Object Style Manager/Mangler

Explorer ,
Nov 30, 2020

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Hi, I'm just here to rant briefly about the object styles: So many! Most are fugly! The use of bitmaps to compose the caption styles is quaint but outdated! Black text on Dark Green? Are you mad? Style names that have the redundant usage of the word "STYLE" in the name? It's the style menu! What do they think they're going to see here, trees? Not to mention the extraneous brackets at the left and right, and the usage of the word "DEFAULT" which, by the way, does not make it a default if the "Set as Default" check box is not marked.

 

I like to read (for laughs) the latest documentation for Captivate, which was last updated in August of 2018. (What a simple time compared to now.) It's called the "Reference" but it's still just a series of how-to's. Does it, for instance, give a list of the built in styles and show what they look like? (You know, for reference?) NO! Does it provide a rundown of the object styles and how they are related to one another? (For, I don't know, helping out a newb?) Is there any rhyme or reason as to how a particular style is applied when choosing a theme? NO! I can have a style called GREAT in my project, and an identical one in the Theme, but I'll still get the project's GREAT style replaced by something completely different.

 

Does the Object Style Manager seem weak and bloated, holding so many attributes while having an interface that cannot be resized to read the entire style name? (Doesn't anyone ever have the need to find [Default_Ugly_Style_OMGZ_what_was_I_thinking]_4_1 in a list that doesn't display the entire name?) Is there a naming convention used automatically by the OSM that could maybe be "referenced" in the case of similarly named styles?

so many styles.jpg

I-Am-So-Professional_0-1606802244649.gif

 

 

Okay, I've let off some steam now, toodle-oo. 

 

Signed,

Someone who actually does care

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Dec 01, 2020

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From someone who 'believes' in Captivate and 'cares' for Captivate users.

 

Fearing tons of insults (used to it) because of my honesty, personal insights in strengths and weaknesses of Captivate, and my damned memory recalling the history of Captivate from version 1 to 11.5. But as a woman who has spent decades fighting in a men's world (building industry) I don't fear insults. I will split into topics because your title is not covering only the Object Style Manager.

 

Captions

That legacy item - which I would have taken out since years similar to several other items like image buttons - is still the same from very old versions. It has been really superfluous since the fully versioned Themes appeared with Captivate 6, which also had Shapes as the most flexible item in Captivate which can be used both as text container and button (with lot less limitations than the old types of buttons). In recent versions Themes packaged with Captivate (and used in the Quick Start Projects) use exclusively the Transparent style for captions, not the very outdated styles you are referring to.  As I see it, this is a workaround for the fact that Captivate has no Text styles, only Object Styles.  My guess (again): fear of making it too complicated for newbies by having a hierarchy in styles as you can find in Desktop publishers (Framemaker, InDesign). That 'fear' does't always result in very practical solutions. Other workarounds for the lack of text styles (which could be used in Object styles) are the Copy/Paste Appearance (which I only use for the text styles, see http://blog.lilybiri.com/using-copy-slash-paste-appearance-in-11-dot-5-0) and replacement of Fonts, propagating throughout all object styles using that font (which also appeared in 11.5). Not optimal, like most workarounds.
Conclusion: ignore those Caption styles. Use Captions with the default Transparent style as replacement for Text Style and eventually supplemented by the other workarounds.

Why still around: because lot of projects you'll find posted in the eLearning community prove that many users still use Captions, as is often the case. Change of long-learned step-by-step workflows seems to be so difficult for the majority of people. 

 

Object Style Manager

Besides the Captions, I agree with many of the points you mention. Object Styles are only one component of a Theme. Although I have been begging, pleading to be able to present about Themes (one of the topics least understood by the majority of Captivate users) it has been in vain. It should be one of the main topics even in a basic training, especially when trainees are developing for one company. It is simply part of good practice, and saves so much time as my trainees agree. Look around in manuals, books, tutorials everywhere...  You understand that I'll avoid pointing to some specifically. 
Ideally you create a custom Theme for each project, starting from the Blank theme (because it has the minimum amount of master slides required), set up Theme colors palette, Theme fonts, object styles, master slides and if needed Skin design and Recording defaults. That will lead to a minimum of styles, and keep Default styles (one per possible object, due to the same lack of hierarchy I mentioned) for the one you'll use most. That this good practice is not honored in the Quick Start Projects... not due to me. I have logged a lot of features requests/bug reports.

About labeling (gave up logging bug report about needing resizable dialog boxes and panels for everything to avoid cutting off of information).  Personally I still follow rules which I learned before Windows (good old DOS). Keep labels short, significant part of the name in front, no spaces, camel format). Windows, Apple and laziness (sorry) have spoilt those basic rules. 
Not being able in an easy way to delete superfluous object styles (like all those image button and caption styles) proves that the OSM needs a serious refurbishing. Not sure if that will help most users since the multitude of overriden Styles I see daily.

Conclusion: try to understand the importance of a Theme. You still seem confused because you talk about styles in Theme and in Master slides? In a custom theme only styles from the OSM are used in Master slides. 

 

Help/Documentation

Personal history facts from my Captivate memory. 

