Choose and use Personal avatars

Intro

One of the reasons I started using eLearning assets as professor in a university college, was to offer students a more personalized learning experience. In this blog I will not expand on that goal, but show how you can use an ignored feature of advanced actions in combination with multistate objects to offer the choice or a personal avatar. 

Do you know that several simple actions (dropdown list in the Actions tab for a slide or an interactive object) also appear as possible commands in advanced action, but that they are ‘enhanced’? Typical examples are:

  • Show/Hide: as simple action they can only address objects (or groups) on the same slide as where you trigger the action. However when used in an advanced action, you can address all project objects.

  • Change State/Go to Next State/Go to Previous State: when used as simple actions you can only point to multistate objects on the slide of the action, but used in an advanced action you point to all multistate objects in the project.

Example project

Have a look at this example. You can use the Table of Content (custom button) to navigate freely. This project has:

  • Title slide
  • Slide ‘Flashlight’ with timeline staggering, where you see bottom left an avatar
  • Slide ‘AvatarChoice’ where you can change the avatar. It is not the first slide to prove that the avatar change will also be functional on the previous slide (Flashlight)
  • Slide ‘CareerSteps’ which has an avatar outside of the slide, but it will appear in steps if you click the play button (motion path animation triggered partially with each Play button click)
  • Slide KnowledgeCheck where the avatar is used to give a feedback message

Have fun:



Setup workflow

Multistate objects

Lot of multistate objects were used in the project:

Slide AvatarChoice

The four buttons with the avatars are SVGs used as buttons. The InBuilt states Rollover and Down were deleted, but a custom state labeled 'Chosen' was added to show the selected avatar by adding a white-stroked border (shape) to the original avatar image.

Slides Flashlight, CareerSteps, KnowledgeCheck

The images SV_Candidate (Flashlight), and People (CareerSteps) have 4 states. The Normal state shows by default the first male avatar. This screenshot shows the states for SV_Candidate, the one for People is similar. They use the same names for the states.

The image KCMessage (KnowledgeCheck) has 5 states, the Normal state being an empty shape (Alpha and Stroke both set to 0). It is just an alternative, because that message needs to be hidden with the On Enter action of this slide. Reason: the message should pop up only after clicking the Submit button. Same names are used for the states, but M1 is new since it is no longer the Normal state:

Events and Actions

W1Act, W2Act, M1Act, M2Act

Those advanced actions are triggered by the Success event of the the buttons on slide AvatarChoice. Here is an example screenshot for the button SVB_W1, the action W1Act:

The four first commands, changing states, take care of the buttons on the slide itself. Only the clicked button will switch to the second state 'Chosen'.  You can easily adapt those commands for more or less buttons on that slide, in this case there were 4 buttons.

The three later commands switch the multistate objects on the other slides to the appropriate state.  Add similar commands if you have more than 3 slides to propagate the choice.

Beware: it is important to check the option 'Retain state on slide revisit' for the multistate objects on the three slides where the chosen avatar has to be solidified. If you don't do that, the choice will be visible only on the first visit of that slide, not on later visits.

KnowledgeCheck slide

The On Enter slide event is used to hide the multistate object 'KC_Message'. 

For the setup of the actions on the slide, refer to this screenshot:

It is of course possible to have different feedback messages, by using conditional actions, but that was not the goal of this blog post. 

You cannot have any multistate object in a default feedback message (Failure, Success) on a question/knowledge check slide. That is why you need to create a custom solution.

No shared actions?

Why did I not choose for my favourite shared actions in this particular use case? Reason is that such a shared action would need a lot of parameters, even for this short project: 7 for the multistate objects, 4 for the states on the AvatarChoice slide, and 3 for the to be changed state on the other slides. That results in 14 parameters! It is much easier to edit the duplicate advanced actions in this case than applying shared actions with 14 parameters.


Forced view for Tabs Interactions - Shared actions as template

Why?

Recently the question appeared a couple of times in the forums: is it possible to delay the appearance of the Next button until all tabs in the learning interaction Tabs have been clicked.  This ‘Forced view’ request has been documented many times for normal click/reveal interactions and for a branching scenario. However the limitation of all learning interactions to the provided editing functionality prevents an easy way to realize such a scenario. Same is valid for Accordions, Timeline, Pyramid etc… interactions.

My recommendation is to use one of the multiple interaction slides from the Quick Start Projects (version 11.5, Assets panel). They do not offer Forced viewing out of the box, but can be transformed to do the trick. Have a look at the published example.

Warning: This blog contains three short video clips, it may some time to load completely on your system.

Example project

In this example I took 3 ready-to-go slides: one from the Safety, the Alliance and the Earth projects. The existing actions have been edited and you’ll get the Next button only when all tabs on a slide have been clicked:


The embedded example has a fixed resolution. You can also use this link for a scalable version.

How?

All was done using two shared actions, which you’ll be able to download in a Library project:

  1. VarsCreateForceTabs: is used to create the needed user variables, and acts also as reset action On Enter for each slide. In this particular case the same action (one parameter) could be used directly. However if more is used in the On Enter action, the shared action can be used as template for a dedicated advanced action.
  2. ForceTabs: has been used only as template for all the advanced actions on the 14 tab buttons in this project. I will describe the workflow step-by-step in a future blog.

