Learning Interactions and Audio

Why?

A question posted recently is at the base of this short post: “a way to stop the main slide audio when a tab on the interaction is clicked”. I pointed to an older blog where you can find some tips for using learning interactions, about their limitations etc. I want to explain why there is no simple solution for this question at all. The audio referred to in the question was slide audio, the used Learning interaction was Tabs. What I explain is also valid for Accordion and Timeline. As I explained in the mentioned blog post, the term ‘Learning Interactions’ was introduced to distinguish the widgets compatible with HTML5 output from the older ‘widgets’ which were created for SWF output. Both have however the same extension ‘wdgt’ and are sometimes both indicated as widget. Terminology can be confusing

Static and Interactive

It seems logical that Learning Interactions are interactive, because they allow the learner to click and interact, and they are listed under the Interactions big button. All have some  of interactions inside. However not all are also ‘Interactive object’ in  Capativate’s timeline. A Captivate interactive object means:

  • It has an Actions tab
  • Under the Actions tab you find up to two events (Success, Last Attempt)
  • A pausing point is automatically inserted at 1.5secs.

You all know the usual interactive objects: button, shape converted to button, Text Entry Box, click box. For those objects you’ll see the pausing point immediately on the slide timeline. Moreover the object timeline, when not selected will be green. Look at this screenshot, where I kept the original generic names to clarify the type of objects.

Learning Interactions are internally interactive but as objects in Captivate they also come in two flavors: static and interactive. You can recognize them also by the presence of the Actions tab, with the possibility of scoring and reporting. However the score in the game interactions have nothing to do with the results of the game (see article link in the Intro).

Interactive interactions can also be identified, based on the generic name in the Timeline panel. In this screenshot I have inserted two interactions: Tabs (static) and Jigsaw Puzzle (interactive). Look at the generic names:

However, if you look carefully you see that both interactions also have a colored timeline, but exactly the opposite of what you expect. Please, support me by logging this bug. You may also wonder about the presence of a pausing point? No pausing point for the interactions? The static interaction has indeed no pausing point, you need to add an interactive object like a button, to keep the slide paused and allow the learner to explore that static interaction. However the Interactive Interaction has a pausing point which is not showing in the Timeline panel, but you’ll find it in the Timing properties.

Audio Problem

The question was about avoiding having slide audio still playing when the user clicks one of the buttons in the Tabs interaction. That interaction allows  to add audio to a button, which is object audio.  Only object audio allows simultaneously playing of multiple audio clips, either from object audio or, in this case, slide audio. Pausing the slide audio, when a button is clicked in the Interaction would need access to the source code of the widget, which is not available. I can only propose two possible solution to avoid hearing two audio clips at the same time.  I will only explain the first solution in this article. The second solution, with a custom interaction will be explained in a later article.

Interaction available after Slide Audio

This is the easiest workflow. The learner would not be able to use the Interaction while the slide audio is playing. With a normal interactive object that would be easy: disable it for a certain time with and On Enter action for the slide and enable after a certain time corresponding with the audio length. However, even an Interactive Interaction cannot be disabled! You need a workaround.

Steps:

  1. Create a static image of the interaction, either using Captivate or another screen capture app like Snagit. Quality should be good to excellent.
  2. Resize that image to the exact size of the Interaction.
  3. Insert the image on the Timeline and time it for the duration of the slide audio.
  4. Move the learning interaction to appear just after the image.
  5. For a static interaction (like Tabs, Accordion….) you need to insert a button or click box to pause the slide. That is not necessary for an interactive Interaction.

Have a look at this screenshot of the Timeline, which illustrates the described steps:

The timelines from bottop to top:

  • Slide audio, about 3,5secs long
  • Tabs Interaction, starts at 3,4 seconds, extends till end of the slide
  • Image of the Tabs interaction, same location and size, starts from the first frame and ends at 3,8secs; overlap with the Interaction is meant to avoid seeing the transition
  • Click box – duration of the slide –  to pause the slide at its end; it could be a Next button as well.

Custom Interaction

Using shared actions, multistate objects, it is perfectly possible to recreate this interaction on a slide. At that moment you have full control over all objects. To avoid multiple audio clips playing at once, the easiest way is to use only audio started with ‘Play Audio’ command.  If you start a second audio with that command, the first one will be stopped automatically. For this example:

  1. Use Play Audio with the On Enter event to replace the slide audio.  That is possible if you don’t need Closed Captioning.
  2. Use Play Audio in the actions triggered by the Tabs buttons. Clicking the button will automatically stop the previous audio, whether it is the audio started On Enter, or the Audio started with another Tabs button. Object audio would also be possible, if you use the command ‘Stop Triggered Audio’ to stop the first audio clip started On Enter.

Do you want to see the setup for such a custom interaction? Let me know.

