Managing "big" projects

Apr 09, 2014

I have over 100 screens with a lot of content on each. I'm afraid of keeping then as one SL file, because if that gets corrupted, I'm toast. Anyone have ideas on breaking up the file into multiple files and recombining them later? Or linking multiple SL outputs? Thanks.

23 Replies
Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Hi Steve,

Re breaking up/combining:

If they're not already in separate scenes, you might want to first do that for organizational purposes.

Let's say, for example, you now have 3 scenes.

Start 3 new SL files, and import 1 scene into each of the new files.

Save each new file with a meaningful name, e.g. Apple_Scene; Blueberries_Scene; Oranges_Scene

When you're finished with all your files, again start a new SL file and import all the "Scene Files" into this new file and save it with a new name.

Please shout out with any questions.

Stuart S.

I am brand new to Storyline, and am also trying to figure out how to organize a large training course.  The current course is divided into 10 "chapters", with 6 to 8 "lessons" per chapter.  Each lesson has multiple slides, plus a quiz (and this is by far the smallest of the training courses I will be converting to self-paced online learning).

Rebecca's tip above gives me some ideas on how to organize my course, but I have some additional questions:

  1. I am currently planning to organize each chapter as separate scene, but is there a better way?
  2. Will the tip in this thread of having separate SL files for each scene and then importing those scenes into another SL file duplicate the scenes in the latter file, or does the latter file just have links to the scenes that are in separate files?
  3. If each scene is in a different file, is there a way to have a common "master" master slide used for all scenes?  As I refine this course, I expect to have to tweak the master slide I'm creating a number of times, and I want to make sure all scenes (chapters) stay the same, without having to duplicate master slide changes in every file.

I apologize in advance if I am asking questions for which the answers should be obvious, but I was not able to find much on how to organize a large course when I searched the Articualte forums.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Stuart and welcome to Heroes! 

First off, no apologies necessary - this is exactly what the forums are about, so we're happy you're here and you asked great questions!

1. Each chapter could be it's own scene or it's own file - it's up to you which will work better for design and your hosting set up. 

2. The import will pull the slides into your project - not create a link. So if you have file A, and you import that into file B, you now have file A (standalone) and file B which includes all the slides in file A. The original File B does not exist on it's own anymore - so if you want to keep it separate, I'd  import  File A and File B, into a new file C. 

3. You can use the same master in multiple files, but once you've added it to a file, you'd need to make any changes to each individual file. You may want to make one chapter first with the master that you'll use across all files, and then go from there - that or if they're all in the same file, the master will be accessible to all scenes. 

It's a lot to figure out, so just let us know if you need anything else. 

Stuart S.


Thank you for the explanations.  Sadly, the answers are rather disappointing    It seems to me that the creators of Storyline have only used the product for short examples.  Storyline appears to totally, and do mean totally, lack any features for managing large courses.  I spent hours this week searching tutorials, forums, blogs and the Internet, and all I could find are similar concerns to mine, with no viable solutions.

My courses are commercial Electronic Engineering skills courses that require 40 to 80 hours of class time when taught face-to-face.  The PowerPoint version of these courses requires a much as a 1000 PowerPoint slides.  The self-paced eLearning version I am creating will be very interactive.  It is a total rewrite of the content rather than a simple port of PowerPoint.  The eLearning courses will have several dozen 10 to 15 minute "lessons" that have a mix of visual and tactile interaction and one hundred or more various forms of quizzes.  Feedback on quiz answers will link to information in any of the course chapters, and not just the current lesson or scene.

What I absolutely need to do in Storyline -- and apparently cannot do -- is:

  • Keep each chapter of the course as a separate project file. This is essential in order to keep file sizes reasonably small and to allow multiple authors "owning" different chapters of the course throughout the life of the course (10+ years).  Partitioning large projects is essential for developing and maintaining the extensive amount of course content.  Do the engineers who write the software for Storyline put all the source code (which is, no doubt, tens of thousands of lines of code) in a single file and have a single engineer maintain that single file?
  • Have a top-level project file that links together scenes from other project files, without actually copying, and therefore duplicating, the contents of each file.  Duplicated code is an absolute no-no in standard programming practices -- do the engineers who write the software behind Storyline not know that?
  • Have quiz feedback in one file be able to link to specific slides in any other file, as long as the files are encapsulated in the same top-level project.
  • Have a shared master slide master that can be updated in one place and reflected in all projects encapsulated in the top-level.
  • Have a variable on the master slide for each project file that automatically reflects sequential chapter numbers based on the order in which the separate chapters are linked together in the top-level project.
  • At the top-level project, use the wonderful Storyline Player menu sidebar to list all the chapters, with an expand/collapse for the lessons in each chapter (although there are some critical things I need to do with the Player menu that I have not yet figured out -- it might end up not to be as wonderful as it first appears).

