Version 11.5 Released!

Intro

If you are a fan of my blog, you know that usually I will not talk about a new release on the day it is released (although I have explored it in a beta test group). This time however I am so excited about this intermediate release. It has 'Voor elk wat wils' (interesting features for each developer whatever her/his level) to use a Flemish proverb. Do not expect a full review here, want to talk only about some of my preferred features which do appeal to my level of expertise. My apologies if you don't like that 'egocentric' approach. Be sure I will write more in the future, need some time to explore in-depth. As in the past, I may overlook some little gems which I couldn't dig out yet, will continue the search. You'll find three small gems at the end.

SVG as Button

It has been possible to fill a shape with an image since version 6. Converting the shape to a button was a much easier way to create nice buttons than the older workflow with Image buttons where you needed a graphics application (and had to create several images) Shape buttons also can have custom states besides the InBuilt states which they share with the old button types (Normal, Rolllover, Down, Visitedà. I never use those legacy types anymore, except for Quiz/Score slides where they cannot be used as embedded buttons.

However, those shape buttons have two lmitations:

  • You can only fill with Bitmap images, the much sleeker vector images like SVG were not possible.
  • The clickable area of the shape button is the bounding box, not the image itself.

WIth 11.5 it is possible to use SVG's directly as buttons without the need for a shape. And you can limit the clickable area to the image itself! This is a big step forward. File size of SVG's tends to be small compared with bitmap images, and moreover they are excellent for responsive project due to its vector nature.  The SVG has all the features of a shape button: can be used on master slides, can be timed for the rest of the project (not in Fluid Boxes), can be added to quiz and score slides as extra button. A setup with 3 buttons like this screenshot was not possible in previous versions, because the bounding boxes are overlapping: The screenshot may look blurry (has been converted to bitmap here) but the original SVG's in Captivate are really crisp. Size of the SVG: about 75Kb.

In the default setup, the clickable area is still the bounding box, you have to uncheck that option:

Bitmap images as Buttons

Similar to SVG's, they can now directly be used as button, no need to fill a shape button. Same for the clickable area: can be limited to the image. Depending on the type of images this extends the functionality which I explained in the first point. I dream of custom hotspot questions with partial scoring as described in this older post. Watch out for use cases in future blog posts. Not only are you now rid of the cumbersome workflow which I described here, but if you use a bitmap format which supports transparency (GIF, PNG24) you can uncheck the same feature to reduce the clickable area as for SVG'S.

Themes 

Themes have now a real Properties panel, which can access from the dialog box under the big button Themes. It is the only way, the panel is not to be found in the Windows menu, nor under the Themes menu (which still has to be used to save a customized theme). 
For sure will write more about this in the future, Themes is one of the underrated features, which I like to promote. I am really excited about the easy way to replace fonts (in ALL object stylesà. You can see in the screenshot that I replaced the original fonts in the Windswept theme by three different fonts (all Typekit). It is a smooth process: all object styles which have text related features will be updated for you. That can be a big time saver! I will have to edit this blog, where I complained about the cumbersome workflow to replace one font in a theme.
Of course, you need to avoid any overriding of object styles, and the danger that this will happen with the new copy/paste appearance feature is very real. I will talk about that new feature in another blog post, which will have some warning.
It is now possible to have slides with different themes in the same project, which will then lead to more than one Theme Colors palettes as well. I need some more exploration time to prepare a more complete overview of all the changes related to themes. Please, be patient.

Interactive video

One of the new features in the first release of CP2019 which I really like a lot. Not so much changes after this patch. It is interesting that you now are not only limited to videos on your system or from YouTube, but that you can also use Vimeo videos.

Another improvement is the possibility to insert a sequence of overlay slides (content or KC slides) on a frame of the video. 

VR project/360 slides

Several enhancements:

  • To the actions which can be triggered by hotspots the much asked for 'Play Video' was added.
  • The hotspots are now very customisable, black and white (minstrels?) are over and out: edit the colors as much as you want.
    Double click on the hotspot when inserted, select one of the paths and choose a color.
  • If you trigger Text, you will like the new formatting possibilities. Just a pity that Typekit fonts cannot be used....
  • No need to guess a duration for the popups anymore. Default setting is now a close button in the top right corner as you can see in the previous screenshot.

Small gems

Theme colors: in the screenshot of the new Themes panel inserted earlier, you see that the main theme colors are now named 'Color1.... Color10. This fits better the use of the colors, because in previous versions there was a Title color, which was not always used for titles, a Subtitle colors which was rarely used for subtitles etc...

