Report Custom Questions - part 2

Will present 'Unleash Adobe Captivate's Full Power with Advanced Actions'


If you did not read the first part of this cycle, please do so now, because there I explained the basics of reporting custom question slides: Report Custom Questions - part 1
In this second part I'll explain how to report the scores of question slides that use static widgets. I have been posting several times about using those widgets. In the sample file I only use the extended versions of the TextArea, Checkboxes and Radiobuttons widgets, created by Jim Leichliter. You can download them for free on his website: Jim's blog
The work flow is pretty simple, if each slide is treated like the default Captivate question slides: either you have a correct, or you have an incorrect answer. Partial scoring is not possible in this case. Since the static widgets by their nature do not have the possibility to have a score attached to them, you'll need interactive objects to take over that role. But you need buttons anyway on score slides, those buttons will be used to play the 'scoring' role.
As a bonus I explain also how to make it possible to Retake the Quiz, and the user will only have to retake questions with incorrect answers.

Question slides with static widgets



Watch this movie with 5 slides. After the introduction slide you'll have three question slides:
  1. MCQ1: Multiple choice with one possible correct answer, using the Extended Radiobuttons Widget
  2. MCQM: Multiple choice with multiple correct answers, using the Extended Checkboxes Widget
  3. ShortAnswer which will be checked on keywoards, using the TextArea Widget with variables
Last slide is the default Score slide for a Quiz. I configured the Quiz to allow 5 attempts, hence the Retake button. No multiple attempts on Question level, no Review to keep it simple :-) And to give you a lot of playtime: passing score is 80%, which means that you have to answer all questions correctly to pass.

How to create a score?

My work flow is really quite simple:
  • On the Question slide a Submit button triggers an advanced action to check if the answer is correct. 
  • If the answer is incorrect, a Next button (labeled NextVoid...) will show up that has no score attached, is not reported and thus no points will be added to the Total score.
  • If the answer is correct, another Next button (labeled NextOK...) shows that has the correct score attached and will be reported, added to the Total score.
Have a look at the Advanced Interaction panel I posted in the Gallery: you'll see three buttons for each question slide, only the NextOK.. buttons are reported and added to the Total score (here 20pts)

Description of the Question slides

This slide is constructed with the Extended Radiobuttons Widget, and has an associated variable v_MCQ1 that will store the answer chosen. Other objects on the slide are:
  • Text Caption Title_MCQ1 
  • Text Caption Question_MCQ1
  • Button Submit_MCQ1 that is visible when you are preparing an answer, it will trigger an advanced conditional action with the same name that checks the answer and shows one out of the two other buttons; you'll find the advanced conditional action Submit_MCQ1 in the Gallery
  • Button NextVoid_MCQ1, initially invisible will get visible (and thus enabled) when the answer is incorrect; this button has no score attached, is not reported which means that an incorrect answer will increment the score with 0 points
  • Button NextOK_MCQ1, initially invisible will get visible (and thus enabled) when the answer is correct; this button will be reported with a score of 5 points to be added to the Total score
  • Text Caption Right_MCQ1 that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button
  • Text Caption Wrong_MCQ1 that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button
This  slide is constructed with the Extended Checkboxes Widget, and has associated variables Ac,AU,CP,FM,PS. Other objects on the slide are:
  • Text Caption Title_MCQM 
  • Text Caption Question_MCQM
  • Button Submit_MCQM that is visible when you are preparing an answer, it will trigger an advanced action with the same name that checks the answer and shows one out of the two other buttons
  • Button NextVoid_MCQM will be visible (and enabled) when the answer is (partially) incorrect or incomplete; this button has no score attached, is not reported which means that an incorrect answer will increment the score with 0 points
  • Button NextOK_MCQM will be visible (and enabled) when the answer is completely correct; this button will be reported with a score of 10 points to be added to the Total score
  • Text Caption Right_MCQM that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button
  • Text Caption Wrong_MCQM that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button
This slide is constructed with the TextArea Widget with variables, and has one associated variable v_Short. Other objects on the slide are:
  • Text Caption Title_Short 
  • Text Caption Question_MCQM
  • Button Submit_Short that is visible when you are preparing an answer, it will trigger an advanced action with the same name that checks the answer and shows one out of the two other buttons
  • Button NextVoid_Short will be visible (and enabled) when the answer is (partially) incorrect or incomplete; this button has no score attached, is not reported which means that an incorrect answer will increment the score with 0 points
  • Button NextOK_Short will be visible (and enabled) when the answer is completely correct; this button will be reported with a score of 5 points to be added to the Total score
  • Text Caption Right_Short that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button
  • Text Caption Wrong_Short that will show if the answer is correct, by the advanced action triggered by the Submit button

