Pause/play button and a custom drag and drop (issues)

Hi Everybody,

I’m working on a eLearning and ran into a few tiny hiccups that I think can be fixed easily. The problem is that I can’t seem to find a solution.
Here are the problems i’m having.

Pause/play toggle:
I used a tutorial (and I don’t remember which one) to build a pause/play toggle button that pauses the timeline and plays again after pushing the button again.
The problem with this button is, that for the first time to pause the timeline, I have to push the button twice. After that, it starts working perfectly.

Custom drag and drop slide:
Here I have a few small issues.
– When pressing Submit, my submit button disappears (this is not a big issue. Think I’ve already asked this ones and it can not be fixed)
– What also disappears after a few seconds, is my response text. This should stay in the screen till the end and right now it doesn’t
– This slide has a voiceover MP3 running in the back. When I tapp the pause/play toggle button to pause the sound and push submit to answer my question. The voiceover starts playing again after pushing the submit button.

Maybe it can not be fixed and I need to build a complete new structure, i’m happy to hear any tips!
If anybody needs more info, screenshots or script examples of the toggle button, please let me know.



Pausing Timeline: Interactive Video Buttons


When I posted the article about Pausing the Timeline (part of the sequence of articles about that most important panel), I promised to add some use cases to illustrate using pause and pausing points. Let us start with a  simple use case, based on a recent forum question in this thread: Interactive Video Buttons

Use Case – description

It is clear that the user is not aware of the difference between pausing the timeline by an interactive object (pausing point) and by the command Pause. The idea is that the learner, while a video is playing, can launch a popup that has some static content (text, images…). While that popup is opened, the video should pause. On closing the popup the video should resume playing. The user proposed to have a close button for that purpose, which is the easiest solution (Scenario 1 below).   hyperlink instead of the close button as I described in this article: More is in a hyperlink – Close button
It could also be done with defining the open button as a toggle button Scenario 2).
For both scenarios it is necessary to insert the video as a multi-slide synchronized video to be able to control the video with Captivate functionality. If you insert the video as event video it will play totally independent from Captivate.

Scenario 1

In this scenario the popup will appear with one button, and be hidden by another button or hyperlink.
This makes it possible to have two actions, simplifies the setup: no need for a variable, no need for a conditional action. You can use two standard actions. If you want multiple buttons and popups, or expect to be using this work flow in other projects, I strongly recommend to create shared actions instead of advanced actions. This article will describe only the advanced standard actions.
Have a look at the setup of the slide. Look at the Timeline panel. It has only 3 objects (from bottom to top: video, shape button, popup). In the screenshot the shape button SB_Info is selected. It will open the popup ‘Info’. Look at the Timing properties of the button. The option to pause is unchecked (which is not the default situation), the shape button is timed for the rest of the slide. The result is that the button will be active for the whole slide, there is no inactive part.
The popup in this example is a shape used as text container, labeled ‘Info‘. That popup has to be invisible in output (eye icon in the Properties panel). If you expect that the slide can be revisited,  a better approach is to use the On Enter event of the slide to hide this popup ‘Info’. To close the popup I preferred using a hyperlink over a close button.  The popup is ta single object. If you prefer to have a ‘real’ close button, you’ll end up with two objects (text +  button). In that case you can group them, to reduce the number of commands for showing and hiding.

Standard Advanced Action ShowContent

This action is triggered by the Success event of the button SB_Info as you see in this screenshot:
After showing the popup (only one text container, can also be a group), I choose to disable the button SB_Info. If you want it to more user friendly, you can add a custom state ‘Inactive’ to that button and change to that state. This will avoid confusion for the user, some may expect that button to be a toggle, which is not the case in this first scenario. The last command will pause the timeline unconditionally, resulting in both video and audio to be paused.

Standard Advanced Action CloseContent

to be triggered by the hyperlink over the big X character:
if you prefer a Close button, this same action will be triggered by the Success event of that button; you can use exactly the same action
It is a similar advanced action (use the duplicate feature), with three commands which are the opposite of those in ShowContent: Hide (was Show), Enable (was Disable), and Continue which will release the Playhead, both video and audio will resume.