If you want to try the workflow (described below) out, download this project which has the two shared actions in its Library. In an older blog (or video)  I explained how to import those actions in any project using External Library. Download the project from this link:

SA_Library

Workflow

Step 0: Next buttons

Add the Next button to each slide, and hide it in output. I labeled them SB_Next_Earth; SB_Next_Safety, SB_Next_Alliance 

Step 1: import the shared actions to your project

  • Open the Library panel in your project. Scroll to the Shared actions subfolder.
  • Use File, Import, External Library and point to the downloaded project file. It will appear in a floating panel top left of your screen.
  • Find the Shared actions folder in that external library and select BOTH shared actions.
  • Drag them to the Shared actions folder in your project library. They will both appear with a usage of 0. But the variables used in those actions will now appear in the Variables dialog box (Project, Variables). 

You can watch this step in the video below as well.

Step 2: use VarsCreateForceTabs action as Reset action

  • Check the On Enter event for the Quick Start Project slide you want to use. In many case that will be the default action 'No Action'. If that is the case, apply the Shared action 'VarsCreateForceTabs' to the event. It will need only one parameter: the number of tabs. 
  • If the On Enter event triggered another action than 'No action', screen that action. In many cases it is a superfluous action. One example is the 'Horizontal Tabs' layout in the Business project. It has an On Enter action to reset states to the Normal state, but that action is not needed since such a reset happens automatically when you re-enter the slide. Reason: the option Retain State on revisiting slide is unchecked.
  • If the existing On Enter action has to be done, you need to use the Shared action as template to create an advanced action. In that advanced action you'll need to add the existing action, which can be done by copy/paste eventually on a new decision tab. In the available Quick Start Projects the On Enter actions are never conditional. 
  • Using the described workflow, the Next button will remain visible when the slide is revisited. That is mostly the required situation: only on a first visit clicking all the tabs is required to get the Next button, but later on that is no longer the case.

Second step is also shown in this video clip:

Step 3: use ForceTabs as template for Tab action

  • Select a Tab button on the slide. In the following screenshots I selected the first button on the slide from Earth, which will have the name C2R37_BTN_xx  (xx will be a number added by Captivate to make the name unique).
  • Check its action in the Properties panel, Actions. Open that action in the Advanced Actions dialog box.  For all the ready-to-go slides with a similar Tabs interaction, those actions always have one standard decision. No IF conditional decisions, nor While loops
  • Select all the commands in that action, copy them to the clipboard (Edit menu, right-click menu or with CTRL-C).
  • Open the shared action 'ForceTabs' from the dropdown list top left (starts with Blank). You'll need to fill in the two parameters in the dropdown lists. First parameter which appears in the two first decisions is the tracking variable. Second parameter in this case is the Next button, which was hidden in output. A Preview of such a filled in shared action is visible in this screenshot, created for the first tab button in the slide taken from the Earth QSP:
  • Return to the first decision 'Always', on the second line (after the 'Increment' command), paste the commands copied to the clipboard (CTRL-C or from the menu).  Save the advanced action with a unique name. For that same tab button as the previous screenshot, this would result in:
  • Assign the new advanced action (in the example SB1_Earth_act) to the tab tutton.

You will need to repeat this third step for each of the tab buttons. Eventually you could also duplicate the advanced action for the first tab, and edit the duplicates. Do not forget to copy the commands from the original advanced action on the tab to the first decision 'Always' after the Increment command. In that scenario, only the first parameter (tracking variable) needs to be edited, but in the first AND the second decision. If you start from the shared action as template you need to define that parameter only once. However you don't need to edit the last decision, because the Next button will be the same for all the tab buttons if you work with duplicate advanced actions.

Here is the video clip for the third step:

Conclusion

Although this blog was meant in the first place to answer a forum question, I had a hidden agenda (a badass?):

  • Using shared actions as template
  • Using shared actions to avoid creating variables over and over again
  • Combining existing advanced actions with filled in shared actions
  • Understanding and extending the use of Ready-to-go slides from the Quick Start Projects.


Custom MCQ slide with multiple correct answers

Why?

Recently a user posted a request on the Adobe forums, asking for a Multiple Choice question to be used as Knowledge Check, but with possibility of multiple combinations of answers to be correct. Here is the link:

MCQ with more than one correct answer

Example project

I used some slides from the QSP Alliance to create quickly this example project.  It has 3 MCQ slides which are using the same shared actions. For the answers I used placeholder text, so that you can recognize the 'correct' and 'wrong' answers. All questions have 6 possible answers but the workflow is not limited to that specific number of answers. The total number of correct and wrong answers is different on each slide, workflow is flexible enough to cope with those differences. Answer is considered to be correct when no wrong answers are selected and at least one correct answer is chosen. But multiple correct answers are allowed as well. It would be very easy to add scores to the MCQ slides. At this moment they are set up as Knowledge Check slides, with Infinite attempts. You cannot proceed to the next question before having posted a correct answer.

You can watch this project using this link for a scalable version, or the fixed resolution embedded version below:



Workflow Setup

Slide setup/Multistate objects

Have a look at this Timeline screenshot of the most important objects on the MCQ slides:

From bottom to top you see 

  • The 6 shapes (black) which are used as shape buttons, who will trigger either a CorrectAct or a WrongAct shared action. Their names start with SB. They have an extra custom state 'Checked' to indicate when they are chosen:
  • The Submit button. Each slide has its Submit button. A custom 'Retry' was added to replace the Normal state for later attempts than the first attempt. The option 'Retain State on Slide Revisit remained unchecked.
  • A multistate shape SS_Message which has an empty Normal state, two custom states (see screenshot). This object is timed for the rest of the project (and hidden on the End slide with its On Enter action). The option 'Retain State on Slide Revisit remained unchecked.
  • The Next button SB_Next which is also timed for the rest of the project (and hidden on the End slide with its On Enter action).