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Using Text Entry Boxes: Basics

Intro

There are several reasons why I felt need for this article. I watched a basic tutorial recently skipping a very important step and including a cumbersome unnecessary workflow. Lot of questions appear on social media including Adobe forums and eLearning community. Posts about Text Entry Boxes in my blog and were written for older versions. Time to translate everything to the most recent version (11.0.1.266 today) and for HTML output because there are minor differences. This article is very basic, meant for newbies, eventually for more advanced developers to refresh their memory.

Validated or Not

Text Entry Boxes are Interactive Objects. It may be a bit confusing since CP8 (change of UI) that you have to find them under the Text Button, not on the Interactions button. There are a couple of ways to recognize interactive objets:

  • Their timeline (when not selected) is green
  • In the Properties panel you have a tab Actions, allowing to trigger one or two actions
  • You can turn on Reporting in the Actions tab. A score attached to the objet (default = 1pt) can be added to the total quiz score.

Text Entry Boxes allow to let the learner enter text, which will be stored in an associated variable. This means that it the value can be used later on. It is one of the two interactive objects that will be automatically inserted when creating a software simultaion in Training or Assessment mode (the other object is the click box), whenever the learner is required to fill in a field. In Captivate tthe only other ways to allow learners to put in text is by using the Notes or the Scrolling Text Interactions.

Text Entry Boxes can be used in two ways:.

Not Validated

This is the default setup, learner can enter whatever he wants,  any entry is considered to be correct.

However you can restrain the characters that may be used by clicking the More Options button, and you can set the required number of characters as well. If you activate the option ‘Auto Submit’ it will be submitted when the lenght of the entry has been reached. You don’t need the Submit button in that case, can drag it out to the scratch area. If you don’t activate anything in More Options, all characters (numeric as well) will be accepted but that option will (strangely) not be checked.

Let us look at the Actions tab. As with quiz and Knowledge check slides, you have a Success action and – in case of limited attempts – a Last Attempt action. That is a bit confusing, because any answer is considered to be correct for a non-validated Text Entry Box.  and the cause for a question that pops up sometimes in the forums. There is only a Success event, which means the Success action will be done all the time. Look at an example from a recent question:

I offer 3 attempts to fill in a TEB, but it is only possible to enter once, the playhead moves on after the first submission‘.

Default Success action is set to Continue for a TEB.  This action will be executed after the first attempt, playhead moves on indeed. To avoid that, you could change the Success action to ‘No action’. Result: user will have to fill in the field three times, after the third submission the Last Attempt action will be done. Maybe not what you want?  An easy solution is to add a custom button ‘Next’ to move to the next slide for users who do not want to fill in the field 3 times.

There is no built-in functionality to check if anything has been typed in the field when the Submit button is clicked. You can use the workflow described in this post if you don’t want to end up with an empty variable.

Option ‘Reporting’ will be dimmed for a non-validated TEB, which is logical.
Sometimes ignored, but worth mentioning: if you expect to have a long text to be entered, please check the option ‘Show Scrollbar’. You can see it activated in the most recent screenshot.
The shortcut key is Enter, which is pretty common to confirm an entry in a form field. You can change it to TAB if you have mulltiple TEB’s on the slide.

Validated

A Text Entry Box is validated when you check that option.  WIth the selected TEB a HUD will appear to enter the possible correct answers using the + button.  It is recommended to put the By default the option ‘Case sensitive’ is not checked, but I did so in this screenshot:

Tip: you can resize the TEB, it is not necessary to put the longest entry on top as is the case for FIB quest

Because you have defined correct answers, the TEB has now two events: the Success event, and the Failure event if you have a limited number of attempts. Success action is only happening if a correct answer is given, the Last Attempt action after the last attempt if that was still a failure. Be sure to turn on the Success and Failure captions. There is no Retry message as you can have for quiz slides, nor multiple Failure messages. I have a workaround for that, but that is outside of the scope of this basic post.

A validated TEB can be scored, the score can be added to the Quiz total (will appear in the Advanced Interaction panel) and be reported. As I mentioned before, when creating a Software Simulation in Training or Assessment mode, you will see that reporting is turned on automatically.

Typical use case for validated TEB’s: use multiple TEB’s to create a custom Fill-in-the-Blank question, if you want to have each blank field to be scored individually. That is not possible with the default FIB quiz slide.

