States vs. Layers: How do you decide which to use?

Jan 16, 2015

A lot of really great questions came up in this week's AMA with Tom Kuhlmann. One of them that really got me thinking was this question from Nan Boyer about when to use states vs. layers:

"I LOVE the States and Layers features, but I sometimes have trouble identifying which feature would be more appropriate to use and when to use it. I have started using Layers only to discover that States would have been the better choice, and visa versa. Do you have any guidelines/helpful hints that would help identify, before I start developing, when Layers and/or States would be appropriate."

As Tom said, there really is no right or wrong answer, but I'm really interested to hear what all of you think about this, so I'll just throw it out there: How do you decide when to use states vs. layers?

29 Replies
Chantal Brunelle

David (and anyone else who's in the know), I will be creating a consumer-facing course with HTML5 output that needs to work well on mobile phones and tablets. You mentioned some rules to follow such as including only a single audio/video file per screen (do you mean per slide or layer?) and not using passive triggers.

Will the output literally not work if I violate those rules by, for example, including two audio files (for two characters having a conversation) and using timeline triggers to show state changes and/or layers? Do I actually have to create a new slide for each audio file, as well as anytime I would have used a passive trigger? If so, this will be one bloated course!

Are there any other rules that I must observe in order for the HTML5 output to work well? I am new to this and appreciate yours and others experience. I want to make sure I create a sound design upfront so I don't have to redo work down the road because the course can't be viewed properly. Thanks so much for your assistance.

David Glow

Remember... This is HTML5 output without Articulate Mobile Player (AMP). I haven't seen issues with the player (one with SCORM, but SCORM.... Meh)

The recommendations were written for SL1.x and prior versions of iOS, both have improvements to publish (SL2) and HTML5 handling (iOS).

I haven't seen an update on the suggested rules (i suspect most still apply because passive triggers, too layer and single media per slide really came from the iOS side per memory management).

I can share a recent experience. A client had HTML5 output. But no AMP installs. Android did grab a Flash output version and scale proportionately. It technically worked, but menus were too small to read, etc. Apple wouldn't dance with it at all. even with AMP, the output was SCORM, which couldn't play in HTML5 to Apple and maintain SCORM connections, so it tossed an error. The client's LMS handles xAPI, so we published to that standard, AMP would play the file fine.

Only way to know for sure is to test in and devices and systems (i used SCORMCloud to debug most things prior to the client and test in end state LMS).

Hope that helps. Bottom line is that HTML5 without the player is notrecommended.

Chantal Brunelle

Thank you, David,  for sharing your experience and advice. I think I will design for AMP on iPads and tablets and not bother with HTML5 for mobile phones--too much hassle to get it to work well.

Are there any design limitations for AMP with regards to layers, passive triggers and number of media files, as there are for HTML5? Any other limitations or recommendations? Thanks very much for helping me avoid redoing work due to ignorance :-)

This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.