Variables and events

8 user variables are used:

  • Six tracking variables of the Boolean type, labeled v_1, v_2.....v_6 - one for each possible answer. Their default value is 0, will be toggled to 1 when that answer is chosen. 
  • Two counter variables v_correct and v_wrong which will track the Correct and Wrong answers which are checked.

The used events are:

  • Enter slide event for each MCQ slide, for a reset action 'EnterAct'. 
  • Success event of the answer shape buttons SB_x to trigger either the 'CorrectAct' or the 'WrongAct', which are both shared actions.
  • Success event of the Submit buttons to trigger a specific advanced action 'SubmitActx'.
  • Enter slide event of the End slide to hide the messages shape SS_Message and the Next button. That Next button kept the default action 'Go to Next Slide'.

Actions

EnterAct

This Reset advanced action is triggered On Enter for each MCQ slide, it is self-explanatory. I used an advanced action in this case, based on a shared action CreateVars, which I use all the time to create a bunch of variables. 

CorrectAct (shared action)

This shared action is triggered by the Success events of the answer shape buttons which have the correct answers. Only two parameters are needed: the button itself and its tracking variable. As you may have read in my Tips about Parameters using numbers in the names makes the assignment of the parameters a lot easier:

WrongAct (shared action)

Similar to the previous action, using the same two parameters:

As you may know both shared actions appear in the project Library, easy to check with Usage if they have been assigned correctly:

SubmitActx

Due to the change state needed for this button, there is an individual advanced action for each Submit button:

EnterEnd

A very simple advanced action for the On Enter slide event of the last slide, to hide the Next button and the multistate Message shape, both were set till the end of the project.




Tip 5: Parameters (Shared Actions)

Intro

First 4 tips in this series were valid for both Advanced and Shared actions. 

This blog is only for Shared actions, which are still not very popular amongst the Captivate developers. In my workshop at the Adobe eLearning World Conference I have demonstrated their power, even for unexpected uses. For each action I develop in my projects I always take a little time to reflect on this question 'Will this be useful as Shared action'? Result is that more than half of my actions end up to be Shared, not Advanced actions. My Libraries with useful shared actions are growing all the time, and have saved me already many hours of work.

In this article I will focus on tips for choosing Parameters to make the shared actions as flexible as possible. When saving an action as Shared action, you get a dialog box where compulsory and candidate parameters will appear:

  • Compulsory parameters: include all objects, audio clips, states... which you have in the advanced action dialog box, with the exception of literals and variables. You recognize them by the appearance of a yellow exclamation sign. When you add a description to such a line and indicate something as placeholder for the parameter the yellow sign is replaced by a green checkmark.
  • Candidate parameters: are the literals and variables which you find in a condition, or in commands like Increment. They get a green checkmark, but by using the checkbox you can convert them to parameters as well. 

Here is a screenshot of the dialog box for a toggle button. You'll see the compulsory and candidate parameters.  Description for the compulsory parameters has not yet been typed:

General Tips

Using several instances of one shared action to replace duplicate advanced actions leads normally to smoother projects, less risk of choking Captivate and even lower file size. However it is important to keep the number of parameters to assign on each instance not too high. Personally my goal is to have a maximum of 6-7 parameters. If you really need more of them, but appreciate the ease of transferring shared actions to new projects, remember that you can use each shared action as template for advanced actions. You can use that knowledge to create duplicate advanced actions if the number of parameters is too high. Labeling (see Tip 1) remains very important as well, because of the filtering (Tip 2) which is possible in the dropdown lists for parameters. You'll find some more tips below for the two types of parameters.

Compulsory parameters

Depending on the action using those parameters, they are either very specific (only one type) or they can be flexible and cover more than one type. Examples:

Show/Hide actions: they can aim at lot of object types. All graphics (bitmap or SVG), video, but also audio objects (invisible objects which have audio attached), learning interactions, but also Groups! These are probably the most flexible actions, and you may consider to replace a multistate object approach by Show/Hide for that reason.

Change State: not so flexible, they need always two parameters which are the multistate object and the state. Whenever possible try to use 

Go to Next State/Go to Previous State: you only need the multistate object as parameter

Assign can be used with 0, 1 or 2 parameters. You need 0 parameters if using two variables which are not defined as parameters, 1 if you have a literal which is no parameter or one variable defined as parameter, 2 if you have both literals/variables defined as parameters. 

Toggle: can only be used for Boolean variables, better choice than Assign because you have 0 or 1 parameter (the variable which could be defined as parameter).

Play Audio: needs an audio clip as parameter.

Apply Effect: only the object or group to which you want to apply the effect can be a parameter, not the effect itself. In most cases you'll want to use a custom effect to have the correct setup parameters.

Candidate parameters

Candidate parameters are variables and literals.  They appear in conditions, both for IF and WHILE setup, but also in the commands Assign, Increment, Decrement, Expression. 

Variables

If a variable in a shared action is not defined as a parameter, it will automatically be created when you import the shared action to a new project, including its Default value and description. One of the shared actions in my actions library is meant to avoid having to create much used variables in new projects. See this screenshot:

I also use that action as template for the many Reset actions needed On Enter for slides.

When you define a variable as parameter, this automatic creation will not happen!

