Unknown is Unloved (Flemish Proverb): Branching View

If you are a long-time user of Captivate you certainly know the Branching view as one of the "big three" (with Storyboard and Edit view). But I want to ask you just one question: if you upgraded to version 5: 
 "Did you explore the revamped Branching view - sorry, the Branching panel as it is officially called in the Help?"
 It is part of the Navigation workspace (see blog post about workspaces). Of course you can show this view using the Window menu or the shortcut key SHIFT-CTRL-ALT-B.

Similar to the global user interface, this new panel is quite different from the "old" version. It is up to you to discover its small but useful gems. I would like to help somehow in this exploration. Personally I do use this Branching view more specifically for more complex projects:
  • to look for orphaned slides (unlinked to other slides)
  • to check all links, including success and failure links
  • to label slides (undocumented feature)
  • to control logic of slide groups
  • to export to an image (documenting the project)

When opening Branching view, it will have the activate slide in focus. You will see only two panes: above the Main pane, where you will be able to do some editing, and beneath the 'Preview' pane which I would rather call the Navigation pane where you see which part is visible in the Main pane. You can easily move the orange rectangle in this small Navigation pane to go to another part of the project. In the top right corner you'll find a dropdown list and a slider to change the zoom percentage on the Main pane.

Please, open the hidden pane 'Unlinked slides' by using the arrow button left. This will also show the Legend pane, explaining the color code for the link arrows. A pure black arrow link means that the playhead is just moving on, there is no interactive object in the predecessor slide. Green and Red arrow links to sort from slides with interactive objects, could be linked with Success and Failure paths. Beware: if your are using a high resolution screen you will need to zoom in to see the difference between the colors of the arrows. However when a slide is selected, in focus, the sorting arrow will be enhanced (width increases). I add a screenshot of the Branching view with all panes expanded.

Discovering unlinked slides is very easy with the left most pane, a new and useful feature in CP5. In the screenshot you see that one slide is orphaned, has no links with any other slide.

The Branching view (panel) is dynamically linked with the Filmstrip and with the Slide Properties panel. Any editing in the Branching panel will be immediately reflected in Filmstrip/Properties and vice versa. I created a customized workspace 'MyNavigation workspace' in order to make the three of them visible. You will see this workspace in the added Captivate movie. You can dock the Branching view, and it will take then its minimum width or minimum height. When docked with the Filmstrip in the left station it will have its minimum width. When docked with the timeline in the bottom station it gets its minimum height. I just docked it in the middle, and it shrunk the stage to a tiny small vertical panel (width of my screen = 1600 pixels).  You do not really need the stage for the goals I described, since you can increase the size of the slide in focus by double-clicking it (in CP4 double-clicking a slide in Branching view did get you back to Edit view with that slide on the stage). To maximize the size of the Main Pane you can collapse both the Preview pane and the Unlinked slides pane.

Try double clicking the navigation arrows: you'll see which action is responsible for the navigation from or to that slide. 

I find it rather difficult to show the possibilities of the Branching view only with a blog text. That is why I have tried to create a Captivate movie (partially interactive). In this movie I tried to show
  • the navigation with the preview pane
  • the HUD (Heads Up Display) you will get when selecting a slide or double-clicking a navigation arrow
  • collapsing and expanding slide groups
  • detection of orphaned slides
  • labeling slides
  • changing navigation
  • exporting to an image
If you are creating complex projects, hope you will explore this Branching view. Feel free to let me know if you can appreciate its secrets?

Watch this movie:

2 responses
Great article ... as usual. I really need to plunge more into branching and see how we can get to that info from a widget perspective.
Thanks, Yves. Branching view is too undocumented, that is why I tried to explain its possiblities. And it is a great way to have an overview of your project. With a lot less restraint on number of slides in this version 5 you can end up with rather large, complex projects. Grouping slides and using this Branching helps a lot to solve hidden errrors like unlinked slides and navigation issues.