Newbie, can't get layers to show

I've just started using Storyline, and I quite like it, but I'm missing what I'm betting is something obvious with respect to layers.

I have a slide that has three layers. I could not get the layers to appear when I assigned Show/Hide triggers directly to them, or by assigning the desired start and end times to the layers, and the objects they contain, in the Timeline. I finally got them to appear when previewing the slide with the following configuration:

Top layer


1 large rectangular shape w/start and end time of 0 sec to 8 sec respectively in the timeline

4 smaller rectangular shapes w/in the large shape with start times of 0 sec, 2 sec, 4 sec, and 6 seconds, and all with a duration of 2 sec each in the timeline.


None (had a Show and a Hide trigger, but I removed these)


Visibility - Hide other slide layers checked, all other boxes unchecked

Middle layer


1 large rectangular shape w/start and end time of 8 sec to 16 sec respectively in the timeline

4 smaller rectangular shapes w/in the large shape with start times of 8 sec, 10 sec, 12 sec, and 14 seconds, and all with a duration of 2 sec each in the timeline.


None (had a Show trigger, but I removed this)


Visibility - Hide other slide layers checked, all other boxes unchecked

Base layer/Slide:


Slide title, w/start and time of 0 sec and 16 sec, respectively. Base layer is also set to start at 0 sec and run for 16 sec, which is the duration of the slide


Show layer "Top layer" when Timeline starts

Hide layer "Top layer" when Timeline reaches 8 sec

Show layer "Middle layer" when Timeline reaches 8 sec


Default (I haven't changed anything, so it's still in the default state)


All default

When I preview the slide, the Top layer runs as expected - the large shape appears immediately (i.e, when Timeline starts) and each of the smaller shapes appears at the correct time and for the correct duration.

However, the Middle layer does not appear until the Timeline has reached 16 sec. I understand where this delay comes from, as I had originally assigned each object twice the duration listed above - i.e., each large rectangle had a duration of 16 seconds, and each smaller rectangle had a duration of 4 seconds, with the start and end times in the Timeline set correspondingly. Because I couldn't get the layer to appear, I shortened the durations and adjusted the start and end times so at least the previews wouldn't take as long to "watch." Although the Middle layer and its objects don't appear until 16 seconds, they do still each have the shorter duration, so the large rectangle does appear for 8 seconds as currently configured, and each of the smaller rectangles appears for 2 seconds as currently configured.

I also checked the Show/Hide settings of the objects on each layer, as well as the Show/Hide checkboxes of the layers themselves. I tried all layers checked, all layers unchecked (except, of course, the Base layer, since you can't uncheck that one), and combinations of checked/unchecked to see if that had any affect, and it does not.

So I have two questions:

  1. Does anyone have any idea why the 8 second "delay" between the two layers is still appearing?
  2. Shouldn't I be able to apply the Show/Hide triggers directly to the layers? I'm not sure why I had to apply Show/Hide triggers for the layers to the slide itself, but maybe that's how it works?

Thanks - and apologies for such a long-winded question, I just wanted to be sure I provided all of the background so as to save people time.

12 Replies
Nancy Woinoski

Hi Chris, so my understanding of what you are trying to do is as follows:

You have a slide (base) and with 2 layers which you call top layer and middle layer.

1. You want the top layer to appear as soon as the timeline of the base layer starts. - so to do this you have a slide trigger which says to show layer "top" when the timeline starts - this is correct.

2. You don't need the trigger to hide the top layer when the timeline reaches 8 sec on the base layer - so remove that. You don't need it because you have the properties set on  your layers to hide other layers.

3. On the top slide layer - add a trigger to show the middle layer when the timeline reaches 8 seconds. This will open the middle layer and close the top layer. Make sure the first animation of your middle layer starts as 0 secs so that you don't get an 8 second delay before it starts. 


Chris Janzen

Nancy, thank you. So the layer Timelines are absolute to the layer, not relative to the slide - the relative times for each layer are handled through triggers. I'm used to working in Captivate, where that is not the case, but now that you've explained that, I moved the second layer to 0 on its Timeline and the objects to their 2 second durations and start times, and I was indeed able to get the slide to run as I expected.

With respect to your 3rd point - I could assign the trigger to show the middle layer to either the base layer/slide or the top layer, and the result would be the same, correct? If that is correct, is there a preferred or recommended configuration? I could see reasons for both ways - applying it at the base layer/slide lets you see all of your layer timings in one place, applying it at the preceding layer lets you see the "relativity" between the slides.

Either way, thanks again, this is very appreciated!

Chris Cole

Hi Chris.

With respect to your "with respect to your..." question...

Just a heads up - If your top layer has the setting to pause the base layer, then you would not be able to put the Show Middle Layer trigger in the base layer, as the base layer timeline would stop running when  the top layer opens.


Chris Janzen

Nancy, thanks again. Now that I'm an expert in this area ;-), I think I'd actually recommend to people that they apply the trigger at the preceding layer as a standard. That way, they don't have to worry about whether or not they're pausing the base layer. But your point is well taken - so long as it works, from a technical perspective one is no better or worse than the other.

Chris Janzen

Alyssa, Nancy definitely did help me out, and Chris Cole's information was very helpful as well.

That said, I'd like to make a suggestion that the tutorial videos include a video on how timelines work - not how to use the Timeline features (there's already a very good tutorial on that) but how to configure them for separate layers, determining the impact to the overall slide Timeline if you want to pause the base layer, how to set trigger start times and layer Timeline start times (e.g., in this example the Show Layer trigger Timeline start values were set relative to the base slide layer, but the  start times of the Timelines for each of the layers themselves was always set to 0 seconds), etc.

I had absolutely no idea that the layer Timelines needed to start at 0 seconds, independent of when I wanted them to actually Show and Hide. Even now, knowing how it works, I would not describe it as intuitive - and to be clear, I'm not saying it's a bad design, just not a particularly intuitive one - and a tutorial on managing multiple Timelines within a single slide would have been very helpful. I may actually be using layers in a somewhat unusual or uncommon way, but even if that's the case, I bet a lot of users would probably start thinking of other ways to manage presentations if they thought about using this approach.

And that said, I do want to reiterate - overall, I'm really loving Storyline. It definitely does make creating interactive eLearning material simple and fun. Thanks!

Lisa Lacombe

(Storyline 3)

  1. I started out with a simple extra layer with grouped objects, properties Hide other slide layers unchecked), which didn't show in preview (slide, scene, or project).
  2. I then, after reading about some quirks with grouping and layers, ungrouped and moved to top of timeline, and still didn't show.  I've created a trigger to show when the timeline starts.)  
  3. I finally about gave up trying to use layers, so the original slide with target is now all on base layer, but I can't give up, so created another project with test slide with 2 extra layers--each one with a character to be triggered by timeline starting.  And they won't show.
  4. Please don't make me revert to Captivate, which I thought was more complex, but...
Alyssa Gomez

Hi there Lisa! I'm happy to help you sort this out. Thanks for including your file, by the way. That's really helpful.

So taking a look at your file, I see you have a blank base layer with 2 slide layers. On each slide layer, you have one character--one male and one female. I don't see that you have any triggers in the trigger panel, other than triggers to jump to the next slide.

What did you have in mind as your goal for this slide? If you can give me a bit more information on what you want it to do, I can point you in the right direction!