Retake Quiz

Configuring the Quiz for multiple attempts and adding the Retake button to the Score slide will be fine for reporting the attempts, the new score to the LMS but because all slides are custom slides, they wi
ll not be automatically reset like the default Question slides. To reset the static widgets, you will need the extended versions, this is not possible with the versions coming out of the box with Captivate. But now you have the ability to let the user only retake the incorrect answered questions. My work flow:
  • I created a user variable v_void that is empty and will be used to reset the variables associated with the widgets
  • For each question an extra user variable is created, that will get the value 1 if the user answered correctly by the advanced action Submit (see example for the first question in the Gallery): v_OK_MCQ1, v_OK_MCQM and v_OK_Short
  • On entering a Question another advanced conditional action is triggered (Enter_MCQ1, Enter_MCQM, Enter_Short); this action checks the value of the v_OK user variable to see if the answer was correct. If the answer was correct, the situation when leaving the slide in the previous attempt is preserved: the given answer, the Text Caption with the correct feedback, the NextOK button with its score attached. When the user clicks the Next button, this score is added to the total score for this new attempt without having the user to re-enter his answer. If the answer was incorrect reset is done by assigning the user variable v_void to the variables associated with the widgets; feedback captions and Next buttons are hidden, Submit button is made visible. As an example you'll find the action Enter_MCQ1 in the Gallery.


Perhaps you'll ask what is the advantage of a custom question slide over the default question slides since the resulting score is again 'black-white'? Some reasons for a control freak like me:
  • having control over the buttons: one example Next button appears when necessary in the movie, no confusion between Submit and Next is possible
  • feedback is in the movie a text caption, but you can easily replace this by an image, a video...
  • the possibility to have the user answering only the incorrect answers on a second attempt is a feature often asked for on the user forum
What do you think?



Playtime with Audio and Widgets


Holiday time means playtime, travelling to me. For personal reasons not travel for me this year. So thought it a good idea to offer you some information and fun about a small country that I visited several times being the home country of my husband. In this text I will not try to explain everything. If you want explanations about some of the techniques I have been using, please post a comment. Just know that I used of course Captivate but also enjoyed the roundtrip functionalities with Audition and Photoshop in the eLearning Suite 2.5 extensively. 

In several previous articles I have been using widgets that are included with Captivate. Those were all static widgets. But recently two great widgets were published by friends, and I had a lot of fun including them in this movie.

Since months I planned to offer some tips about audio, will try to keep them really simple (KISS) and as promised without long texts.


Watch this movie and try to have a high score playing with the widgets described further. You'll need some patience, due to the many audio clips it is bigger than the files I normally add to these posts. You can also download it if you want.


I used two widgets, one is an interactive widget and the other is a question widget. This means that both can be (and were) used to include scores in a quiz. Here is a short description of the widgets and of course a link to the sites where you can find them. Highly recommendable, both of them!

Drag and Drop Interactive Widget 
This interactive widget was released by InfoSemantics (by Rod and Tristan Ward) and can be found here: Drag and Drop Interactive Widget. Rod explains very well the functionalities of an interactive widget and offers also a comparison with their previously released Drag and Drop Lite Question Widget. Of course, I used Advanced actions to construct the Question slides created with this recent widget. Let me know if you want me to explain those actions in a more elaborate article. I love this widget for its great range of functionalities, especially in combination with advanced actions.

Jumbled Word Widget
This question widget was released by another Captivate-friend, Yves Riel (Flash-Factor) and can be found here: Jumbled Word Widget. Because it is a question widget, it takes over all functionalities of question slides. Just one example: here I used Captivate 5.5 and the new Review feature is automatically attached to the slide with the question widget. No need for advanced actions to add scores to the Quiz in this case. But of course you also get the limitations of question slides : no way to have a partial score (as I created with the other widget for dragging the names to the map). I love this widget for its great design and it confirmed what I suspected since a while: Yves is a perfectionist!


A lot of audio was used in this movie: background (drums music), slide audio (some of the Voice overs are attached as slide audio) but the most powerful way to add/control audio is using object audio. Some reasons with examples:
  • Object audio allows you to have more than one audio clip playing simultaneously without having to create a multi-track audio file. 
    Example: slide 8 with the rollover slidelets; each slidelet has two audio clips, the first is attached to the image, and the second (Voice over) is attached to the Text Caption that appears later. This allowed also to fade out the first music clip, without effect on the Voice over.

