Build Custom Search within Storyline using JavaScript

Using JavaScript, follow these instructions to add a Custom Search Engine to your course. In 2018, I shared this functionality via a 5 minute Spark Presentation at the Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase in Naperville, IL.

JavaScript Course ImageMarch 2020 Update: I now have a training course built using Rise 360 & Storyline 360 which explains Custom Search Engine, Random Number, and Time of Day Greeting JavaScript functionality. It also includes knowledge check questions and tons of helpful resources. View the JavaScript & Storyline - Best Practices & Use Cases Course.

 

 

Note: The instructions below were programmed using Articulate Storyline 2, and I have ensured they are applicable in Storyline 3 and Storyline 360 as well. These instructions are specific to jumping to a specific slide when a user enters specific search terms, however you could also have other actions occur when this happens, such as displaying a layer or changing an object's state to show applicable search results.

 

Build Custom Search Engine in Storyline:

1. Add a "search" slide (your slide 1.1) in Articulate Storyline.

2. On this slide, add a Text Entry Field and edit the variable associated with the entry field. Click the + sign within the variable popup to add a new variable. 

3. Name the new variable: searchfield  and make it a Text variable with an initial value of (blank).

4. Also on your search slide, add a button and add "Search" as the button's text.

5. Add a new variable: placement  and make it a Number variable with an initial value of 0.

6. Add a reference to the placement variable on your slide by adding a text box and entering the text: %placement% into the text box. 

7. Create your content slide(s). 

Optional: On each content slide, add a button which contains a trigger to jump to slide 1.1 when the user clicks it so that the user can easily return to the search slide.

8. For each content slide, think about the keywords that the user might enter into a search bar in order to find that content. List out these keywords in a notepad and make them all be in lowercase letters. (JavaScript is case sensitive and this example only works with lowercase letters for ease of programming).

9. Return to the search slide and edit the search button's default trigger

Action: Execute JavaScript

Script: 

var player = GetPlayer();

var parameters = player.GetVar("searchfield");

var lower = parameters.toLowerCase();

var key = "(insert your slide's keywords here inside the quotes without the parenthesis)";

var termlocation = key.search(lower);

player.SetVar("placement",termlocation);

When: User Clicks

Object: Search Button

On Condition: searchfield != Not equal to (blank)

 

10. Publish your course to HTML to test it. 

Note: You cannot preview JavaScript programming in Storyline, you have to publish it to test it.

11. Enter each of your keywords, one at a time, into the text entry search field and click the search  button.

12. Note the value of the placement variable reference on the slide for each of your keywords. 

Ex. keyword 1 = 0  keyword 2 = 10  keyword 3 = 20

13. On the search slide, add a trigger on the search button to:

Action: Jump to slide

Slide: (appropriate content slide corresponding to the first keyword(s))

When: User Clicks

Object: Search button

On Condition: 

placement == Equal to (insert placement # corresponding to keyword) 

Ex. Jump to slide 1 when placement == Equal to 0

14. Repeat step 13 as needed to add any additional triggers to jump to additional slides when the placement variable is equal to the correct corresponding keyword #.  

Ex. Jump to slide 2 when placement == Equal to 10

15. Remove the placement variable reference (%placement%).

16. Publish to HTML.

Finished result: User enters a keyword into the text entry search field, clicks search button, and the corresponding slide displays.

 

Happy programming!

20 Replies
Troy Ashman

Wow, Bridget... this is amazing! Thank you!

Do you have an example source file? With this working? It'd be good to see it if possible?

I am trying to build this into a storyline example at the moment but I keep returning 0 when it comes to the %placement% variable and thus I must be doing something wrong.

Bridget O'Dell

Hi Troy,

Unfortunately I don't have an example source file uploaded as of yet - need to find a good place to house my courses.

Can you copy and paste your JavaScript code into the discussion? I can take a look and see if I can spot the problem.

One easy thing to check is: does each line end in a semicolon ; ?

