If you’ve ever built a complex interaction in Storyline, you know it can involve many triggers, variables, and timeline objects. And when an interaction isn’t working as you thought it would, it can be difficult to know how to suss out where things went awry. So, the next time an advanced interaction isn’t working the way you envisioned it, here’s a list of troubleshooting options to try.

Take a Closer Look at Triggers

Your triggers are a critical piece of any interaction you create. So, one of the first things you’re going to want to do when you troubleshoot an interaction is take a closer look at all of your triggers to identify any potential problems. Some ideas to help you fix trigger problems are:

    • Check trigger links: Make sure each trigger links to the correct object, layer, slide, state, etc. Sometimes, when I quickly copy and paste triggers, I forget to update the objects or links.
    • Name objects and variables: When you use clear, descriptive names for objects, slides, layers, variables, etc., it will be much easier to double-check your triggers. For instance, you’ll have an easier time knowing if a trigger is linking to the correct slide if the slide is named “Lesson 6 - Welcome Slide,” as opposed to “Untitled Slide 53.”
    • Verify trigger order: Trigger order is something that’s not always obvious, but has a huge impact on how your interactions work, because triggers are executed in the order they are listed in the trigger panel. This means that if you have a button with a trigger that “jumps to the next slide” right before a trigger that “adjusts a variable to true,” guess what? Your trigger to jump to the next slide will be executed first, and your variable will never be adjusted to true. In that case, you’d want to reverse your trigger order so the variable is updated first, and then the slide jumps to the next slide. Use the up and down arrows in the trigger panel to adjust the trigger order.
    • Detach the trigger panel: You can actually detach the trigger panel and extend it full-screen so you can spot breaks in your trigger patterns. This way, you can more easily see if a certain object has too many triggers or, equally concerning, too few.

Display Your Variable References

If you’re using variables in your interaction, a great trick is to display them as “references” on your slide so you can see how they are changing as you click through your interaction.

To insert a reference to a variable, you simply need to go to the Insert tab of the ribbon, insert a textbox, and then insert a reference into that textbox. When you click the Reference icon, it will bring up a list of all the variables in your project and you can select the one you want to reference. As you’re developing in Storyline, the name of the variable will appear on your slide between two % symbols. When you preview, the value of the variable is displayed on the screen.

Place this textbox with the reference anywhere on the screen that you can see it. It doesn’t matter where because it’s only for testing, and you’ll get rid of it before you do your final publish. When you have your variables referenced on the slide, you can watch your variable changing as you click through the preview of your interaction, and verify that the changes that should happen are indeed happening, and at the proper time.

Another tip for variables is to pop into your list of variables and check the “Use Count” field. You want to be on the lookout for any variables that have a use count of 0. Those variables are either not being used correctly, or can be deleted because they are unnecessary.

Create Custom Buttons for Testing 

Finally, another great tip for troubleshooting advanced interactions is to create special buttons or triggers that you can use just for testing.

For example, say you’re building a game with twenty questions that learners must answer. You might have a variable tracking the number of questions they answer, which then shows the results slide when the variable gets to 20. Now, if you just want to preview and test how the results slide looks, would you have to click through all twenty questions? No! Because instead of manually clicking through each question, you could build a special button that you use just for testing that simply adjusts the variable to 20 so you can quickly pass through the interaction and review your results or follow-up slides. Then, when you know everything looks and works as it should, you can remove those testing buttons.

These are just a few tips and tricks you can use next time you’re troubleshooting a more advanced or complex Storyline interaction. Do you have any troubleshooting tips of your own? Please let me know in the comments below!

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Sam Lincoln
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