Before defining a variable as parameter, you need to check if that variable is used multiple times in the action. Know that when assigning a variable to the parameter, it will replace that variable wherever it has been used in the action. I will try to explain by an example. If you ever created an advanced action for 'Forced View', where the appearance of a Next button is postponed until all clickable objects on the slide have been used at least once, this action for the first clickable object will look familiar:

In this project, the first clickable object is SV_Decision.  That object has a custom state showing Info, and acts as a toggle button. On a second click the Normal state will re-appear. Its tracking variable is v_1, a Boolean, which will get the value 1 on each click. On the slide 4 of those buttons need to be clicked.  For the three other buttons both the name of the button and the tracking variable need to be edited in a duplicate advanced action. The second decision checks the 4 tracking variables, shows the Next button if all have the value 1.

In this setup you cannot convert this action to a shared action. It would need 3 parameters:  the Next button, the button itself and the tracking variable. But if you replace the first variable by the second variable, that will also happen in the second decision, thus leading to a non-functional second decision where only 3 variables are checked. Have a look at this action:

In this action 2 extra variables are used:

  • v_counter: will be incremented only on the first click; that makes the third checking decision easier, and the tracking variable v_1 which appears twice can be replaced by any other tracking variable.
  • v_max: instead of the literal '4' this new variable makes the action more flexible. It can be used for any number of clickable objects on the slide. The value of v_max (4 in this case) can be assigned either directly in the Variables dialog box, or with the On enter action of the slide. You could also define that variable as parameter if you prefer.

Literals

Be very careful with literals as parameters. My replacing it by a variable in the previous example gives you a possible workaround. Especially if you have multiple literals in an action, defining them as parameters can lead to issues.  Look at this variant on the same situation described above:

It could be possible to define the value '4' in the last decision as a parameter, so that you can use the action for any number of clickable objects (alternative for the variable v_max). However, if you should define the '1' as parameter, changing it in an instance of a shared action would lead to changing it in 3 locations of the action! 

My recommendation: avoid defining literals as parameters!




Tip 4: Decisions (Advanced/Shared Actions)

Intro: Decision (tab)

The Advanced Actions dialog box in its default setup for a new action, shows  3 decisions with the generic names 'Untitled-1', 'Untitled-2' and 'Untitled-3'.It is possible to replace the generic names of course. In this screenshot they are marked by a red rounded rectangle. 

On top of the decisions to the left you see three buttons, which allow to Add decisions, Remove or Duplicate a decision.  There is no real limit to the number of decisions within one advanced/shared action. 

In the center above the decision names you find two buttons (blue rounded rectangle in screenshot above) which allow to change the sequence of the decisions by moving them to the right or to the left. That sequence is very important! First rule to remember when starting with Advanced/shared actions:

"All commands (actions) within an Advanced or Shared actions are always executed when the action is triggered. They are done always in the same sequence: top to bottom within a decision, left to right in the decision sequence."

Workflows which exist in most programming language to skip part of a long script do not exist. Forgetting about this first rule often leads to logical bugs!

Each decision can be converted into a conditional one by checking the option 'Conditional tab'. The word 'tab' is used there, but I largely prefer the original name 'decision' because Captivate has tabs in many locations, not only in the Advanced Actions dialog box. For a conditional decision, you have the choice between the classical 'IF-THEN-ELSE' which has two sets of commands (THEN, ELSE). One set be will chosen based on the result of the condition.
The WHILE condition leads to an infinite or finite loop. The set of commands will be executed after 1 second, based on the condition:
I would like to offer some tips now both to avoid problems and to streamline the choice of decisions taking into account the limitations mentioned before.

Tip 1: Combining standard and conditional decisions

This tip is based on my experiences with consultancy jobs and answering on the forums.

When starting to create advanced actions it often happens that too much commands are pushed into one conditional decision. I recommend to reflect: which of the commands (actions) have to be done independently of the condition? Those commands will appear in both  THEN and ELSE sections. In that case, take them out and put them in a separate non-conditional decision. 

Same recommendation when using multiple conditional decisions, if some commands appear in all of those conditions.

Example

This scenario appeared several times for debugging on the forums: 'Looping through a number of images  with their text, and showing a Next button after the first loop'.  The loop in this example is done with show/hide, not with a multistate object (which is easier however). Look at the original advanced action, meant for 3 images:

The second/third image and text are hidden in Output. The first image and text are visible. The result of this action is that the loop will not work, that each click on the button will always show the third image, while the counter will indeed loop and the Next button will appear as wanted. Reason is that the last conditional decision overrides the other decisions. Compare this with this solution:

In this action:

  • Texts and Images were grouped, to allow taking out the Hide actions from the conditional decisions.
  • A non-conditional decision was added before the conditional ones to hide the groups before the showing the text/image corresponding with a specific variable value. Moreover the (absolute) Assign command was replaced by Increment.
  • The conditional decisions show text, image. The last one needs also to show the Next button and reset the counter to its original value, which is 0. In that case you need Assign of course.


Tip 2: Multiple conditional decisions - make them mutually exclusive

When you have multiple conditions decisions in sequence (remember the sequence rule), avoid using the ELSE parts. You'll have less possible problems when using only the THEN part and write a conditional decision for each possible situation. If you use the THEN parts, there is a big chance that a later decision will overrule what has been done in the previous ones.

Eventually it is possible to use an ELSE part, but only for the last decision. You need to double-check if that THEN part will not mess up with previous decisions.