Also, you may need to manually re-type the code shared above into your JavaScript. Sometimes if you copy and paste the code, it pulls in extra programming that you can't see that prevents it from working. But if you manually type the code in, you will not pull in any extra programming and it should work properly.

Hope this helps!

andrea bauman

Hi Bridget, 
This is great and exactly what I need. I am having trouble when I add more than one word. I am thinking it is in the code.  Please see below and let me know what I am doing wrong.  

When I type in the word development, the search function works beautifully, but not when I type in test. Assuming because code reads right to left.

var player = GetPlayer();
var parameters = player.GetVar("searchfield");
var lower = parameters.toLowerCase();
var key = "test = 10 development = 40";
var termlocation = key.search(lower);
player.SetVar("placement",termlocation);

 

Thank you for any help you can provide. 

Bridget O'Dell

Also, another item to note is that the word "test" will give you a value of 0. 

This is the correct value. So if you are getting a value of 0 for the word "test" that is correct. You can build your programming to occur when placement = 0.

I get the following values when testing your code:

test      Placement = 0

= 10      Placement = 5

development        Placement = 10

= 40            Placement = 22

Let me know if this helps.

Bridget O'Dell

Final thing to test/check is the trigger order. You will want this JavaScript trigger to be the first one in your lineup.

So, on your search button, from top to bottom, the triggers in the right panel should be ordered:

1. Execute JavaScript programming

2. Do _____ according to Placement Value

 

Ex. JavaScript Programming gives me a value of Placement = 0 when the user has entered text and a value of 10 when the user enters development

Your next trigger should be to do something with those values by jumping to a slide or showing a layer, etc.   Ex. Jump to slide: Text when placement = 0     
Next Trigger: Jump to slide: Development when placement = 10

Bridget O'Dell

To explain what is happening in the JavaScript code, see explanation below:

var player = GetPlayer();

This sets up the communication between JavaScript and Storyline and allows JavaScript to see and set Storyline Variable Values.

var parameters = player.GetVar("searchfield");

This declares a JavaScript variable called "parameters" (you could name this something else as  long as you pull the name into the next line of code) and its value equal to the Storyline Variable "searchfield" value (aka whatever the user types into the Search bar). So if the user types in "cat" the JavaScript variable "parameters" is now equal to cat.

var lower = parameters.toLowerCase();

This declares a JavaScript variable called "lower" (again, you could name something else if desired as long as you carry it through the code wherever lower is) and its value is equal to the variable value of "parameters" but in lower case. So, this converts whatever the user has typed into the search bar into lowercase and that is the value of the "lower" JavaScript variable. So if the user typed in Cat, it is now cat and the value of the "lower" variable.

var key = "(insert your slide's keywords here inside the quotes without the parenthesis)";

This declares a JavaScript variable called "key" and you can make its value whatever you want the search terms to be, within the " ".   Ex. "cat dog horse" Ensure you put these in lowercase since we're only working with lowercase letters.

var termlocation = key.search(lower);

This declares a JavaScript variable called "termlocation" which is equal to the position of the user's search entry within the overall search terms. Ex. If the search terms are "cat dog horse" and the user searches for cat, it will return a value of 0, dog a value of 4, and horse a value of 8.

player.SetVar("placement",termlocation);

The final step is to set the Storyline variable "placement" value = the JavaScript variable "termlocation" value. This way we can use the number determined in the last step within Storyline. Without this, the programming will not work.

 

Then, in your course the user enters a search term, clicks search, and the placement variable shows a value. Use this value to make triggers happen - ex. jump to a slide when placement = #, Show a layer when placement = # , Change a State of an Object when placement = #.

Excellence Education

Hi Bridget, thank you for this code, it's great.
Just one question: is there a solution if the same word occurs more than once in the course? I.e., if we can read the word "dog" in the slide 1.2 of the course, but this word is in the slide 2.7 too, how can we jump first to 1.2 and than to 2.7?

