Adobe Captivate 9: Advanced Actions Part 1

The eLearning software market is packed with the latest and greatest of everything, but regardless of what tool you’re using, you still need that tool to make engaging and educational eLearning content. Once you understand some of the core features available in a tool like Adobe Captivate, you can build upon those core features and build solutions for any issue.

Let’s say you’re working with some content that is neatly organized into 3 chunks that the user can view in any order. The type of interaction depends on how much content you have for each section. If it’s just a quick paragraph or a quick video, you could keep the content on the slide hidden until activated. If you’ve got several slides worth of content, you’re looking at a branched scenario. We’re going to work on the hidden text option for this post.

In Adobe Captivate, there’s a couple basic methods for activating hidden content. The content could be a Rollover Caption, a Rollover Slidelet, or a hidden caption. You could trigger the interaction with a button, a click box, or a rollover. So many options! For today’s post, we’re going to use a hidden text caption that’s activated by a Button.

Hiding Text Captions

CP1To set up this type of interaction, we will start with three buttons and three text boxes. I am going to use Smart Shapes for the captions and the buttons, but you can use actual buttons and actual text captions. After you have the objects set up, you need to name them. Captivate gives all objects generic names, which makes it difficult to link things together if you’re working with lots of objects. Before you start naming your objects, make sure they make sense and are formatted in such a way that the pattern can be repeated, if necessary.

Select the object you need to name and type the name in the field at the top of the Properties panel.



A good practice is to label buttons and text boxes as such, so you can quickly spot them. The name can’t have spaces, so Captivate will add an underscore for you. Once your objects are named, you’ll see them in your Timeline.

We don’t want the text boxes visible right away, so we need to hide them from the output. With all three text boxes selected, click the small eye icon at the top of the Properties panel.

Watch for this icon CP5whenever you’re building a Show/Hide interaction.   CP7

In my example, I added three Smart Shapes, but I need to convert them to Buttons, which is done in the top section of the Properties panel. Click the Use as Button checkbox and an Actions section appears in the Properties panel. 

With one button selected, access the Actions section. The first field, On Success, tells you what will happen when you click the button. Go to the next slide is selected by default, but there are several options.

Select ShCP15ow and a new dropdown list appears that lists all of the objects on the slide. Here’s where our naming system comes into play. Select the text caption that corresponds with the selected button. In my example, when you click Cake_Button, Cake_Text will appear.

Let’s recap the steps so far:

  1. Add a Text Caption and a Button (or Smart Shapes) to the slide.
  2. Hide the Text Caption from the output.
  3. Select the Button and access the Actions section of the Properties panel.
  4. Select Show from the On Success dropdown list.
  5. Select the Text Caption from the Show dropdown list.

Advanced Actions

As I mentioned earlier, there’s always more than one way to accomplish a task in Captivate. For a Show/Hide interaction, you could also use an Advanced Action. Creating an Advanced Task for a simple interaction like this might seem like overkill, but it’s a great way to open the door into the endless possibilities of Advanced Actions.

Instead of selecting Show from the On Success dropdown list, we’re going to select Execute Advanced Actions. A new dropdown list appears, but it’s empty. Click the yellow folder icon next to the dropdown list to open the Advanced Actions dialog box to create a new Action (You could also select Advanced Actions from the Project menu to open the same dialog box).


Creating Advanced Actions

There are two types of Advanced Actions: Standard and Conditional. We’re going to start with a Standard Action and give it a name. We only have three Actions to create, so we don’t need to be too careful with our naming system, but if you have a complex project, you’ll want to make sure your names are easy to understand and easy to locate from a long list. Now you can add the Actions.


Click the Add icon and the Actions dropdown list appears. The options are basically the same as in the On Success list in the Properties panel. Select Show and the list of objects appears. Select the appropriate object and you will see a green checkmark in the left column, indicating that everything in your Action is linked appropriately.


At this point you could save the Action and then test it. When you click the button, your text object appears. Now that you’ve got everything working, you can fine-tune all the available options.

Now let’s put all the steps together:

  1. Add a Text Caption and Button to the slide.
  2. Hide the Text Caption from the output.
  3. Select the Button and access the Actions section of the Properties panel.
  4. Select Execute Advanced Action from the On Success dropdown list.
  5. Click the folder icon to open the Advanced Actions window.
  6. Name the Advanced Action.
  7. Click the Add icon.
  8. Select Show from the first dropdown list.
  9. Select the Text Caption from the second dropdown list.
  10. Click Save As Action and close the window.
  11. Select the appropriate Advanced Action from the Script dropdown list.

In future posts, we’ll build upon this interaction by adding a navigation action that requires users to click on each button before they can move on. We’ll also add an action that closes the text box, creating a toggle effect.

Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share for creating a similar interaction? What’s your go-to naming convention for keeping objects organized? Do you have any questions about how this interaction works? Let us know in the comments below.

After receiving a Master’s Degree from NAU in Literacy, Technology, and Professional Writing, Sarah returned to her home town of Omaha, Nebraska where she gathered almost 10 years of experience in Instructional Design. Sarah loves utilizing technology to create training, whether to teach people how to use a computer system, improve their sales numbers, or incorporate a new process into their daily routine. Her background in English and Technical Writing helps keep her focused on writing and editing to provide clear and concise content for training. When the opportunity opened up with the Learning & Professional Development team, Sarah and her family (which consists of a bicycle-obsessed husband, two energetic daughters, and an annoying German Shepherd) jumped at the chance to move back to Flagstaff where they can ride bikes, hike, camp, ride bikes some more, and generally enjoy the outdoors without humidity or mosquitoes.

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