TIP: the Incredible Power of Invisible Layers

Slide layers are great when you need to show things. But they can also do things—even if they don’t show anything at all.

The attached Storyline file demonstrates 3 possible uses for invisible layers:

  • Run triggers when a user returns to the slide (for example, so the learner doesn’t have to watch/listen to the base timeline replay)
  • Consolidate feedback for a question slide on just 1 layer (for example, so you don’t have to maintain/edit the same feedback on both the Correct and Incorrect layers)
  • Loop programming (for example, so you can smoothly animate dials)
    • This scene includes a dial with button controls and a metronome that runs continuously!

You can view the published project here:


The project is annotated to explain how the programming works. Go ahead and analyze it. And then try these techniques yourself.

I hope these examples inspire your own incredible invisible layers.

4 Replies
Judy Nollet

Animating dials is fun. Still, the first example, run triggers, is probably the most useful. 

Using a blank layer that resets to initial state is a great way to ensure that "when timeline starts" triggers will run—but without making learners sit through the base timeline again. It's one of those simple tricks that can make programming so much easier.

Walt Hamilton

They can be used to run triggers at times other than returning to a slide. For example, if you have a bunch of triggers that depend on complicated IF conditions that need to run after a bunch of similar actions. Instead of putting the the triggers on every action, put them all on an invisible self-closing layer, and after each action, show the layer. It is the SL equivalent of what programmers call subroutines. Saves a lot of time, and saves having a lot of triggers on the slide.