Example:

Using the same situation as for the first tip, there is no way to use the ELSE part of the decision 'Second' to replace the decision 'Third'.  The complete action would then look like this:

The result would be that the First decision would never be done, the second image/text never pops up and the Next button will appear after having viewed only the first and third image.


Tip 3: working with Tracking Variables

The first tip already showed how dangerous it is to change the value of a tracking variable within a conditional decision, if you have more than one of those decisions. In most cases it is safer to keep the value change in a non-conditional decision. You are probably aware of the three ways to attribute or change the value of a variable:

  • Assign: which I label as the 'absolute' way, and is valid for both strings and numerical values.
  • Increment/Decrement: often used when you also need a counter.
  • Toggle: typical for a Boolean variable, which is used for an On/Off situation. 

Here are two situations where you will need to have the variable value change within both parts of a conditional action (THEN and ELSE):

3.1 Toggle button action

Such an action will often have only one conditional decision and uses a Boolean variable for tracking. Have a look at this script, which will show/hide an object:

3.2 Non-eternal loop (WHILE)

Such a loop needs to have a way to stop looping. That is done with a tracking variable which needs to be changed within the actions which need repetition. Here is an example from a dice game. The dice number (random) is stored in a variable, and another variable stores the number of stairs which need to be climbed. The screenshots shows only the While decision of the action.




Tip 3: Show/Hide or Multistate object? (Advanced/Shared actions)

Intro

When talking about Advanced/Shared actions most developers think immediately about rather complicated scripts, with conditional branching. However the first reason to start using those actions replacing simple actions (from the dropdown list under the Actions tab) is that the commands have less restrictions when used in advanced/shared actions. Typical examples:
  • Show/Hide commands: when using those in a simple action you can only address objects residing on the same slide as the action. It doesn't matter which event you use as trigger: Success event of a button, On Enter event of the slide. That is not the case when using those commands IN an advanced/shared action.
  • State commands: are also restricted in a similar way. You can only point to multistate objects on the same slide. Another limitation which disappears when used IN advanced/shared actions.
  • Jump to slide command: when used as simple action it is impossible to point to the same slide as where the action is triggered. That is a show stopper when trying to Replay a slide. See the blog Replay/Reset Slide.

This blog will focus on the two first command groups. Although they are both used often for Click/Reveal actions, it is in a branching scenario, with a dashboard branching to chapters that the extended commands are especially useful.

Due to being able to access objects on other slides than the active slide, the dropdown lists can become very long. That is the reason why my first two tips were about Filtering and Labeling of course. 

In most courses the learner will be allowed to revisit slides. To allow that it is important to include that situation when setting up actions. 

Dashboard Setup

Situations

  1. The dashboard or menu slide has interactive objects - mostly buttons - branching to the different chapters in the course. 
  2. On the last slide of each chapter another interactive object will navigate back to the dashboard slide.
  3. The progress is made clear to the learner by adding an indicator to the dashboard slide for completed chapter. That indicator can be a checkmark, a different look to the chapter button, a progress bar... 
  4. Tracking full completion of the course is often required. After having taken all the chapters something will occur: a new button appears, navigation to a congratulations or recommendations slide,...

Show/Hide workflow

Add the checkmarks (or other objects) to the Dashboard slide, and hide them in output (eye button on Properties panel). Label them with a referenced to the chapter they belong to. I will use Check1, Check2, Check3....

Use these events and actions:

  • Buttons on the Dashboard slide (Success event) need a simple action 'Jump to....' pointing to the first slide of each chapter. Do NOT create a Visited state for those buttons, because such a state will appear immediately after the button has been clicked, not after finishing a chapter. This refers to situation 1.
  • Return button on the last slide of each chapter t(Success event). That will need an advanced or shared action with these commands:
       Assign v_1 with 1                                a Boolean user variable will be set to 1 to track completion of chapter (situation 4)
       
    Show Check1                                      to make the previously hidden checkmark visible (situation 3)
       
    Jump to Dashboard                             situation 2
    A similar action is needed for each return button. If you choose a shared action, the tracking variable (v_1), checkmark (Check1) and Dashboard slide will be the parameters.
  • On Enter event of the Dashboard slide will need a conditional action to complete situation 4:
       IF v_1 is equal to 1 AND
           v_2 is equal to 1 AND
           v_3 is equal to 1 ....
        DO.....                                               whatever you want to happen when all chapters are done at least once.
    This example is for a dashboard with 3 buttons/chapters. You can of course extend this for any amount of chapters.

This is the easiest setup, better than having a much more complicated script On Enter for the dashboard slide, which will check all chapters. I often see that still appearing during consultancy jobs.

If you want to allow resetting the dashboard slide (taking out checkmarks and toggling the tracking variables back to 0) during one  session, start by grouping the checkmarks in Gr_Checks. Use this action for the Reset button:
                 Hide Gr_Checks
                 Assign v_1 with 0
                 Assign v_2 with 0  
                 Assign v_3 with 0
                 Hide.....                      whatever you had popping up after course completion

Multistate object workflow

Add a custom state to each button on the dashboard slide, which includes the checkmark and eventually has a different style forr the button. Make sure to check the option 'Retain state on slide revisit'.

