Suspend Data issues

Feb 27, 2018

Hi all

I have a course that I have built however I have a strong feeling i have gone over the limit for suspend data.  The LMS only supports SCORM 1.2 and I am trying to find ways of reducing the characters for suspend data.

Does anyone know what can be done to reduce the amount of suspend data? Does changing screen names etc. have make it any better? I'm at a loss and need some help as we are due to go live soon

11 Replies
Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Mark, 

Glad they could confirm for you. The only things I've seen help with this are outlined in the article and copied below:

If you have a large course that exceeds suspend data limits, here are some suggestions for correcting it:
  • Disable the resume feature in Storyline.
  • Reduce the number of slides until the resume feature works as expected. The limit will vary, depending on a variety of factors. You'll need to test your content in your LMS to verify.
  • Republish your course for SCORM 2004 3rd Edition or 4th Edition, both of which support much longer suspend data.
casper tucker

There's actually a fourth option from the above three which I have been doing for years, and it works much better than any of those options for most people.

It works if you have a 100-200 screen course with no issues (not that anyone would recommend having a course that long per se...but there are instances where it's necessary). It works no matter how many times a user navigates backwards and forward etc, unlike storyline's default settings that create a massive suspend data string.

You can:

  1. Select all of the slides in your course > then make sure they're all on 'reset to initial state'. This eliminates all of the unnecessary suspend data that remembers exactly where a timeline is up to, exactly what has been clicked on, and so fourth (of which...there are nearly infinite permutations of states of a screen, even just with a few items on a screen!).
  2. For all items you want to be different upon revisiting a screen (ie visible/invisible, active/inactive, muted/unmuted, etc) you can control this with simple variables.
    • Example:
      Screen 55 has a next button that is not visible*, it becomes active upon completing a required interaction.
      Screen 56 has a trigger that says 'on timeline start > set 'screen56_visited' = 'true'
      Screen 55 has a trigger that says 'on timeline start > show 'Next button' if 'screen56_visited = true' along with anything else you would like on the screen to appear different because the user is revisiting the screen (ie mute audio the second time visiting).*
      *obviously, you'd want to keep the variable shorter than that, perhaps 't6s5' for 'topic six screen five', this would further reduce your suspend data.

To give you a ballbark estimate on how much this reduces suspend data when compared to slides being set on 'automatically decide' or 'remember saved state', if you have suspend data string that has been concatenated to 20,000 - 30,000 characters, and you feel as though your course has no chance of being SCORM 1.2 compliant, fear not; you can easily achieve the same thing and get it down to about 1,200 characters...yes, it takes some work but it's not difficult.

I find Storyline's suspend data string is generally far too long even for short courses, i understand why it is that way..but diminishing returns on achieving what storyline does here compared to the limitations this achievement enforces for SCORM 1.2 courses.

ps: The first suggested bullet point above - removing the 'resume' function would fix it, but it'd seem really unlikely if there has ever been an instance where that would be an acceptable fallback of a solution for someone, I think it's a particularly bad suggestion for people experiencing this problem because the only time this will happen is on larger courses that would be (even more) unfriendly for anyone to use without bookmarking, ie if they have to attempt to mentally bookmark where they think they might have been up to in the course in order to complete it.

*not that i'm an advocate of 'locking' a next button..


John Payton

Thank you, Casper. I tried your method and it does help reduce the size of the suspend data. But it is a fairly large pain in the butt as you must use variables for every page and explicitly set the states of the NEXT and PREV buttons - not to mention that this should be totally unnecessary. From observation of the suspend data sent by Storyline courses to the LMS, it is apparent that the Articulate developers assumed unlimited storage for these SCORM variables. Simply by clicking NEXT and PREV to go back and forth between the same two screens repeatedly adds to the length of the suspend string.  This is a poor assumption since no system interface has unlimited data capabilities. In fact, several of the course navigation events add as much as 130 characters to the suspend data (see image uploaded).

The recommendation to disable the resume feature is completely unacceptable since course development for global

The recommendation to remove slides until bookmarking functions is completely unacceptable since working with a Subject Matter Expert from a global corporation determines the content required for a course and how it is to be presented. Simply removing content is NO option.

The recommendation to republish the course for SCORM 2004 3rd Edition is completely unacceptable since courses are being developed for a global corporation which is running an LMS that is SCORM 1.2. Course vendors cannot simply order their clients to run a different version of SCORM.

I do not hold much hope that the Articulate developers will ever correct this issue since SCORM 1.2 is archaic. However, they should take it seriously as dealing with SCORM 1.2 compliance is still a real-world scenario.

John Payton

As a follow-up... I have spent two man-days going through this course I inherited in an attempt to reduce the size of the suspend data. I have managed to get it from about 8000 characters down to about 4600 - still not enough for the 4096 SCORM limit. I am now begging the IT people at my client to violate the SCORM 1.2 spec and accept more than 4096 characters for the suspend data. Not holding my breath.

John Payton

That is an option. But not a desirable one as the LMS will not seamlessly run from one SCO to the next. It has an archaic built-in menu for accessing individual SCOs. I am currently trying to work with their IT guys to see if they can violate SCORM 1.2 a little by increasing the number of characters accepted for suspend data. They have actually tried but not working right just yet.

Gerry Wasiluk

Gotcha.   BTW, what LMS do you have?  Just curious.

Some LMS have different player templates for launching content.  Our old Saba system had one that worked well for multi-AUs and multi-SCOs.  Sounds like yours does not. :(

I've never looked at or tested this but I wonder if the SCORM Cloud Dispatch might be an option for this one course?

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