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The EnterPage 2-01

The ToolBook Developer's Newsletter
February 22, 1999

Issue 2-01


The EnterPage 1-02

The ToolBook Developer's Newsletter from Platte Canyon Multimedia Software
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 Tips
Sneak Peak: Platte Canyon Question Widgets Volume 1
ToolBook Tips From Jeff Rhodes
Platte Canyon World Tour: Come meet us!
Coming in Next Issue
EnterPage Submissions
Subscription Information


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.

Sneak Peak: CD-ROM Based Training on How to Use Instructor™

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.

Online Learning '98: What about the ToolBook Developer's Conference?

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 Pro™ducts. We'll be in booth 300 as well.

The bottom line: Mark your calendars for September 23-25, 1998. We'll see you in Anaheim!

Sale Prices on Asymetrix Products: Only from Platte Canyon

Purchasing Asymetrix products through Platte Canyon gives you:
-All benefits of purchasing directly from Asymetrix PLUS
-Best price
-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 The Store

Free Upgrades for 6.0 Users Coming Soon

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 EnterPage.

Notes from the Underground: Beginner Tips

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:

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.

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?"

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?)

Sneak Peak: Platte Canyon Question and other Extended Objects Volume 1

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 well.

ToolBook Tips From Jeff Rhodes

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
	pop listOfClips
	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
		end if
	end if
end while

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:

system badClips
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
	end if
end step
put 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
	end if
end step

Platte Canyon World Tour: Come meet us!

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)
Silver Sponsor
Learning Laboratory (Wed, Sep 25) featuring hands-on demonstrations of Platte Canyon products.
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
Oct 98
Los Angeles


Coming in the Next Issue of the EnterPage

ActiveX and Instructor: What's the Buzz?
More OpenScript tips from Jeff Rhodes

EnterPage Submissions

Suggestions for articles or proposals for article submissions are welcome. Send information to EP@plattecanyon.com. Back issues of the EnterPage are available at http://www.plattecanyon.com/enterpage.aspx.

Subscription Information

The EnterPage is distributed 4 times a year, with occasional special issues. Individuals who have expressed interest in Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corporation or its products receive The EnterPage. New subscriptions are available by sending an email message to EP@plattecanyon.com with the word "subscribe" in the subject line and the person's name and company in the text of the message.


.. .. Copyright © 1999 Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corporation