Articles on Advanced actions

Sorry, this is not a 'normal' blog post!

One of the reasons I started with this blog (September 2010) was my frustration that the articles I published with the Adobe Community Publishing did not reach users easily. Those articles try to explain in depth the basic rules of variables and advanced actions in Adobe Captivate 5 (and sometimes also for version 4) and mostly I offer a practice file. In this blog you will find some links to those articles.

Perhaps this list with links to all the published articles, and a small explanation could be useful. The list is posted on workspaces.acrobat.com, I published it and you can download it anonymously. As usual, I appreciate any comment or suggestion:

Lilybiri

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.


Intro

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!
 
 
 

 

 

Template for reusing script?

Since we are now in version 11 (2019), free templates are no longer available. It is not necessary anymore to have a template for reusing variables and advanced actions since the appearance of shared actions and the possibility to copy/paste an object with an attached advanced action.

Intro

If you are familiar with creating advanced actions, you will certainly have been frustrated by the fact that you cannot re-use the actions you carefully constructed and tested out. There is no way to export/import them in another project, even just printing them is a lot of trouble. And I'm dreaming about the possibility of having a library of actions available all the time, with an easy way to edit and adapt them to the specific ID's of the objects in a new project. OK, I already hear the Widget Kings, Princes and Wizards calling out: create widgets... but you have to learn ActionScript and be familiar with Flash which is certainly not the case for all Captivate-users that I try to convince to have a look at advanced actions to enhance their projects. From the success of my last posting (Controlling the score slide) I deduct that I'm not the only non-Flash expert around that wants more control :-)
 
Being a woman I do trust my intuition, and so I tried out this idea: creating a template with advanced actions, while providing an easy way to edit objects, could enable re-using those actions. And one of the recurring questions on the user forum provided me with an example: 'How can I display a checkmark or/and grey out the menu item when it is completed?'

Goal

The template has a menu slide with buttons to navigate to 5 other slides that represent 5 menu items. After visiting an item the user can navigate back to the menu slide with a simple button. The 7th slide is an End slide.
 
For this example I worked out two possible use cases:

  1. When returning to the menu slide the visited item will be dimmed, have a checkmark and the button will be disabled; this means that the user can only visit each item once; when all items have been visited the user is navigated automatically to the End slide.
  2. When returning to the menu slide the visited item will be dimmed, have a checkmark but the button will not be disabled; the user can visit the item multiple times; when all items have been visited at least once an End button will appear on the menu slide that allows the user to get to the End slide.

You can play these SWF's to have an idea of the workflow. Both have been based on the template, but with different lay-out. I will explain editing possibilities later.
 


Variables - actions

I created 5 user variables, one for each menu item, labeled v_item1, v_item2, v_item3, v_item4, v_item5. Originally they have a value=0 but will get the value=1 when an item has been clicked.
 
When a button on the Menu slide is clicked, a simple standard action is executed that changes the value of the user variable and jumps to the proper slide.
 
On entering the Menu slide two possible conditional actions can be assigned, corresponding with the use cases:

  1. EnterMenu for the first use case, will dim and add a checkmark to the items that have been visited, button will be disabled; if all items have been viewed will jump to the end slide.
  2. EnterMenuRetry for the second use case, will dim and add a checkmark to the items that have been visited; if all items have been viewed at least once will show the End button.

Depending on which use case you want, assign the appropriate action. 

 
Changing Layout

I used a master slide that has the background and is applied to all slides, so this is easy to change.
Example: first SWF has the original master slide, in the second one I applied another background image and added some lines.
 
It is important that the ID's of the objects that are referred to in the advanced actions do not change to avoid issues. Have a look at the timeline of the menu slide. From top to bottom you will see these objects that are in the advanced actions, so be sure not to change their labels:

  • 5 images, labeled Done1... Done5 (highlighted in green); those are the checkmarks, and all instances of one image in the library; if you want another image, use the option "Edit with...' from the library and after saving in the image processing app all instances will be updated automatically. For those using the eLearning Suite: you can of course use the option Edit Source file.
    Example: for the second SWF I used Edit Source file to change the color of the checkmark
  • 3 objects for each item 'button' (highlighted in yellow for the button for item 1): a transparent button (Bt1), a rectangle (Rc1) that serves as background for the button before dimming and a second rectangle (RcDim1) that is behind the first one and has a text in it 'Item 1' to make it possible to change the color of the text after dimming. You can edit: the text on the buttons Bt (formatting inc.), the color and rounding of both rectangles and the text on the second rectangle (formatting inc.)
    Example:  I changed colors and corner rounding for the rectangles, changed text color of the buttons by changing the default button style.

  


Limitations

The template was created in a resolution 640x480.
There are only 5 menu items: you can easily delete decisions in the advanced conditional actions EnterMenu and EnterMenuEntry, creating more items will be a little bit more work.
I did not provide the possibility to have only checkmarks or only dimming for the moment, but would also be simple to achieve.

 
Offer

This week my 6-months young (old?) blog passed the milestone of 25000 hits, which is incredible! I cannot offer you a cake or chocolate (Belgian of course) to celebrate, but want to offer you this template to play with. If you send me an e-mail address by Direct Message with Twitter (@Lilybiri) or post it using a Private message on the Captivate user forums (the thread I'm referring to is http://forums.adobe.com/thread/806123?tstart=0) and I will be glad to send you the link to this template. You can also post a comment, but I do want to avoid you having spam! With the blog service I'm using for the moment I do not see another way, sorry.
And please, let me know what you think about this idea of using templates?


Update

Kevin Siegel published a great tip today: you can turn a project into a template by simply changing the extension from cptl to cptx. This is the link: http://iconlogic.blogs.com/weblog/2011/05/adobe-captivate-5-one-quick-way-to-a-project-template.html

I did check it out and that can be an easy way to exchange advanced actions between projects:

  • Duplicate the project from which you want to export the advanced actions
  • Rename the extension for the duplicate from cptx to cptl
  • Create a new project from template and navigate to the just renamed file
  • A new project, labeled 'Untitled' is created and it has all advanced actions in it

 In Captivate 6 you can finally publish an existing file as a template, which makes the workflow even easier.

 

Widgets and Custom Questions - part 1

Intro

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.
  

Customize your Quiz using Advanced Actions (CP5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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