The same events are used as in the Show/Hide workflow. Even the same actions, except for the Return button on the last slide of each chapter:

  • Buttons on the Dashboard slide (Success event) same as in Show/Hide (situation 1).
  • Return button on the last slide of each chapter t(Success event). That will need an advanced or shared action with these commands:
       Assign v_1 with 1                                a Boolean user variable will be set to 1 to track completion of chapter (situation 4)
     
    Change state of Button1 to Done       to show the custom state (situation 3)
       
    Jump to Dashboard                            situation 2
    A similar action is needed for each return button. If you choose a shared action, the tracking variable (v_1), state (Done)/button (Button1) and Dashboard slide will be the parameters.
  • On Enter event of the Dashboard slide: same as for Show/Hide (situation 4)

If you need to reset the dashboard slide within the same session, the Reset button action will be bit longer:
                 Change state of Button1 to Normal
                 Change state of Button2 to Normal
                 Change state of Button3 to Normal
                 Assign v_1 with 0
                 Assign v_2 with 0 
                 Assign v_3 with 0
                 Hide.....                      whatever you had popping up after course completion


Next?

The choice of decisions, and its sequence are very important when creating advanced/shared actions. It will be the topic of the next tip.

Embed Software Simulations (Knockout slide)

Intro

Over 10 years ago I posted a blog 'Create/Use a Knockout Master slide'. At that moment SWF was the only way to publish a Captivate project, and in versions 5 and 5.5 Themes were not ‘grown up’ yet to their present power. Meanwhile I have pointed many users to that old article, and many claimed it was still useful. However time to clarify the slight differences and offer updated tips., Of course I will use a HTML example. 

Example Tutorial: 'Shared actions as Template'

This is a Captivate tutorial explaining how you can use a Shared action to create variables and as template for advanced actions. There are two versions. Here is a screenshot showing the difference in sim slides between version 1 (Full-size) and 2 (Embedded)

Version 1: Default software simulation

Personally I never use a software simulation in Demo mode, because it is better replaced by a Video Demo for its quality and advanced editor. I created a Training simulation, meant to learn about this Captivate topic. The UI of Captivate is rather complicated, hence my choice of a resolution 1600x900px. The ratio is important, here the common 16:9. In the limited space here, I don't want to embed the simulation because that would be almost useless. I published it as a HTML rescalable project. You can watch it using this link:

Full-size tutorial

In this first version, instructions are given using Audio. The captured Backgrounds (see Library) are filling the slides. Although this tutorial is rescalable, you will realize that using this on the limited space of a smartphone with a phone browser is not appropriate. It may be used on tablets (no incompaté:ible features), but the preferred devices are laptop/desktop. 

Version 2: Embedded in a content slide

I used the workflow explained below to create a second version, where the software sim slides are rescaled and embedded in content slides (1280x720px). On those slides there is space for a logo and more. The narration was replaced by text instrutions on the same slide as the software sim. Published project is also rescalable HTML. Even a tablet will probably be impractial in this version. Use this link:

Embedded tutorial


Setup for Embedded sim slides

For this example the simulation slides need to be embedded in a project  with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. The captured slides were created with a resolution of 1600x900pixels, which is larger than the final resolution.  

To embed the sim slides, they need to be rescaled. If the original simulation slides have the correct resolution ready for embedding, you can skip Step 0.

Step 0 in Captivate (only if captured resolution is not correct)

Rescaling the software simulation to 2/3, which leads to a resolution of 1066x600px. You choose the resolution needed for your project, but keep 'Maintain Aspect Ratio' and 'Rescale all objects'.  Those are the default settings.

Step 1 (in Photoshop or other app) – create the Knockout image

In Photoshop I created images on two layers: the first one (FullTexture' will be used for normal content slides, the second one is the 'Knockout' image which has a transparent part.  Size of the file is same as the end resolution (1280×720). I used one of the provided textures in Photoshop as Fill. In the second layer I deleted a rectangle of 1066x600px to create a ‘knockout’ part in which the sim slides would fit. You see the size of the margins (with texture) in the screenshot: to the left – a vertical bar with a width of 200pixels, to the right one with a width of 14px; at the top another with a height of 90 pixels and a the bottom a bar with a height of 30 pixels. 

You can import the Photoshop file, and will have both layers as PNG images. See 'Roundtripping with Photoshop'.
You can use another graphics application if you cannot use Photoshop. You could also create a freeform filled shape in Captivate, start with the hexagon, which has 6 points.

Step 2 (in Captivate) 

Some maths to start with:
  1. calculate the difference between the widths of the vertical bars:     200 – 14 = 186 pixels
  2. new width project will be 1066 + 186 = 1252 pixels
  3. calculate the difference between the heights of the horizontal bars:   90 – 30 = 60 pixels
  4. new height project will be 600+ 60 = 660 pixels
Rescale the project using these settings:
  • deselect ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ and introduce the new dimensions
  • under ‘New Size is Larger’, select ‘Keep project the same size and position project Bottom Right; I choose this because the bottom bar and the right bar have the smallest dimension; you can choose another option if your smallest margins are elsewhere.

The result will look like this:


Step 3 (in Captivate)

 Rescale now to the final size, for this example to 1280x720 pixels, with settings:
  •  deselect ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ and introduce the final dimensions
  • under ‘New Size is Larger’, select ‘Keep project the same size and position project Center

After this rescale of the project it will look like this:

Step 4 (in Captivate): Master slides

 In the original blog post it was possible to create a master slide which is partially transparent, but that is no longer possible in the present versions with the Themes (new since Captivate 6).  Here is the master slide panel, where you see some master slides of the custom Theme 'Knockout' which I created:

I used the two imported PNGs from the Photoshop file to create:

  1. The Main master slide, where the FullTexture image is set as background image. You see the setup in the Properties panel:
  2. Based on that Main master slide, I created some content master slides. You see acouple of them in the master slide panel above (Title, Light). The Blank master slide always has to remain Blank, it is not using the Main master slide.
  3. The Knockout master slide. You cannot use the KnockoutTexture image as was done in the Main master slide, it needs to be a separate image as you can see in the Timeline and in the Properties panel. I added some objects and placeholders:

Step 5: Apply Knockout to simulation slides

Up till now the simulation slides used the Blank master slide. Change the master slide to the Knockout Master slide. It is very important that you do NOT check the option 'Master slide objects on top', because you'll lose the textured parts of the image.





