Use Hyperlinks as Interactive Object.

Intro

Quite a while ago i have blogged about using Hyperlinks as interactive objects. Those blogs included examples. However the articles were written in the SWF era… which is almost over.  I'm talking about these posts::

More is in a hyperlink – Dropdown menu

More is in a hyperlink – Close button

Later on I used the Dropdown menu workflow in all the interactive videos which I posted here, to create a Bookmark menu. Here is one example: Custom Play/Pause button

Last week, a user asked questions about the same topic. That was the incentive to check out if the described workflows for SWF output were still valid for HTML5 output. 

Example file

You can have a look at this example file, where I show 4 use cases; or watch the embedded version below (fixed resolution, whereas the link goes to a rescalable HTML output):
  • Navigation buttons
  • Show/Hide workflow
  • Close button for a popup
  • Forced view

I did keep the typical Underline for the hyperlinks (but often edited the color). You will find tons of them. The design of the slides was taken from the Quick Start Project included with version 11.5, labeled ‘Rhapsody’. It always reminds me of the epoch of the Hippies…

No audio, sorry.  There is no playbar, nor TOC. Navigation is done with SVGs, which have a tooltip (added in the Rollover state) for those who use a desktop/laptop. It is a rescalable, non-responsive project. I  checked  out the workflows in a Fluid Boxes project as well, because they may be very interesting for that type of project.


Setup

Navigation menu

The list with commands which you can open when clicking the down arrow next to the field 'Web page' looks shorter than the Simple Actions list under the Actions tab for an interactive object:

Some commands are indeed missing, but most Slide commands can be found under the unique 'Slide' command. In this screenshot you see how to translate the Jump to Slide command, which you'll need to create navigation buttons (see Menu slide, second slide in the example project):

Comparing with interactive objects

The big advantage of using hyperlinks is that everything could be done with one text container, in which you mark several items as hyperlinks . Great way for a custom Table of Contents, which you can have sliding in/out. Especially for responsive projects: click box over text is not possible in a normal fluid box; limiting number of objects make setup much easier for Fluid Boxes workflow as well as for Breakpoint Views.

Alternative for buttons? Advantage is that you don't have shrinking of the text when pressed, you don't have to configure InBuilt states. Disadvantage: you miss the Visited state to indicate that an item has been visited.

Show/Hide

The slide with the hyperlinks in ellipses, was created as a 'dynamic' hyperlink (to be compared with Dynamic buttons). Text in the ellips are user variables, used as hyperlink. 

The user variables v_fx and v_KC  have a default value of 'Show', while the text shapes with the info are hidden with the On Enter action of the slide. A simple conditional action (similar for both) is used:

It would also be possible to have all the info boxes in one multistate object (which I use in the next two use cases).

Comparing with interactive objects

Similar to the navigation solution, if you don't like shrinking nor styling of InBuilt states this could be a solution. Again, since a Visited state is missing, that can be a drawback.

Another drawback is that you cannot use shared actions, which I would have done in this case. You need to use duplicate advanced actions.

Close button

Normally it is not possible to add an interactive object to a state in a multi-state object. You cannot create a hyperlink neither. However it is possible to have the same hyperlink available in all states, with the same triggered action. On the Close Box - slide, The info multi-state object is a shape with 6 states. Here is a screenshot:

Just FYI, the second state (QSP) looks different in the Object State panel, but that is just a  glitch. It is exactly the same on the state. To create this multistate object you need to follow carefully this workflow:

  • Create the shape (Tx_Info is the label I used) with a close hyperlink (big X), which I aligned to the bottom, centered. That will become the Normal state. You need to choose a command, but will have to edit that command later on. 
  • Go into the Object State panel and duplicate the state, the X hyperlink will be included in this second state.
  • Close the Object State panel and edit the hyperlink. It need to be 'Change state of Tx_Info to Normal'. 
  • Change the color of the X character to a color from the background, so that it will be invisible; if there is a Fill and/or a stroke, set Alpha and Stroke both to 0. The Normal state will now seem 'invisible'.
  • Return to the Object State panel.
  • Select the second state, style the X hyoerlink to a visible color. Add the necessary text and/or background fill.  Double check by previewing if the hyperlink action is functional.
  • Duplicate the second state, and edit the text/fill
  • Continue the duplication until you have all needed states.

I have tried with Hide for the hyperlink, but had lot of issues, seemed not to be functional. That is the reason why I switched to an invisible Normal state.

In the ellipses you find more hyperlinks. They change the multi-state object to the appropriate state. Here is an example for the first category 'QSP':

Comparing with interactive objects

As far as I know this is the only way to have an action propagating to other states in a multi-state object. Shared actions are not possible nor are Visited States (although with a more complicated advanced action possible).