  • You can manipulate object audio by (advanced) actions: hiding the object results in the audio not playing, showing the object plays the audio. If you want an audio to play only the first time that a slide is visited, this is a solution: attach the audio to an object that is visible to Captivate but not to the user. To myself I call those audio clips "audio objects".
    Example: the question slides constructed with the widgets have a Voice over that plays when the user takes the quiz, but not when he is reviewing the quiz. Moreover some question slides have a music clip as well, that will only play during the Quiz time, but not when reviewing. This was realized by attaching each music clip (VO and music) to a rectangle with a stroke width of 0 and a Fill with Alpha=0, thus making it invisible to the user. With an advanced action I hide those rectangles when reviewing, resulting in not playing nor the VO nor the music.

  • Same technique can be used to play another music clip in different situations.
    Example: I did not imply it in the movie because it was already very heavy, but this can be used to replace the Text Captions (Review Messages) in the Question slides created with the Drag and Drop Interactive Widget by Voice overs, or to add a Voice Over to those text captions.

I do feel that you have more questions, but I promised a no-text-heavy post this time. If you want me to explain something more in depth, please post a comment.

Have fun! 

Extended widgets for Custom MCQ and T/F questions


A while ago first part of my soap about using Widgets to create customized Question slides, types Multiple True/False and Multiple Choice: Widgets and Custom Question - part 1 was published. The used widgets (included in Captivate 5) were the Radiobuttons and the Checkboxes widgets. Second part was about using the TextArea widget: Widgets and Custom Questions - part 2 for Short Answer and Fill-in-the-Blank questions. Those default widgets cannot be 'reset', which means that you can change their associated variables using advanced actions, but the change will not be reflected on the stage for the user. If you want to offer the user multiple attempts that can be annoying. One of "our" great widget developers, Jim Leichliter offered an extended version of the TextArea widget as an answer to my complaint. This proves (again) how friendly and dynamic our Captivate Community is. In my last post I blogged about the improved functionality of this extended widget. And I got a positive answer on my request if he would be willing to extend the Radiobuttons and Checkboxes widgets as well. Again, he offers those extended widgets for free on his blog site:

RadioButtons Enhanced
CheckBoxes Enhanced

Both enhancements were created using the 'awesome cpGears widget framework' (citation of Jim), by another Captivate friend, Yves Riels. Find him on his blog, I love his InteractiveLabel and NotePad widgets a lot, but he has a lot more widgets to offer: Flash-factor

As promised to Jim, in this blog I'll try to explain the added functionality of those enhanced Radiobuttons and Checkboxes widgets. And watch out for an important warning later on. For those contaminated with AAAD (Advanced Actions Addiction Disease) detailed explanation of the actions are explained in this companion article:

Extended Radiobuttons and Checkboxes Widgets for Custom Questions


Play this SWF to get an idea of the enhanced Retry options. I did use the same quiz as in the original blog post (part 1 - see link in the Intro). But in the original version there was only a Review option, this time I added a Retry option with 3 possibilities: either change the entered answers, or start from scratch (default work flow when choosing Retake in a regular Captivate Quiz), or preserve the correct answers and only retake the incorrect ones. Explore, and would love to hear what you think about it.

Widgets and variables

Three images in the Gallery do show the configuration of the widgets I used:

  • MCQ1: is a RadioButtons Widget used for a Multiple Choice Question with only one correct answer (second question in the movie); the associated variable is labeled MCQ1Answer (case sensitive) and the possible values are different app names. The configuration is the same as for the widget coming with Captivate. Difference is that when you change the value of the variable MCQ1Answer, it will be visible on the slide. If you choose the option Retry Totally, where you can start from scratch, an advanced actions will assign the value 0 (zero) to MCQ1Answer and the result will be that none of the radio buttons is checked on stage.

  • MCQM: is a CheckBoxes Widget used for a Multiple Choice Question with multiple correct answers (third question in the movie); the associated variables (one per option) are labeled CP,SB,PS,RH,Ac (case sensitive) and have to appear in the same sequence as the values Captivate 5,Soundbooth CS5,Photoshop,RoboHelp 9,Acrobat X. By resetting the variables to the value 0 (zero) all check boxes will be unchecked on the stage as is the case for the Retry option 'Totally.

  • Radio1: is one of the 4 RadioButtons Widgets used for the slide with multiple True/False questions (first question in the movie) - the others are labeled Radio2, Radio3 and Radio4; each had an associated variable, labeled TF1 (TF2, TF3, TF4); assigning the value 0 (zero) to a variable will deselect the radio buttons on stage.


  • Do not stack an interactive object on top of the widget(s) or they will not be functional. An example: if you put a click box over a widget that covers it all up, the widget will not work.

  • You can have multiple widgets on a slide, and they can cover up partially; this is the case for the slide with the multiple True/False questions as you can see in the image in the Gallery.

  • Do not bother to resize the widgets if they seem not to display everything, on review or after publishing everything will be OK! Look at the fourth image in the Gallery: the word False seems to be cut off, but shows up all right in the movie.