Associated Variable

A Text Entry Box needs a, associated variable to be functional. That is the reason why a generic variable is created automatically. It has the same name as the Text Entry Box, which is a bit confusing because the general ‘law’ in Captivate is never to reuse a name for a second item. However there is a very easy workflow to create and associate immediately a user variable with a more significant name. No need at all to open the Variables dialog box and create that user variable (as you can see in other tutorials). Follow these steps, after having inserted the Text Entry Box (validated or not):

  1. Click the X button next to the Variable field which currently contains the generic variable (in the screenshot it is “Text_Entry_Box_3”
  2. Type a name for the user variable. It will be created and associated with the TEB. In the screenshot: “v_name”
You can verify (not necessary) in the Variables dialog box. The original variable with the generic name is still there, but as you can see in the following image, no longer in use. If you are in spring cleaning mode you can safely delete it.

Displaying Variable

This is not specific for a TEB variable, but for all variables. More details in this post.

Do not type in the variable in a text container with the surrounding $$ but use the X button in the Properties panel (consistent, also X button). Not only do you avoid typos that way (variables are case sensitive) but you can check the number of characters that will be displayed. Default length is 50, but that may be too low, in which case you have to edit this length.

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Interactivity in Software Tutorials?

Intro

Whenever a comparison of eLearning authoring tools is published, Captivate still is considered to be the best tool for creation of software tutorials. That has been indeed the primary goal when Captivate was released many years ago. I have been choosing it many years ago (with version 1) for that feature as well. Too bad that most authors seem to forget that meanwhile it has become to most versatile authoring tool, and is probably more used for its other features (compliance training, scenario training to mention only a few).  It is much easier just to edit an old text than to explore all new features in depth. Sorry for my cynical attitude, had many discussions with authors over that type of articles. F

My first idea was to post this as a discussion, but in the past discussions didn’t have any success at all. Maybe a blog, explaining why I am wondering about the use of Captivate for the creation of software tutorials, explaining the three possible workflows with growing level of interactivity can lead to some feedback anyway.

Workflow 1:  Passive video with Video Demo

Creating a Video Demo leads to passive video output (mp4). The only control of the learner is using the control panel (play, pause…) , or eventually some added functionality (some provide bookmarking) by the platform it is deployed on. There are many alternatives to Captivate’s Video Demo. Presenter Video Xpress is an alternative, but I find the editor much too limited. The Video Demo editor allows a lot more, and you can also use it without webcam, which is impossible with Video Xpress. Camtasia (probably the best tool for this goal) and Snagit are also alternatives, but there are a lot more available.

Use case: perfect for quick demonstrations, which you can use to remember a workflow.

PLUS

  • It doesn’t take too much time to create, especially if you capture narration and video in one workflow and do not bother about much editing.
  • It can easily be published to a  platform like YouTube or Vimeo, reaching a wide public (for free); is also a disadvantage however because of the lack of curation which makes it difficult to find valuable videos in the ‘crowd’. As with most social media there is more ‘fake’ around than valuable stuff.
  • Integration in a website is very easy.
  • It can be used as standalone asset;  the viewer only needs a mp4 player which is available on each system.

MINUS

  • As mentioned above, how will you prove the value on platforms without curation?
  • It is a purely passive tutorial.
  • Viewers expect short videos.  For that reason, normally only one workflow will be presented without any alternatives, nor explanation of the reasons of the used steps. That makes it difficult for the learner to use it in similar but slightly different situations since there is no real ‘foundation’.

Examples

Here is a Video Demo, which will also be included as Interactive Video under Workflow 2

An old example (for versions before 9), one of my first Video Demo’s where I tried to give some in-depth explanation by intensive use of the Video Demo editor can be found on YouTube:

Simple/Standard action

Workflow 2: Interactive Video

This workflow uses the published result of a Video Demo as start for an Interactive Video. That allows you to add overlay content slides, KC slides and can also be combined in a cptx project with other content slides. I think about merging with 360 slides, real quiz slides, adding links to other assets etc. You publish to HMTL5 and have to upload the result to a webserver or LMS. It is a normal cptx project. You can use an embedded video file or refer to a published MP4 file on YouTube (and probably in next version also possible with Vimeo files). For the interactive video slides it is possible to create a menu for easy navigation. You can add branching to KC slides as remediation, either to parts of the video or to content slides outside of the video slide. Here is the link to an example file, which is created from the Video Demo file you have seen under Workflow 1:

Editing Characters with Photoshop

Use case: if you want to offer more in-depth explanation to the video tutorial, more control to the learner including KC checks with remediation.

PLUS

  • Less passive, since the learner can use bookmarks to review part of the slide, KC slides can lead to remediation etc.
  • With content overlay sides (and KC overlay slides) it is possible to offer in-depth information, possible alternatives, explanation why some steps in the video were done in that explicit way, etc
  • Since the result is the same output as from any cptx file, you can combine the interactive video slides with other content slides and/or quiz slides. Navigation between bookmarks in the interactive video and other content slides is very easy to set up.