Replay/Reset slide 2 (Captivate tutorial)

Intro

Recently I published a blog about what seems to be 'hot' topic: how to replay a slide, how to reset a slide. That blog didn't include an example file.

When coaching a training I often use Captivate tutorials, more than videos. This particular topic needs such an interactive approach, to allow to experiment, to get a 'feeling' of the difference between Replay and Reset (with or without an On Enter action). For learners I provide the cptx-file. Here I will only share the HTML5 published output. 

You will see that I borrowed design elements from the Quick Start Project 'Safety'. The interactions were created from scratch.

Content and Tools

After a short rehearsal of terminology and the step-by-step workflows you'll be able to see 4 different examples:

  • Slide 5  which is only based on the Timeline: staggered objects and effects. 
    The info button will show you the Timeline and a relevant part of the Advanced Interaction panel
    This slide is followed by a T/F quiz slide to check your observations.
  • Slide 7: click/reveal slide, using multistate objects. The info button shows you the same information as for slide 5
    This slide is followed by a MCQ slide with multiple correct answers, to check what you learned.
    Both quiz slides are Knowledge Check slides. If you want to cheat you can go back to the previous slide. Navigation by TOC is also possible. The TOC is in overlay mode.
  • Slide 9 : flipcard slide (with thanks to the QSP Alliance). Rather simple but worth seeing the difference between Replay and Reset.
  • Slide 10: Drag&Drop slide set up as Knowledge Check slide.

You may detect several techniques like Forced view, which need using some user variables. Quiz slides do not use the default two-step Submit process, but show a Continue button when the Submit button has been clicked. 


Tutorial

You can watch the embedded version, or use this link to play a scalable version. I recommend to use the link. The embedded version seems to have long loading times. 



Animations?

You may have missed animations in the tutorial. There is a reason. While it used to be possible to Reset an animation, that feature is broken in the version 11.5.1. At least for the animated GIF which I created. I have already been searching since a couple of weeks for a workaround without success. I will create an OAM as well, to check if has the same issues. Too bad, it was a fun animation:

Replay or Reset slide?

Update

For a hands-on experience, have a look at the recent post with a Captivate tutorial about this topic.

Replay/Reset Slide tutorial

Intro

A frequently visited post on my blog is ‘Replay (slide) button‘, which was published 5 years ago. Such a button is not available out of the box in Captivate.  In that blog I explain two possible scenarios. The second scenario will be close to what is explained in this new post as a 'Reset' scenario. Since some features have changed, time to refresh. I will focus here more in-depth on the difference between Replay and Reset.

Companion tutorial:  to make this textual post more 'visible', I created a Captivate tutorial, which allows you to explore the difference between Replay and Reset (with or without On Enter action) on several examples. It can also be considered a summary of this blog, since the content slides (and assessment slides) treat this topic Replay/Reset. This is the link:

Replay slide

Many years before I already posted a simple way to replay a slide as well, and often I see users still using this two-line advanced action (which could also be a perfect Shared action, without any parameter):

Expression cpCmndGotoSlide = cpInfoCurrentSlide – 1
Continue

Whether you need the command Continue depends on the setup of the slide. If you leave it out, the play head will remain paused at at the first frame of the slide.

The advanced/shared action is essentially a translation from a still older action. , where more system variables starting with ‘rd’ existed, allowing a simple action instead of the one shown above. Reason: besides the cpInfoCurrentSlide, there was a second system variable rdInfoCurrentSlide. The first one was meant only to show the slide number, and for that reason starts its index with 1. The rd variable, like most system variables, starts its index with 0. , The simple action was:

Assign cpCmndGotoSlide with rdInfoCurrentSlide

Common misunderstanding is that this action will also ‘reset’ the slide which is NOT the case unless for very simple slides. Main reason: the play head never ‘re-enters’ the slide. Re-entering the slide is necessary to restore the original situation, either automatically, and/or by having an On Enter action being done again.

Reset slide

Hope we use the same terminology. Reset slide to me is to restore the slide to the situation it had when you first entered the slide.  During the first visit of the slide lot can have been changed. Here is a not exhaustive list:

  • Some object, originally hidden are now visible, or the reverse situation: originally visible, now hidden.
  • Multi-state objects were changed to another state, both custom state or InBuilt state (think about the Visited state of a button).
  • Effects have been applied to objects or groups, which can have those objects being in a different location if the effect included a motion path.
  • Knowledge Check slides have been answered. I will not talk about regular question slides, because those cannot be reset on slide level, only on Quiz level
  • Drag&Drop slides set up as Knowledge Check slides have been answered. Same restriction for D&D slides setup as scored questions (quiz level needed). I hear you! You can add a Reset button to a D&D slide, indeed, but that will not reset everything if you used Object Actions.

Essential for resetting is to re-enter the slide, to have the playhead revisit the On Enter slide event. For some of the described items that will be sufficient, for others it will be necessary to add an action On Enter. I demonstrated this situation in the recent presentation at Adobe eLearning World. You can find the recording still online in this portal. I will explain how to re-enter the slide (2 workflows).

