TIP: The Eightfold Path of Troubleshooting

Is something in your course not working as expected? Don't panic. Instead, follow the Eightfold Path for Troubleshooting.

These suggestions are based on common issues I've seen in the Forum. They won't help you reach nirvana, but they might help you fix your Storyline file.

Right names

  • Name objects, layers, variables, and motion paths.
  • Relevant names make initial programming and troubleshooting easier. They also help any future developers who may work on your file. (Or help your future self when you return to it at a later date.)
  • For example, it's easier to select from motion paths called "Go_Left," "Go_Right," "Go_Up," and "Go_Down" rather than "Line Motion Path 1," "Line Motion Path 2," "Line Motion Path 3," and "Line Motion Path 4."

 Right states

  • Use default states to take advantage of their built-in functionality. Use custom states for special programming.
  • Don't interfere with default states by adding unnecessary triggers. For example, there's no need to have a trigger to change to the Hover state on mouseover. That will happen automatically if an object has a Hover state.

Right actions

  • Verify that triggers are set to perform the proper action.
  • For example, a "jump to next slide" trigger won't work on the last slide in a scene. In that case, the right action would be to jump to the next scene, jump to a specified scene, or jump to a specified slide.

Right selections

  • Verify that the correct items are selected in the triggers.
  • For example, does the trigger impact the appropriate object? Show the corresponding layer? Are the conditions based on the proper variables?
  • This is where a good naming convention is a tremendous help for troubleshooting!

Right timing

  • Verify that the "when" in each trigger will occur, that it will happen on the same slide as the trigger, and that the triggers will run in the proper sequence.
  • For example, if you want a trigger to run when a variable changes, the variable has to be adjusted on that slide. Otherwise, the trigger won't "see" the change happen, so the trigger won't ever run. (Any trigger can, however, use the value of any variable in a condition.)
  • Also, if one button includes multiple triggers, any trigger that jumps to another slide needs to come after the other triggers. (The program can't run triggers if it has already left the slide where the triggers are.)

Right properties

  • Verify the settings for Player, Slide, and Slide-Layer Properties.
  • For example, if you want to replay the timeline whenever someone revisits a slide, set its Slide Properties to "Reset to initial state." If you don't want it to replay, set it to "Resume saved state."
  • By the way, it's a good idea to be familiar with all the options available in Properties. They include some built-in functions that can reduce the need for certain triggers. 

Right values

  • Verify variable values by inserting those references in a text box on the corresponding slide(s) during development.
  • This helps you see exactly how and when a variable changes. If the value doesn't change as expected and when expected, check for right actions, right items, and right timing.
  • Before publishing, you can move the reference text box off the slide, hide it, or delete it.

Right conditions

  • Verify that any trigger conditions include the right items and right values.
  • Pay special attention to how multiple conditions are connected. Using "and" means the trigger will only run when all conditions are met. Using "or" means the trigger will run if any condition is met.
7 Replies
Judy Nollet

The folks at Articulate asked me to present a webinar on this topic. You can find the on-demand recording here:


BTW, their marketing folks decided to call it "Ensure Smooth Sailing in Storyline." But the presentation still follows the Eightfold Path to a Storyline File that Works