The action triggered by the hyperlink can be rather complicated. A not so complicated example follows

Forced View

Setup of the multi-state object is quite the same as in the previous slide. In this case the change of state is triggered by real 'buttons', which seemed logical with this content. That also allowed me to use a Shared action. To track the clicks, a user variable is needed for each of the buttons. The shared action is visible in these two screenshots:

The X hyperlink, which was propagated to all states, triggers an advanced action with two decisions. The Back to Menu button is hidden with the On Enter event of the slide, and made visible when all variables have been toggled to 1. That meant that they all have been clicked:








Lightbox setup

Why?

Lightbox is a popular technique to make extra information (text, images, video…) stand out. Traditionally that information will appear on a background of an object which hides or dims the original objects on the slide. A way to close the lightbox is necessary, and will also make those objects visible again. In a way, the overlay slides in an interactive video are sort of lightbox as well. It is evident that such a lightbox is rather easy to create in a non-responsive project, but several limitations (like stacking) in Fluid Boxes project make it almost impossible. The example shown here, and the setup, was for a non-responsive project.

Recently a Captivate posted a question in the Adobe forums.: ‘How to create a lightbox within a state of an object‘. She was upgrading an older project, where the developer used a slide for each lightbox, by using multistate objects to replace the multiple slides.  After having asked for some extra information, it turned out to be more complicated than just the creation of lightboxes.  It was about a two-step process for extra information:

  1. Clicking a ‘question button’ would show the answer to the question as a popup (Click-Reveal workflow). That popup didn’t really need a way to close it, but clicking another question button should replace the content by new content. OP was correct that using a multistate object was the perfect workflow for this first step, with a Normal state which was invisible by setting Alpha (for the Fill) and Stroke both to 0. I have demonstrated this use multiple times in blogs.

  2. The content needed to have a way to open a ‘lightbox’ (in the traditional sense explained before) with more information related to the question/answer already shown. 

Problem

States in a multistate object, with the exception of the Normal state cannot have interactive objects! In both steps such an object is necessary. In the first step it is needed to open the proper lightbox, in the second step to close the lightbox.

Such an interactive object can be a button, a click box or… a hyperlink. Quite a while ago I wrote a couple of articles to demonstrate the power of hyperlinks which is ignored by many. However, for HTML5 output in the recent version (11.5.1) its use to run advance actions seems not always to be functtional, needs lot of testing. Originally when creating the sample output, I planned to use hyperlinks in most cases, but had to give up for the reason just explained. BTW all actions triggered by hyperlinks worked perfectly for SWF output. So I had to revert to buttons in most cases. I will explain the complete setup in a blog.

Example project

Watch this project. There is no real content for questions, answers nor lightboxes. Focus is only on the structure and workflow. There is one slide after the title slide, which has 5 question buttons:
  • Clicking a question button will show a popup which should contain the answer, and there is a (image used as) button to open the lightbox. The question buttons shows a ‘Current state’ when clicked.

  • Clicking the button opens a lightbox: cover, shape with content, and a hyperlink used to close the lightbox. When the lightbox is closed, the question button will revert to a ‘Done state’. It is not a Visited state, but a custom state.

You can watch the project below (fixed resolution) or using this link (rescalable output)


Setup

Objects – timeline

See the setup, using this screenshot of the timeline panel:

From bottom to top:

  • Five question buttons, which are shape buttons labeled SB_Quest1….SB_Quest5. They have a pausing point at the default 1.5secs. For those buttons I deleted the InBuilt Rollover and Down states, but added two custom states: ‘Current’ and ‘Done’. 
    .
  • A group of shapes used as text container for the answers SS_Answer1…. SS_Answer5. I could have used a multistate object as well. I started using individual texts because I hoped to use a hyperlink for the lightbox switch.

  • A shape used as Cover. Its position in the stack order is important: it needs to be above the answer and question objects, but under the multistate object SS_ExtraInfo. That cover is a shape, filled with dark gray, partially transparent. Beware: it is also used as text container: look for the text ‘Close Lightbox‘ which has been converted to a hyperlink triggering an advanced action.

  • Multistate object SS_ExtraInfo which has a state to appear in the lightbox for each of the answers. The Normal state is empty (Alpha and Stroke shape = 0).
  • Button Bt_Info (used a button from thitOt not necessary to be on top of the stack, Its position in the stack order is not important, because will be hidden when the lightbox appears.

Variable

One user variable v_quest was created. Default value can be empty. It will store the number of the question chosen by clicking the question button. That number is necessary for two advanced actions. as you’ll see below.

Events and Actions

On Enter slide event: "EnterAct"

This simple non-conditional action is meant to set the slide to its original situation:

If I had used a multistate object for the Answer popups, with a Normal state that was invisible (like for the SS_ExtraInfo), I would not have needed the second command (Hide Gr_Answer). By hiding the Cover, I also hide the hyperlink since it is a text in the cover. No need to hide SS_ExtraInfo since the Normal state is invisible. Why didn’t I use a hyperlink instead of the button Bt_Info? Because the advanced action was not triggered as it does when using SWF output. Too bad.

