Point-and-click interaction in Captivate using buttons

Posted by Greten on 19 Jun 2020 under Tools

HTML5 learning modules allow the display of text, graphics, and animations, as well as the playing of audio; aside from these, you can also configure learning modules to allow learners to interact with it. In Adobe Captivate, you can choose from among several interactive elements, and the simplest among them are the buttons, click boxes, and links. This entry will focus on buttons.

Interactive elements allow the instructional designer to transform multimedia into an interactive online activity and turn passive learning into active learning. They provide learners with an opportunity to learn by doing instead of just watching, reading, and listening.

The button is among the simplest interactive element. The learner click on it (or tap it if they're using a tablet or a mobile phone), and something happens, such as going to the next slide, jumping to a specific slide, playing audio, or starting an animation.

The basis of this post is Adobe Captivate 2019, also called Captivate 11. However, the techniques and methods discussed here are also likely to work on Captivate 2017 or Captivate 10.

Add a button

The menu dropdown Interactions of Adobe Captivate, shown with its submenus Buttons, Click Box, Drag and Drop, and Learning Interactions.To add a button, click the Interactions icon on top of the Captivate window. Then, select Button. You may also press Ctrl+Shift+B on your keyboard.

A button appears at the center of the slide. You can configure it to the appearance that you want and drag it to position it where you need it.

Timeline bar of a button

The timeline bar for buttons is green, and it has two parts: Active and Inactive. While the left end of the bar indicates the time when the button will appear, the thin vertical line that marks the border of Active and Inactive; it is the exact moment when the module comes to a pause while awaiting the learner to click the button.

During the Inactive phase, the button is still on display, and the learner can continue to click on it, but the rest of the slide continues. The learner will not see what happens during the Inactive phase if the action assigned to the button involves moving to a different slide.

The timeline bar of a button in Captivate is green in color and is divided into two parts, active and inactive, with a narrow gray vertical line between them. The right part of the active segment also has a pause icon: two gray vertical rectangles.

Properties of a Button

You can modify the properties of a button using the PROPERTIES tab; this tab has three subsections that are also in the form of tabs: Style, Actions, and Options.

A set of screen captures showing the subsections of the PROPERTIES tab for buttons in Adobe Captivate. The subsections are also in the form of tabs: Style, Actions, and Options. Each subsections as fields, drop downs, and menus for their particular function.

Style refers to the appearance of the button. Shown in the image above are the fields available for a Text Button. The Style tab is the focus of this entry. Actions control what the button does when the learner click it. This entry covered it briefly, but it will be explored more in one of the future posts. Options control the size, position, and rotation of the button. Visit Resizing, repositioning, rotating, and flipping slide objects in Captivate to see how it works; the button is among the slide objects that you cannot flip.

The defaut setup of Captivate is that the PROPERTIES tab is not visible. If you cannot see it, select the Properties icon near the upper-right corner.

Adobe Captivate's Library (folder with book) and Properties (three short thick horizontal lines) icons above the PROPERTIES and TIMING tabs.

If the Properties icon is not visible, it means that the custom workspace is enabled. Display the PROPERTIES tab by checking Windows » Properties or by pressing Shift, Control, and D together (Ctrl+Shift+D).

Change the appearance of a button

You can change the appearance of a button in a manner similar to shapes, by selecting the PROPERTIES tab and the Style tab under it. In the Style tab, you can immediately see the Caption field as well as the sections Character and Shadow and reflection.

The Caption field allows you to modify the label of the button. Unlike the shapes and text captions, you cannot change the text on the button by double-clicking or pressing F2. However, the color, size, and font style of this label are also controlled by the options under Character.

The Shadow and reflection configures the shadow and reflection of the button, just like in any other objects.

Now that we got those out of the way let us focus on options that are found in buttons only. Above the Caption field, you will find a dropdown menu. It has three options:

  • Text Button
  • Transparent Button
  • Image Button

Text button

The Text Button is the default button. It is a simple light gray button with a dark gray label or caption. You can change the color of the label but not the button. However, you can make the button transparent by enabling the Make Transparent checkbox below the dropdown.

When set to Make Transparent, only the text is seen. However, the area of the now invisible button is still clickable and will do the action you configured the button to do.

Two text buttons: one has make transparent disabled (left) and enabled (right).

"Transparent" button

The style tab of Captivate for transparent buttons, showing various options for character or font, fill, stroke, shadow and reflection, among others.The next option in the dropdown is the Transparent Button, which is quite a misnomer. Even though you can make the Transparent Button really transparent, it's easier to do it in Text Button. When you select Transparent Button from the dropdown menu, the Make Transparent checkbox disappears. New options appear: Fill, Stroke, and Corner radius.

The Fill refers to the surface of the button, while Stroke refers to the line that defines its border. It works in the same manner as the Fill and Stroke in Shapes; visit that entry for more details on how to customize the background and border of buttons.

The Corner radius has a percentage value. When you click on it, the displayed percentage value becomes a small text field that you can edit. The value can range between 0 % and 50%. If 0 %, the button has sharp right-angle corners. If 50%, the button turns into a circle (if square) or oblong (if rectangular); values in between produce rounded corners of varying roundness.

