editing is possible. This is the case for the uppermost Objects track in the cpvc-screenshot and for the image I_topics in the cptx project. Watch the different look of the lock icons.

  5. The Control panel at the bottom of the first column (see screenshot above) has the classical (video) buttons:  'Move Playhead to start', 'Stop', 'Play', 'Move Playhead to the end'. Play and Stop can also be activated with the space bar if the timeline panel is active.
    Warning: Play Slide under the button Preview has the same function as Play in this control panel. Although it is under the Preview button it is NOT a preview at all! It is just meant to be used for editing, will not show how the slide will look after publishing. This is a common misunderstanding.
    The last button on the control panel: 'Audio' is a toggle, will mute/unmute Audio when watching using the Play button. Like the Eye button, this will not affect audio when publishing. The state of this button will apply to all open projects.

  6. In the second column at the same vertical position as the control panel described under 6 and the horizontal scrollbar, you'll find 4 tiny icons in all normal slides (they have no sense for the Master slide which has no real duration)

    1. Hourglass icon: indicates the location of the playhead from the start of the track; its tooltip is 'Elapsed Time'; this indicator is always available, even when no track nor object is selected.
    2. Vertical line + right arrow (Selected Start Time) will only have a value when a video clip or a static object is selected; it will indicate the start time of the selected video/object. In the screenshot the Smartshape on top is selected.
    3. Vertical line + right arrow + vertical line (Selected duration) will show the duration of the selected clip/object, is only available when a video/object is selected on a track.
    4. Chrono icon: Total duration of the slide 

      The Zoom slider to the right of this total duration,  allows the timeline to zoom in/out. 

Next post

The next article will be about the specific features of the Video Demo timeline (cpvc-project) and the cpvc-slides. You'll not have to wait long, neither for the third article about the specificity of timelines in a cptx-project (master slides and normal slides).