Question buttons:  Shared Action "QuestAct"

Another non-conditional action, based on this Advanced action:

I converted it to a Shared action, with these 6 parameters:

If you prefer a multistate objects over a group for the answers, you will still have 6 parameters, but the Group will be replaces by the name of the multistate object, and the Answer object by the wanted state.  I already explained my choice for a group.

Button Bt-Info: Advanced action "ShowLightBox"

This is an action with 6 decisions. The first decision is non-conditional, the five remaining decisions are conditional because a different state has to be shown based on the question number in the variable v_quest.  Those decisions have only one command and can easily be created with the duplicate decision button.

Hyperlink: Advanced action "CloseAct"

The hyperlink in the Cover shape triggers a 6 decision action very similar to the previous one:

More…

You can extend the described workflow to more than 5 questions. The shared action can be used, and you may have to add decisions to the two longer advanced actions.

I didn’t provide a close button on the answer popups, for learners who don’t want to see the lightbox, for whom the answer popup is sufficient. It could be done with a hyperlink or an extra button.

It would be possible to have something happen when all question buttons have been clicked, but that will require the creation of one extra variable for each button, a Boolean to be toggled from 0 to 1 if a button has been clicked.  The check for the extra happening has to be added to the CloseAct.

Popups on Quiz slides?

Intro

This question appeared recently in the Adobe forums from a user wanting to use (shape) buttons to show popups: “….instruction pop-up is appearing under the question content…”. That is indeed a problem: all embedded quizzing objects (those without an individual timeline) have absolute priority in the stacking (z-order). They are always on top.  I have posted an answer to similar questions in the SWF-past years ago. In this short post, you’ll find a new example output, for HTML5  based on the same trick used before: use an object created on a slide before the quiz slides, time it for the rest of the project with the option ‘always on top’. That object will cover the embedded quiz objects. In the past I used Show/Hide to make it visible, but now of course I took advantage of multistate objects and my favorite shared actions.

Example project

Watch this published project. on any device (rescalable), or the embedded one below (fixed resolution). On the quiz slides you’ll find two extra toggle buttons ‘Info’ and ‘Score’ which can be used to open and close a popup (in reality I change the state of an object).


I used some ready-to-go slides from the project ‘Earth’. I didn’t allow Review, and the score slide is not included. As usual, needed to edit the embedded slides. Several slides have a Pause On Enter, which is never a good idea IMO.

Setup

Multistate objects

Both popups triggered by the extra shape buttons labeled ‘Info’ and ‘Score’ are multistate objects with 2 states:

  1. Normal state is a shape with Alpha = 0 and Stroke = 0. This means it is invisible to the user
  2. State popup exists for both buttons, and has the necessary information to pop up. I used only text, but you can also add images or even event video.. For the Score button I used inserted system variables (cpQuizInfoPointsscored and cpQuizInfoPointsPerQuestionSlide). That way popup will have different values on each quiz slide.

The  multistate content shape objects (SS_Info and SS_Score) are inserted on the second slide ‘Instructions’ which is the slide preceding the first question slide.  This is very important, don't try to do it on the first question slide itself. I added a button Continue to that slide to replace the Pause On Enter. The multistate object timelines start after the pausing point of the button. They are timed for the rest of the project with the option ‘Place object on top’. Since their Normal state makes them invisible to the learner, no need to mess with Show/Hide.

Variables (Boolean)

Two Boolean variables were created, labeled v_info and v_score.  Their default value = 0, corresponding with the Normal state of the two mulitstate content shapes SS_Info and SS_Score.

Shape buttons

On the first quiz slide I created two shape buttons, which have exactly the same look as the Transparent buttons used on the quiz slide (Submit button). These buttons SB_Info and SB_Score are also timed for the rest of the project with the option ‘Place object on top’. In this example Review is not allowed, which avoids the possible overlapping by the Review navigation buttons. Of course it is possible to hide the shape buttons in review mode if necessary. I did take out the pausing point for both Info and Score button. As you can see in the timeline, I moved the slide pausing point towards the end of the quiz slide to avoid waiting after the second step in the Submit process.

Actions and events

Hide buttons On Enter for Exit slide

The buttons SB_Info and SB_Score - timed for the rest of the project -  have to be hidden on that slide, which can be done with a simple action (if you group the buttons) or with a two-command advanced action. It is not necessary to hide the multistate objects. They will always return to their Normal state on each slide, which means they are invisible to the learner.

Success action buttons SB_Info and SB_Score

A conditional action is needed. I preferred a shared action with 4 parameters. I suppose this is an action which can be used in many projects. If you import the shared action into a new project (from an External Library or with the Import functionality), you do not have to create the variables, only multistate content objects. The shared action is derived from this advanced action:

Each of the four parameters is marked  with a color. One of the big advantages of shared actions over advanced actions are the descriptions which explain clearly what you have to choose, see this screenshot which is for the second button SB_Score:


More?