MINUS

  • There is no platform like YouTube/Vimeo for interactive videos. Difficult to spread quickly to a wide public.
  • Embedding in a website takes more time. You cannot have a standalone version easy to distribute as is the case for pure video files.
  • Creation takes more time than for workflow 1

Workflow 3: Software simulations

I am only pointing to sims in Training or Assessment mode. I would never recommend to use the Demo mode to be published later on to MP4 because Video Demo offers much better quality. Although it is possible to publish to mp4, for those two modes this is not a real option since all interactivity would be lost.

Strangely this is the oldest workflow in Captivate, exists since I started to use it (Captivate 1) and even before when it was still labeled RoboDemo. Contrary to the video demo, this recording process leads to a slide-based cptx-file, which makes management and editing a lot easier. Replacing a draft audio file in a Video Demo can be a pain, but for software sims it is much easier to split the recording of the video part and the recording of the slide audio clips.

Software sims (Training/Assessment) use interactive objects to increase the level of interactivity: the learner has to perform actions, will not just ‘watch’ them done. Interactive objects can always be scored, and reported to a LMS. To my amazement, software sims with that scoring feature were largely appreciated by my former college students as self-assessments. They still didn’t like the real exams of course.

At this moment the biggest problem with software simulations are the slides which cannot be interactive because they show mouse movements/scrolling/dragging. At that moment FMR-slides (Full Motion Recording) are created. Those are SWF-based but will be converted to MP4 when publishing to HTML5. However that process is not working very well, and quality is not satisfactory. I tend to replace those FMR slides by  Video Demo slides. That makes the smooth recording workflow a lot more time consuming.

Use Case: most interactive tutorial, engages the learner better than the other workflows. Almost no limitations for remediation since all types of actions can be used.

PLUS

  • Still highest level of interactivity, both for Training and assessment mode.
  • All features of cptx-files are available.
  • Automatic adding of feedback messages, scoring possible, reporting to LMS with or without more quiz slides or scored objects
  • Easier management and editing due to slide-based approach
  • Audio clips can be added and synchronized later on, need not to be done during the ‘video’ part of the capture.

MINUS

  • Can be more time consuming although with good preparation lot is already automatic.
  • Similar to Workflow 2: need to use a webserver or a LMS, no distribution on platforms like YouTube/Vimeo
  • Standalone version (exe): not sure what the future will be when Flash Player has died
  • Cumbersome workflow if replacing FMR slides by Video Demo slides.

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Quiz Tweak 4: Submit Process

Intro

Probably the tweak asked for the most on the forums since I daily answer questions (started in 2009). “I don’t like that the learner has to press Y or click the slide to continue”.  When you use CP2019 and have tried out the new VR projects, you will probably have seen that the overlay quiz slides have a slightly different Submit process! It is still in two steps, first step shows feedback but playhead remains paused as usual. But instead of the message about clicking or pressing Y a nice Continue button appears and replaces the Submit button. For sure, more friendly and intuitive than the second step in normal quiz slides. Crossing my fingers that we have the same button appearing in future versions for all quiz slides.

In this post I will try to explain how you can replicate that behavior within the present workflow.

Continue button – Step-by-step

Since the first step in the submit process cannot be used as trigger for any action – only shows feedback message or image – we need to get rid of that first step.  It is possible by deleting all the feedback messages. Let us keep it simple for this workflow: only the Correct and Failure message will be used, for quiz slides with only one attempt. No Retry message,  not Partial correct message, no message warning that an answer has to be chosen.  The messages will be replaced by custom feedback, which can be very flexible: text, image, video, or combination of items. In this simple workflow I will use two shapes as feedback: a green start shape, and a red down arrow shape.

Step 1: change Master slide(s)

Duplicate the quizzing master slides you need, and delete all the messages. You can leave the Review area, eventually resize it. In the present Review design it is only used in case of skipping a question. If you apply this edited master slide to a quiz slide the result will be that no feedback appears, the playhead is released and the actions defined for Success and Last Attempt will be done.

Step 2: Create quiz slides, apply master slide

Create the quiz slides, either using Quiz, Question slides option with its dialog box, or by using GIFT or CSV import. Apply the edited master slide(s). You can do that by selecting all the quiz slides using same master slide in the Filmstrip and using the dropdown list in the Properties panel. That list will be filtered to show only the master slides fitting for that type of questions.

Step 3: Continue button creation

Create a Continue button with exactly the same ‘look’ as the Submit button. It needs to be a shape used as button, because the old button types are not allowed on quiz slides. However the Default Quiz button style used in Captivate’s packaged themes are Transparent buttons. This makes it impossible to use the style of the quiz buttons for that shape button. You’ll have to create it manually, based on the properties of the Submit button. It is possible to style a shape button exactly the same way as a transparent button. Create a new object style for that Continue button, may be useful in the future. You can save the Theme as a custom theme, it will include the edited master slide(s) and this new object style. Definition of that object style will prove very useful in step 4.

