Six-cess: Six secrets of successful software simulation in Storyline

The eLearning software simulation element of Articulate Storyline 2 is a great feature. When we cover simulation in our Certified Training Program everyone is amazed at how quick and easy it is to produce great results. Also, the apparent magic of the automatic instruction captions never fails to delight.

However, don’t forget, when we demonstrate a feature in training we know what to do to get the best out of the software. Having built software simulations for almost 10 years now I’ve developed a trick or two.  So, how about I let you in on some of those secrets. Most of them relate to getting good playback in the step-by-step modes in your eLearning software simulation, so if you only ever use the video playback jump straight to #6.   For the rest of us, here is what to look out for when you are undertaking those recordings:

1. Mouse Movements and Voiceover

If you decide you want to record your video voiceover at the same time as the screens, be sure to be aware of where your mouse is and when you move it. My advice here, is to begin talking about a feature before moving your mouse towards it. This is particularly relevant if your target software has hover states and tooltips that appear quickly. If you spend too long hovering over a feature while talking about it you will find it difficult to find a ‘clean’ section of the video recording in Action Fine Tuning to use in the step-by-step sequences. Extended screencast clips in step-by-step modes destroy the fluidity of the sequence created by the use of video rather than static screenshots.

2. Text Entry Confirmation

When recording a sequence that includes data entry, for example entering client details in a form, try using keyboard shortcuts to move from field to field. Tab is the most common of these shortcuts and as long as the software developers built in a sensible Tab Order to the fields, Storyline will replicate “Type & Tab” much more effectively in step-by-step modes than “Type & Click”.

3. Click & Drag

One of the times you’ll want to pay a little extra attention is when using the click & drag functionality that many of us use when resizing objects or scrolling. When inserting them into a Try or Test Mode playback Storyline will leave these steps in View Mode. Workarounds for this include clicking scrollbar arrows or resizing objects from the context menu options. Oh, and don’t use the scroll wheel on your mouse either.

4. Caption Colors

The default captions produced by Storyline 2 when a step-by-step sequence is created are generally blue with white text. That is, they will be blue with white text if you haven’t made any changes to your color scheme from the Design menu. Now, there’s nothing wrong with blue and white per se, but it doesn’t always match your organizational branding and if that’s the case there are ways of changing this. One way is to make changes to a caption and “Set as Default Shape” from the right-click context menu. This works perfectly for any captions added via the Insert>Captions menu option but will be ignored by the Screen Record step-by-step insert. To make sure you’re branding, customizations are picked up by the Record Screen feature. You need to update your color scheme in the Slide Masters and save the changes as a Theme that can be turned on from the Design menu.

5. Caption Text Labels

Hands up who has an organizational dictionary? Some of you? Most of you probably do but don’t necessarily realize it. Do you have clients, customers, or consumers? When you use your mouse in your software do you click or select – or tap if it’s a touchscreen you use? This terminology forms your organizational dictionary. In Storyline 2 the default terminology used by the step-by-step mode captions is hidden, you can’t change it in Text Labels like you can other phrases. So how do you go about editing them without the need to visit every slide in turn? Step forward the Translation feature from the File menu. Export the text from your course using one of the three document formats, make your changes and then reimport the result. Using Microsoft Word export allows you to use features such as Find & Replace to dramatically speed up the editing process. Formatting changes made in this document also import so updating the font, or even just the font size, across the board is easy.

N.B. Don’t forget, the quality of the automatic captions will depend on how the developers who created the target software built it. Storyline 2 uses the target software’s internal text labels to create those captions, so if your developers didn’t label objects in interface effectively Storyline won’t be able to identify them properly.

6. Recording Shortcuts

My final tip is for everyone. If you record your video in Full Screen mode the recording control bar disappears, so you need to control your recording using keyboard shortcuts. The default shortcuts include “Esc” to stop the recording, “Alt +D” to pause and “PrntScrn” to take a screenshot.  On most occasions you should be able to leave these alone, but what happens if the sequence you are recording includes pressing one of these keys/combinations? The screen recording function will take over and your recording will be stopped/paused/screenshotted. So, take a moment before you start to review your script and make sure none of these keys are used and if they are, be sure to change the shortcut inside the Recording Toolbar Options.

So that’s it – my six secrets for successful eLearning software simulation in Storyline 2. I hope they lead you to many happy hours screen recording in Storyline 2.