  • Formatting can be tedious: have a look at the Radio1 widget: I changed the font, font size, color (Dark blue #270067) and the 'highlight' color to the same color as the blueish grey of my background (#E3E3E3) to have it blend in. Why do I tell you the color code? If you are not using one of the sample colors in the color palette, the only way to have consistent colors is to type in the code. An example: to search for the code of the background I had to sample that color using the Pick Color tool that is available in the color palette for the Fill color in the Toolbox (vertical toolbar normally at the left of the stage). Because that color will not be automatically added to the samples in the color palette in the Widget dialog box, and since there is no Pick Color available in that box, the 'simplest' way to have the correct color is typing it in. You imagine some of my feature requests ;-)

  • NEVER DUPLICATE A WIDGET. Yes I'm shouting, because trying to reduce the formatting labour for the 4 RadioButtons widgets on the True/False slide, I did duplicate a widget. Every formatting was kept, and thought I only had to change the associated variable, because all other settings are the same. This will not work! The variable in the duplicate will never get a value. Do not follow my example this time, always insert the widget again and again and again. Change the formatting settings again and again and again. After a while you'll know all the color codes by heart.... 

And now...

waiting for the third episode: using dropdown and combobox widgets to create custom questions...


Extended TextArea Widget: more functionality


A couple of days ago, I "talked" about the TextArea widget coming for free with Captivate 5 for creating custom Fill-in-the-Blank and Short Answer Question slides. At that moment I told you that I did regret that it was not possible to change the associated user variable by an advanced action and have this visible in the TextArea Widget. Just when I was wondering if I would dare to ask some of the Widget princes of the Captivate Community to extend the functionality of this widget, Jim Leichliter simply offered such an extended version on his website: TextArea Widget with variables. It is a wonderful example of our dynamic community, and I'm so grateful to be part of it.
In this blog post I will show the added possibilities for the same Quiz as in the previous post. The changes to the advanced actions and the new to be created variables are be explained in this article published with the Adobe Community Publishing app. Please check my conclusion:


Example movie

Play this movie with the same 4 Question slides, described in the previous movie. It has an extra slide after the score slide with new functionalities:  3 possibilities to Retry the quiz, please try them out. This was not possible with the original CP-widget. And I remember questions on the user forum: is it possible to have users only retaking the incorrect questions? That is possibility 3 in this movie.

Extension of the widget

This extension allowed me to manipulate the content of the TextArea visible on the slides. With the standard Widget, the text entered in the TextArea is stored in the associated user variable, but if you change that user variable this will not be reflected on the slide. If you watched the movie in the previous blog post, and tested the Retry work flow, you'll have noticed that the answers introduced before remained on the slides. You were able to change them manually, but I couldn't clear the text or replace it.
With the extension this is possible. Here is my work flow for each of the 3 possibilities for Retrying:

Possibility 1:

The answer given the first time remain on the slides, the user can edit them - this was the only workflow possible with the default TextArea Widget, the user variable has not been changed.

Possibility 2:

All answers are cleared. I created extra user variables:
  • v_pos: will store the value 1, 2, 3 corresponding with the Retry possibility chosen, will be used in a conditional action
  • Start: has the text 'My answer: ' as content; in an advanced action the variables associated with the Short Answer TextArea widgets on the first 3 question slides will get this content, replacing the text input by the user, thus clearing the previous answer
  • Null:  is a user variable that is empty: in an advanced action the variables associated with the 3 widgets in the FIB Question will get this content, thus creating empty fields again.

Possibility 3:

Only incorrect answers are cleared, using the same user variables and technique as in possibility 2; correct answers with the given score will remain, using similar statements as for the Review work flow.

What next - Ideas?

One comment was about possibility to report to a LMS with custom questions: this is partly possible, will try to post my experiences shortly. But there are more widgets in the treasure box coming with Captivate to explore too. Please do not hesitate to comment or let me know your ideas.

Widgets and Custom Questions - part 2


As promised, here is the second but not last part of my soap about using (free) widgets to create customized questions. One of the most versatile widgets for this goal is the TextArea widget, it will be the only 'star' today. Not only is it a very fine alternative for Text Entry Boxes because it allows for better formatting, text wrapping and if necessary the appearance of a vertical scroll bar, but it can be associated with a variable, which makes it accessible ...for advanced actions!

I will illustrate the use of the TextArea widget for Short Answer questions with a lot more scoring options than the default Short Answer question and for Fill-in-the-Blank questions.

