Tips for Working with Huge Storyline Projects
Here are some production tips on those really big projects. 200+ pages with video and graphics big.
Evaluate the project. Can it be broken up into smaller Storyline files? If so, by all means do that.
Here are some reasons why a project might have to be published as a single file:
- The client wants all content titles available on one menu.
- The search feature built into Storyline's player has to access all of the content.
- Different sections link to slides in other sections.
- Many of the slides use common graphics, videos, or other resources such as an interactive glossary.
Even if you decide to have one large .story file, develop it as separate modules. Then, once each module is approved, merge it into a master copy. This will streamline edits and changes saving lots of time over the course of the project.
Make sure to create a template with the same fonts, color scheme, button style. Adjust and save the player settings in a file to be used by each development module. Here is how to save the Player settings. Using the same template and player will give every module the same look and feel.
PS - You can link to a common file, such as a glossary. Here is how to do that. The trick is knowing about the story_content/external_files/ folder in the published fileset.
Identify Revisions and Backup Often
Maintain a version number on the title page, in the lower-right corner. This can be as simple as the date. For example, 042021 designates the version created on April 20, 2021.
Here's the important part: Each time the .story file is opened, immediately update the revision number and use File/Save As, using a new name that includes the revision number. For example: myBigProject042021.story.
At the end of each working session, save and close the current file. Once Articulate Storyline is closed you can copy the .story file to an external flash drive or hard drive. And, because large projects are complex and time-consuming, set up a cloud-backup system that will automatically copy everything from your external backup out to the cloud.
Don't forget to back up the work product folders after each work session as well. You will want to make a copy of all your assets including a graphics, videos, sound files, and supporting documents.
Other Hard-Learned Tips
- Don't leave Articulate running on your computer. Close the program whenever possible, saving the current file. Starting Articulate fresh with each editing session ensures you have a clean memory model.
- Turn off automatic recovery. Here is information on how to do that. As the file gets larger and larger, it takes longer for Articulate to process the autosave. This process may take minutes, and it will probably happen when you are in the middle of a complicated change.
But, if you do this, it is up to you to manually save often, making sure your work has been written to the disk file!
Use the Media Library
Articulate Storyline keeps track of all the videos, graphics, and other media you have inserted into the project. Get in the habit of using Insert/Image/from Media Library so you can reuse every media resource. Otherwise, you will have duplicate copies of the resource, bloating the overall size of your .story file.
The larger a .story file becomes, the longer it takes:
- To save it, especially if the project contains lots of media files.
- To insert an image, you'll experience a pause after inserting a new image before the cursor becomes active again.
- To preview the file
- To publish the file.
Constantly be aware of keeping the .story file as small as possible.
Add Videos Last
Videos are huge and by default are encoded each time you publish the file to Web, SCORM, or Articulate Review. I've had some projects that took over an hour to publish.
To remedy this, set a placeholder for each video and add them in right before the final version(s) are published.
Keep your videos as small as possible. Use the .mp4 format. Change the size. Encoding the video before inserting it into Articulate. For example, changing the video size to 800x600, using the high H.264 encoding profile for best compression/quality a video that was reduced a video from 142,000 KB down to 68,000 KB. More than half the original size. (Keep all your original videos in a separate folder for future editing if necessary.)
After you insert your (smaller, high H.264 encoded) video into Storyline, go into the Video Tools/Options and set the Compression to "None". This will tell Articulate not to encode the video each time. (If the Compression setting is grayed out then the video is not an .mp4 or the encoding is not High, Baseline, or Main, three H.264 profiles.)
Keep the Folder Structure Organized
Work on your local drive inside the My Articulate Projects folder. Inside this local folder, create a sub-folder holding all the resources for the project.
Identify the local and backup folders. Because I keep an identical folder structure on my backup drive, I have found it helpful to clearly name each folder so I don't start saving graphics and video in the backup drive. For example, my working folder (inside My Articulate Projects) might be myBigProject-Articulate and the matching backup folder (on your external drive) could be named myBigProject-Backup.
Common sub-folders that I use most often with all my projects include:
Resources - templates, player file, project documentation
Use these tips when working on any project. But, you'll find that they become especially valuable when dealing with those really large projects with lots of slides and media content. Your workflow will be smoother and faster.