The EnterPage 1-02
The ToolBook Developer's Newsletter from Platte Canyon Multimedia
March 20, 1998
In This Issue
Sneak Peak: CD-ROM
Based Training on How to Use Instructor
OLLO 98: What about the ToolBook Developer's Conference?
Sale Prices on
Asymetrix Products: Only from Platte Canyon
Free Upgrades for 6.0 Users Coming Soon
Notes from the Underground: Beginner
Peak: Platte Canyon Question Widgets Volume 1
ToolBook Tips From Jeff Rhodes
Platte Canyon World Tour: Come meet us!
Coming in Next Issue
Welcome to issue 1-02 of The EnterPage, the newsletter from Platte Canyon Multimedia
Software Corporation. The purpose
of this newsletter is to keep you informed of new products and developments in the world
of Asymetrix and Platte Canyon as well as offer some pointers on Asymetrix ToolBook
Instructor and Assistant development.
Platte Canyon is currently developing an in-depth training application on how to use
ToolBook Instructor 6.0. Officially debuting at the Online Learning '98
Conference, the application will cover all aspects of developing applications with
Instructor. Featuring media rich demonstrations and fully-interactive simulations, users
will gain a thorough understanding of the power and possibilities of Instructor.
Aimed at users of all levels, the training does not stop at teaching the basics of
instructor. Hundreds of context-sensitive expert tips, openScript suggestions, and much
more are included throughout the training. Users will be able to operate the training
using either runtime or author-level Instructor, allowing more experienced developers to
get "under the hood" and view the internal scripts and settings.
This project is of course developed using Instructor 6.0, the Platte Canyon
Progress Tracker and Plug-In Pro.
You may see the outline of the training and the actual "screen play" at http://www.plattecanyon.com/lmInstructor65.aspx.
If you are interested in being a Beta Tester for this project, please fill out a form
at <no longer beta testing>
For those of you with multilingual skills, we plan to contract with native speakers of
French, German, Spanish, and perhaps other languages to translate the entire content and
record the narration files.
With Asymetrix' announcement of Online Learning '98 (<<LINK NO LONGER
AVAILABLE>>), some ToolBook users have wondered about the traditional ToolBook
Developer's Conference of years past. One colleague asked us, "I'm very interested in
on-line delivery, but most of my work is still delivered via CD-ROM. Should I go to this
conference?" The short answer is: YES!
Last year, Asymetrix changed the name of the "ToolBook Developer's
Conference" to "Online Learning 97," and the focus of the conference
broadened to include new delivery methods. However, the event included more sessions than
ever on core Asymetrix development tips and techniques that could be used for all delivery
methods. Although the 1998 conference has moved from Washington to California, it promises
to remain true to ToolBook developer conferences of the past. Asymetrix says it agreed to
have Lakewood publications run an expanded version of the conference, but "the annual
Asymetrix conference must be at the heart of this event."
This year's conference (Sep 23 - 25) promises more sessions, a much larger expo hall,
and more attendees. Early maps of the expo hall show participation by major Asymetrix
developers including Platte Canyon as well as other online delivery companies such as
Macromedia and Centra Software.
A new part of the conference this year will the be learning labs where attendees will
be able to sit down and actually work with the software and techniques being discussed.
Platte Canyon will sponsor four separate "hands-on" sessions covering its new
"How to Use Instructor 6.0" as well as the Progress Tracker family
and Plug-In Products. We'll be in booth 300 as well.
The bottom line: Mark your calendars for September 23-25, 1998. We'll see you in
Purchasing Asymetrix products through Platte Canyon gives you:
-All benefits of purchasing directly from Asymetrix PLUS
-Free email technical support from Platte Canyon (a $395 value)
-$100 credit on Platte Canyon products including Progress Tracker and Plug-Ins.
The sale is offered to subscribers only. However, to see the great prices on
Asymetrix and Platte Canyon Products, visit
Asymetrix is putting the finishing touches on version 6.1 of Instructor and
Assistant. These upgrades will be available from the Asymetrix Web Site. If you are
a registered user of version 6.0 of Instructor or Assistant, you'll be able to
download the upgrade for free.
Features of the upgrade will include:
-Full compatibility between Assistant and Instructor
-Minor bug fixes in both products
An official release date has not yet been announced. However, when a date is available,
Platte Canyon will send a brief announcement via email to recipients of The
By Jeffrey Zink, Ph.D.
When Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote "Notes From the Underground" in 1864, I'm sure
he didn't envision me working in my basement office writing CBT. But with apologies, I'll
steal that title as I share with you some thoughts on my first few months as a ToolBook
developer and Director of Platte Canyon's CBT Development.
When I was hired last December, I was brutally honest with the owners of Platte Canyon
(in keeping with my background as an ethicist!). "I'm pretty much clueless about
computer programming." However, that didn't seem to worry them (although it sure gave
them a distinct advantage in the salary negotiations!). They said they had two secret
weapons-the ToolBook authoring environment and the Platte Canyon Plug-In
Pro productivity tools. Both of these would make learning development a snap. All I
needed to bring was a somewhat logical mind and a willingness to learn.
Looking back over the first few months, I have to say they were right. Well, almost. It
hasn't exactly been a snap. But it has been much easier than I had feared. You don't have
to be a computer geek to succeed in CBT development, but you do have to learn a few things
along the way. Here are a few rules that I picked up:
SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE!!!
