Changing Default Timings In Engage

Summary: Changing the autoplayduration value in the data.xml file of the Engage published files allows you to change default timings in Engage.
Difficulty: Medium

Introduction

Engage is a great product to make your PowerPoint slides look super interactive plus it adds that ‘Flash’ factor with the proverbial stroke of a brush or mouse. There are one or two tweaks you can apply to make them do just what you want them to do. I wrote a post about how to resize a FLV or SWF in the Media Tour interaction.

 

Engage timings

 

This post today looks at how to change default timings when viewing an Engage interaction which may allow us to make things work better and can also be used to workaround an issue with the Labeled Graphic interaction. It is a post about making certain tweaks to make things happen as we want.

“Click next to continue”

First let’s have a look at one of the issues on hand: Here is a simple Timeline Engage Interaction. Notice how the user needs to wait for five seconds or more before the message “Click next to continue” appears.

 

Example

See example

Five seconds is fine sometimes, but you may have an interaction where 5 seconds on the first slide is simply too long. Well, you can’t change this from Engage itself, but you can change it by editing the data.xml file in the published files. If you make those changes, then you can get your interaction to behave like this:

 

Edited interaction


See example

How do you do it?

  • Create your Engage interaction and publish it either either as Standalone or to Articulate Presenter.
  •  

  • Locate the published files. If this is a standalone interaction, you will find these by default in My Documents\My Articulate Projects. If you are publishing to Articulate Presenter, then you will find these in the Presenter published files, a folder in the same location and with the same name as your PowerPoint file. By default, this will be My Documents\Articulate Presenter\myprojectnamefolder\engage_257 (the number of the Engage folder will change).
  •  

  • Locate and open the engage_content folder within the Engage published files:
  •  

    5files.png

     

  • Open the data.xml file in an editor like Notepad. You will see a file like this:
  •  

    Original data xml file

     

  • Find the autoplayduration tag and change the value from 5 to something smaller. In the example above, I changed it to 0.1 (it will not take 0 as a valid figure):
  •  

    5seconddatafinal2.png

     

    5dataxml233.png

     

  • Save and close the data.xml file.
  •  

  • Play your standalone Engage interaction (without republishing) or publish your Articulate Presenter presentation (without republishing Engage to Presenter) and you should find that the message appears quicker than before.

Note

Another instance where this technique is useful is specifically when you have inserted an Engage interaction into Presenter.

Imagine that you have set your Engage interaction to be played in Linear viewing (Engage interaction properties) and you want the next slide button to appear immediately on the last step rather than have the user wait for five seconds for this to appear.

Again, changing the autoplayduration figure will vary the delay the user must wait. Making the value 0.1 will effectively make the “Next Slide” button appear immediately.

 

  • Here is an example of the issue:
  •  

    Next Slide Demo

    View example

     

  • and here it is resolved having changed the autoplayduration value to 0.1.
  •  


    Next Slide Resolved


    View resolved demo

    Labeled Graphic Issue

    This brings us to a final and more serious issue with certain Engage interactions including the Labeled Graphic Interaction when embedded in Presenter. If your Articulate Presenter presentation is running in Restricted mode and the audio of the last step is LONGER than the autoplayduration value in the data.xml file, then the interaction gets stuck and the user cannot move on.

    This is known issue by the Articulate developers but one which continues to cause headaches for some designers.

     

  • Here is an example:
  •  


    Labeled Graphic Issue

    View issue

     

    By changing the autoplayduration value to a greater number than the length of the audio file on the last step, we can workaround this problem. The audio length of the file is 7.3 seconds. So I am going to make the autoplayduration value 7.5 seconds.

     

  • Here is the same file with the issue resolved:
  •  


    Labeled Issue Resolved

    View issue resolved

     

    The drawback with this workaround is that it automatically makes all steps default to the autodurationplay value you choose. So if you have shorter audio in the earlier steps, your users will have to wait before being able to move on. Similarly, steps without audio, will take this new viewing time value.

    The secret is therefore to make your final audio piece shorter than the others in the preceeding steps (if they have audio). If you don’t want to change the autodurationplay value manually, just make sure that your final step contains less than 5 seconds of audio or none at all!

    Happy hacking !

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