In this blog post I will explain how to use this widget and its possibilities, In detail explanation of the advanced actions can be found in this article

Using TextArea widget for Custom Questions 

Example movie

Explore the TextArea widget by playing this movie. It has and intro-slide, 4 question slides and a score slide:
  1. Short answer question (roundtripping): score will be based on keywords, all keywords have to be in the answer to get the score.
  2. Short answer question (languages): partial scoring but also on keywords, each correct keyword adds to the score
  3. Short answer question (web apps): only one out of 2 keywords needed to get the score
  4. Fill-in-the-Blank question (twitter): with partial scoring, each correct word adds to the score

On the score slide you will be able either to Review the questions or to Retry all questions and increment your score.

TextArea widget

This widget can be associated with a user variable, but you will have to define that variable separately (Project, Variables), same way I described for the Radiobuttons and Checkboxes widgets in part 1 (Widgets and Custom Questions - part 1). The first image of the Gallery shows the properties of the widget used on the first question slide (about roundtripping), WidgetRound, . Those properties are easy to configure, and the user variable is v_roundtrip. When exploring this widget I was excited by the fact that this variable will store the complete text that is entered. This looked like a promise for multiple possibilities in Short Answer questions. I never used the default Short Answer question because the score can only be attributed if the Short Answer is totally correct! And this is rarely necessary as I heard as well from other users on the forum. Usually the short answer should get a score when it mentions some keywords, not when it is exactly the same as the "correct entry".

Tip: while exploring this widget I detected that it will only be functional if it has its place in the Z-order (stack order) on the timeline above all interactive objects. In the Gallery the second image shows the Timeline of the first question slide about roundtripping. On this slide ShortAn1 you'll see the stack order from bottom to top:
  • TitleSA1 = title of the slide (text caption)
  • Quest1 = question (text caption)
  • BtSubmitRT = button Submit (interactive)
  • BtContRT = button Continue (interactive)
  • WidgetRound = TextArea Widget
  • RTFeedback = text caption with Feedback (non interactive)
  • ScoreRT = text caption showing the score (non interactive)
  • RetryRT = text caption that will show up if the question is retaken (non interactive)

If you switch the place of the Widget with one of the buttons, it will not be functional! I had to put the three last captions on top of the widget because they are partially covering up the widget's text box when they appear. They do not interfere with the widget's functionality because they are not interactive.

Question slides - description 

1. Short answer - all keywords necessary

This question has a score of 5 points. This score will be attributed if the answer contains both the keywords Photoshop AND Soundbooth. Probably some users will also add Powerpoint, but this will not be taken into account for the score.  It is annoying that not only the names of user variables are case sensitive but also the values! I assumed that users could type both Soundbooth and soundbooth, Photoshop and photoshop to create the unique but complex condition for the Submit button. You can see the settings for the Widget and the objects on the timeline in the Gallery.
The Buttons Submit and Continue are timed, the Continue button will only appear after the Submit button has been clicked, same setup as described for the custom questions in Part 1.

2. Short answer- partial scoring

Up to 4 keywords can result in a score, each keyword adds 2 points, the max. score thus being 8 points.
Setup of the widget and the objects on the timeline are the same as for the first question. The big difference is of course the advanced conditional action attached to the Submit button. Here it is a combination of 4 different decisions, one for each keyword.

3. Short answer - one out of two keywords

Two possible correct keywords (Flash + Dreamweaver), but the user needs only to have one mentioned in his short answer. The situation is the same as for the first Short Answer, with one condition in the setting 'Any of the conditions true', but again taking into account the case sensitivity. Widget Properties and objects on the timeline are similar to the first question.

4. Fill-in-the-Blank - 3 fields with partial scoring

In the third image of the Gallery you will see the Timeline of this slide, that uses 3 instances of the TextArea Widget. Perhaps you wonder why I prefer TextArea to Text Entry boxes? The user input in a TEB has to be confirmed, either by  a Submit button or by a shortcut, which is not the case for TextArea. The user can change his input if he wants and the value of the associated user variable will be adapted in real time.
Possible issues: you'll have to try a little bit to have the right size and position for the widgets. I first typed the correct terms and positioned the widget on top of those, but had to adapt the position even with the same font/fontsize.
In this FIB you cannot give the user the possibility to choose from a dropdown list, only to type the answer.

Partial scoring is however possible, the advanced conditional action attached to the Submit button is rather similar to the one used for the second question (Short answer with partial scoring). Again you have to take into account the case sensitivity.

Results Slide

The results slide has the same setup as described in my first blog post about Widgets and custom questions. To allow the Review/Retry I used a user variable v_try that will have 3 possible values:
  • v_try = 0  is inital value, when the user takes the quiz for the first time
  • v_try = 1  when he retakes the quiz
  • v_try = 2  when he reviews the quiz

Those values will be used to re-initialize each question slide (see article).