Drag&Drop:  when selecting Infinite attempts in the Actions tab, the 'Failure action' will disappear, very logical since it will never happen in that situation. Regret however that the wording 'Failure' is still not replace by 'Last Attempt'. The action doesn't occur On Failure, but only at the last attempt, same as for quiz slides.

Preview menu: for non-responsive projects, the option 'Preview HTML5 in Browser (F11)' is now the first option which is great! The death of Flash player for all browsers will soon be a fact, every developer has to switch to HTML5 output. The other Preview methods are all still based on a temporary SWF output (except Play Slide, which is NOT a preview method). To check the future output only the mentioned Preview HTML5 in Browser should be used.

...sure will find more of those.

More...

This was not a complete overview at all. As I explained, need more time for features like the new Assets panel, use of Quick Start Projects, Branching setup, multiple themes, copy/paste appearance etc... 


Random Questions; Do's and Don'ts

Intro

It may be a coincidence but recently multiple questions appeared s about using random question slides

  • :Why is it impossible to control custom objects on slides in question pools like Show/hide for a custom feedback in Review mode?
  • How can you create and use a timer for a quiz which has random questions,, and have actions done when a certain time has elapsed? Or show warnings when time has almost elapsed?
  • How can I use remediation for random slides?

There are of course the usual questions like: can I use random question ir Pretest, as Knowledge Check slides (now also in Interactive video), or quiz slides on hotspots  in a VR project?  Can I have a new subset of random ausetions at a new attempt...

In this post I want to explain why some of those workflows are impossible. For some use cases I have a workaround, will mention it but not offer it for free.

Tips for Question pools

You are for sure aware of the fact that all quiz slides, whatever the type, are based on the quizzing master slide (4)s, and the results slide on another master slide. Whether you are working with a responsive or a  non-responsive project, make sure to set up those master slides fully before creating the pools. That means; checking the object styles and edit them when necessary, check the sizes of the embedded objects. One example: if you expect to have long answers, make the answer area as big as possible, maybe by decreasing the height of the feedback messages and other objects. Do never delete an embedded object (they have no individual timeline). If you can uncheck some in the Quiz Preferences, that is fine. Do not forget to check the Default labels under Quiz Preferences. Please do never override object styles. This is eve more important for pools than for normal quiz slides. once I had to edit the master slides quite a lot in consultancy job because the developer has deleted embedded objects. Several pools were connected with the project. Updating the course after having edited the master slides took quite long, needed kot of coffee breaks.

I also prefer to use GIFT files (or the new CSV files) over editing all quiz slides individually. RE-importing a GIFT file is a lot less work than having to edit each individual quiz slide. It is even more important if you need the course in multiple languages.

You probably want all learners to have the same possible total score? In that case you'll need to give the same max score to each question in the pool.  Or use multiple question pools, each with a different score. I feel a T/F question is not 'deserving' the same score as a complicated MCQ  question. Keep the easier questions with a lower score in one pool, the more complicated in another pool.

Examples with (eventually) workarounds

1. New subset of random questions for new attempt in same session

As I understand the workflow with random questions generated from question pools on runtime: each random question placeholder will be replaced by one question from the associated pool based on a random number. That random number will then be excluded for the next random question. At the end all the random question have been generated and are treated like normal quiz slides, based on the setup in Quiz Preferences. They become static, the generating process will not be repeated when a new attempt on Quiz level is started. To confirm my suspicion I added a custom object to the pool questions, that object only appears when you insert new random questions, not on existing questions: there is no dynamic link between the pool and the inserted questions.

Workaround: you need to close the session, and restart the course. If you are transmitting to a LMS with bookmarking (Resume data), the number of attempts will be taken into account.

2. Random questions for Pretest/Knowledge Check slides

There is no possibility to use question pools for these slides, at this moment (log a feature request please) 

Workaround: use normal random quiz slides for them. For Pretest slides you'll not be able to store the data in the Pretest quizzing variables. If you have real quiz slides in the course, you have to be careful. You can convert the imported random slide in a Survey question (could be used of KC slides), or you can uncheck the option 'Reporting'. In both cases the score and percentage on the results slide will be correct, but some quizzing systerm variables will still take into account all questions as you coudl read in my blog about Quizzing System variables. 

3. Random questions in VR projects

You cannot use random questions on hotspots in a VR project. 

