Articulate headaches, pt. 1

So, I had a really time with Articulate today. Something that should have taken 15 minutes stretched into hours due to a few mistakes. Here’s what went wrong and how I fixed it. I received a lot of help from Twitter – links below.

Problem: I needed to update a few Flash movies embedded in a straightforward Articulate ’09 course, then publish and upload. Simple enough, right?

Updating Flash movies embedded in an Articulate course

When you update a Flash movie that’s embedded in an Articulate course, Articulate picks up the new file since has a link to it on the hard drive.  But it wasn’t doing this with the Flash movies that I had. And I couldn’t figure out why – I didn’t want to reimport them all.

So, I tweeted the problem and Dave Anderson replied with a Screenr showing how this is supposed to work. Well, ok – I had the right idea. But I’d forgotten that when I installed Windows 7, I’d moved all of my working files – so the project was in a completely different location than it had been when I created it. Doh! Articulate stores absolute references to embedded Flash, not relative. Moved the files back to where I had them and that problem was fixed.

Dave later directed me to a Screenr by James Kingsley showing good Flash/Articulate workflow techniques.

Presenter locking up when publishing

So, next problem that I had was presenter stopped publishing the deck. It always stopped on the “Saving files to disk” operation. At first it seemed random as to which slide it got stuck on, and then finally settled on slide 18. It just would not go past this point. I rebooted, which has resolved this issue in the past, but no luck.

Back to Twitter. Brian Batt offered to help and directed me to download and run the Articulate debug tracer, and then send the results back to him. With this running I could see that the SWF on that slide was causing the freeze. I republished the SWF. Not fixed. Reinserted the SWF. Not fixed. Deleted the slide and rebuilt it. Still no luck.

Out of ideas, I uninstalled Articulate, rebooted and reinstalled it. I’d seen that anti virus programs can also interfere with this so I turned it off while I was at it. One of these fixed it. Not sure which since I didn’t follow good troubleshooting procedures, but it publishes just fine now. Which is all I cared about.

The trace window is pretty cool – they should include something like this in the tool under a “More Details” button  – I’m not a fan of processes that take >10 minutes to run with little information. This fixes that for me.

Uploading to a FTP site

I uploaded it to my site and went to preview it. I got the dreaded “Slide 100 of 160” blank screen error. This means that either I’m using Articulate 4 with Flash 10 (which I’m not) or something didn’t upload correctly. I deleted the files and tried again. Same issue. Articulate has a built in FTP option, so I used that. It failed twice saying “Cannot upload file, unknown error.”

I’m just a little mad at this point </sarcasm>.

I started looking at options in my FTP program. I noticed that the file transfer type was set to “auto.” I’d seen problems in the past where binary files has been uploaded as ASCII, so I changed it to binary. Re-uploaded and viola!

Lessons learned

So here’s what I got out of this:

  1. Articulate doesn’t use relative paths to imported Flash movies. Don’t move things around!
  2. Turn off your virus scanner if you have problems publishing
  3. Always upload Articulate courses in binary mode
  4. Articulate has awesome support via Twitter

SCOMaster – Gameplay

I was finally able to record a round of my SCOMaster game! Recap – It’s a multiplayer WiiFlash game designed to be played with teams in an instructor lead classroom setting. The object is to assemble a learning program structure the fastest – but watch out, because your opponent can take one of your SCOs and reuse them in their own program. Developed in Flash CS3 in about 150 hours.

SCOMaster Gameplay

AS3 Learning Interactions? What should I do?

Casey’s gone back to school and things are settling down with the new baby, so I’m finding myself with a little free time again. When I posed the Creating a Flash WBT Framework post, I had planned to follow it up shortly with a few learning interactions, but I never found the time. Now I have some of that time. And being inspired by this conversation on the Pipweks board, I think that it’s something that would help out a lot of people.

I don’t plan to make them drop dead simple to use, like the old ones that were included with Flash, but I’d like to ask my (very few) readers: “What would you like me to do?” Are there interactions that you’d like to see?

I plan on making them class based, following the MVC pattern, with the data stored in an XML file. Should make it easy enough to modify, but the AS3 code would be intermediate level so it would require some effort there.

If I don’t receive any comments, I’ll just start wandering in a random direction and post what I come up with.

Update, 1/21/09: Well, things didn’t go as easily as I’d planned. Work was crazy and then I took a break for the holidays and just couldn’t get motivated to start on these. Excuses. But I’ve finally gotten around to turning the computer back on in the evenings, so I’ll be picking up on a few odds and ends soon.

Also – thanks for all of the comments!

WiiFlash Graffiti Gestures

I’ve been playing around with using gestures with WiiFlash as an alternative input scheme. As a first step, I’ve taken the Flash Gesture recognition code from Didier Brun and modified it to work with a Wii remote instead of the mouse. It works pretty well – some of the letters aren’t easy to hit – but not bad for a first try. I’d like to modify with further have more “shapes” rather than “letters” to match. More to come on this when I get extra time.

SCOMaster – WiiFlash mulitplayer learning game

SCOMaster screen shot

After a week and a half I finally finished my first real WiiFlash game – SCOMaster. It’s a competative, 2 player learning game designed to be played in a group setting. It illustrates the concepts of assembling a course in an LMS system. Bonus points are awarded for content reuse – they are SCOs after all! Unneeded objects and faulty objects can be sent back to the development team to be reworked – but at a cost.First one to build a completed activity tree wins.

Ben Hutchens, our graphic designer, created the art work for it. It took about 60 hours to program it using the WiiFlash classes that I had developed earlier in the year.