Scenario 2

In this scenario a Toggle button is used both for opening and closing the popup.

In that case you can use an approach similar to what I explained in: 1 action = 5 toggle buttons
It is a little bit more complicated because:
  • You need an extra custom state for the popup button which indicates that it changes to a close button after having opened a popup:
  • You’ll need a variable to track the status: I will use v_visib, a Boolean, with value = 0 when the popup is not visible,
    and value = 1 when the popup is visible; since I used a shared action from an external library, that variable is created automatically.
  • You’ll need a conditional advanced action to be triggered by the Success action of the button; this is the advanced action version created based on the shared action:

More Possibilities

An interactive video will often be spread over multiple slides, to offer navigation buttons to different parts of the video. It is not a problem to have the scenarios available on all slides: time both the button and the popup groups for the rest of the project, always on top.

I mentioned the possibility to group a close button with text, but groups with more objects are possible as well: image, shape, animations. Group all together, hide the group On Enter for the slide, and you only have to replace the single object in the scenarios above by the group.

Turn the actions into shared actions, and keep them in a separate project. You can open the Library of that project as an external Library in future projects. Especially the toggle action, it will save time because you don’t have to create the user variable.

Future use case, example of Pausing the timeline, will be about audio. It is more complicated because there are several ways to use audio in Captivate, perhaps I will need more than one post.

How and Why Pause Captivate’s Timeline?


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

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

Pause and Pausing points

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


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

  1. With the pause button on one of the default playbars.
  2. By choosing the command ‘Pause’ to be triggered On Enter for a slide (doing it On Exit is not a good idea, because it will happen after the last frame, see previous post about events).  It can also be a (last) command in an advanced/shared action.
  3. By using the Success event an interactive object (like a shape button) with the command ‘Pause‘ either as a simple command or within an advanced/shared actions. Usually it will be the last command.
  4.  Alternative for ‘Pause’ command is to assign 1 to the system variable cpCmndPause (its default value is 0). This system variable controls the pause.

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


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

Pausing point

Pausing points exist on some special slides, or you can add them by inserting an interactive object for which Pause the slide is activated in the Timing Properties panel. In many cases the pausing point will be visible on the Timeline (see previous articles), but not always. Contrary to the absolute pause, here the timeline is ‘waiting’ for an action by the user. For that reason the STOP sign is a better metaphor than the red light. Here is an overview of the pausing points, which will be visible on the Timeline:
  1. Quiz or question slides: the pausing point is visible on the slide timeline, but not in the Timing Properties panel. Only way to move is by dragging. Default timing is at 1,5secs, and pause cannot be unchecked. Pausing point is linked with the two-step process triggered by the Submit button. However when selecting the Submit button, you’ll not see the pause in the Timing Properties panel (as is the case for the D&D Submit button). Waiting is here for the user to click the Submit button, then to press Y or click on the slide
  2. Score slide: same situation as for the quiz slides: visible in the slide timeline, not in the Timing Properties. Default timing is at 1,5secs. Pausing point is linked with the Continue button, but will not show in the Timing Properties panel of that button. Waiting here is for the user to click the Continue button.
  3. Drag&Drop slide: is pausing at 1,5secs but the point is not visible on the timeline. You will not see it in the Timing Properties for the slide, but in the Actions tab of the D&D panel. It is linked with the Submit button, when selecting that button the Timing properties panel will show the timing of the pausing point. Waiting for the user to click the Submit button, or in case of Auto Submit waiting for a correct answer.
  4. Interactive objects (click box, button, shape button, Text Entry Box) can have a pausing point, to be defined in the Timing Properties panel. That pausing point will be visible in the Timeline, and the part before the point is indicated as ‘Active’, part after the pausing point as ‘Inactive’. Since a click box is invisible to the user, it has not inactive part, its pausing point will always be at the end of its timeline. Waiting is for the user to click either on or outside of the interactive object (click box, shape or normal button) or to confirm the Entry in a TEB. You can edit the pausing point by dragging in the Timeline or in a precise way by editing the Timing Properties panel. It is also possible to uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 3 in the Gallery).
  5. Shape button on a master slide can have a pausing point. Since objects on a master slide have no duration, no Timing Properties panel, you have to indicate that you want it to pause, in the Actions tab of the Properties panel (see screenshot 4 in the Gallery). You can uncheck the pause there as well. The pausing point will be at the end of each slide, based on that master slide. It will not be visible in the timeline
  6. Interactive widgets or learning interactions have a pausing point at 1 sec. It will not show up in the Timeline, you can find it in the Timing Properties.  Pause can be unchecked, but you’ll not want to do that for this type of interactions.That is the place to edit or uncheck the Pause (see screenshot 5 in the Gallery). Static widgets/interactions do not have a pausing point. More info about difference  between interactive and static in: Widgets and Interactions