Do not forget the Rollover and Down state for the Continue button.  Do not bother about custom states,  Visited state nor custom states are available for Quiz buttons. Use the Align functionality to align and resize the new Continue button with the Submit button. Since it is a custom button it will automatically get under the Submit button (embedded objects have priority in the z-order). You see it in this screenshot, because I am in the Object State view:

You need an individual Continue button on each slide, use Copy/paste; which can be done in one action. Edit eventually the names of the buttons, although it is not really necessary since they will not be used in any action.

Step4: Timing Continue button

In the Timeline panel you see that the default pausing point of the quiz slide has not been changed: 1.5secs. The Continue button has to be timed to appear at 1.5secs, for the rest of the slide, and with a pausing point as close as possible to the slide pausing point. I choose to pause at 0.1secs from the start of its timeline:

To apply the same timing to all the Continue buttons on the quiz slides, use the hamburger menu in the Timing Properties panel, with the option ‘Apply to all items of same style’

Step 5: Feedback items

Create the feedback items on the first quiz slide. I used two shapes, for Success and Failure, and grouped them (see Timeline panel in step 4, they are set to be invisible there on the stage). You can time those items for the rest of the project, always on top. But they have to be hidden with the On Enter action on each quiz slide. Same for the score slide, and eventually content slides after the score slide.

Step 6: Actions in Quiz Properties

Apply these actions in the Quiz Properties panel. You see that there is no Failure message, since we deleted all the feedback messages on the master slide(s). First step of the Submit Process is skipped, so the action will be executed immediately after clicking the Submit button: in this case the correct shape will appear:

Step 7: Custom Effect for Submit button

We have to get rid of the Submit button after it has been clicked. Since it is an embedded object, that cannot be done with an action because the Submit button has no ID. It has not only to become invisible, to get the Continue button to the foreground, but really has to get off the slide. While looking for a solution (have been trying lot of scenarios) I found that a combination of two effects worked best:

  1. Alpha effect: to make the Submit button invisible by applying Alpha = 0 as quickly as possible after it had been clicked. But it remained active.
  2. Exit effect to get it off the stage, also as quickly as possible. The exact motion path is not so important.

Since those two effects have to be applied to all the Submit buttons, you can save time by creating a custom effect to apply to each button. More details about creation of a custom effect can be found in Custom Effects.

Apply that effect to the Submit button on each quiz slide.

Finished! Try it out….

Fluid Boxes

Almost same workflow can be used in Fluid Boxes projects.  Of course, like I explained in the article about Images as Feedback, you may have to edit the Fluid Boxes structure depending on the type of feedback you will use. One problem will be the Continue button, it cannot be located exactly in the same location as the Submit button because stacking is not allowed even when items are not visible at the same time. You will have to cope with another position for the Continue button, but it can be added to the fluid box reserved for buttons.

Not being able to group objects is another limitation. This means that to hide the feedback items you will probably need an Advanced or Shared action to be used On Enter for the quiz slides.

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Quiz Tweak 3: Play Audio/Object Audio

Intro

In a first  Tweak post I explained how to replace text feedback messages by images. Both types of messages can have audio attached to it, it will be Object audio. In the second tweak post I explained how you can cope with Slide audio: learner has to listen to it before the Submit button appears, to enter an answer.  Slide audio is necessary when you want to use the Closed Captioning feature of Captivate.  In this second part you’ll get some ideas about tweaking situations with Object Audio and Play Audio Command.

Play Audio

Alternative for Slide audio

This alternative means that you don’t need Closed Captioning, or at least that you don’t want to use the CC feature of creating it.

If you replace Slide Audio by the Play Audio Command triggered by the On Enter event of the quiz slide, you do not need to extend the duration of the quiz slide to the length of the audio clip as is the case with slide audio. As with slide audio, the default pausing point of the quiz slide will not affect the audio which will continue to play. If the user answers quickly, and proceeds to the next slide, the audio will stop automatically.

  1. If you want the learner to listen to the full audio before seeing the Submit button, you can use a similar approach as with Slide audio:For non-responsive projects and responsive project with Breakpoints: make the original Submit button invisible (will remain active) and create a dummy shape looking like that button. Create a shared action to be triggered On Enter, but which will now include the Play Audio command at the beginning.  That audio clip will also be a third parameter as you can see:
  2. Having an Alpha effect to hide the Submit button for a certain time (only workflow functional for Fluid Boxes project) will not be possible if the slide duration is not extended (which was the advantage of Play Audio). It can be used if you increase the duration of the slide, and move the pausing point.