Here are some possible changes or extensions of the idea, which is basically that you need the popups present on the slide BEFORE the first quiz slide and timed for the rest of the project.

  • I used only text in a shape, but the popups can be anything, you can add images, video....
  • With the present setup both popups can be visible at the same time. If you don't like that, add an extra command to the shared action (and a parameter) where you change the state for the 'other' popup back to Normal.
  • You do not like the way popups have to be closed with the same toggle button? It is not possible to add interactive objects to a state, except to the Normal state. You can also insert a hyperlink like an X to the normal state. But that means you have to switch the content filled state (which is Popup at this moment) and the empty state. Bit more work but doable. About using Hyperlinks to trigger actions, have a look at More is in a Hyperlink
  • If you want individual content in the popup, different for each quiz slide, remember you can use a variable to store content. Insert the variable in the content popup and populate it with the On Enter action of the quiz slide.
  • ....


SVGs for color-based quiz

Intro

Being able to use SVG’s, for which you can limit the clickable area to the SVG itself, creates a lot of opportunities. In a recent post I explained how you can use them for a custom Hotspot question. 

This time I played with Flags, in Europe a lot of national flags have a cross embedded. Play with this example file. After the title slide which has some explanation, you have to color 5 knowledge check slides, Have fun. 

Small warning: if you are on a small screen, you may have to insist to color the small parts (especially on the UK slide). The part is really clicked when you have seen it shrink. You can play from this link (scalable HTML) or with the embedded version (fixed size):

Setup

You’ll find details about the setup,with topics:

  • Objects (including timeline)
  • Variables and Events
  • Advanced actions
  • Shared action (has been used 47 times)

Objects – timeline

Have a look at the Timeline of slide 2 which is the first quiz slide (flag 1, Denmark):

From bottom to top you see:

  • SS_Proback1: (smart shape) the white background of the progress bar (bottom left). Since the flags have different amounts of parts, I preferred to have an individual background on each flag slide, whereas
  • SS_Progress: (smart shape) progress bar is timed for the rest of the project. It has a normal state which is invisible (no Alpha nor stroke), and a state for each added green star, totals 18 states but not all states are used on each slide.
  • Gr_Denmark: has all the flag parts, on this slide 5. All parts are SVG’s used as buttons with the default pausing poins at 1.5secs. Each SVG has 3 object states: Normal (with a black pattern), Correct (colored), Wrong (Gray tint). Here is the screenshot with object states for the Cross part of the UK flag:
  • Gr_Colors: group with 5 colors, timed for the rest of the project because same colors are used for all flags. Colors are shape buttons, default pausing point at 1.5s. They have 3 states: Normal, Current and Dimmed. Here a screenshot for the Red smart shape.
  • Country_DK: country name (text)
  • SB_Next: shape button timed for the rest of the project, no pausing point, with 3 InBuilt states (Normal, Rollover, Down)
  • Title

Variables and events

Three user variables are created for the actions:

  • v_color: will store the name of the color chosen from the color shapes; the exact names are needed which are Blue, DarkBlue, Red, White and Yellow.

  • v_counter: will track the number of correct flag parts which have been colored (is equal to the number of stars displayed by the progress bar).

  • v_max: the number of flag parts to be colored. For the first two flag slides this is 5, for the two following slides it is 9 and the last flag slide has 17 parts.

I didn’t provide a replay course button at the end, to limit the number of events and actions. The used events  are:.

  • On Enter slide event for all flag slides. They trigger a similar advanced action, depending on the number of flag parts: 'Enter5' (first two flag slides), 'Enter9' (two following slides) and 'Enter17 'for the UK slide.

  • On Enter slide event for the End slide triggers 'EnterEnd'.

  • Success event for the Color shape buttons trigger a similar advanced action 'Blue_Act', 'DarkBlue_Act', 'Red_Act', 'White_Act' and 'Yellow_Act'.

  • Success event of the SVG’s which are the flag parts (used as buttons), trigger all the same Shared Action 'FlagAct'.
I will explain why I choose for advanced or shared actions for those events.

Actions

Enter5Act/Enter9Act/Enter17Act (advanced actions)

Those very similar actions are triggered On Enter of the flag slides, depending on the number of flag parts. Here is a screenshot of 'Enter9Act':

You see it is mainly a Reset action. Because the color shape buttons are timed for the rest of the project, it is necessary to reset their state to Normal when entering a new slide.  That wouldn’t have been the case if I had repeated the colors on each slide, and left the option ‘Retain state …’ unchecked. However such a setup would have complicated the actions a lot more, than using this advanced action On Enter. The actions for 5 and 17 parts are almost identical, only the value of the variable v_max will change (command marked in red in screenshot). Because of the limited number of actions (3), and the fact that only one command had to be edited,  I prefer duplicate advanced actions over a shared action with multiple parameters.