Workaround: insert 360 slides i a normal cptx project. Insert random question slides in that project. Use a  Guided status for the hotpsots which show content. The last hotspot can be used to navigate to the random question slides. Beware: when inserting 360 slides in a normal cptx-project the opion to have Overlay  Question slides attached to hotspots disappears. More info in this article.

4. Random questions in Interactive Video

Overlay Knowledge Check slides are supported for Interactive Video. But like normal KC slides, they cannot be random.

Workaround: Use norma random slides which cannot be used as overlay slides. However, you can use bookmarks to navigate to the slides, then navigate back to the video. I will post a blog about this workflow in the near future. 

5. Controlling custom objects in random slides

You can add custom objects to pool questions or even to the master slides, but be careful: for HTML output the stacking order will always be respected (I had a workaround for SWF output). That means that the embedded Quizzing objects will always be on top of the custom objects. Embedded objects do not have an individual timeline, not on the quizzing master slide nor on the quiz slide. You should never delete those embedded objects,  Some  can be unchecked in the Quiz Properties panel (examples: Clear button, Back button, Feedback messages), others not (Question title, Question, Submit button...).

You can have an Advanced/Shared action on a pool question for the On Enter event (quiz slides never have an On Exit event).  A user wanted to use that action to make a custom object visible only in Review mode, using the quizzing system variable cpInReviewMode. That is a workflow which works perfectly on normal quiz slides. The variable is available for pool questions as well, but.... you cannot reference custom objects on the quiz slide. The added custom objects will never appear in the dropdown list for Show, Hide, Disable, Enable.... The user thought this to be a bug, but I don't agree and will try to explain my intuition.

When you add a random quiz slide to a project, as I mentioned it will be generated from the associated question pool. I suspect this to be a copy/paste act.: based on a random number a copy of a pool question is placed in the Captivate project. You probably have experienced in the past the effect of copy/paste to labels? Since every object needs a unique name, the names of the objects on the inserted random question will have a name 'similar' to the name in the original pool question but not the same name.  The advanced action should have been self-edited to reflect that name change. That seems not to be possible, hence the fact that custom objects do not appear in dropdown lists for pool questions. Same happens when you copy/paste a normal slide which has Advanced  attached to the slide events: in most cases those actions will be broken.  It is one of the reasons I always recommend to use Shared actions whenever possible, especially for slide event actions. It is a lot easier to repair the action in that case. However, for random questions that is not possible, you cannot attach a Shared action to a random question, you have to rely on the actions in the pool questions. 

Workaround: I do have a workaround which works perfectly, but I will not offer that one for free. 

6. Using Timer for random slides.

Captivate has a TImer and Hourglass interaction with similar features. You can also time using system variables and advanced/shared actions or JS. 

To use them for random slides, you need to insert the interaction before the first random slide on a normal slide which can be very short. However those interactions are not working very 'exactly', hence I always combine them with system variables.  No details about my workflow. 

7. Remediation workflow

A user asked if remediation would work for random slides, and there my answer is No. It looks very logical to me why this is an impossible workflow using question pools and random questions. Remediation means you have to link to a content slide from the quiz slide on Failure. The content slide needs to have the special command 'Return to Quiz' on a custom Next button. That action will only work when the learner gets to that content slide from a quiz slide, in other situations the Next button will proceed to the Next slide.

Why is this not possible with random questions? A question pool can be used in many files, how ca you exactly define the name or the slide number of the content slide to link to?  You need an absolute navigation link to that content slide, which is totally impossible.

Workaround: do not use a pool, but insert all the questions (with link tot the content slides) in the course. Navigate to a question based on a random generated number (with JS). Make sure that you don't reuse the same random number twice, nor that the non-selected questions can be visited. Turn on Branch Aware in the Quiz Preferences to have a correct value for the quizzing variables on the score slide. A lot of work!

 

 


Custom Play/Pause button - version CP2019

Intro

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

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

Why do I prefer a Shape Button?

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

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

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

Workflow - Interactive Video

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

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

Fixed resolution: Custom Play/Pause

Rescalable: Custom Play/Pause


Workflow Step-by-Step

Step 1: Creation of the Shape button

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

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

Step 2: Location Shape button

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

1. On Master slides

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

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

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

2. Timed for the rest of the project

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

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

Step 3: Create Advanced Action

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

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

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

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

Warning: not everything is ‘paused’!