One drawback of the used widget: it is not possible to reset the value of the variable to void/null/empty! You can reset the associated variable to a Null value, but this will not be reflected in the display of the TextArea on the slides. Once the user has entered something, it will stay there until he changes it himself. You can watch this with the Retry functionality in the sample SWF.

Timer widget... to stress your learners


Perhaps a coincidence, but I answered this week twice a question about having a timer for a learner while taking a Quiz. It is possible to have a time limit and appropriate action set up in a LMS, but with the Timer widget that you get out of the box you can also provide this (stressful) information. Once I wrote about using the system variable cpInfoElapsedTimeMS (Quiz showing elapsed time) to display info about time spent on a slide. In this post I will try to explain the possible uses of the Timer widget. It is a small but useful widget that is associated with a user variable which allows to create advanced actions.

Use cases for Timer widget 

As is the case for most of the widgets coming with Captivate, the Timer is a static widget. As I explained in the post about the Button widget (Using the button widget) this is great news, because you can use the widget on master slides and on question slides. In the example movie you will that I used the widget twice:

  1. In its digital appearance (left at the bottom) it is counting down from the maximum allowed time for the total time on the question slides
  2. In its analog appearance (right at the bottom) it is counting up to the maximum time allowed per question slide
I will explain the workflow for both timers. Watch the movie first, I provided 10 sec for each question slide, but without any consequence if this limit is passed. For the total time the limit is 30sec and once you pass that limit you will not be able to continue with the next question but will be navigated immediately to the score slide. I re-used the questions described in the blog post (link).

Timer for total time - workflow

  • Create a user variable, I labeled it v_time;  it is not possible to create this from the dialog box with the widget properties.

  • Insert the widget on the first question slide and configure it as in the first picture of the Gallery: digital version, count down, with a message when count gets to zero and I formatted the characters;I labeled this widget 'TimerWidget'

  • Set the timing of this widget to diplay for the rest of the project (Properties panel, Timing accordion)

Because I do not want this Timer widget to stay visible on the last slide, the score slide, I created an advanced action EnterScore (screenshot in Gallery) that is executed on entering this slide with 3 statements.
Hide TimerWidget        (digital countdown timer for total Quiz time)
Hide TextTime             (text caption before the digital timer)
Assign v_time with 0    (to reset the variable and allow the user to review the quiz)
Limitation: it is impossible to restart the timer widget  Since I did hide this TimerWidget (total quiz time) the widget will be invisible during review.

Timer for individual Question time - workflow

Since  I did not want to have an action based on this second timer in this example, it is not necessary to create a user variable, nor to point to such a variable in the Properties dialog box.

  • Insert a second instance of the widget on the master slide that is used for the question slides
  • I configured this widget to be analog, to count up (to the maximum of 10sec) and changed the colors (see third screenshot)
I did not hide this timer during review. You cannot hide an object that is on the applied master slide. If you want to hide it, you will have to insert this widget on each question slide and use a condtional action to test and hide the widget on second visit. Remember: you can execute an advanced action on entering a default question slide, but not on exiting that slide. Moreover you cannot trigger advanced actions by the buttons on the default question slides. If you create custom question slides you do not have those limitations, but in this post I only want to demonstrate the use of the Timer widget.

Advanced action TimeCheck

Each advanced action has to be triggered by an event. Here I chose to have this action triggered on entering each question slide. This is not really necessary for the first question slide, because the timer sits on that slide and the user variable will always be set to 0 (False). This is a real simple conditional action: if the user variable contains the value 0, the user will be navigated immediately to the scored slide (see fourth screenshot in the gallery), if not (Else action - no screenshot) the statement Continue is executed.
This means that the learner gets a little bonus: his time is not exactly limited to 30secs, if he has entered a question slide before the counter got to 0, he will be able to answer that question, but the message will pop up. 
Mystery of the user variable: Want to warn you that the associated user variable doesn't store the time left, but only boolean values 0 or 1. And it took me a while to discover this. If you show the value of the user variable in a text caption (my way of debugging) it will show 'false' as long as the timer did not reach its limit and the value 'true' when time is up. So I tried out the condition 'If v_time is equal to true' but this did not work. You have to use the numerical values 1 (true) or 0 (false). This explains the decision:
if v_time is equal to 1

Captivate 6 users - warning

If you use the described work flow in version 6, there are possibly some problems:

  • when trying to associate a variable to the widget, not all characters will be accepted (like underscore) and some characters will be turned automatically into capitals; be sure to check that the defined variable has exactly the same name as the one you enter in the widget properties: Vtime will be accepted, but v_time not;
  • the values to check for the user variable Vtime are not 0 and 1 but true and false
  • having an action that on exceeding time will jump to another slide will not be functional if you use the new feature 'Submit all'

And for 6.1 users:  try using the new Countdown widget, it allows you to have an action immediately after the countdown reaches 0, contrary to the Timer widget that needs an extra event (like On Enter slide) to trigger an action. Will blog soon about the new widgets in 6.1.

