Storyline Organization Tips

Aug 07, 2012

Hi there. I'm noticing that has I create more complex Storyline projects, I'm having a harder time trying to organize, sort through and remember what the heck I did for the triggers on various slides. See the example below, and that's not all of the triggers on that slide. Agghh.

If I step away from a project after a few days and return, it takes me some time to figure out where I left off and what exactly all these triggers are doing. It would be even more difficult after having sent a final project off to a client and for edits to come back 6 months or a year later. It reminds me of programming days and keeping logs of progress, inline code, etc to help in decipering what was done and why it was done a certain way.

Anyway, I'd be really interested in discussing this and seeing if anyone has come up with a production methodology to assist in organizing and managing triggers.



20 Replies
Steve Flowers

A couple of different ways I've used built in mechanisms as "functional containers".

One is by attaching triggers to an object. You can control a group of triggers on these dummy objects by setting the When: value to Timeline Starts and hiding the object. When you show the object, all of the triggers will show. You can label your dummy objects off stage to make them easier to find and manage.

The second is by using a similar mechanism for layers and showing the layer to trigger the "function"

It'd be nice to be have a native scripting language for building triggers with complex structures. These are the only methods I've found that make things easier.

Ryan Martin

I'm actually modularizing my scenes more.

I'm taking steps not to do too much on one slide ... because really, you can transition seamlessly from one slide to another without the learner even knowing (they changed slides).

Once I discovered this, it changed everything about the way I develop in Storyline. During Storyline beta testing, I was all Layer-happy; now, I prefer to think about functionality (or what we call Content Enhancements) within their own scene...  My Storyview now is a thing of beauty, and I don't dread opening up a slide and seeing a full Timeline or Trigger bloat.

Looking at your Triggers, I'd ask: Why are you testing Current Section? That means that Slide is acting as a "section" for "Design" "Strategy" and "Develop" - too busy for me.

I would have each section be within their own Scene. Any global changes, if any, done in via a Slide Master.

Stephanie Harnett

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My Storyview now is a thing of beauty, and I don't dread openingup a slide and seeing a full Timeline or Trigger bloat...

Now that's poetic! Thanks Ryan and Steve.

I do have multiple scenes and multiple slides with the various scenes. I have a home scene that detects what slides and what scenes have been visited and completed. This is for a kind of complex navigational tool.

I too minimize layers as I find some functionality is restricted when using them vs a slide on its own.

I'm using triggers on objects to fine tune control of animations and other events, hadn't thought of using that approach as a way to organize triggers and minimize display bloat. Interesting. I will need to play with that a bit more. Thanks to you both for your advice.


Ryan Martin

My other suggestion would be to use states - if "Design Pic", "Strategy Pic", "Develop Pic" are all very similar. Have a trigger just change the state of one pic. Gotta create the custom states though. I find this better organized.

I'm exploring changing states more it seems (to simplify).

For the complex navigation, highly suggest it be put in a Slide Master.

I did a complex navigation early in the Beta testing with:

I said I'd never do navigation like that again because too much "trigger & slide functionality" was mingled with content ... BUT, now that I know I can use Slide Masters (and Slide Master Layers) ... it's easy peasy.

In the recent update to Broken Co-worker:

You'll see Anna (0:44 & 0:55 of the video) brings up the navigation a couple times - that's done with only one trigger on the slide. The rest (the actual navigation) being done in a Slide Master.

Either way, I feel we're not going to get away from what seems like redundant or bloated triggers; but if it makes sense logically, do what you need to do (to get it to work).

Keep in mind, even javascript pages seem "redundant or bloated", and triggers are is essentially (doing) the same thing.

Side note: I was just talking about getting out to the Irish Times Pub for their Bangers and Mash. Victoria has WAY better pubs than Vancouver.

Eric Nalian

Hey Stephanie,

One thing that I do is a lot of planning ahead of time.  I created a storyboarding worksheet that I can use for each slide that details the basic interaction that I use for each one, so before I start a slide or if I need a refresher for 'What did I do and why did I do it' I know exactly what I did.


Stephanie Harnett

Hey Ryan. Thanks. You've given me some food for thought; some great ideas for leveraging mster slides to simplify some of the trigger work.  Bangers and mash! Indeed. The only place in Victoria that pours a proper glass of Guiness is the Irish Times. If your in my neck of the woods some time, let me know.

In addition to planning trigger organization with master slides there is also documentation planning and Eric your example is something I needed to see to refresh my thinking about what is needed in Storyline project documentation; capturing variables, dependencies, etc. Thank you for sharing that with me and lighting the fire to get me on the path of updating my project documentation templates to reflect Storyline intricacises.



Bruce Graham


I would love to have a "Guest Blog" about this sort of best practice design.

Perhaps you could have a word with the Articulate Team about doing one?

My brain works in a rather random, "scatter-gun" approach, and I am sure that whilst I hit the target almost all of the time there must be a more effective way of doing things

I for one would benefit from a structured, layered "masterclass" on doing this.