Re-enter Slide (workflows)

Two workflows are possible (explained only the second one in the old post, but it has failed at least in one of the more recent releases and pushed me at the first workflow):

Dummy slide

Easy workflow, step-by-step:

  • Insert a duplicate of the present slide before the present slide
  • Take out all interactive objects of that slide, it should not have pausing points.
  • If there is an On Enter action, delete it and get back to ‘No action’ or ‘Continue’ (same result)
  • Reduce its duration to 0.1 secs which is the shorted possible duration.
  • Attach this  action to the Reset/Replay button:

Go to Previous slide

The play head will rewind to the dummy slide and since it is so short almost immediately (re)enters the present slide.

Drawback: you increase the number of slides. That may be annoying if you show the number of slides (cpInfoSlideCount) and/or if you use the TOC (where you’ll have to hide the dummy slides). I started using this approach in a version where micro-navigation had problems in HTML5 oiutput.

Tip: to avoid annoying flickering in case of low bandwidth, prefer a similar look for the dummy slide as for the present slide. I mostly use a duplicate, taking out all interactive objects and actions.

Micro-navigation

It is bit more complex but avoids adding slides. Workflow:

  • Create a user variable v_start. It will be used to store the first frame of the slide.
  • Use the On Enter slide event for this command (eventually to be combined with other commands) 
         Assign v_start with cpInfoCurrentFrame
  • For the Replay button use this command:
         Expression cpCmndGotoFrameAndResume = v_start – 1
    The play head will rewind to the frame before the start frame of the slide, which is the last frame of the previous slide. Due to ‘Resume’ in this system variable of the Movie Control category, the play head will continue and re-enter the slide immediately.
    It may prove necessary to increase the '1' to 2 or 3 if you don't get the expected result. It is possible that the value of the first frame is one or two frames wrong. In most cases however it works fine.

The variable and the actions can be reused on all slides.

What is reset?

As mentioned before, some items will reset automatically when re-entering the slide by one of the described workflows. Here a non-exhaustive list from my experience:

  • Multistate objects: if you keep the default setup where ‘Retain state on slide revisit’ remains unchecked. The normal state will re-appear as in the first visit of the slide. I have some blogs around which use that as an alternative for a Show/Hide scenario.  Drawback: if you use the InBuilt state ‘Visited’ it will also disappear in this situation.
  • Knowledge Check slides:  will be completely reset, ready for a new attempt. 
  • Drag&Drop slides: are completely reset, including eventually changes to objects due to Object actions. That is not the case with the generic Reset button which can be added to such a slide.
  • Effects: as you know they can be added with three types of triggers. The easiest one, based on timeline will not need a Reset action, will be reset with a simple Replay action. However both the button triggered Effects and Effects triggered by an advanced or shared action need to re-enter the slide to have them reset to their original situation.
  • Text Entry Boxes:  if you change the value of the associated variable, that change is never visible right away but will now be correct after re-entering. Same for the variables of learning interactions like checkbox and radiobuttons. Not really ‘reset’, more of a ‘refresh’.
  • Web objects: they will be reset to the first web page, which opens with indicated URL. If you use Replay that will not happen.
  • Animations like OAMs

What is NOT reset?

  • Multistate objects: if you check the option ‘Retain state on slide revisit’ for the object.
  • Hide/Show: items that have been shown or hidden during the Play head travel in the first visit will remain in that status.
  • Enable/Disable: if this command has been used for interactive objects, they will remain in that state. I showed this in the presentation ‘Deep dive with Shared and Advanced Actions’ at the Adobe eLearning world conference: if you disable all interactive objects, the pausing points disappear and nothing will stop the play head.
  • Variable values: they will not be reset to their original value.
  • Score: if you have scored objects on the slide, the total score including this score will not be decreased.

How do you reset these items: by creating or editing the On Enter action. That is beyond the scope of this shorter blog. You can see multiple examples in some slides of the Quick Start Projects, or on my blog including the sample project I added to the mentioned presentation. I include that project here as well. Check the On Enter actions (and the consequence of missing such an action on the first slide).

Look out for a Captivate tutorial to illustrate the difference for several of the mentioned items. It will be published soon on this blog.


Game: using JavaScript in a Shared action

Intro

Last week I presented at the Adobe eLearning World 2020 “Deep dive into Captivate with Advanced and Shared actions’. I had prepared 3 different scenarios, to be ready for any audience. Due to the poll before the session I decided to go for the ‘newbie’ scenario because the majority was new to Shared actions, and a considerable amount of attendees even to Advanced actions. That means that intermediate and advanced users were perhaps disappointed. To remediate I plan some blogs and examples as illustration. This is the first one.

Javascript and Shared actions

It is possible to have the command ‘Execute Javascript’ embedded in a shared action. When talking about games, randomization is mostly used but not a ready-to-go feature in Captivate. In the session I showed a very simple board game where the tossing of a dice is simulated, and the board cursor advances based on the result of the dice toss. That was realized with one shared action.

This game uses random numbers as well. It is a memory game which can be used in many variations due to the flexibility of shared actions, variables and multistate objects.

Game

You will learn about the game rules in the game. There is an easy and a more complicated way to play the 3 games. Hope you don’t keep only the easy one if you are in for some memory training:

Play with the rescalable version using this link or with the embedded (fixed resolution) version:

Have fun!