I was (past tense) very impressed with Storyline in the seminars I have attended and the short tests I have created.  Storyline is a fantastic product for small course modules designed to be taken as stand-alone modules.  Alas, just in trying to figure out how to organize a real training course, I have come to the conclusion that Articulate does not seem to think Storyline will ever be used for large courses. This is very much a clone of the biggest weakness in PowerPoint.  Microsoft seems to assume PowerPoint is used for small sales & marketing presentations, and has no concept that people might want to manage a single project comprising many hundreds of slides developed and maintained by multiple authors.  But at least PowerPoint can have a top-level presentation that links to other presentation files.  Storyline, so it appears to me, cannot even do that simple task.

I hope some expert will tell me I am wrong about Storyline, and will explain how to accomplish the critical course management tasks listed in my bullet points.  I've got my fingers crossed...

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Stuart, 

If you're looking to do something with a larger course that would link multiple, individual Storyline files you may need to implement a method such as the one described here.  I believe that would take care of your top level menu issues and allow you to link multiple files as part of one course. Also, depending on the LMS where you will house these courses, I've heard of users discussing chapters or modules that all fit as part of a larger course and can link between one another so that may be another option you'd like to look into.

In regards to your quiz tracking, you may need to implement some Javascript triggers to set this up. Although I'm not equipped to assist with that, there are a number of community members who are Javascript pros and could weigh in or you may be able to find other threads that would assist you. There are some general best practices for Javascript here to get you started.

If there are specific features, design elements, or ideas you'd like to share with our product development team, please feel free to send in a feature request in addition to posting here in the forums. 

Penelope Kuhn

Hi Ashley,

I appreciate your response. I have the apparently not unusual case of having made a huge Storyline 2 project that I ended up having to cut up into modules, for size and other reasons. I need to link them together. I made a Storyline 2 menu and have a hot spot to link to each module. This will be posted on a website and I have the full URL so that I can, hopefully, link from the menu to each module. No SCORM grades or anything like that required. It is the type of course a student will visit and revisit and look at different modules on different days and return.

What is the best way to link these file? A web object? A URL? Is there some great way I am missing? I have

been trying all kinds of things others posted on Storyline discussion boards but they never work. I am tearing my hair out. Please help? A simple explanation?


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Penelope,

I'd guess I would look at linking to a URL - and to do so, you'll need to publish and upload the one course, and then include that link as a part of the other course before you publish and load it up. So for example you have course 1 which links to course 2 - you'll want to publish course 2, place within your web server and grab the link. Then go back to course 1, and on the final slide, have a link to jump to the URL for course 2 - and then you can publish course 1 and upload. They both still need to reside online somewhere - but then you would only have to point to the first course. If users are to leave during course 2 and need to revisit it though - then they'll need to be able to find that link as well. Not sure that's the easiest or simplest set up for you though - so I'd also defer to some community expertise. 

Amanda McC

I too am making a large course and I'm only at the 1/3 point and running into problems with file corruption. I would spit it up into separate files and then use import to create a final single file but the import function isn't reliable. It randomly leaves out trigger functions and changes graphics. Just 'buggy'. And copying and pasting slides is even less reliable.

SL is not cheap! This is something to get remedied as soon as possible or please change your advertising to reflect what the program can actually do. We had a big decision in choosing between Captivate and this...not sure if Captivate is any better but I need to find out before we go much further into this. Really grateful for the programs user-friendliness but its of no use if the program cant handle a large file/have a way to compile separate ones.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Suparna,

I've not seen a similar error where triggers are inadvertently removed while importing, but we'd love to take a look at test your course a bit further.  First, I'd also want you to confirm that you're following along with the guidelines here to prevent odd behavior in your .story files.

Next if you could share one of the files with us here or send along privately to our team we'll take a look! 

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