Skip/Switch audio during Review

If you allow review after passing the quiz or failing on the last quiz attempt, you certainly don’t want to hear the same slide audio during review on question slides. You may want to exclude audio or replace it by another audio clip. When using Slide audio, you can only use an approach similar to the workflow with micro-navigation, explained in this post

That workflow allows only skipping the audio during Review. Instead of the tracking variable you can use in this case the system variable cpInReviewMode which is a Boolean, has the value 1 when in Review mode.

It is much easier when you are using Play Audio. Use the shared action shown before as template for a conditional action, which you can convert again to a new shared conditional action. Have a look at this screenshot, same parameters are needed as for the standard action without check for Review mode:

If you want to switch to an other audio clip during Review, you’ll have to add a Play Audio command in the ELSE part of this action, which will add one more parameter (second audio clip) to the shared action.

Audio Object

Before the command ‘Play Audio’ was added to Captivate, the alternative was the use of what I labeled an ‘audio object’. It is audio attached to an invisible object, mostly I used a highlight box with a style where everything was set to 0. It is described in an old blog post.

The idea is that when you show the audio object it will start playing, when you hide it stops playing. You can use this also as an alternative for slide audio, since audio will not be stopped by the pausing point neither. I wanted to mention this special type of object audio which can be used almost exactly the same way as Play Audio command, for both forcing to listen to the audio as for skip/switch audio during Review. However there is one big difference: it is never possible to have two audio clips playing at the same time when using Play Audio to start them. Starting a second clip when the first one has not finished playing, will stop the first clip automatically. The command ‘Stop Triggered Audio’ is like built in the command ‘Play Audio’. That is not the case with Audio objects: if you have two or more of those objects visible on the same moment, they will all play.

Multiple clips playing same time

Typical situation: you have audio started with the quiz slide in whatever way (slide audio, Play Audio of audio object), and you have attached audio to the feedback messages. If one of the messages appears before the main audio has finished, you’ll get a nice audio cacophony. For this situation the solution has already been given: force the user to listen to the main audio before he will be able to submit an answer with one of the previously described workflows.

Contrary to what some users believe it is not possible to stop audio when the user clicks the Submit button, first step in the Submit Process. The actions (Success/Last Attempt) from the Quizzing Properties are only triggered on the second step. It is possible to skip the first step, but that is the topic of a next Tweak Quiz post: tweak the Submit Process.

Next?

Next blog post will be about tweaking the Submit process: how to replace the second step by the appearance of a Continue button (similar to what you have in VR projects), nd about skipping the first step of the Submit process.

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Hint with 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:

Play

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.

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 slide 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.

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Q&A: Audio in Captivate

Why?

Recently I answered several questions about Audio in Captivate.  Maybe they can be useful for other Captivate users, decided to write this short blog. Although personally I mostly use Adobe Audition to record and edit audio clips for Captivate, this blog will focus only on the Audio features within Captivate.

In the past I have posted several articles about audio. Some tweaks can be found in this one which I created with CP2017. Tips here were not yet published.

Merging of Audio clips (slide audio)

For HMTL5 output audio (and video) has to be generated when entering a slide with audio. For long clips (to be avoided, better split up on more slides) that can take a while and could even lead to synchronizing problems.

In the past (SWF output) I sometimes used Project audio, which was distributed over all the slides, using the Audtion roundtripping. This workflow should be avoided now, because that would mean that the full project audio has to be loaded on the first slide, which will lead to considerably long waiting time.

When inserting slide audio, the slide timeline duration  will be extended to the length of the audio timeline, when the audio duration is longer than the original slide duration. It will start on the first frame of the slide, and end on the last frame. As I read in forum questions like this it happens that the total number of audio clips seems to decrease. Reason is that Captivate ‘thinks’ that audio has been distributed over some slides, and merges those audio clips to one audio clip. This leads to a similar situation as with project audio: it takes a while before that longer clip is loaded and often synchronizing with appearance of slide items is screwed up.

Here is a simple trick to avoid that merging: increase the slide duration a little bit, move the audio timeline on each slide, to have  small gap before and after the audio. Merging will no longer occur.

Copy/Paste Segment

In this question user wanted to move a segment from one audio clip on a slide to another clip. Both were also slide audio, this trick will not work with other types of audio.

Opening an audio clip in the Editor, shows that you can select a segment, cut or copy it, then move the playhead and paste that segment in another location. However that is not possible between different audio clips.

My trick: choose Audio, Edit, Project instead of Slide. Even if you have gaps as recommended in the first tip, the whole project audio will open in the editor. You see the slide markers, can use now Copy or Cut for a selected segment, move to another slide and paste the segment there. Watch this short video:

Drawback: as you’ll have seen in the video, Closed Captioning will be turned off and you’ll have to edit them to cope with changes in audio clips.

Library and Audio

Some short tips, related to the Library, which is one of my favorite features in Captivate.

