Triggers are a really important feature in Articulate Storyline. Why? Because nothing—and I do mean nothing!—can happen without a trigger. Triggers are how you add interactivity to your course, whether it’s jumping to a new slide or revealing new content. Let’s take an in-depth look at triggers and what you need to know about them.

Get to Know the Triggers Panel

First, it’s important to be familiar with the triggers panel. It’s a dockable panel located in the top right-hand side of the Storyline application.

You’ll notice a row of buttons at the top of the triggers panel; from left to right, these buttons allow you to:

  • Create a new trigger. You can also create a new trigger by clicking the trigger icon on the Insert tab of the Storyline ribbon.
  • Edit the selected trigger. You can double-click on any trigger to make edits to it.
  • Copy the selected trigger. Pretty self-explanatory. :)
  • Paste the copied trigger to the selected object. Keep in mind that if you don’t have an object selected when you paste a trigger, it will be added as a slide trigger rather than an object trigger.
  • Delete the selected trigger. Again, self-explanatory.
  • Reorder triggers. Arrows allow you to adjust the order of the triggers, which is necessary sometimes because trigger order does matter.
  • Manage project variables. Self-explanatory—this is the button way over by itself on the far right.

Types of Triggers

There are four types of  triggers, all listed in the triggers panel directly below the icons.

  • Slide triggers appear at the top of the triggers panel. They often rely on when the slide timeline starts, ends, or reaches a certain point, but they can also be triggered when the learner presses a key, when a state changes, or when a variable changes. All slide triggers are listed below the label “Slide Triggers,” which you can see on the image above.
  • Layer triggers are just like slide triggers but only apply to layers. They always appear at the top of the triggers panel, and only appear on layers.
  • Object triggers are object-dependent, meaning they’re triggered when something happens to an object (for example, when the learner clicks a button or hovers over a hotspot). In the image above, the trigger below the shape “Rectangle 1” is an object trigger.
  • Player triggers always appear at the bottom of the triggers panel. They apply to the built-in navigation buttons: Prev, Next, and Submit.

You can have an unlimited amount of slide, layer, and object triggers.

Understanding the Trigger Wizard

When you create a new trigger, you use what’s called the Trigger Wizard to set it up and adjust the details of your trigger. Let’s take a closer look at the Trigger Wizard.

It’s composed of drop-down menus, which makes it really easy to work with. The image above shows how the Trigger Wizard looks by default when you create a new slide trigger. However, keep in mind that the Trigger Wizard is dynamic and changes depending on your input: some of the drop-down menus that appear in the Trigger Wizard will change depending on which selections are made in certain fields.

The two fields that will always appear in the Trigger Wizard, however, are: Action and When.

Action

There are over 20 actions to choose from with Storyline 2. They are all fairly self-explanatory and clearly named. Keep in mind, additional drop-down menus will appear depending on which action you select. For example, if you select “Change state of,” the next drop-down will ask you on which object you want to change the state. If you select “Play media” instead, a drop-down menu will appear that lists the media options available on the slide, among other things.

When

Once you’ve sorted out the action you want the trigger to do, you’ll be asked to choose when you want that action to happen. Again, you’re presented with a simple drop-down menu that lists all possible events for when.

Depending on the selection you make in the “When” field, additional fields or drop-down menus will appear after it. If you choose “User presses a key,” a new field will appear asking you to input which key. If you select “Object dropped on,” a menu will appear asking you to select an object from the list.

Which drop-down menu appears next depends on your selection in the “When” field. So the two most important things you need to remember are: the Action (what happens?) and the When (when does the action happen?). Everything else in the Trigger Wizard is adjusted according to your input.

Show Conditions

You might also notice a button that says “Show Conditions.” This is a super-important and very powerful feature of triggers: conditions.

Why is this so powerful? Because it gives you the power to say a certain interactivity or action will occur ONLY IF something else in the course has occurred. You can also use the “And/Or” option to add multiple layers to your conditional actions.

For example, you could set up a button that will jump to another slide ONLY IF a certain shape has been clicked OR the entire timeline has been viewed. The possibilities and combinations are really endless when it comes to conditional interactivity.

Pre-Built Triggers

Storyline slides and certain objects already have triggers associated with them by default. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Pre-Built Player (Navigation) Triggers

You might notice that every time you add a new slide, it already has one or more player triggers on it. A basic layout slide will always have two triggers, one for the Prev button (to jump to the previous slide) and one for the Next button (to jump to the next slide).

The quizzing slides, on the other hand, have a Submit button by default instead of a Prev and Next button. The Submit button has a trigger attached to it that submits the interaction when the button is clicked.

The Graded Results slide has all kinds of triggers already set up for you. The triggers will automatically show either the Failure or the Success layer depending on the final score you’ve set, and whether the learner has exceeded that score. The triggers do all the dirty work and calculations behind the scenes for you. There’s also a Review button set up by default, with a default trigger attached to it that allows learners to review the quizzing slides.

Of course, even though these triggers are all created for you and are there by default, you can edit or delete them to customize your player navigation and your course.

Pre-Built Object Triggers

In addition to slides already having default player triggers attached to them, you’ll notice that some interactive objects (buttons, hotspots, and data entry fields) already have a blank trigger associated with them in the triggers panel.

Why? Because, if you create a button or hotspot or data entry field, you NEED to add a trigger in order for it to work. To remind you of that, the trigger is automatically added to the triggers panel; you just need to adjust the details.

Trigger Order Matters

Another important tip to keep in mind when it comes to triggers: order matters! If there are triggers on the master slide and content slides, the master slide triggers execute first. Additionally, if there are multiple triggers on the same object that are triggered by the same action (such as “On click”), the triggers execute in the same order in which they appear in the triggers panel. If you’re troubleshooting a slide with several triggers and something is just not working correctly, don’t forget to take a closer look at your trigger order, as that is often the culprit!

Hopefully this in-depth article about triggers gives you a deeper understanding of how they work. They are, after all, one of the most powerful features of Storyline, and are necessary to build any type of interactivity!

Do you have any tips of your own about using triggers? Leave them in the comments below, or give me a shout-out on Twitter!

Want to try something you learned here, but don't have Articulate software? Download a free trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

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