Thank you in advance

Gero

Bridget O'Dell

Hi Gero,

In JavaScript, the search() method returns the position where the match is first found. You can also use lastIndexOf() to return the position of the last occurrence of a value in a string. So we are kind of limited with the information JavaScript can provide us (initial or end instance). However, I believe you can build this programming by just using JavaScript for the search and building the rest of the programming in Storyline. 

Within Storyline, you could program your search to first jump the user to slide 1.2 upon searching for the word "dog", and then add programming on slide 1.2 that jumps the user to slide 2.7 for additional dog information. 

Another way you could accomplish this is on your search slide, have a layer appear when searching for the word "dog". On the layer, include text that asks the user to clarify which information about dogs they are looking for and link to either slide 1.2 or 2.7 depending on their layer selection.

Hope this helps!

Bridget O'Dell

Hi Gero,

In JavaScript, the search() method returns the position where the match is first found. You can also use lastIndexOf() to return the position of the last occurrence of a value in a string. So we are kind of limited with the information JavaScript can provide us (initial or end instance). However, I believe you can build this programming by just using JavaScript for the search and building the rest of the programming in Storyline. 

Within Storyline, you could program your search to first jump the user to slide 1.2 upon searching for the word "dog", and then add programming on slide 1.2 that jumps the user to slide 2.7 for additional dog information. 

Another way you could accomplish this is on your search slide, have a layer appear when searching for the word "dog". On the layer, include text that asks the user to clarify which information about dogs they are looking for and link to either slide 1.2 or 2.7 depending on their layer selection.

Hope this helps!

Nathan Hartwick

Bridget, I followed your instructions while trying to build similar functionality and ended up building a text field that will only accept specific words in no particular order, case-insensitive. Anything can be typed but only the words in the js string will allow the slide to advance. For the example story file attached the words accepted by the search are "investigate", "milk", and "hormone".

My original idea was to use the functionality you shared here to send the user to a specific slide when they typed in the appropriate keywords, but it was the multiple keywords that caused the issue for me. With a little regex research (of which I am no pro) I solved that problem and then I dumbed down the functionality for my specific purpose. Some other native SL variables and settings help complete the functionality of the js.

Like your example, this needs to be published to work.

Bridget O'Dell

Hi Holly,

Thanks for reaching out with this question. You should be able to accomplish this using the JavaScript programming above and triggers to go to the specific slide(s) when the Storyline placement variable is equal to the appropriate number(s).

Can you send me a few of the terms and phrases you want to include? I can show you how to integrate those terms and phrases into the code.

Bridget O'Dell

Hi Holly,

I see you posted in an article that one of your phrases is: "bookable resource". I added basic text around this phrase to show how it would work.

Getting Set Up In Storyline:

  1. Add your search text entry field
  2. Add the text variable: searchfield   - Initial Value = (Blank)
  3. Set searchfield as the variable associated with the text entry field
  4. Add number variable: placement  - Initial Value = 0
  5. For ease of programming, add a reference to the placement variable on a visible slide - %placement%

Add JavaScript Trigger to Action that allows the user to search (ex. button next to text entry field):

 

var player = GetPlayer();

var parameters = player.GetVar("searchfield");

var lower = parameters.toLowerCase();

var key = "text1 text2 bookable resource text3 text4";

var termlocation = key.search(lower);

player.SetVar("placement",termlocation);

 

Test the programming  - Note: Must publish to test JavaScript programming

  1. Enter each search term and/or phrase in the search bar and complete the action that triggers the JavaScript trigger.
  2. Note the value of the placement variable as each search term/phrase is entered. bookable and bookable resource would return the same value as this functionality looks for the position where the entered word or phrase is found in the overall text string.

For the example above, the placement variable would have the following values when these terms are entered:

text1 = 0
text2 = 6
bookable = 12
resource = 21
bookable resource = 12
text3 = 30
text4 = 36

Add triggers within Storyline to complete the desired action when the placement variable = the appropriate amount. 

 

Let me know if this answers your questions or if I can be of additional assistance.