The Articulate SDK is a great way to customise your Articulate Presenter presentations, with custom Flash buttons, menus and tabs. However, not everyone has the SDK, so here are a couple of tips that can actually be gleaned from the SDK Player Preview Documentation, which is publicly available to everyone, on how to add some exciting extra features to your presentations, tips which can help you make your presentation do just what you want it to do.
No Controls, Please
Every so often, we make a presentation where we just don’t want any navigation controls on the screen, whether it be those at the bottom centre of the screen in ‘Standard View’ or those controls at the bottom right of the screen in ‘Slide Only’ view, perhaps because they may cause the student to make the publication go somewhere we don’t want it to. Some people resort to coloring the presentation in such a way as to try and make the controls invisible.
However, we are going to see that in the ‘Slide Only’ view, we have in fact a choice of three ‘modes’ or views, one of which allows us to totally remove controls in the ‘Slide only’ view, and another giving us an alternative to the standard controls that we normally use.
Most of the guidance needed to accomplish this is actually in the Preview Documentation for the Player SDK. Incidentally, there may be other ways of achieving what I am about to do.
A Choice of 3 Views
So let’s have a quick look at the three ‘slide only’ modes.
The first is the standard ‘slide only’ screen mode which you can see below and which uses controls like these in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen:
This mode is great but sometimes we don’t want our students to click on these controls or pause the presentation. The solution is generally to go into the ‘no sidebar’ view, remove navigation buttons so that the student cannot ‘interfere’ with the publication but we lose the ‘full screen’ view.
Another choice we have in ‘slide only’ view is to changes the controls in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to be able to go forwards and backwards. The SDK calls these ‘floating controls’ so let’s call this the ‘Floating mode.’ You can see an example below. This is a great extra feature to our suite of settings and controls in Articulate Presenter. Those with the SDK have access to the FLA files and can edit these in Flash if they wish.
The third possibility removes the controls altogether so that you are left with absolutely no controls whatsoever except those that you have designed in your Powerpoint slide via hyperlinks etc. I call this the ‘No Controls’ mode. You can see an example below and is an alternative to the ‘no sidebar,’ ‘no navigation’ view.
So we have three ‘slide only’ modes: The standard, the floating, and the ‘no controls.’
So how do we get the two extra modes?
Well, to get the floating and ‘no control’ modes, the procedure is quite similar. There are two ways. Either you edit playerproperties.xml file for each publication, which you will find in the <published folder>dataplayerproperties.xml or if you don’t want to do this every time you publish (because let’s face it, it takes time and adds complexity to what should be a straightforward operation), then the best thing is to create a custom template or several, which you can choose when you want to use these ‘slide only’ modes. In this case, you don’t change the playerproperties.xml file, you change the template, which in turn will change the playerproperties.xml file automatically for you. I am going to show you how to change the template.
- First create a new custom template and call it ‘Floating template.’ To do this, go into the Player Template Builder and click on File.
- Select ‘New from existing’ and choose a template that you use a lot.
- Give the new template a name beginning with ‘Floating’ so that you can identify it easily later on.
- Click OK and then click Close to leave the Player Template Builder.
- Now, leave Presenter and go into Windows, and locate the Articulate folder in Program Files. Open it and then open the Presenter folder.
- Double-click on the templates folder, which is in the Presenter folder, and locate the newly created template that should begin with ‘Floating.’
- Open this file using a simple editor like Wordpad (the following is now true if you are editing the playerproperties.xml file in the published folder, which I mentioned above).
- Do a search for </browsersettings> in the text.
- After </browsersettings>, insert the following code.
<floatcontrols> <enabled>true</enabled> <left>10000</left> <top>10000</top> <inneralpha>100</inneralpha> <outeralpha>100</outeralpha> </floatcontrols>
This code is available in the Preview SDK publication at the bottom of page 3.
- Save the template file (or the playerproperties.xml file) and close.
You have just created a custom template for creating the Floating mode ‘no slide’ view. Now, all you have to do is to create your publication, and all your ‘no slide’ views will have the new controls, if you publish using this template. This mode is a great way of letting learners go backwards and forwards in the ‘no slide’ view. Try it and see for yourself.
Note: The saved template will only keep its form if it is not changed in any way. If you change some feature of the template — e.g., making the presentation start in Standard rather than No Slide, then the Floating controls code might get lost.
No Controls Mode
But what if we don’t need controls at all? Then to get this third mode of the ‘slide only’ view, the No Controls mode, we do exactly the same as for the Floating mode but we delete a file just after publication, and post onto our LMS, upload onto the server, publish to CD etc. (Note that if you are using Articulate Online, you will need to do a manual upload.)
- Publish using our Floating template. (Or manually insert the ‘floating code’ in the playerproperties.xml file.)
- Identify and locate the published folder.
- Open the player folder and delete ast_remote.swf
Now, when you view your publication, your controls will have completely disappeared.
A New Player
So there we go — two new ways to display your presentations. Just be careful with the Full Screen mode that your student is not locked into this view. And don’t forget that in the full SDK there are many more ways you can customise the player to make your presentation different from the rest.