Easy Timeline Tweaks

Intro

Last week at the Adobe eLearning Conference in DC I presented two sessions about the Timeline. The first part 'Demystifying Captvate's Timeline' allowed me to explain the basics without having to rush as was the case in the Adobe Learning Summit at Las Vegas 2017 (watch the interactive version of that presentation in: Captivate's Timeline). The second part 'Mastering TImeline' had its focus on more advanced workflows, using micronavigation, advanced/shared actions and multistate objects. In the first part I didn't use any advanced nor shared action, just offered some small practical tips. For those who couldn't participate in the conference I will summarize those tips.In this article you'll find 3 tweaks.

Tip 1: Pausing all slides at the end

This request often appears in the forum, and is also useful when using Captivate for presentations  (as I usually do). The user has to take an action to continue to the next slide. Two possible situations: you are using a default playbar, or custom navigation. Both workflows are using a shape button on master slides. Shape buttons are the only interactive objects allowed on master slides. You can use them in non-responsive and responsive projects (both Fluid boxes and Breakpoint views).

With Default Playbar

  • Open the Master slide panel
  • Select the Main Master slide
  • Add a shape button, with Alpha = 0 for the Fill and width = 0 for the stroke to make it invisible to the user
  • Check the settings for that shape button in the Actions tab of its Properties panel, to look like this screenshot:

    No action is needed for this shape button, its unique use is to Pause the slide. Each shape button set up this way will pause slides using this master slide at the end of the slide, whatever its duration.
  • Check if the daughter master slides have the option 'Show Main Master Slide Objects' checked. With the included themes, that is the case for most master slides, with the exception of the Title and the Blank master slide.

With Custom Navigation

If you use master slides with an inserted Back and/or Next shape button for custom navigation, you can use that shape button with the same settings as described under the previous workflow. Those buttons will have a Fill and perhaps also a stroke, and they may not be on the main master slide but on other master slides. You just have to check that each master slide has at least one shape button to pause the slide.

Tip 2: Reset a slide

This tweak can be used in several situations:

  • to reset a knowledge check slide
  • to reset a Drag&Drop slide configured as knowledge check slide
  • to reset effects, including motion effects
  • .....

In the second presentation I explained an advanced workflow using micronavigation, but this workflow is easier, though it will increase the number of slides, which means that you cannot use the system variables cpInfoCurrentSlide and cpInfoSlideCount to show the progess of the slides. Try this out:

  1. Insert a short dummy slide before the slide that you want to reset. Give it a timing of 0,1sec (shortest possible).
  2. On the slide to reset, insert a (shape) button which you can style as you wish.
  3. The success action of that button should be: Go to Previous Slide'. When you click that button, the playhead moves to the previous slide which is so short that it is practically invisible. Since the content slide is re-entered it will automatically be reset for the situations mentioned above.

This workflow is also valid for all types of cptx-projects, responsive or not.

Tip 3: Avoiding frustration in Quiz

Quiz and score slides have a default pausing point at 1.5secs. That pausing point is visible on the Timeline, but is not present in the Timing Properties panel. Here is a short description of the 'role' of this pausing point:

  1. On Quiz slides it is linked with the two-step Submit process (and Submit button). In the first step the playhead remains paused while the learner sees the feedback messages. In the second step, the playhead is released. If you keep the default Success/Last Attempt actions set to Continue, the playhead has to visit all the frames in the inactive part of the quiz slide (part after the pausing point) before reaching the next slide. You could change those actions to 'Go to Next slide', but sometimes (depending on the setup for transmitting the score, bandwidth etc) this could lead to problems.

  2. On the Score slide the pausing point is linked with the Continue button. Contrary to the Submit pausing, the actions triggered by that button which you specify in the Quiz Preferences (If passing/failing grade) are only done when the playhead reaches the last frame of the score slide.

In both cases you can avoid frustrations by dragging the pausing point closer to the end of the slide timeline, but not completely till the end (leave a small inactive part). 

Moving the pausing point is even more required when you have slide audio on the question or score slide. In almost all cases, that slide audio will result in a longer slide duration than the default 3 seconds.  You have to know that it is not possible to pause slide audio on a quiz/score slide by a pausing point, as is possible on other slides when using an interactive object. You may not be aware of the pause at all, audio will just continue. Many users are confused by that.  If you leave the pausing point at 1,5secs, the learner will have to wait a frustrating long time when completing the Submit process (quiz slide) or leaving the score slide with the Continue button. Make sure to drag the pausing point in such a situation:

Tip 4: Forcing views

As a professor with a lot of experience in tutorials for adult learners, I really dislike this request that appears too often on the forums: how can we force a learner to 'view' all the content on a slide. Forcing viewing doesn't mean understanding, nor learning at all, can even have the opposite effect. But that is off topic.

You have to forget the default playbar in this situation. Each slide will need a Next button. The timeline of that button has to start after all content has appeared and all audio has been listened to. Timelne will look similar to this screenshot:

Such a setup will become very annoying if you allow the user to revist the slide: he will have to wait again until all audio has played and all content has appeared to be able to proceed. Is there a solution? Sure, but not without advanced/shared actions. Watch out for a next blog post, linked with the second part of the Timeline presentation. I will offer you a shared action that makes it very easy to avoid that boring situation on second and later visits. 



Pausing Captivate's Timeline

Intro

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

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

Pause and Pausing points

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

Pause 

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

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

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

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

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

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

UnPause?

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

Pausing point

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

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

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

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

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

UnPause?

It depends on the kind of pausing point:

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

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

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

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

What is Paused?

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

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

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

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

Video clips inserted as Event video are totally independent: if they are playing when pausing, they'll continue to play. If a pause is occurring and the video is not yet started, the user will be able to use the Play button of the video control panel to watch the video. The only alternative way to pause event video is by using JavaScript (see Working with event videos). Video clips inserted as Multisynchronized video however will be paused by the Pause command and by a pausing point.

The situation is a lot more complicated for audio:

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

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

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

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

Why pausing?

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

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

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

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

  • Create a slide with light boxes.

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

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