EnterEnd

This simple action will hide several items which were displayed for the rest of the project and no longer necessary on the Congratulations slide:

Blue_Act, DarkBlue_Act, Red_Act, White_Act, Yellow_Act

These advanced actions are triggered by the success event of the color shape buttons.

The 5 actions are also very similar, here is the screenshot of the Red_Act:

I could have used a shared action, but preferred duplicate advanced actions. Four of the color buttons need their state to be changed to Dimmed, the active clicked button to Current and its color has to be entered as value for v_color.

It is very simple to duplicate the actions for the other colors, and change the first command and switch one dimmed and current state to adapt the action to the new active button.

FlagAct

Shared action triggered by the Success event of the flag parts (SVG used as button). In older versions than 11.5 this setup would not have been possible since many bounding boxes are overlapping. The shared action, which I used 47 times, looks like this:

I indicated the 6 parameters by a color code. Four of them are always the same, but they are compulsory, need to be parameters (Progress bar, Next button, Wrong and Correct states). Only the color and the flag part are important to set up correctly. A good labeling system for the flag parts can help. You may have seen that I took care of labeling in a consistent way.

Conclusion

Hope this example releases your creative ideas for similar use cases, both for adult learners and (of course) kids.  It would be great if you commented about that. Or do you have questions, suggestions?

Showing Hint with a Delay

Why?

Recently in this thread user asked how to control the appearance of a hint caption.  It was meant to save some frustrations to the learner: hint should appear automatically after some seconds (to be defined), but should not appear when the learner had performed a certain action before that time. This is clearly not possible with the inbuilt Hint messages for interactive buttons. They only appear when the learner is approaching the place where he should click. A custom solution needed to be found. Three solutions were posted, interesting to have a look and compare them. Personally I always bear in mind that someone would like to use this workflow in a fluid boxes responsive project, and that limits the possibilities because stacking is not allowed in normal fluid boxes. We have multistate objects and since a couple of versions a “Delay Next actions….” command.

Example movie

Watch this simple example before reading the explanation:

You will see two slides where a Hint can appear if you are not successful within a delay: slide 2 (arrows) and the Drag&Drop slide (3). I used an almost identical workflow for both slides with a Shared Action triggered with the On Enter Slide event, and a simple advanced action triggered by the arrows (slide 2) or by the object actions (slide 3). Both slides have a hint which is a multistate shape. No variables were used. Slides 4 and 5 show the used actions.

If you prefer to watch the rescalable version, use this link.


Workflow

Hint = multistate object

Both Hints on slides 2-3 are multistate objects. The normal state is the green text bubble, the second state ‘Void’ is completely empty:

On Enter Shared Action

The on Enter action has to perform 4 commands:
  • Hide the Hint shape
  • Wait for a number of seconds
  • Show the Hint shape
  • Apply an effect (I used an emphasize effect).

Only two items needed to be defined as parameters: the Hint shape itself (compulsory parameter) and the literal used for the Delay, to make it possible to have a variable delay if wanted. The Parameter dialog box will look like this:

TIP: although both slides 2 and 3 are pausing at 1,5secs (default pausing point), the command ‘Delay Next Actions by…. ‘ will NOT be paused, timer just continues. That behavior is a big advantage for this particular use case!

Advanced Action ArrowAct

It would have been possible to use a simple action in this case, but the advantage of an advanced action was that I could assign it in one workflow to all the arrows on this slide.

What is the purpose of the Continue command? An advanced action will not release the playhead automatically as is possible with a simple action. On slide 2 a Next button has been added, with a timeline starting after the pausing point of the Arrow shapes acting as buttons. Release of the playhead is necessary to make the Next button visible.

Advanced Action DragAct

Although the advantage of being able to assign the advanced action at once to all the object actions doesn’t exist (could have used a simple action), it was so easy to create a duplicate of the first action that I kept with an advanced action/

It has been assigned to the 4 possible Object Actions in that dialog box, which you find in the Properties panel for the Drop target, under the Format tab. 'Object Actions'.

Hotspots in non-VR project? Workflow 1

Why?

This is not a blog post for intermediate or advanced users. Since CP2019 is released, with the hotspots for 360 images and videos in a VR project or a normal project, I see the same question appearing regularly: why cannot we have that feature for a 2D image? Hence my idea to offer you some possible workflows with a step-by-step explanation and a free downloadable project file. This first post shows a project where the functionality of VR hotspots is being duplicated as close as possible:

  • When user clicks a hotspot, text, image and/or audio will appear, and automatically disappear after a specified time (here you can also use video, which is not possible in a VR project)
  • The hotspots get a checkmark after having been clicked.