  • 2008-9: frustrated by the incompleteness of the Reference manual, I started to write some articles in a workflow provided by Adobe (really!). They are still available as kb-article (Adobe archive); you can find the links in this old blog post: 
    http://blog.lilybiri.com/creating-customized-question-slides-using-adv
  • End 2009: same frustration, more specifically about variables and Advanced actions pushed me at setting up a blog on a free platform. 
  • 2010 or 2011: not sure anymore. Adobe asked me to moderate the Captivate Help (online version). Tasks included finding bugs, answering questions. Most important: the created platform allowed the insertion of links to relevant published content from (expert) users which made the Help a lot more complete of course. Suddenly after a couple of years, without any warning nor even Thanks (all was for free of course) that was stopped completely. Since that moment, only some extra pages  (for a new features) were added by the Adobe team. All external links were gone.  Better? 
  • For several years there was a platform (acrobat.com) where we could provide (for free) documentation for other users. I have been using that platfom intensively, and there are still some of my tables to be downloaded, but not the most recent versions of course. I sometimes get a notification that it happened. That platform is gone since several years. I totally agree that lot of lists/tables are lacking in the documentation. You can find some on my blog - for free.
  • 2013: Free platform I used for my blog was gone suddenly. I now have a non-free platform (posthaven) , pay for a domain and for a host company as well to be able to keep tutorials and tables available for Captivate users. No ROI at all,  it may be time to stop throwing away money. Not even allowed anymore to present webinars (did a lot in 2012-2016) nor present at conferences (one exception in june 2020). 
  • Today? I used to tell: 'Never look in the Reference for a complicated solution, post your question in the Adobe forums'.  Now I should add '... or in the eLearning community'. Rant from me this time: 'when will we have a GLOSSARY in that community'.  

Why not start a discussion in the eLearning community about how a good Help documentation should be? It is weird, because RoboHelp is an Adobe application which is in the same suite as Captivate. However it takes lot of time to provide good content (don't dare to count the thousands of hours spent for my blog) as I wrote without any real ROI. A company needs to earn money, right? If each of the around 2,000,000 views of blog articles had provide me 1 $cent, I would be able to replace my 10years old desktop PC and more. 

 

To end with a positive note: Captivate IS and remains fun! Combine it with Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, After Effects, Animate, Character Animator... and you'll never have enough playtime.

 

 

 

 

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Explorer ,
Dec 01, 2020

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On Captions, I hear you loud and clear. You hear that, everyone? Captions styles are useless! A vestigial tail. We can only hope that they get updated to feature SVG graphics, so we can migrate this program away from "2002 look" syndrome. (Please, Adobe? Your users are clamoring for improvement!)

 

With regard to Object Style Manager, it's good to hear and needs to be brought to the forefront of training importance. There is no better way to increase your efficiency than using Custom Themes. I recently saw the light, and I'm about to bring the tablets down from the mountain, and present them to my team. I fully understand the power of themes.

 

What I'm confused about is the way that Object Styles are replaced by Custom Theme Object Styles. It doesn't seem to work the way I would imagine it should. In my example, I have saved an Object Style to the custom Theme with the same name as an Object Style in a project that I'm about to "Theme up". I'd like the target to be painted by the Object Style whose name it shares...but instead, it chooses a different one. Maybe due to the fact that the target Object Style is not a default? I don't know. My point being, there is no clear mechanism behind the assignment. And I look to the example given by InDesign, and the way it handles importing MSWord document styles. A dialogue box opens and allows you to update, remap or append the styles of the DOC, and that's the level of control I would appreciate when applying a Theme. But, you know, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. This beggar would like a ride.

 

In any case, the documentation, as well as the rest of the interwebz, is real silent about the way to get the Custom Theme's Custom Skin to apply itself automatically. Perhaps you have the necessary info, in which case I am indebted to you eternally? (It's the missing link in my workflow chainmail)

 

Finally, while I believe that Captivate is a road to hell paved with good intentions, it is still a necessary implement for my daily work. I like to hear from others about their experiences and difficulties with the C-word because it helps me to reverse engineer a working knowledge of shortcomings, workarounds and creative solutions with regard to usage that are simply unavailable in the limited, outdated documentation. Can we get a million monkeys with typewriters on that task? I kid, I kid.

 

P.S. It is a joy and a blessing to hear about your personal experiences with the ivory tower that is Adobe. You are truly one of the G.O.A.T.s (Greatest Of All Time, for those without access to Google) in this forum, and I tip my hat to you, Lilibiri. 

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Lilybiri LATEST
Most Valuable Participant ,
Dec 01, 2020

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About Captions: I meant that the object 'Caption' should have disappeared since a couple of versions. Allow some time to users to go the new ways, but shapes as text containers (and buttons) are there since version 6, which is almost 8 years and 5 versions ago. Use a Shape as text container. Shapes are originally vector-based, not really SVG. I have dreams there as well.

 

About Themes which include the Object Style Manager: it has been years since I beg to let me present at least ONE webinar with an intro to Themes. All the trainees I had for basic and advanced trainings do have a good idea about what Themes mean in Captivate. That would take away some of your frustrations.

 

I will not tell you how many times a sent a feature request to have 'mapping' fetures, Usage features and similar. Some are there: Shared actions are present in the Library, Variables and Advanced Actions have a Usage button. Finally in 11.5 you can map a font to another font. But there is still no way to see which objects are using which colors nor which font (if text is implicated). You are correct about mapping in ID (which I use as well), but ID (and Framemaker even better) has a well structured system of styles. Not the case in Captivate.

 

As Captivate defender, I need to say that Captivate is so multi-featured (like a Swiss knife) that you cannot have all the functionality of Photoshop, Illustrator, Audtion, Animate, Premiere Pro, After Effects, InDesign-Framemaker in that one tool, plus all the interactivity and scoring featured needed in any eLearning authoring tool. 

 

I discoverd the meaning of GOAT just recently. Thanks for your appreciation, refreshing after some hard blows.

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