Anatomy 101: The build of Storyline 2

Just as we are made up of a whole load of body parts that combine and work together, Articulate Storyline 2 also has multiple body parts. These parts all work together to create courses that are as unique and individual as the developers who build them. As an Articulate Certified Trainer, it’s my job to make sure our delegates understand those parts and can put them together.

To quote one recent delegate on our Certified Storyline 2 Training:

“I was astounded at the versatility of the system and the ease at which what appeared to be complex concepts could be easily achieved.”

Ease of use is ingrained into Storyline. Not only is the interface initially familiar to the vast majority of users – a deliberate decision from Articulate to base their interface on that of Microsoft PowerPoint – but the intuitive and dynamic wizard system helps you identify very quickly when something, somewhere, isn’t the way you think it should be.  The versatility comes from being able to combine many elements together in ways that are sometimes consistent and at other times inventive (see Josh Stoner’s blog on Animation in Storyline   here).

So let’s go back to those “body parts” that make up Storyline and review how they all work together to create a simple and in most cases, seamless flow when building courses.  They are:

  • Story, Scenes, Slides, Layers and Masters
  • Objects, States, Animations, and Transitions
  • Triggers, Conditions and Variables

Each of these can contain, detect, affect, interact with or be assigned to others, in order to produce the effects we see in the final output.

Way back in the early days of Articulate Storyline, in fact during the original beta test before it was originally launched in 2012, one of the eLearning Heroes of the Articulate Community, Steve Flowers, created a diagram that laid out the anatomy of Storyline and how all these elements interwove (see his original post   here).  It’s a resource I’ve used consistently to support my own knowledge and to present a structure to my trainees.  Recently, I decided to update Steve’s original diagram to add in a few more elements: some that I felt were missing from the original and others driven by the updates in Storyline 2. Here’s the updated version:


If we are thinking of this diagram as the anatomy of Storyline maybe it hangs together like this:

  • Slides etc. = the skeleton
  • Objects etc. = the organs
  • Triggers etc. = the tendons and muscles that hold it all together and move it around
  • Conditions = the nervous system that makes things happen based on specific stimuli

There are, of course, a few exceptions to the rules. For example:

  • Hotspots can’t have States
  • Triggers can’t be assigned to Zoom Regions

However this is where that inventiveness comes in. Use an invisible shape, rather than a hotspot, to trigger a zoom region by duplicating the slide and placing the zoom 0.25 seconds into the timeline. Think of these tricks as the exercise and multivitamins that support your anatomy, helping you make the most of what you’ve got.

So there you go, it may not be as detailed as Gray’s Anatomy (the book not the TV show! that’s Grey’s Anatomy) but if you’re looking for a clear effective guideline to what is what hopefully you don’t need to look much further.