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

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

For more information:

Pausing Captivate's Timeline

Pausing Timeline and Audio

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


Interactive Video, Navigation Bookmarks

Intro

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

Popup menu

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

Close button

Dropdown menu

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

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

Menu Button

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

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


Conclusion

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



Interactive Video Buttons

Intro

When I posted the article about Pausing the Timeline (part of the sequence of articles about that most important panel), I promised to add some use cases to illustrate using pause and pausing points. Let us start with a  simple use case, based on a recent forum question in this thread: Interactive Video Buttons


Use Case - description

It is clear that the user is not aware of the difference between pausing the timeline by an interactive object (pausing point) and by the command Pause. The idea is that the learner, while a video is playing, can launch a popup that has some static content (text, images...). While that popup is opened, the video should pause. On closing the popup the video should resume playing. The user proposed to have a close button for that purpose, which is the easiest solution (Scenario 1 below).   hyperlink instead of the close button as I described in this article: More is in a hyperlink - Close button

It could also be done with defining the open button as a toggle button Scenario 2).

For both scenarios it is necessary to insert the video as a multi-slide synchronized video to be able to control the video with Captivate functionality. If you insert the video as event video it will play totally independent from Captivate.

Scenario 1 

In this scenario the popup will appear with one button, and be hidden by another button or hyperlink. 

This makes it possible to have two actions, simplifies the setup: no need for a variable, no need for a conditional action. You can use two standard actions. If you want multiple buttons and popups, or expect to be using this work flow in other projects, I strongly recommend to create shared actions instead of advanced actions. This article will describe only the advanced standard actions.

Have a look at the setup of the slide. Look at the Timeline panel. It has only 3 objects (from bottom to top: video, shape button, popup). In the screenshot the shape button SB_Info is selected. It will open the popup 'Info'. Look at the Timing properties of the button. The option to pause is unchecked (which is not the default situation), the shape button is timed for the rest of the slide. The result is that the button will be active for the whole slide, there is no inactive part. 
The popup in this example is a shape used as text container, labeled 'Info'. That popup has to be invisible in output (eye icon in the Properties panel). If you expect that the slide can be revisited,  a better approach is to use the On Enter event of the slide to hide this popup 'Info'. To close the popup I preferred using a hyperlink over a close button.  The popup is ta single object. If you prefer to have a 'real' close button, you'll end up with two objects (text +  button). In that case you can group them, to reduce the number of commands for showing and hiding.

Standard Advanced Action ShowContent

This action is triggered by the Success event of the button SB_Info as you see in this screenshot:

After showing the popup (only one text container, can also be a group), I choose to disable the button SB_Info. If you want it to more user friendly, you can add a custom state 'Inactive' to that button and change to that state. This will avoid confusion for the user, some may expect that button to be a toggle, which is not the case in this first scenario. The last command will pause the timeline unconditionally, resulting in both video and audio to be paused.

Standard Advanced Action CloseContent

to be triggered by the hyperlink over the big X character:
if you prefer a Close button, this same action will be triggered by the Success event of that button; you can use exactly the same action. If you are using a responsive project, or HTML5 output only, the work flow with a button is to be preferred because the hyperlink event is not to be trusted with HTML5 output.

It is a similar advanced action (use the duplicate feature), with three commands which are the opposite of those in ShowContent: Hide (was Show), Enable (was Disable), and Continue which will release the Playhead, both video and audio will resume.

Scenario 2 

In this scenario aToggle button is used both for opening and closing the popup.

In that case you can use an approach similar to what I explained in: 1 action = 5 toggle buttons
It is a little bit more complicated because:
  • You need an extra custom state for the popup button which indicates that it changes to a close button after having opened a popup:
  • You'll need a variable to track the status: I will use v_visib, a Boolean, with value = 0 when the popup is not visible,
    and value = 1 when the popup is visible; since I used a shared action from an external library, that variable is created automatically.

  • You'll need a conditional advanced action to be triggered by the Success action of the button:, this is the advanced action version created based on the shared action:

More Possibilities

An interactive video will often be spread over multiple slides, to offer navigation buttons to different parts of the video. It is not a problem to have the scenarios available on all slides: time both the button and the popup groups for the rest of the project, always on top.

I mentioned the possibility to group a close button with text, but groups with more objects are possible as well: image, shape, animations. Group all together, hide the group On Enter for the slide, and you only have to replace the single object in the scenarios above by the group. 

Turn the actions into shared actions, and keep them in a separate project. You can open the Library of that project as an external Library in future projects. Especially the toggle action, it will save time because you don't have to create the user variable.

Future use case, example of Pausing the timeline, will be about audio. It is more complicated because there are several ways to use audio in Captivate, perhaps I will need more than one post.