WiiFlash Tip #4 – Revisiting Wii-mouse in a multiplayer scenario

In February, I posted about using the Wii remote as a virtual mouse in Flash. While that approach seems to work just fine in a simple single player application, I found that it breaks really badly when you another player to it. I just completed my first two player WiiFlash game and I’ll document a few things that I had to differently.

Originally,  based all of the interaction with the cursors off of the typical mouse events (rollover, rollout, etc.), but this did allow for find out which player rollover the sprite or which player “clicked” on the sprite.

Each player’s cursor is just a sprite itself, so I switched to using the hitTestObject function against each players cursor sprite and the object sprite on a mouse event. This returns which of the cursors interacted with the object. Additionally, since the cursor sprites are big, you do have to see them from a distance, I found that I needed to add an additional sprite to the cursor – the cursor “point” – at 0,0 and use that for the hitTest rather than the actual big cursor sprite. If the “tail” of the cursor arrow is still over the object sprite, you shouldn’t count that as a roll over, since the point of the arrow is the important part.

So here are the functions for a rollover:

 private function onItemOver(e:MouseEvent):void {
var wm:Array = whichWiiMotesAreOverMe(Sprite(
for (var i:int = 0; i < wm.length; i++) {
_WiiMotes[wm[i]].cursorState = WiiCursorView.CURSOR_POINT;

// returns array of which wiimote cursors are over the sprite
private function whichWiiMotesAreOverMe(tgt:Sprite):Array {
var a:Array = new Array();
// _WiiMotes is an array of Wii controller objects
for (var i:int; i < _WiiMotes.length; i++) {
if (tgt.hitTestObject(_WiiMotes[i].cursorPoint)) {
return a;

The functions for a mousedown are:

private function onItemDown(e:MouseEvent):void {
// gets the index of the _WiiMote object that clicked the sprite
var wm:int = whichWiiMoteClickedMe(Sprite(;

// returns index of which wii mote cursor is over with the A button down
private function whichWiiMoteClickedMe(tgt:Sprite):int {
var wm:Array = whichWiiMotesAreOverMe(tgt);
for (var i:int = 0; i < wm.length; i++) {
if (tgt.hitTestObject(_WiiMotes[wm[i]].cursorPoint)) {
if (wm.length == 1) {
// simple test if only one cursor is over
if(_WiiMotes[wm[i]].isADown) return wm[i];
} else {
// little harder if 2+ are over, _LastClickWMIdx is the last Wii mote to have pressed a button
if(_WiiMotes[wm[i]].isADown && _LastClickWMIdx==wm[i]) return wm[i];
return -1;

This method, while probably not the best way, turned out to work really well in the game.

Creating a Flash WBT on the timeline

I’m presenting to the Bank’s Flash Community of Practice this Thursday on how to create a basic Flash WBT that includes SCORM  tracking. Below is the PPT deck that I’ll be using and below that is the sample file.

SCORM and Flash WBT Overview

This is an example file of a Flash WBT on the timeline, where my previous example was pure script. SCORM 1.2 compliant using my wrapper and Pipwerks SCORM API.

Timeline Based WBT Demo

Flash Template “2” release

I’m releasing the source code to the 2nd WBT framework that I created for Wachovia in mid-2004. Essentially, it works just like the example demo that I posed a few days ago: 1) an array of page IDs and 2) pages are movie clips in the library attached as the learner progressed though.

This version is pretty complicated, so it’ll be a challenge to figure out how it all works. But there is value in seeing the code for the individual page interactions. It’s not SCORM or AICC compliant – but it did track as a Docent Outliner module – those files aren’t included.

The framework file is the main file for a course. It loads an structure XML file (xmlframework.xml) that defines the list of modules for the course. The blank file what each lesson is built from. It contains all of the templates and is capable of running a course from an XML document.

These are Flash 7 FLAs. The code is Flash 6/MX level Actionscript. There aren’t really many comments in the code since I coded it for myself. But I did train a few coworkers how to use it. I haven’t worked in the code for over 3 years, so if you ask a question about it, I probably won’t remember what I did.

Here’s a preview of the interactions in the blank file:

Here’s the code:

Flash Template 2 Code

Creating a Flash WBT Framework, part 1

I put together part 1 of what I plan on being a multi-part series documeting the creation of a Flash WBT framework for creating SCORM compliant courses. This first once starts with an interface created in Flash CS3 and goes though the steps of adding the code to make it all work – and track on a SCORM 1.2 LMS. I’m using a custom wrapper class that I made for Pipwerks’ SCORM class. You need to know a bit about programming in Actionscript 3 – nothing advanced, but this isn’t in a tutoral format.

I’m hoping to fill a void with this – I know that there are a lot of people trying to develop WBTs in Flash and they have no idea where to start. I’ve been doing this for 4 years, and I know that I would have loved something like this when I started.

Example Documentation

Example Source Files

Please let me know if you find a bug, have a question, or have a comment or suggestion on what to cover next or how to make this better.


A few months ago, I made a comment about spinning off my ramen player for use at work and turning it into a player for learning content. Well, my first project with it is about to go live, so it’s worth another mention.

I’m calling this player “Scientia.”  I’ve added a lot of code for progress, tracking and completion. I’ve also integrated Pipwerks excellent SCORM wrapper into it.

The project is a system walk-though that’s presented to the learner with an avatar character. I’ve written up a short explanation of how the avatar SWF and audio player SWF work together. It’s pretty brief – post a comment if you want more information on it and I’ll see what more I can write.

Using XML events in a Flash player system

Also, I’m presenting at this month’s Bank of America Flash CoP meeting on Flash and SCORM communication. I’m going to create a very simple WBT/SCORM framework using Pipwerk’s wrapper. I’ll post the files and how-to when I get it written.