More ideas?

Try this out with customized question slides, gives you a lot more control.
You can also create a more complex condition: if a user exceeds the time allowed for one question slide, jump immediately to the score slide or skip one or more question slides.


Using the button widget: some ideas

The button widget is no longer available in later versions of Captivate, but can be replaced almost in all use cases described in this article by a shape button.


This is not the promised second part of the use of widgets for customized questions. You know that I find some inspiration in the user forums, and last week I discovered another hidden gem, coming for free with Adobe Captivate 5: the deceptively simple 'Button'-widget. The Adobe team seem to like hiding their gems, and always wonder why? Few people, except the widget wizards of course, do realize that this Button-widget is not an interactive widget at all, but a static widget. Check it out for yourself: in the Widget panel, set the filter to Static and you will be able to verify my statement ((first image in the Gallery). I'm used to tell my students always to verify teacher's statements

Non-interactive button?

A lot has already been written about the difference between static, interactive and question widgets (a few links on the blog get you to those Widget kings), will not bother you with it. But want to explain why it is great news that this button is a static widget. Being static doesn't mean that the user cannot interact. If you have read the blog post about the use of the (static) widgets for custom questions you will know that. But the fact that is a static widget will allow you:
  • to use it on question slides, where interactive objects cannot be inserted
  • to use it on master slides, that have the same restrictions as question slides
Isn't that great news?

Configuring the widget

There are quite a lot of configuration possibilities as you can see in the second image of the Gallery that shows the settings of the buttons I used for the example of the Menu on the master slides. It is pretty straightforward to use, I only lost some time finding out how to put in more than 4 characters on the button. You have to click in the Preview space on the button and you'll see the text box appearing (is visible on the screenshot). There are a lot of small arrows of all kinds that allow you to move the text box, to increase its size and even to increase the size of the text itself. In the list of actions that can be performed you'll find navigation, open File/URL and send email (here I used Jump to slide).

Use on Question slides

Lot of users get frustrated because it is not possible to insert any interactive object on a question slide or on the score slide. If the action you want to trigger by this object is a navigation action, or opening a URL/file, or sending an e-mail than you can use the same Button-widget as used on the Master slide example.
Some ideas:
  • to allow user to get back to an instruction slide when failing on a question
  • to open another file on success/failure of a quiz

Example Menu on Master slides

In the example that you can watch here, I used the button widget on a Knockout Master slide (see blog post Create and Use a Knockout Master slide) to create a menu. I do have 2 very similar master slides, the first is used for the introduction slide, the second has also a button (same widget) to go back to the first slide and is used for all other slides.
I would love to hear how you do use this widget!



Widgets and Custom Questions - part 1


No, I did not start creating widgets, we have great Widget Kings/Wizards/Princes in the Captivate community. Since a while I planned to create some examples with the widgets, created by the Adobe team and provided (free) with Captivate 5. I also promised users on the forum to give a step-by-step explanation how to create custom question slides. And then I remember a user who wanted to have multiple True/False questions on one question slide.
And this is the first posting: how to use the widgets 'radiobuttons' and 'checkboxes' to create MultiChoice questions or to have multiple True/False questions on one slide. In this post I will describe the use of the widgets and their associated variables. Detailed explanation of the advanced actions has been published in this article.

Quiz - example

Play with this quiz to see three question slides: a slide with 4 True/False questions, a Multiple Choice Question with one correct answer and a Multiple Choice Question with multiple correct answers. The scoring is explained by rollover Text Captions. After clicking the Submit button, a Feedback caption and the score will pop up, and the Continue button appears. The quiz ends with a Results slide, on which you can choose to Review or to Retry the Quiz.

Widgets and variables - tips

Both widgets, "Radiobuttons" as well as "Checkboxes" need user variables. For Radio buttons one variable is needed, for Checkboxes as many as you have checkboxes. Those variables will not be automatically created when you type the in the Widget Properties! You will have to create them using Project, Variables, which is not the case for all Captivate widgets : for the Certificate widget the needed user variable is created automatically.
You probably know already about the 3 widget types: Static, Interactive and Question. At first I was confused by the difference between Static and Interactive Widgets, but found a clear explanation in the blog post of Tristan Ward, the Widget King (Static/Interactive Widgets). The two widgets used in this post are Static Widgets. That means that they are not scoreable, but doesn't mean that an interaction is impossible: the user is able to choose a radiobutton or tick a checkbox, and the result will be stored in variables. There is a restriction: you cannot reset a widget, as is possible with a Question slide (using the Retake button), once a radiobutton is clicked or a checkbox is ticked it will remain that way until the user changes it.
For both widgets you will have to list options and variables in a list separated by commas: be sure not to put a space after a comma. You can have spaces in item names however. Some examples:
Question1 - comma separated values  True,False   is OK       but True, False   is not OK (has a space before False)
Question2 - comma separated values  Soundbooth,Photoshop,Dreamweaver,Flash
Question3 - comma separated values    Captivate 5,Soundbooth CS5,Photoshop CS5,RoboHelp 9,Acrobat X
                 - variables                           CP,SB,PS,RH,Ac  
Do not forget that variables are case sensitive!