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


It depends on the kind of pausing point:

  1. For Question slides: the playhead is released after the second step of the Submit process and the actions defined in Question properties will be done.
  2. For Score slide: similar, but after clicking the Continue button.
  3. For Drag&Drop: exactly the same as for the Question slides, after clicking the Submit button.
  4. For interactive objects on master or normal slides: if an advanced action is executed (Success/failure) the playhead is not released automatically. If you want this to happen you have to include a Continue or a navigation command like Jump to as last command in the action. If you use a simple action, the playhead will be released by default, but in CP9 it is possible to uncheck that default setting ‘Continue playing the Project’ (not done in this screenshot).

What will be Paused?

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

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

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

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

Video clips inserted as Event video are totally independent: if they are playing when pausing, they’ll continue to play. If a pause is occurring and the video is not yet started, the user will be able to use the Play button of the video control panel to watch the video. Video clips inserted as Multisynchronized video however will be paused by the Pause command and by a pausing point.

The situation is a lot more complicated for audio:

  • Background audio is totally insensitive to Pauses or Pausing points: it will continue to play.
  • Slide Audio: will automatically be paused by the Pause command, but not by a pausing point. It is possible to pause slide audio at a pausing point, to resume when the playhead is released if you check ‘Stop Slide Audio’ on the Options tab in the Properties panel of the interactive object.

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

  • Object audio: will be paused by the strict command Pause, but not by a pausing point! There is no workaround for this behavior for a Pausing point.
  • Audio started with ‘Play Audio‘ cannot be stopped not by Pause nor by a pausing point, the only way to stop it is by launching the command ‘Stop Triggered Audio’.

Why would you Pause a Timeline?

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

  • Instead of creating very long slides to fit the narrations, use the Play Audio command and have a pausing point on the slide. That can be a Next button, which offers total control to the user.
  • Question slides with narration as slide audio: you need to move the pausing point.
  • Create custom navigation: use shape buttons on the main master slide, only one of them needs a pausing point to give each user all the time needed to watch the slides.
  • Create a slide with lightboxes.
  • Have multiple TEB’s on one slide with a unique Submit button.
  • Create a dashboard with buttons to display multiple vodcasts, images, podcasts.
  • …waiting for your ideas 

All you have to know about Captivate timeline(s) in a cptx project


After this introductory post, and the post about the typical Video Demo timeline this article will explain the specific features of the timelines in a cptx project: both for master slides and normal slides. The common features for cpvc- and cptx projects were explained in the introduction, if you missed it please take a look at that blog post.

Timelines CPTX project

The Timeline panel in a cptx-project is shared by Master slides and Normal slides (Filmstrip), depending on which panel is active at that moment. There are differences in look and features between Master slide timelines and Slide timelines.

