Feb 14, 2013

Update Project Captions Easily

Given below is a short video which demonstrates how you can update the project captions in Captivate 5.5 easily. The Captions are exported into a Word Document where all the changes are made and then taken back into Captivate. Since you have the Captions in a word file, you can share this file with the SME / Client (who may not have Captivate installed); get the changes made by him/her and then update your project just with a few clicks.

Jul 2, 2012

Types of Recording in Captivate

There are three types of recording available in Captivate: Automatic, Full Motion and Manual. In this article, we will review these three in detail.

Automatic Recording: It is perhaps the most commonly used type of recording in Captivate. When you record using Automatic option, screen captures are done automatically by Captivate and each screen capture comes as a new slide in the project. The default time duration for each slide can be set in Edit - Preferences - Defaults.
However, if the Actions in Real Time option has been enabled, this default time duration will be ignored.
Captions, Click Boxes, etc are also generated automatically depending upon the recording mode you have selected. Refer this article to know more about recording modes in Captivate.

Full Motion Recording: When you record in Full Motion, the actions are recorded in real time, i.e. if you take 6 seconds for a drag & drop action, the slide with this action will also be for 6 seconds. It can be used to record complex things like drawing images in paint or photoshop, etc. But a major disadvantage is that the file size becomes bigger when you use Full Motion Recording. Sometimes, when you are using Automatic or Manual Recording also, you might get some slides in Full Motion Recording. This happens when you do drag & drop or mouse wheel based actions. It depends on the settings you have mentioned under Edit - Preferences - Recording - Settings. Those slides which used a Full Motion Recording will be indicated by a handicam icon in the project.

Manual Recording: Manual Recording will let you choose the screen which should be recorded. The first screen after you start the recording will be captured. After that, you have to use the shortcut (usually the PrintScrn key) to capture a new screen. This shortcut is set in Edit - Preferences - Recording - Keys. This type of recording is not good to explain processes with a lot of steps. But if there are a lot of processes in between your recording, that you may want to remove from the end output, this is a nice way to avoid rework. (If you choose Automatic Recording you have to manually remove all the unwanted slides later. It is better not to record them at the first place.)

May 30, 2012

Custom Menu Buttons / Playbar for Software Simulations

Below Screenr shows how you can create Menu buttons for Captivate Software demonstrations without compromising on the quality. It uses the Rescale project option to create some extra space in the project. The extra space thus created can also be used to make a custom playbar with the project dimensions. (The playbar will have to use Advanced Actions which is not covered in this demo.)

Feb 24, 2012

Variables & Advanced Actions in Captivate - 2

To begin with learning about Advanced Actions, let us try a simple exercise. cpInfoCurrentSlide is a system variable in Captivate which returns the value of the current slide number. We will now try to create a user variable to do the same thing.
-          Create a new variable named SlideNo.
o   Click on Add New
o   Type in the variable name as SlideNo
o   Give default value as 0 (zero)
o   Type in any description (this helps when you have a lot of user variables in a project)
o   Click on Save.
Playing with variables is more or less a logical process. Right now, we have this variable called SlideNo whose value is 0. Our objective is to display this variable in every slide so that it returns the value of the slide number. Theoretically, the value of this variable should be incremented by 1, as it enters a new slide i.e., you add 1 to its value when it enters the first slide, add another 1 when it enters the second slide and so on. Let us see how to do this.
-          Go to Advanced actions, and select Create a new action from the menu.
-          Type in the New Action Name as SlideNumber
-          Double - Click on Add Statement
-          Double – Click on Statement (displayed in red)
-          Choose Assignment
-          A menu will be shown displaying all the variables in the project (including System Variables).
-          Choose the variable SlideNo we created in the above step
-          In the next field, two options will be shown, Variable and Value
-          Choose Variable, and then select the same user variable SlideNo
-          Double Click on the operator icon and select ‘Plus’ symbol
-          Next time choose Value from the options shown.
-          Type in 1 and click on Save.
Now we have successfully created an advanced action which increments the value of the variable by a value of 1. The next step is to execute this action, every time it reaches a new slide. To do this, we double click on the thumbnail image of the slide to display the slide properties. From the menu for On Slide Enter, select Execute Advanced Option. Select, Slide Number in the Action menu.
Unfortunately, the Apply to All slides option is not working for this option. So you have to assign this action for every slide one by one. Use the syntax mentioned in this article to display the variable in your slide.
Note: This is not a good method to display slide number, because if you have branched your slides, or if you go back to a previous slide, the count will go wrong. Anyhow, the purpose of this example is only to show you the use of Advanced Actions and Variables.

Think of any other cases where you can use Variables and Advanced Actions and try to create your own actions. Make a few mistakes and you will learn the trick soon.

Jan 30, 2012

Variables & Advanced Actions in Captivate - 1

“Let us assume that the speed of the vehicle is x km/hr.”
Remember the Math Classes in School? We often use such assumptions to solve Math problems. Here, we are using a variable called x. It is assigned to a value which we are about to find out. All we know is that the variable will have a numerical value (since it is the speed of a vehicle, it cannot be text or characters).
Similarly, a variable in Captivate will have a name (x) and a type associated with it (numerical, text, character, etc). There are two types of variables in Captivate – User & System.
User Variables are created by the Captivate users whereas System Variables are already available in the system. These variables can be used in your Captivate projects to create some advanced interactions and for some interesting displays. We will analyze the system variables first.
Before we proceed, let us first look at the details of a Captivate system variable.

cpCmndCC is a Captivate System Variable, which has a default value 0 (zero). Its description is “Enable/disable closed captioning (CC). Set value to 1 to display closed captions”. So the System Variable cpCmndCC is assigned a value which is equal to the status of the display of closed captions. When closed captions are enabled, the value of cpCmndCC is 1 and when it is disabled, its value is 0. To put it in another way, if we set the value of cpCmndCC to 1, the system will enable closed captioning in your output. You can use this if your course requires closed captioning only in some slides. Even better, you can ask the learners to decide whether they need closed captioning or not. All you have to do is, ask the learners to click on a button, if they require closed captioning. And then assign an action to the button, to change the value of the variable cpCmndCC to 1.  (Of course assigning an action is a different process which we will review in another article.) This is just a basic example of how you can use a system variable.

In Captivate 4, press Shift+F9 or choose ProjectActions, and select Variables tab on top.

From the Type menu, choose System 

By default, all the system variables will be listed. However, you can filter them based on the categories available in the View By menu. Choose Movie Control from the menu. You will see the variable we discussed above – cpCmndCC. The value and description is also available for each system variable. Select the different system variables and read its description to get an idea of the value it will return.
Display the Variables (read values of Variables) in Captivate Project
Some of the system variables might be useful to display in your captivate project. Like the cpInfoCurrentDateString variable, returns the date as set on the user’s computer. Let us see the syntax to display this variable in your Captivate project slide. Insert a text caption in your slide and type in as shown below:

$$variable$$ is the syntax to display a variable in Captivate project slide. If you would like to add any normal text along with it, type them outside the $$ symbols, e.g.
Date: $$cpInfoCurrentDateString$$ or $$cpInfoCurrentDateString$$ is the last date to submit your entry
Now, we will look at the User defined variables in Captivate. From the Actions Dialog window, select the Variables tab. Make sure that the Type menu is showing User variables. Click on Add New. The Name, Value and Description fields become editable and you can now add the details. Give variable name as b, value as 1 and a description of your choice.
That’s it, you have successfully created a user defined variable. Now you have display the value of this variable too using the syntax mentioned above. To make maximum utilization of the variable, you must also know about the Advanced Actions in Captivate. We will review this in detail in the next article.