  • If you import audio, you choose best for the uncompressed WAV-format over MP3.  Only wav files can be edited. If you want to edit an imported MP3-file, Captivate has to expand that file to create a WAV file. You will see 2 files with different format in the LibraryAudio folder in that case. Do not worry about size of the WAV files, when published all WAV files will be compressed by Captivate to MP3, and you can set up the compression parameters.
  • When you edit an audio clip, the original clip will not disappear but a new clip will be generated. You can always get back to the original clip in the Library if something went wrong.
  • Want to use TTS to create audio clips to be used as object audio or with the Play Audio command? When generating the audio clip from slide notes or sentences in the TTS dialog box, it will be automatically inserted as slide audio and the slide duration will be increased to match the clip. Since the audio clip will also be in the Library, find it using the right-click menu and eventually rename the clip to make it recognizable. You can safely delete the slide audio, reset the slide duration to its original length. Drag the audio clip from the Library to an object for Object Audio. Use it with the Play Audio command, which presents you with a list of Library clips.
  • As explained in this blog all assets in any project library can be used as external library in other projects. This is also the case for audio files of course.

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Editing Characters – part 2

In a previous article I described the workflow to edit a Character (from Media) with Photoshop, without damaging the original image. In this interactive video you’ll see the workflow: an inserted character from the Illustrated category will change colors and be flipped. This very simple workflow is suited only for regions with solid colors. The next interactive video will show the workflow to change a color in a photographic image.

Watch this video:

Play

I used Photoshop CC 2019, but the workflow is the same for older versions of Photoshop.

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Captivate’s Quizzes (5): Master Slides

Intro

This is the fifth blog post about default Quizzing slides. Five of the compulsory master slides in any theme are linked with Quizzing. For this article the type of project is important: non-responsive project, responsive project with Fluid Boxes, Responsive project with Breakpoints. Same master slides are used for Pretest and Knowledge Check slides.

With CP2019 Overlay Knowledge Check slides are availabke in an Interactive Video. Those slides also use the master slides in the chosen theme. The Quiz slides in a VR project however cannot be formatted using master slides at this moment. You have to accept the default styling. It is possible to edit the text containers (mostly shapes) but that has to be done on each slide individually. I sincerely hope that formatting functionality will be extended in next versions.

As for the object styles, for master slides editing depends on the type of project: non-responsive (can bep ublished as scalable HTML output) , responsive with Fluid boxes, responsive with Breakpoints.

Non-responsive project

In the previous posts Terminology and Submit Process I explained the meaning of Embedded Objects on the quizzing master slides, objects without an individual Timeline. You find them on the four master slides for Quizzes. They appear as placeholder on inserted Quiz slides. Each of them is using a dedicated Object style from the Quizzing Category (see Object Style Manager). As I wrote in Preference it is a bit confusing that for the included Captivate themes, the default feedback messages use shapes as container, not captions which means you cannot change them directly for the Default Labels dialog box where only caption styles are available.

The background of the quizzing master slides can be set up like any other master slide. Since they have a lot of placeholder objects (mostly shapes) which can be styled individually you will mostly see either:

  • Master Slide Background: this means that the background of the Main Master slide is inherited. Often that will be a solid color, a gradient or eventually a not invasive texture image.
  • Custom: if the Main Master slide background is not suited, you need to use this option where you’ll find again a solid color, a gradient or a texture.

However feel free to use an image as background. Or you can override the background on individual quiz slides by inserting an image. Since the embedded objects are always on top of the stack, that image will automatically  be below the quiz objects.

Tips

  1. Use Guides (see Guides Rule) if you want to edit the layout of the placeholders, if you need a Maching, Hotspot and/or Likert question for your course to have a consistent design with the more common MCQ,T/F… questions which use the same master slide.
  2. If you have a dark background, you can have issues with Matching slides: the link lines between the two columns are black, not possible to edit that color. Moreover since you probably would want a light color for text, the dropdown list will be unreadable. Solution is to create a duplicate master slide, where you put a light shape under Answer Area, and change font color to a dark color (new object style).
  3. If you expect to have multiline answers, the Answer area can be too small. It is not possible to edit the individual answer shapes n the master slides (which is a pity), that has to be done on the quiz slides. Increasing the height of the Answer area will make the workflow easier. Decrease the height of the other placeholders. That is possible for the Question title, the Feedback messages. Be careful with the Question placeholder: questions can also need more than one line. Eventually you can move the Progress indicator next to the Question title, to free up more space for the Answer Area.
  4. If you want some quiz slides including an image, create another duplicate of the master slide. Decrease the width of the Answer area and insert an image placeholder as shown in this screenshot:
  5. In any custom theme I create, I will always edit the results master slide: drag the Retake button over the Review button. It will avoid that the learner is confused when quiz is set up with multiple attempts, and Review is enabled. Design of Captivate’s quiz means that all attempts are considered to be exhausted  if the learner clicks the Review button. Moving that button will not cause any problems. If there is only one attempt, the Retake button is not appearing, and the Review button is visible immediately. If there is no Review functionality, no problem neither.
    If you want to override the design, and allow Review before a Retake, but without showing the correct answers, you could use the workflow described in Review before Retake?

