Captivate Advanced Actions: the “Untitled” bar

Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by Edward 4 Comments

This is definitely one of those posts that needs to impress upon the lack of support from the Adobe help files. I couldn’t find a thing useful to help me with Captivate Advanced Actions. Quite frankly, the help files don’t do more than define what something is…not one iota of information on how to use the feature in some practical application.

And this post is not a “how to use Captivate Advanced Actions” tutorial. This post focuses on one elusive aspect of the Conditional actions “Untitled” bar.

So, the first question is—what are Advanced Actions? Well, you could Google them and get a fancy technical definition, but I consider Advanced Actions to be a GUI by which you can insert a form of ActionScript code into your Captivate project. So basically, I’m equating Advanced Actions to the Actions Panel in Flash—but with a little hand holding via the dialog box.

So, why am I writing this post? Because I had the pleasure of being totally ignorant of Advanced Actions and totally baffled by the “Untitled” bar that when I ended up figuring out (to some extent) how to use it, I had to share; at least how I used it in the capacity in which I needed it…and take that with a grain of salt!

To start, Captivate has what are called “User” and “System” variables. And in the system variables, are variables that show the current date…separate month, day and year or a complete date with the month, day and year in one string…the problem is, this data is only displayed in numerical format.

My problem was that I needed a date for a certificate and having “01-01-2012” was just not going to cut it—so, I had to find a way to convert the numerical month into an alphabetic month…in other words, convert 1, 2, 3, etc. to January, February, March, etc.

After battling with Captivate on other issues, I knew that I could “assign” a value to a variable, but I needed to assign a value to 12 variables “IF” the value of the Captivate system variable contained a certain value…whew…that was a mouth full!

So basically, I needed an IF statement with essentially one result IF ONLY ONE of the IF statements was true…i.e.:

if (Captivate System Variable == 1) {
 ASSIGN $month01 value of January
}
if (Captivate System Variable == 2) {
 ASSIGN $month02 value of February
}
if (Captivate System Variable == 3) {
 ASSIGN $month03 value of March
}

…and so on until I got all 12 months…

And I can’t tell you how much time I spent surfing the web to solve this issue…I saw many examples of others using the “Untitled” bar, but no clear explanation of why they used it, how it was being used or what it was doing in the background.

So, leaving the web unsatisfied and returning to my Captivate project, I created one Advanced Action to show the current month…and as you can see by the image, I’m using a “Conditional” Action Type, “showJan” (my one month) as an Action Name…and in my “IF” section I have “Perform action if: All conditions are true…cpInfoCurrentMonth is equal to 1…and in my Actions I have “Show”  “TC_Jan” (where TC_Jan is a text caption on my Captivate slide with that variable to “showJan” inside of it…

Now, notice the “Untitled” bar with the first “Untitled” highlighted in blue…I mean, really…what is that? But then, all of sudden…


 
…it hit me…why not do a “showMonth” Advanced Action and use the “Untitled” bar to house the IF statement for each month…I figured, what the hell…try it and see what happens.

So, I created a new variable named “displayMonth”…created a new text caption and assigned the “displayMonth” variable to it…created a new Advanced Action and named this one “showMonth” and this time, instead of telling the slide to “Show” a text caption…I could just use the one text caption with the “displayMonth” variable inside it and assign it a “literal” value (meaning anything typed into the text field—which in my case was spelling out the calendar months)

So, I created Jan, Feb and Mar…then clicked the “+” sign under the bar to add another “Untitled” button in the bar…double-clicked and named it Apr…created my “IF” and “Actions” and continued to do this until I did all 12 months.

After I was done, I had the strangest feeling that this was actually going to work…

Now, here is the REAL KICKER…in order for the Advanced Action to actually do anything, you have to invoke the script…well, how do you do that? All I can say is this information WAS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND IN THE ADOBE HELP FILES…I just happened to find it on another blog while I was looking for a way to do something else…and that post didn’t even emphasize this step…

To get the script to work, you need to go to the Properties panel for the slide and in Actions tab…click the “On Enter” dropdown menu and select “Execute Advanced Action”…then, in the Script dropdown menu, select the Advanced Action you want to envoke (in my case, showMonth)…

…and unless you have an On Exit Advanced Action to perform…that should do it…
 
So, I published my certificate and what do you know, it did work…the current month displayed on the certificate in alphabetic form.

It turns out that, at least as far as I can tell, the Advanced Actions “Untitled” bar is how you create a multiple “IF” statement…and then you can change “Untitled” to give your “IF” statement a descriptive name…

It seems to me, since I couldn’t find documentation on this, that if Adobe used “IF Statement 1”, “IF Statement 2”, “IF Statement 3” or something instead of just “Untitled” it would be much more intuitive.

4 Responses

  1. Edward says:

    Thank you ashorsley…BTW, awesome articles/tutorials on your website as well…

  2. ashorsley says:

    Ed, thanks for this article. Great job. I also have some articles on my blog at: captivatecrazy.blogspot.com. I hope you keep writing. Thanks

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.