PS - I have only ever had Guiness at Dublin Airport and it tasted great

Ryan Martin

@Eric So true. I was storyboarding yesterday with Anna (my ID); I take it for granted that by the time the work comes to me it's already been through ID analysis (ID Doc), content strategy, and storyboarding has started ... when Anna introduces the project to me, I can already "think in scenes" because of the upfront work she's done. Activities & Assessments are at the early stages of planning before even getting to Storyline too ... so my work is questions, questions, and more questions ... just to refine my thinking then add some creative ideas... bouncing back and forth with Anna ... plus a gallon of coffee ... mmm... coffee.

@Stephanie For sure! I'll let you know the next time I'm visiting the island - we'll have a Meetup at the Irish Times! 

@Bruce We'll see what I can do. I have a lot of blog posts & case studies "in my mind"; but it's tough to find the time... 

Here's one other tip for everyone:

Try to avoid "tricking Storyline" - meaning, there's a lot Storyline can do, but there's "bells and whistles" it can't - there can be a tendency to try and fake an effect...

...It could work to your advantage to simplify effects (work with what you got), and simplify what you're trying to do on the screen. Don't try to do too much on one slide. You can alway create another slide (for additional content) ... again, transitioning seamlessly.

I say to Anna a lot, "I could do this [insert crazy cool effect] in Storyline." Usually, once I hear myself say it, I realize I'm needlessly increasing scope and my own development frustration.

I keep meaning to put a Steve Job's quote over my computer about "simplicity" - I try to keep it in mind though.

Ryan Martin

Need to clarify last tip ... I highly endorce getting creative and seeing if you can mimic cool effects in Storyline ... the problem is when you do this for every single project ... for a client (who's waiting).

I now use an "experiment .story project" that I treat very professionally, and treat the ideas as potential solutions for client work. This is where I steal "content enhancement" ideas and replicate them in this project. This is on my own time. I'm not getting paid for this. Some ideas work, some are too bloated for a client project ... but the frustration is low because, this is usually fun work.

In this experiment project, I create scenes for content enhancement or design ideas I'm testing out.

For clients, it's good to think Minimum Viable Product - meaning, with what you know you can do with Storyline (no experimenting); what can you show them (in the beginning iterations).

I finished a project last month where it was the client & users who were simplifying my project, and in the end, they were right. I was trying to do too much (experiments) - and I was wrong. Start simple, I guess.

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It's been extremely helpful to me. I'm relatively new to Storyline, and I've felt a bit overwhelmed at times by thinking that I SHOULD be using layers rather than relying on slides, and then finding I need to go back, as Stephanie said, and sort through what the heck I'd done for the triggers on the slides.

I feel like this thread, and Ryan's comment, have given me "permission" to use slides if it feels better/easier and/or will diminish the level of complexity (confusion) in what's going on under the hood. And I HAVE felt that layers sometimes limit what you can do, as you said Stephanie, but because I'm new I thought perhaps it was lack of knowledge on my part.

Along those lines, although I know you're not suggesting limiting creativity, I appreciate your advice, Ryan, on simplifying and not trying to "trick" Storyline. Working on those potential workarounds on the side to avoid time/cost overruns. And, I've seen some clever use of states in the forums and need also to think about them more. Tx for the suggestion. And the reminder about using masters for navigation.

Tx for the object/triggering idea Steve. I do use it, by not as a means of organization.

And Eric, thanks for the Storyline Storyboard idea.

I embrace Bruce's idea about a guest blog, Ryan, and his statement "I for one would benefit from a structured, layered 'masterclass' on doing this." Ditto.

Ryan Martin

Anyone with suggestions tips on creating Templates or the Use of Slide Masters & Feedback Masters?

I find I'm catching myself at the end of projects, when I realize, "Maybe those 3, 4, 5, or 6 identical slides should be from a Slide Master (or Feedback Master).

Also, any preference or reasons behind when to create a Template rather than a Slide Master? I assume, a Template is "only" when you want to share a specific layout or design artifact with another project; if not, a Slide Master is preferred.

Ryan Martin

Couple Screenr's I've watched to get familiar with Template use. Love to hear how others are applying these techniques within their organization / real world projects.

by elearning

How to set up and customize your own quiz slide using #Articulate Storyline and convert to freeform

by jeanettebrooks

Creating and using templates in #Articulate #Storyline (tutorial:

If you've watched Screenr's or tutorials or know any great project workflow tips on Slide Masters or Templates, I'd love to hear about them.


Allison LaMotte

Hi Juraj,

Yes, in the screenshot on that page there are two scenes:

  • Main Content
  • Resources

You connect the slides in the same way as you normally do, using triggers. Here's a tutorial that walks through how those work.

It's up to you whether you want to do one big course with multiple modules in it (one .story file with multiple scenes) or break the content up into multiple courses (and therefore multiple .story files), however learners typically prefer multiple shorter courses to one large course.

Splitting a course up into scenes doesn't prevent you from having one table of contents. Here's how that works.

If you haven't checked out our tutorial videos and webinars, I would definitely recommend doing that! They're a great place to get started.

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