Six Ways to Keep Trigger Ache at Bay
As Articulate Storyline developers, we all must have experienced this disorder at some point of time: TRIGGER ACHE. The question is that ‘Are there are any preventive measures to minimize the recurrence of this disorder?’ Yes! There are certain measures, which can keep trigger-ache at bay.
1. Name Your Objects and Variables
Triggers revolve around two elements: variables and objects (text box, a line, a button to name a few). Using a generic name can land you in an unending maze. Let me illustrate my point by an example.
Imagine you were making a course. The initial ask from the SME is that an image needs to appear after the learner has clicked all the three buttons.
Later on the requirement changes, and your Subject Matter Expert (SME) states that the image needs to appear after the learner has clicked the ‘Examples button’ irrespective of whether or not the learner has clicked the other two buttons.
Observe the screenshots (a and b) of two trigger panels. Which trigger panel would you find it easier to carry out your edits?
If you have a lengthy course, you might find naming your objects and variables a bit cumbersome; it is. Nonetheless, it can save you a lot of headache and time later on.
2. Minimize Actions
The lesser the number of actions associated with your triggers, the farther you are from suffering a trigger-ache. Let me narrate to you a real-life example. In a course I made, the assessment section had several Multiple Choice Single Select questions. Each question had four distractors. If learners were to select a wrong option, a variable was to be set as ‘False’. My trigger looked something like ‘Change Variable 1 to false if the state of the distractors is selected when the user clicks ‘Submit’.’
What happened next? If I missed (and I did miss quite a few!) selecting a distractor, the trigger would not yield the desired result. If I missed changing to ‘OR’; the trigger would not work correctly. Phew!
Later, I realized that I could have simply configured my trigger as ‘Change Variable 1 if the state of the correct option is not selected when user clicks ‘Submit’.
Check the screenshots given below to get a visual idea of what I mean.
3. Sequence Your Triggers Correctly
I have a question: Imagine you wish to get your car started. Which of these actions would allow you to do so? Action 1: Unlock the door, start the car, and get inside. Action 2: Unlock the door, get inside the car, and start it. Action 2, of course.
Now, triggers are like a car waiting to take your destination. The catch is you can start the car only if you get the sequence of your actions right. To develop a greater understanding, you can download the Articulate Storyline 3 file I’ve attached with this article. Play with the order of the two triggers given on slide 1, and check the result you are getting.
4. Inspect the Functioning of Your Triggers
Is your trigger really changing the value of your variable? Articulate Storyline has an easy way to let you find that out. Draw a textbox, click the Insert tab, then click the Reference icon. You will get a dialog box showing the variables you’ve used in your course. Choose your variable, and its reference will get created on your slide. Use this reference to check whether or not your trigger is resulting a change in the value of the variable. If not, you need to rework on your trigger.
5. Anticipate Learner’s Behavior
In one of the courses I worked on, the content pieces (which fitted under the umbrella ‘Types of’) were displayed in a tree-like structure, and each content piece had an associated text. The customer insisted the text be displayed on hover. Moreover, the customer also wanted the ‘Next’ button to get activated after the learner has hovered over each of the content piece. Naturally, I opted for a variable: a number variable. The logic was every time the learner hovered over a content piece, the value of the variable would increase by one. Once the variable exceeded a value, the Next button would be active. Do you think I did the right thing?
Nope! Remember, the content pieces were comparative in nature – types of – and there was every possibility that the learner would hover twice on at least one of the content pieces. In that case, my variable would exceed the stated value (and change the state of the Next button to active) even if the learner had not hovered over all the content pieces. I, therefore, added one more variable (a true/false one), and revised my trigger statement.
Now, the value of my variable increased only when the learner hovered over the content piece for the first time.
6. Keep the ‘Next Slide’ in Mind
Focusing on the present is a good quality, but when working in Articulate Storyline, you need to think about the future. ‘Will the triggers and variables work when the learner revisits the slide?’ This is the question you need to ask yourself.
Articulate Storyline has a feature to reset the slide to initial state while revisiting. However, my experience has shown that variables and triggers do not always get reset to their initial states. Consequently, when your learners review your slide, the triggers and variables might not work properly.
What I do is insert a dummy slide after the slide containing the triggers and variables. Once I am convinced that the triggers are working fine, I press the Next Button, then the Previous button, and recheck for any errors or inconsistencies.
What's your prescription to keep trigger ache at bay? I would love to hear from you.