Contrary to the Timeline in a cpvc project, each  ‘track’ in a cptx project can have only one item:the (master) slide has its timeline, audio has a separate timeline stacked under the slide timeline, each object, whether static of interactive has its own timeline. Result is that the Eye/Lock buttons will affect only one object, that each track can have the name of the object on that track.

The vertical arrangement of the timelines, also called the ‘stacking order’, is important when you have overlapping objects. Be careful with covering interactive objects by static objects: depending on the output, the interactive objects will remain active even though they are not visible.

Master slide Timeline 

The timing/duration of a master slide has no real meaning because master slides nor  master slide objects have any timing. The Timing Properties panel is not available for them. The displayed duration for master slides in the timeline is the default duration (normally 3 secs).  It is necessary to show and allow editing of the stacking order (vertical positioning of the object timelines). Here is an example screenshot of the timeline of a Master slide, where I inserted mostly Placeholder objects of all type:

Objects on master slides never have an ID, which explains why you seen only icons in the first column to identify the object  type. That type is also visible through the description inside the object timeline itself. The icons for Placeholders usually are included in square brackets [], to differentiate them from normal objects (no brackets). There are some exceptions (look at the Rollover Caption/Image in the screenshot which are also placeholder objects).

The only interactive object allowed on master slides,  is a shape button (shape used as button). If Pause Project  is checked in the Actions tab, the pause will be visible at the end of the timeline. This is the case for the uppermost object in the screenshot: look at the Pause symbol, the pause itself is exactly at the end of the shape button timeline. This shape button is a normal object, the shape two tracks below is a placeholder (look at the brackets surrounding the star icon).

The tiny icons between the control panel (with play button etc) and the zoom slider, which I explained in the intro of this sequence of posts,  do not have any value because Time has no meaning for a master slide. You see that no values are displayed for those tiny icons.

Slide Timeline

If you create a slide, based on a master slide, not all objects inserted on the master slide will be visible in the Timeline; have a look at this screenshot which is from a slide based on the master slide shown above:

  • Placeholder objects (beige timeline) will appear in the timeline panel (I renamed them); if you don’t use them (example: you don’t add text, content, image), they will not appear in output. The icons did keep the surrounding square brackets which you discovered in the master slide.
  • Content placeholder (blue timeline) acts the same way.
  • Rollover caption/image (green), if inserted as Placeholders, will appear but they’ll move to the bottom of the stack as you can see on the screenshot (compare with the screenshot of the master side above).
  • Static objects on the master slide, will be visible on the stage, but not in the timeline. They will be visible in output, with their formatting on the master slide (there is no such object in this case)
  • Shape buttons on the master slide will be visible on the stage, but not in the timeline. They will be visible and keep their interactivity in output. In the screenshot you see that the topmost object, the shape button on the master slide, is missing in the Slide timeline.

The stacking order of the objects on the timeline can be changed by dragging the timeline or by using the Arrange option under the Right-click menu (Back/Forward). Objects can be staggered on the timeline to appear at in sequence or overlapping partially. Contrary to the typical video timeline for a CPVC-project, all objects will be visible on the stage, independent of the time they are meant to appear. For people, used to a video work flow, this can seem confusing, but it is very helpful for arranging/editing objects on the stage. You can always check the sequence of appearance by Playing the slide (which is not a Preview but will show the sequence, can be started with the play button of the control panel, with the shortcut key ‘space bar’ if timeline panel is active, or using the first option under the big button Preview). While playing the slide the red playhead will move. You can stop it with the space bar or the with the Pause on the control panel to edit/synchronize (see also Shortcut keys in a later blog post).

