Adding Developer Comments for Triggers and Other SL Elements

Jun 01, 2021

In all coding languages, adding developer comments is considered a good practice. Other developers may have to make revisions or use a chunk of code as a starting point for some other application. 

In Storyline, triggers are as close to code as we get. Yet there is no way to include a comment on the purpose of a trigger. If I'm given a .story file for a course and I need to use it to build another course or use it as a model, having developer comments built right into the course would be extremely helpful. 

This occurred to me after a member of a user group I'm in asked for help to deconstruct a complex interaction so they could create a new one that operates the same way. Something wasn't working right after the modifications for the new course were made and we spent a lot of time asking things like, "What's this trigger for?" and "What does this variable do?"  Having developer comments sure would've been handy and more definitive than making educated guesses (and second-guessing the original developer in the process).

I think it would be incredibly helpful for us to be able to add comments to triggers. I also think it would be great to add comments for variables so we can declare their purpose. 

I'd like to know what others think, and, of course, what would it take to get a "developer comment" feature added to Storyline?


12 Replies
Judy Nollet

Hi, Dan,

I agree that it would be useful to have a developer-comment area in the Trigger Wizard and in the list of variables. Or, at least, as a separate panel (e.g., like Notes except the text wouldn't be exported for translations, etc.).

You can request features here (but don't get your hopes up...). 

In the meantime, if you're not using Notes for on-screen notes, and you won't be exporting a course for translation, consider adding developer comments in Notes. 

FYI: I've sometimes added off-screen text boxes to explain how a complicated interaction works. One could even create a never-accessed-by-the-user scene, and then add explanations there. For example, paste a screenshot of triggers on a slide, and then add callouts with explanations. (Again, it gets complicated if the course will be translated, since all the explanatory text would get exported. If that's an issue, another option is to put all the instructions into a Word or PPT file that's shared with the .story file.)

Walt Hamilton

Open the sample at this discussion:  
View it in story view, and you'll see my developer notes. Maybe they are not as complete or easy as what you describe, but that is a more a function of my laziness than SL's shortcomings.

My point is that it is better for us to find ways to make SL do what we want than to hold our collective breath waiting for Articulate to add features.

Dan Epstein


Cool hat!

I did submit a feature request. It's not my first. And I'll describe my expectations as "tempered."

You make good suggestions. Without a dedicated in-line comments functionality, I'd probably go with the unseen layer approach just because it makes the stage less cluttered. But yes, text will get sucked out for translation for multi-language courses. For declaring variables, though, it's not ideal since layers are slide-specific.

And personally, I wouldn't use the Notes panel since it's the VO content panel for all intents and purposes. And since it's slide-specific like a layer, it's less ideal for dealing with the purposes of the various variables. 

I really don't want to have a separate comments file as you suggest. It's one more thing to manage that'll likely get lost. Yeah, I think I like the unseen layer approach.


Judy Nollet

Hi again, Dan,

Unseen layers are a great option. Then perhaps use the extra-unseen-slide option to explain the variables. 

Sorry I didn't think to mention that the Notes panel could only be used if there's no VO content or other reason to have it showing to the users. 

BTW, I like your hat, too. Mine is a shameless marketing ploy: I do business as White Plume Communications.  :-)

Dan Epstein


Maybe it's a lack of coffee thing on my part, but that link just takes me to, not to the specific item you're pointing to. I even tried copy and paste and got the same thing. 

Yes, I know the feature request thing is akin to throwing coins in a fountain as far as results are concerned. But I'm just tired of workarounds, dammitall! And as I replied to Judy, I liked her workaournd idea of using a layer learners never see just because it's less clutter on the stage.

Dan Epstein


OK, so coffee kicked in for both of us. 

Finally got a chance to review the .story file for your complex d and d. This is exactly the kind of interaction that would benefit from developer notes. I think the interaction you put together here is really good. 

The notes you have on the slides themselves do a good job of describing what's possible on a given slide. What I'm advocating is the addition of notes for the triggers and variables. Specifically, what does each variable do? What does each set of triggers do? It would take someone quite a while, I think, to determine that. For someone to use this as a model from which to create a similar interaction would be a bit of a slog w/o notes of some kind. 

I'm guessing you have notes for yourself somewhere else, like a physical notebook or Evernote or similar. This interaction has a lot of elements to keep track of. I couldn't do it without notes.

Thanks for link. I did submit a feature request the other day. The auto reply lays out the steps for considering a request. Sadly, none of those steps seems to include asking us users what we think.