Responsive project – Fluid Boxes

An in-depth exploration of the quizzing master slides in the Fluid Boxes themes is described in this article.

Every embedded object is in its (normal) fluid box, with the exception of the feedback messages sharing a static fluid box.  That is necessary to save space, they are stacked which is not possible in a normal fluid box.

Some of the tips mentioned for non-responsive projects are also valid for this type of project:

  1. Use of Guides is strongly recommended. For responsive projects rulers are in %. I know that CP2019 allows to use Position Properties panel for fluid boxes, but I find setting up a grid with Guides much quicker.
  2. For Matching questions using a dark background: fill the fluid box of the Answer area with a lighter (semi-transparent) color, and change the font color to avoid the mentioned problems. Do this on a duplicate master slide (MCA, T/F…).
  3. In the article mentioned above, I described the workflow for long answers in the Answer area. Instead of resizing the placeholders you need to resize the fluid boxes.
  4. For the duplicate master slide allowing adding an image, you’ll have create two fluid boxes in the present fluid box for the Answer area. That means taking out first the content by unlocking from Fluid box, dragging it into the scratch area. Create two horizontal child fluid boxes. Relock the answer area to FB and redrag it into one of the new child fluid boxes. You can insert a placeholder in the second child fluid box.
  5. The easy workflow described for a non-responsive project is not possible. The buttons are in a normal fluid box, stacking is not possible. Here a real tweak is needed. Tweaks and special situations will be explained in later blog posts.

Responsive project with Breakpoints

I have to confess that the toughest part of this type of projects is getting the quiz slides behave properly on all mobile devices. Although in some cases I prefer this type of responsive project for content slides because of the real freedom of design allowing to reduce layouts for small screens to the bare minimum by replacing items, quiz slides are a real pain.

It is very important to set up the object styles properly, especially those where fonts are included. Full explanation is to be found in ‘Object styles for Responsive Projects’.

The problem has become bigger, because Captivate no longer has included themes for Breakpoints as was the case until CP9. I still continue to use those themes, especially for the Quizzing master slides. At least they provide a start for setting up the responsiveness. For the rest a lot of testing (trial and error) is needed.

Most of the tips mentioned for non-responsive projects are fully valid, taken into account that you need to use the Position Properties to make all items responsive. No limitations however as for Fluid boxes: stacking is allowed, grouping is allowed etc… You can drag the Review button under the Retake button.

Next?

This fifth post is the last one in the sequence about default quiz slides. You should have a pretty complete overview now. Next articles will be about tweaking the default design (submit process, use of feedback images, use of audio…) and special situations like Branch aware, Pretest setup, Remediation. custom quiz slides, …

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Typing Text – HTML output

Intro

You are probably aware of the fact that Text animations are SWF-based and cannot be used for HTML5 output. Several users have been asking for an alternative. Of course, the best way would be to create a HTML animation (OAM) and insert it as animation. You could use JS as well.  I found it a fun challenge to see if it is possible to mimick the behavior using uniquely Captivate’s features. This small showcase explains using a shape as a moving mask.  The While loop combined with a multistate text object was another idea. Did I use audio? Sure, but since I am on the road with a more limited system than in my home network, that may not be as perfect as I normally want.

Moving Masks

I wanted to create the effect for these two lines, each of them being an individual Text container:

The background of the text needs to be solid color, to be able to use the proposed method. You see that I created vertical guides to allow me to create masks with exactly the same width as the text containers. Those masks will be shapes, no stroke but filled with the same color as the background.

I applied a Motion path  ‘Left to Right’, but extended the path to match the width of the text container. Remember to keep SHIFT pressed to force moving the points horizontally:

The path has now to be moved to the right, for that purpose I added another vertical guide. Same was done for the second timeline, as you can see here:

To avoid flickering of the text lines, I added another short effect to them ‘Alpha from 0 to 100%’.

Timing for the motion paths has to be found by trial and error. Have no idea what your typing speed is  

Of course, timeline of second line and mask has to be moved to start after the first one has appeared totally. Here is a screenshot of the timeline panel:

Audio

As explained before, I would have preferred an audio clip extended for the duration of the text, but doesn’t have all applications installed on my travel device. Instead I used the provided KeyClick.mp3 clip from the Gallery/SoundEffects. I inserted it as looping background audio, and muted that background audio on all slides except this typing text slide.

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