The specific indicators that can appear in the timelines for a cptx project on normal slides are:

  • Audio icon : if you attach audio to an object, a similar audio icon as you had for video clips with audio in a cpvc-track,  will appear in the timeline
  • Pause indicator: consists of two parts, the pause symbol (double vertical lines) and the exact location of the pause (thin vertical line) to the right of the symbol. You’ll see this indicator in
    • Question slide timeline: mostly at 1.5secs for a default slide duration of 3 secs – pause is linked to the Submit button
    • Score slide timeline: identical setup as for question slides – pause is linked to the Continue button
    • Interactive object timeline:  if you insert a pausing Click box, the pause will be at the end of its timeline; for buttons, shape buttons, Text Entry Boxes, the pausing time is by default 1.5secs after the start of the timeline, it can be changed by dragging the thin vertical Pausing line or with the Timing Properties panel. That same panel can be used if to uncheck the pause.Other timeline pauses that are NOT visible on the timeline, only to be detected in the Timing Properties panel:
    • A pausing shape button on the master slide. The pause is at the end of each slide timeline, but not visible on any slide timeline
    • Drag&Drop slide is by default pausing at 1,5secs (under Actions tab in D&D panel), but that pause is not visible on the timeline (linked to the Submit button, playhead will be released by either the Success or the Failure action)
    • Interactive widgets/interactions: do have a pause at 1 sec (check the Timing Properties panel). Beware: most widgets/interactions are static, not interactive. Examples of interactive widgets are the games. For a complete overview of interactions, have a look at two older articles on my blog: Learning Interactions  and  Widgets
  • Group  indicators: if you group objects, you can collapse the group with the collapse button and expand with the expand button.
    Tip: never group objects having effects, because the effects will be deleted without warning. You can apply an effect to a group.
  • Effects: if you apply effects to an object the indicator ‘fx’ will appear on that timeline (and on the stage).  You get the same expand/collapse buttons as for groups.
  • (Sticky) triangle: red triangle at the end of an object timeline means that this timeline is linked to the end of the slide; if you increase/decrease the slide duration the object timeline will move to keep the end glued to the end of the slide, without changing the duration of the object timeline.
    Do not confuse with an object timeline that is set to Display for the rest of the slide (CTRL-E): such an object timeline will have a fixed start point, its duration will change when the slide duration is changed. It has no special indicator.
  • Double arrows at the end of an object timeline: this object is set to Display for the rest of the project. You’ll see its timeline only on this first slide, on following slides the object will be visible on the stage but not in the Timeline panel.
  • A Zoom object has a very thin vertical line in its timeline: this indicated the end of the zoom movement.
  • FMR (Full Motion Recording, created in a software simulation for mouse movementsslides: red line in the center of the slide timeline
  • CPVC slides: identical look to the FMR slide, but editing functionality in the Properties panel is different (will open the Video editor)


You can see the slide timeline as one video clip in your course ‘movie’. Whether the user will be aware of a transition between those slides depends on your setup. The playhead will continue seamlessly from the last frame of a slide to the first frame of the next slide (which is another video clip) if these conditions are fulfilled:

  1. No slide transition between slides
  2. Keep the default actions On Enter for the second slide, and On Exit for the first slide (No action)
  3. No pausing on the slide (look above for presence of pauses)

Captivate could have put all those ‘clips’ on one long timeline, but believe me, it is much easier to manage and edit objects on the shorter slide timelines and the learner will never know this.

The default duration of a slide is set to 3 seconds. There are (only) two possible valid reasons to increase that duration:

  1. If you add a Voice Over audio clip to the slide (slide audio).  The slide duration will have to match or be superior (allowing small gaps before and after audio) to the duration of the audio clip.
  2. If you want objects to appear in a certain sequence, staggered on the timeline, even if you don’t have slide audio.

What is NOT a valid reason to increase the slide duration: to give the user time to see/read everything, or in case of object audio to listen to everything. Captivate is meant to create interactive courses! Give your learner control, by pausing the slide. In that case he can take as much time as he wants to listen, watch the slide. This subject (about adding pauses) is so important that I’ll treat it more in detail in a later post.

In that case, give the user control over the movie, by adding Pause(s) to the timeline.

Next post

Next post will explain in detail why and how you can pause a slide in a cptx-project. Personally I think that will be the most essential and practical article because we’ll be exploring the real ‘heart’ of Captivate, the foundation of its power to make tutorials interactive.