However only the status ‘Exploratory’ is used, not the ‘Guided’ status. I would be able to reproduce that as well, but the workflow will be more complicated.

Example movie

Watch the result in this movie with 3 slides. After the title slide you’ll see the hotspot slide. The last slide lists up the steps explained below, if you want to create the workflow from scratch. I will also offer you the project file, you can also copy/paste the hotspot slide to your project, thus allowing to skip some steps.

Copy/Paste Slide

You can download the project file (created in version 11.0.1.266) from this link.

You can copy/paste the hotspot slide (slide 2) to your project. Replace the image. You can edit the design of the hotspots (names start with HS_), change the content of the states in the Multistate object labeled SS_Info.

Have a look at the Library, folder Shared Actions. You’ll see that it has been used 6 times, once for each hotspot. If you change names of the states in the multistate object, you will have to edit that parameter. Same for the duration. The other parameters are always the same for each hotspot: the name of the multistate object and its Normal state.

Steps, from scratch

Create hotspot

I used a shape button as hotspot. It has several advantages over the older type of buttons. You can choose any shape or create a custom shape (here I used just a circle), you can fil it with any color from your Theme Colors as solid color or in a gradient (I used a gradient) or even fill the shape with any image. Moreover you can type text in the shape. I kept the hotspot very simple: just a question mark. But you can replace the text or the fill as you like. It is important that the shape button – hotspot has at least two InBuilt states: the Normal and the Visited state. You could also use the Rollover and Down state, which I deleted in the example file/movie. This is the state panel of the hotspot:

Duplicate hotspot

I labeled the used style as ‘Hotspot’. However, the Visited state is not part of the style (which I regret a lot). For that reason I did duplicate the hotspots (CTRL-D). In the project the names start with HS_.  In the example movie you’ll see 6 hotspots.

Contrary to the hotspots in a VR project, these hotspots have a timeline. I kept the default setup: duration of  3 seconds and pausing at 1.5secs. That pausing point is where where the playhead will pause, exactly like for the hotspots on a VR slide.

Multistate object for popups

I put all the popups in one multistate object which is also a shape: it has 1 state more than the number of hotspots. The Normal state has to be ‘invisible’ by setting the Alpha for Fill = 0 and the stroke width = 0. Each of the following states has the assets for one popup. You will see that I have states with only a text container (background in any color, partially transparent), but some have also an image, audio and one even has an event video (which is not possible on a 3D slide).  You can choose any location, it is not locked to the Normal state location. In the example file, the Object states for this shape looks like this:

Import Shared Action ‘HotspotWorkflow1’

Use File, Import, External Library and open the file you downloaded. Find this shared action in the floating Library panel which will be opened. Drag that action to the Library of your project in the folder Shared Actions. More info about external libraries in this post.

Add shared action to hotspots

Select a hotspot. In the Actions tab of its Properties panel, for the Success action choose ‘Execute Shared Action’. Click on the tiny button {p} to define the parameters which are:

  • Multistate object with the popups (labeled SS_Info) in my example file. That parameter is the same for all hotspots.
  • State: having the info to pop up for that particular hotspot
  • Time you want to leave the popup on screen, can be different for each hotspot
  • Normal state of the multistate object, is same for all hotspots.

Here is one example screenshot for the hotspot referring to the Virtual Reality project:

Conclusion

Maybe you’ll already feel that this workflow could be optimized. I would prefer to give the learner control over the time he needs to watch the popups by adding a close button. Or maybe cover up the distracting background in a lightbox style? What about the next button only appearing when all hotspots have been clicked? Or a warning if not every hotspot has been visited when the learner clicks the Next button? Lot more workflows are possible, let me know which one you would prefer?

Hotspots in non-VR project - workflow 2

Intro

A week ago I published a first showcase, explaining how to replicate the hotspot workflow for VR projects on a 2D image. This second article about using hotspots for a 2D image is not duplicating as closely that same feature: instead of showing the popups for a duration defined by the developer, this workflow will offer a close button for the popups. The learner decides when to close a popup and proceed (eventually) to the next hotspot. I also used a technique, often labeled as 'lightbox': to have the popup stand out of the rest of the content, it will have a semi-transparent cover in the background dimming the rest of the slide.

Example movie

I used the same image (welcome screen) and content for the popups as i the first workflow. Only  some small color changes and changes in the location have been applied . Watch this 3-slide movie: after the title slide (doubles as poster image) you can test the new hotspot slide, and the last slide gives a short Step-by-step list if you want to use this slide in your project. 