Ever lose data to a computer lock-up? There's an old saying: There are those who have and
those who will. I am definitely in the "have" category. That sick feeling in
your stomach that accompanies the unforgiving realization that that last hour (or even 10
minutes) of work has just become a burnt offering to Pentium, the Goddess of Oops, is not
something you want to experience more than once. Although I do think you have to
experience it at least once to learn the lesson. How many times did my mentors warn me,
Save! <Ctrl-S> is your friend!"? It still didn't sink in.
Learn from the past. Make it a habit, a natural reflex, that every time you pause to
think, or sip your coffee, or answer the phone, hit <Ctrl-S> or click on the Save
icon. Sure, you may know this, but you also may treat it like your seatbelt. If you can
learn anything from a novice, it's this lesson.
PLAN IT, HOLLYWOOD
If you like old clichés, how about this one: "A stitch, in time, saves nine."
Again, I'm pretty sure old Ben Franklin didn't know much about CBT development, but he did
know about planning. I have learned that careful planning early on can prevent the
frustration of going back to "make things right." I can't tell you how many time
I heard Jeff Rhodes say to me, "Hmm, let's think for a second
" That's the
sound of a beautiful plan hatching, and I know my productivity will improve as a result.
In the early stages of a project, don't assume that just because you haven't completed
any screens, you're unproductive. Maybe you are (and that's a different problem!), but if
you're taking time to do some careful up-front planning with layouts, object naming, etc.,
life is guaranteed to be sweeter as you enter the home stretch, or when you get that call
from your client, "Can we change a few things?"
A PLUG FOR PLUG-INS
At the risk of this sounding like an infomercial, I have to say that the one thing that
really helped me get up to speed on Instructor was the Platte Canyon Plug-In
Pro. It contains so many great short-cuts and other aids that I literally am lost
without it. I didn't realize how easy it had made my life until I tried to give telephone
technical support to one of our clients who didn't have the Plug-Ins. It was like going
back to DOS! As a developer, I would have to classify it in the "got to have"
rather than "nice to have" category. I encourage you to check out the demo at
the Platte Canyon web site-see for yourself what it can do for your productivity
So there are my Rules from the Rookie so far. I'll keep you posted on my progress in
future issues of EnterPage. In the meantime, SAVE!! (Have I mentioned that yet?)
Our next product line will be Instructor and Assistant Question Objects
(AKA Widgets). These will be new multiple choice, matching, true & false, and other
question types. They will fully operate within the Asymetrix "widget" paradigm
but will provide exciting new capabilities. We plan to create other types of objects as
Here are some recent command window scripts that I've found helpful.
1. This script allows you to change the directory reference for all the audio clips in
a book. Useful if you've gone to a new directory scheme. For relative directories, just
start your variables with "\":
oldSource = "j:\academ\sampler\filesct\legres1"
numOldSource = charCount(oldSource)
newSource = "j:\academ\sampler\filesct\legres2"
listOfClips = resourceList(clip,this book)
while listOfClips <> null
clipID = resourceInfo of it
if item 3 of clipID = "waveAudio"
currentSource = mmSource of it
if currentSource contains oldSource
clear chars 1 to numOldSource of currentSource
currentSource = newSource & currentSource
mmSource of it = currentSource
2. Another clip script. This one checks all your clips for "hard-coded"
references. Remember that you use the new AutoPackager in 6.0 and Media Packager in older
version of ToolBook to give your clips a relative path:
bookID = this book
listOfClips = resourceList(clip, bookID)
numClips = itemCount(listOfClips)
step num from 1 to numClips
clipID = resourceInfo of item num of listOfClips
if (item 4 of clipID contains ":") -- has a full path
push clipID onto badClips
3. You've imported a bunch of bitmap resources (hopefully using the utility in the
Plug-In LE or Plug-In Pro which makes the name of the resource the same as the
name of the file [minus the .bmp extension]). Now you want to chromakey them all at once.
Here's how to do it:
bookID = this book
bitmapItems = resourceList(bitmap, bookID)
numBitmaps = itemCount(bitmapItems)
step num from 1 to numBitmaps
bitmapID = item num of bitmapItems
if word 1 of name of bitmapID = "additionalInformation"
useChromaKey of bitmapID = true
keyColor of bitmapID = 0,0,255
Platte Canyon is at many of the training and development conferences that occur in the
industry. Come see us at any of the following events:
Learning Technology Conference (Formerly Interactive 98)
Session: "CBT Authoring Plug-Ins as Time (and Headache) Savers"
Session 511, Tuesday, June 16; 1:20 - 2:30 PM.
Atlanta, June 15 - 17
More info: <link no longer available>
On Line Learning 98 (Formerly Asymetrix Developer's Conference)
Learning Laboratory (Wed, Sep 25) featuring hands-on demonstrations of Platte Canyon
Up to 2 presentations on OpenScript and Extended Objects
Also Impromptu Sessions at the Platte Canyon Booth (#300) in the Exhibit Hall
September 23 - 25
Other possible Platte Canyon Presentations:
Society For Applied Learning Technology (SALT) Interactive 98
Virginia, August 25 - 27
Learning Technology Conference
ActiveX and Instructor: What's the Buzz?
Suggestions for articles or proposals for article
submissions are welcome. Send information to
EP@plattecanyon.com. Back issues of the EnterPage are
More OpenScript tips from Jeff Rhodes
The EnterPage is distributed 4 times a year, with occasional special issues.
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