Question slides - description

1. Multiple T/F questions

This slide is created with the widget 'Radiobuttons'. It is used in a horizontal way, with only 2 values True/False, but I used the widget 4 times, labeled them Radio1, Radio2, Radio3 and Radio4. Each widget instance has a user variable associated: TF1, TF2, TF3 and TF4. When the user has chosen an answer, this answer will be stored in the variable, in this case 'True' or 'False'. You can watch the settings fror the first widget Radio1 in the first picture of the Gallery. The elements on this question slide:
  • Title with a Rollover Text Caption explaining the scoring and providing tip for correct answers

  • 4 Text Captions with questions

  • 4 'Radiobuttons' Widgets, labeled Radio1, Radio2, Radio3, Radio4 (first picture in Gallery shows settings for Radio1)

  • 1 Text Caption with Feedback that is initially hidden (it is possible to have multiple captions, but wanted to keep it simple), labeled TFFeedback

  • 1 Text Caption with the score, initially hidden, labeled ScoreTF

  • 1 Submit button (BtSubmitTF), that will trigger an Advanced action to calculate the score, show TFFeedback and ScoreTF, this button is timed so that it will disappear when the Continue button appears

  • 1 Continue button (BtContTF), that is timed to appear when then the Submit button disappears, and has as action 'Go to Next Slide' 

2. Multiple Choice question with one correct answer

I used the widget 'Radiobuttons' again , but now in vertical way (see second picture in the Gallery) and with 4 values. Its associated variable is MCQ1Answer. This variable will store the chosen answer literally (Soundbooth, Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Flash).  The elements on this question slide:
  • Title with a Rollover Text Caption explaining the scoring and providing tip for correct answers

  • 1 'Radiobuttons' Widget, labeled MCQ1 (look at the settings in the second picture of the Gallery)

  • 1 Text Caption with Feedback that is initially hidden (it is possible to have multiple captions, but wanted to keep it simple), labeled MCQ1Feedback

  • 1 Text Caption with the score, initially hidden, labeled ScoreMCQ1

  • 1 Submit button (BtSubmitMCQ1), that will trigger an Advanced action to calculate the score, show MCQ1Feedback and ScoreMCQ1; this button is timed so that it will disappear when the Continue button appears

  • 1 Continue button (BtContMCQ1), that is timed to appear when then the Submit button disappears, and has as action 'Go to Next Slide' 

3. Multiple Choice question with multiple correct answers

The widget "Checkboxes" was used. It has 5 values and 5 associated variables. The settings are visible in the third picture of the Gallery. Each variable will be empty at the start, and will get as content the value if the user has checked that checkbox. Example: if user ticked the boxes "Soundbooth CS5" and "Acrobat X", the variable SB will have "Soundbooth CS5" as content, variable Ac will have "Acrobat X" as content, whereas the three other variables will remain empty. You could also assign a default value to the variables (such as 'NoCheck') but I left the value empty while defining the user variables. The elements on this question slide are:
  • Title with a Rollover Text Caption explaining the scoring and providing tip for correct answers

  • 1 'CheckBoxes' Widget, labeled MCQM  (look at the settings in the third picture of the Gallery)

  • 1 Text Caption with Feedback that is initially hidden (it is possible to have multiple captions, but wanted to keep it simple), labeled MCQMFeedback

  • 1 Text Caption with the score, initially hidden, labeled ScoreMCQM

  • 1 Submit button (BtSubmitMCQM), that will trigger an Advanced action to calculate the score, show MCQ1Feedback and ScoreMCQ1, hide the button Submit and show button Continue; this button is timed so that it will disappear when the Continue button appears

  • 1 Continue button (BtContMCQM), that is timed to appear when then the Submit button disappears, and has as action 'Go to Next Slide' 

4. Results Slide

When entering the results slide, the total score and percentage are calculated using an advanced action. The text captions are self-explanatory. On the slide you will find two buttons:
Review: will allow the user to re-visit the question slides and read the text captions again
Retry?: will allow the user to make corrections to the answers, all scores will be reset, but as I explained before the previously chosen radio buttons/check boxes cannot be reset.