Even though the Make Transparent option is not available in the oddly named Transparent Button, you can produce the same effect by Fill » Opacity to 0 % and Stroke » Width to 0.

Image button

The last option in the dropdown menu is Image Button; as its name implies, you use it if you want an image as a button. Captivate accepts wildly-used image formats such as BMP, GIF, PNG, and JPEG, among others. However, vector graphics like SVG and AI are not allowed.

The Caption field disappears when you select the Image Button; although you can put the text that you would otherwise use as caption as part of the image. Also, a scrollable list of built-in graphics that you can use as button appears.

The style tab of Captivate for image buttons, showing various options for shadow and reflection. It also has scrollable list of images that you can use as buttons. On the right of the dropdown menu is a folder icon ans a trashbin icon.Two icons also appear on the right of the dropdown menu: a folder and a trash bin. Select the folder icon to browse your computer for graphics in other folders if you don't want any of those available in the scrollable list. Once you select an image, it is added to the scrollable list and used as an image for your button. To delete an image from the scrollable list, select that image and select the trash bin icon.

The image occupies the entirety of the button and resizes with it. Stretch the button, and the image also stretches. If the button is too large compare to the image's original size, you will notice pixelation.

You can resize, reposition, and rotate buttons just like most slide objects. However, flipping is not available for buttons.

The Make Transparent checkbox is available in Image Button, but it does not seem to do anything.

States of a button

A button has three states: Normal, RollOver, and Down.

  • Normal (Default) - the appearance of the button when you're not interacting with it
  • RollOver - the appearance of the button when the mouse pointer hovers above it
  • Down - the appearance of the button at the moment you click or tap it

Since there is no mouse pointer on tablets and mobile devices, learners who access your module using these devices will not see the RollOver state of a button. In reality, the RollOver state of a button usually appears for a very small fraction of a second before the Down state when you tap the button.

Access the states of a button

You can change the appearance of a button in each state. When you select a button on your Captivate slide and modify its properties under the Style tab, you are modifying only the Normal (Default) state. You need to access the other states before you can modify them. There are two ways to access the RollOver and Down states, and both can be found near the PROPERTIES tab:

  • Object State dropdown menu
  • State View

There are other options around these two, such as the blue plus sign to add new state object, and a checkbox labeled as Retain State on Slide Revisit, but we will not cover these for now.

Upper part of the PROPERTIES tab showing the Object State dropdown and the State View button.

When you select a button and use the Object State dropdown to choose a state other than Normal (Default), the button is enclosed by a blue rectangle. You can then change that state using the options under the Style tab.

You cannot change the kind of button (Text Button, Transparent Button, or Image Button), while you are editing the RollOver or Down state of a button.

If you accessed the RollOver or Down state of a button using the Object State dropdown, you might accidentally click outside of the blue rectangle. If this happens, the button becomes deselected, and the blue rectangle disappears. If you select the button again, the dropdown returns to Normal (Default) state.

To avoid these accidental clicks, you might prefer the State View instead. Select the button and then click State View. When the State View is activated, the region of the slide outside of the selected button becomes blur and inaccessible. Also, the FILMSTRIP shows the three states as three different slides. You can use the FILMSTRIP to access and modify the different states.

Slide with button enclosed in blue rectangle, the FILMSTRIP showing the states The Exit State icon is on the upper-right corner of the Captivate window.

To close the State View, select the Exit State icon on the right of the row of icons on top; this icon appears only when you're in State View.

What you can change in each state for each kind of button?

A close-up view of a keyboard, showing the green enter key replaced with a Captivate logo key. The other keys are white.Since there are three kinds of button, what you can change in their different states also depend on the kind of button.

For Text Buttons:

  • You can change only the color of the caption.
  • If the Make Transparent checkbox is off, the colors of the button are light blue for RollOver State, and a slightly darker shade of blue for Down state; you cannot change these colors.
  • If the Make Transparent checkbox is enabled, the button is always transparent for all states. You can still change the color of the caption.

For Transparent Button:

  • You can have different styles of Stroke and Fill for different states of the button.
  • You can have different fonts and colors of the caption for different states of the button.
  • You can have varying Corner radius for different states of the button.

For Image Button:

  • You can set different images for different states of the button.

Configure the actions of a button

The button is an interactive element. When a learner clicks on it, it does something. The default action is to go to the next slide. To configure the action, in the Actions tab, open the On Success dropdown menu and select the action you want to happen when the learner click the button.

Below are some of the actions you can select from the drop down:

  • Go to the next slide - default action, go to the slide next to the current slide
  • Go to the previous slide - go to the slide prior to the current slide
  • Jump to slide - go to a specific slide, specify the slide using another drop down menu that appears only when this is the selected action
  • Exit - close the browser window on which you are viewing the module lesson
  • Apply Effect - the button becomes the trigger to animate another object on the slide

Many of these actions warrant their own entries, so I will cover them in detail in some of my future posts. The other options under the Actions tab, such as Reporting, Others, Display, and those related to attempts, will also be covered in another entry.

Last updated on 27 Oct 2020.

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