Try it out: quick workflow

You can download the project file from this link

If you do not need to have more than 6 hotspots, and you are happy with the resolution of the project (1024x627) and its Theme (Pink Icing), you can quickly use the hotspot slide using these steps:

  1. Create a blank project, with that resolution and theme. Create your title slide, and eventually a poster image as explained in his older article
  2. Copy the hotspot slide from the sample project and paste it into your project. The object names will get an extra number, but you don't have to bother about that. The advanced and shared action is automatically adapting to the new names.
  3. Select the Image..  'WelcomeScreen.png' and replace it by your image (Properties panel).
  4. Move eventually the hotspots to the right location. If you need less than 6 hotspots you can hide some of them in output. Deleting is also possible. Start by hiding or deleting the last hotspot(s). The sequence of the hotspots is starting with HS_Responsive (first in first row), going to the right and then to the second row. Last hotspot is for the PPT.
  5. Open the multistate object SS_Info.. which is just on top of the 'Cover' (needs to be there). Click the State view button in the Properties panel to open the Object State panel.
  6. Leave the Normal state alone. Replace the content in the other states by your content (follow the sequence described under 4.)  You don't need to rename the states, nor to delete the last unused ones (just leave them as they are).
  7. Start testing with 'Preview HTML in Browser' (F11).

 

How to use Custom Effect in Actions?

Intro

Almost 8 years ago I posted this article on my personal blog: Editing Motion Paths and Using Custom Effects. 

Since that time Effects have been improved a lot, advanced and shared actions can make life much easier. Time to upgrade that blog post, meanwhile testing the behavior of effects in HTML output in CP2019. While Flash was always to be trusted, that is not the case for HTML output. And indeed, I bumped onto a problem with the Scale effect, and sometimes the Rotate to effect. When those problems are solved, I will post a published movie. The workflow to use Custom effects in a shared or advanced action is however still the same since many versions. It is a bit complicated, I have answered many questions about it in the forums. I will write it out now step by step.

When do you need  a custom effect?

Effects have been improved in some ways. Some parameters can be defined in the Advanced Actions dialog box. Look for the start time of an effect, its duration and more numeric fields (alpha, rotation, ease in/out, alpha….). However when using a combination of effects over and over again, you can create one custom effect which saves that combination and can applied in one step including the sequence and duration of the different effects. Another practical example are the motion effects, where you need to edit the motion path, which is certainly the case for more complicated custom motion paths.  This screenshot shows an example of a complicated combination of effects on the Timeline. It was meant to be applied to simulate a swimming fish:

Step by Step

Step 1:  Create and save effect

Create the effect or combination of effects on any object as a ‘Self)time based animation and test it out thoroughly (Preview HTML in Browser for a non-responsive project) in several browsers before saving it with a custom name.

You don’t need to save it in a specific folder. I use to save it with the project I am working on as is the case in the screenshot above. Effects are stored in XML-files.

Step 2: Apply the custom effect as time-based animation

If you would try to use the saved effect in a shared/advanced action it will no be available. If this is the first custom effect you ever created, there will not even be a Custom category to choose from You need first to delete all the individual effects applied to the object (above it was to the object SV_Fish (a SVG image). Then apply the custom effect as a (Self) time based animation again, but now with ‘one’ effect chosen with the browse button.

When looking at the timeline you’ll see exactly the same result as in the screenshot at the beginning: all the effects in the correct sequence and with the duration you had chosen.

The result of this second application is that the Category ‘Custom’ will now have been created, and it will have the new custom effect ‘Swimming’.

Step “: use in advanced or shared action

If you only wanted to apply this action using an interactive object, you could use a simple action. The field Category will now have the Custom category.

However often effects are used in Advanced or Shared actions in combination with other commands. In this example the Fishes are originally hidden, so I need to Show them and apply the effectn eventually also have an audio clip playing separately.

The two buttons on this example will trigger the same shared action. Both fishes are hidden in output at the start. When creating the advanced action, the category Custom can now be used, and the available parameters (start, duration) could be edited, but mostly you’ll not want to do that.

Because I needed to use this action twice, maybe also later in other projects unchanged or as template for other actions, I preferred a shared action which will have only one parameter: the object itself. An effect cannot be a parameter. However, the effect can not only be applied to one object, but also to a group. I can replace one fish by a group of fishes.


Rare Tips for Shared Actions

Intro

It is not a secret that I am a big fan of Shared Actions. A project without at least one shared action is a big exception to me. From what I hear and read, lot of you don't realize how much time you can save with those mysterious action. This short article will offer some ideas where Shared Actions are used for (maybe) a totally different situation than you expect.

1. Creation of Variables

If you are reading this post, it is very likely that you use system variables as well as user variables. Do you create user variables in each project, and include a proper description and eventually default values?  I have a list of variables which I use very often in projects, here are some examples:

  • v_null: an empty variable used to check if Text Entry Boxes remained empty after a learner clicked its Submit button, or to reset the variable associated with a TEB.
  • v_counter: as the name tells to track a number of clicks, attempts....
  • v_visit: for situations where the content of a slide has to be different on a later visit, you want to track if the slide has been visited
  • v_one, v_two, v_three....: number of variables that can be used for different use cases, like tracking clicks on hotspots, finishing chapters...

Knowledge fact: when you import a shared action in another project, variables not defined as parameters, will be created including the description and default value.

I have a shared action with a list of Assign commands, one for each of those often used variables. It doesn't matter what you assign at all. I drag that shared action from my external Library with shared actions to each new project. Variables are ready for use, even as parameters in other shared actions. 

  

2. Shared Action without Parameters

Sounds very strange, because the reusability of a shared action is based on parameters? I already gave a first example of such a parameter-less SA under 1.  It is much safer and easier to transfer a shared action to another project than an advanced action. You use the shared action directly or convert it to an advanced action if you prefer (maybe for more editing). Here is an example:

 I use this action to calculate the reference time in seconds (to be used later in calculations) of a frame, mostly the first or last frame of a slide. Defined as a shared action, it needs no parameters. Once dropped into the project Library, I can use it for any frames where I want a reference time.

3. Shared Action as Template 

You can copy an object or a slide, which has advanced actions attached to a new project. But that is not always working great. If you have navigation in the advanced action 'Jump to Slide', that command will often be reset to 'Continue' if that slide is not found. Same for objects, variables etc. 

Less known is that any shared action can be used as a template to create an advanced action. In the top left of the Advanced Actions dialog box, you are used to see 'Blank' which is the default template for an action. Open the dropdown list, and you'll find all shared actions in the project as extra templates:

Choose one of them, you'll have to fill in the parameters, add a name, edit the commands (delete, add as you want) and save as an advanced action. 

Example: a shared action triggered On Enter for a dashboard, checking a number of tracking variables and showing something special after all variables prove that everything has been visited. You can set up the shared action for 4 variables. If you need less or more variables, convert the action to an advanced action and edit it!

What about you?

Do you use shared actions? Did you like these tips? Do you want to have some training about variables/advanced/shared actions?  I love seeing comments on my posts, and promised: you will always get an answer!


Rollover in Fluid Boxes?

Intro

One of the type of objects that is indicated by the tracker as not compatible with HTML output are rollovers: rollover caption, rollover image, rollover slidelet, rollover shape. However if you ignore that warning for a non-responsive project, the rolloverrs will work fine when used with a mouse on a desktop or laptop screen (with the exception or the slidelet, which you should avoid at all times). Its functionality will not work on a mobile device, even not when using a stylus. But the 'mouse' users have that functionality.

However when you create a responsive project using Fluid Boxes, the options for inserting a rollover are greyed out. There is no way to add them. Is there a workaround to have rollovers for desktop/laptop users? That question appears once in a while in forums or social medai. In this post I will talk about my tentavies to mimick a rollover..

Example Movie

I cannot insert a responsive movie in a blog post. Use this link to have access to it. Try it out on a laptop or desktop screen: roll over the buttons in the left and in the right most Fluid box. You'll see rollovers for the big Blue buttons which do not have a real button functionality. The red buttons on the right are active, a hint message appears when rolling over the buttons. You can click those red buttons. This is a static screenshot of that slide (which appears after the poster image and the first slide):

If you try this on a tablet or a smartphone, rollovers will not appear. I tested on iPad and on an Android (HTC) phone.

First Mimick: Hint Messages

You did see the Hint messages for the red buttons when hovering over them. If you use a tablet or a phone they will not show up. Those buttons have the InBuilt States 'Rollover' and 'Down', but only the Down state will be visible on those mobile devices. This is the Object state panel for the second button:

For interactive objects it is possible to check the option 'Hint message' in the Actions tab. In all themes included with Captivate those messages are no longer in a caption but in a shape. The hint message appears wh

There are some problems with this solution:

  • Buttons and Hint messages will share the real estate in the (normal) Fluid Box.
    That is a waste of space especially for mobile screens where those hints never appear. and the buttons may shrink too much as you can see here:
  • I tried to use a static fluid box for each button+hint to be able to stack the Hint message over the button but that leads to very ugly flickering and is excluded.
  • You don't have control over the exact size of the buttons, and certainly not over the HInt messages (look at the screenshots above). This may be not so important since you'll only watch on a big screen, but nevertheless.

Second Mimick: Rollover State

With the blue shape buttons I demonstrated that you can fill the Rollover state with Text (mimicking a rollover caption), with an image (mimicking a Rollover Image) and with both. Here is a screenshot of the second shape button, having an image and text:

The effect is quite nice, provided you use rather big shape buttons as was the case here:

There is a possible problem when using images: they can be distorted if the option 'Maintain Aspect ratio' is unchecked. That was the case in the example, and can lead to distortion:

Shared Action for Red buttons

The active red buttons trigger a shared action which will change the state of a shape (showing explanations), add a star to a progress indicator and have it animated. If you have read blog posts written by me, you know that I am a big fan of Shared Actions.