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The EnterPage 2-02 (Special Edition)

The ToolBook Developer's Newsletter
March 23, 1999

Issue 2-01

... From Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corporation.

In This Issue

Introduction: Special Edition
New Event: ToolBook® User's Conference!
Assistant™ 7.0 On Sale Now
What's Coming in Instructor™ 7?
OpenScript Tip From Jeff Rhodes
Expert Tip from "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor™"
Jeff Rhodes to present at European OnLine Learning 99
Coming in Next Issue
Information on Subscriptions and Article Submissions


Information moves quickly in this ToolBook® world. With the announcement of a brand new conference aimed at ToolBook developers and the release of Assistant™ 7.0, we just couldn't wait for the next issue of the EnterPage to share the exciting news.

To round out the issue, we have included a new OpenScript tip from Jeff Rhodes as well as another piece of Expert Information culled from the popular training CD-ROM "Learning & Mastering ToolBook® II Instructor."

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New Event: ToolBook® User's Conference!

Where do you go if you want to meet with other ToolBook® developers? What about attending sessions presented by world class ToolBook® developers? Maybe you just want to have a chance to participate in a casual show-and-tell to see what other people are doing with ToolBook®. No matter what your level, the ToolBook® User's Conference is your answer. The entire focus of this conference is on sharing technical information with Instructor™ and Assistant™ users.

With seven blocks of sessions per day, the conference promises many practical opportunities to learn all about ToolBook®. These sessions will be presented by world-class ToolBook® developers. We have early speaking commitments from Slade Mitchell (Asymetrix), Jeff Rhodes (Platte Canyon), Craig McDonald (Cerner), Martha Weller (U. Of Illinois), Chris Bell (Platte Canyon), Dan Lim (U. Of Minnesota), and Lee Karns (Asymetrix). Look for many more to come!

To keep the conference affordable, it will be held at The Colorado College, a beautiful campus in the center of Colorado Springs. Note that the price includes room and board! Attendees will receive conference 'goodies' as well as a post-conference mailing of a CD-ROM with all sample applications and papers covered in the sessions.

You may also attend a special "Learning & Mastering Instructor" seminar on Sunday, August 1. The extra cost is only $275 (double), $305 (single), and $255 (meals only). In the seminar, Jeff Rhodes and Chris Bell will go into all aspects of Instructor, including OpenScript. We'll divide the seminar into experience levels if appropriate, so don't be shy!

Come to this conference for excellent learning opportunities in a casual atmosphere! Make connections with fellow ToolBook® developers. Share your knowledge at the participant show-and-tell sessions. Pick up that undocumented feature from an insider at Asymetrix. Learn about plans for the next version of ToolBook®. Make a vacation of it in Colorado!

For more information visit the ToolBook® User's Conference web site at:
call 1-888-ToolBK-1 (1-888-866-5251) for more information.

We'll be sending a postcard about the conference to many of you in the next couple of weeks. If you want to be sure to get one, send us an email with your postal mailing address or fill out the form on the www.tbcon.com web site.

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Assistant™ 7.0 On Sale Now

ToolBook® II Assistant™ 7.0 is due to ship in the next couple of weeks! We have been using the Beta release and it is just fantastic. For web-based training, Assistant™ boasts a whole new approach where the developer can export to DHTML. This means that your pages load super-fast, even when they have the extraordinary interactivity and power that Assistant™ provides. For training delivered via CD-ROM or hard disk, Assistant™ has new catalog objects and stability features.

We will be offering special sale prices for the first few months of the Assistant™ release. These are the same low prices that Asymetrix will be offering, but when you upgrade from Platte Canyon, you also receive free extended email based technical support from the engineers at Platte Canyon. You also get $50 off any Platte Canyon product. You can even hold onto your $50 credit and apply it to the purchase of "Learning & Mastering ToolBook® II Assistant™ 7" which will be available later this year.

Upgrade Sale prices for Assistant™ 7.0 are:

Upgrade from Assistant™ 6.5: $395 (regularly $495)
Upgrade from Assistant™ 6.0 or 6.1: $595 (regularly $695)

We are also offering the bundle of Asymetrix Level II Technical Support plus an upgrade. You get toll-free phone support and free upgrades for a year. Note that this support comes in addition to Platte Canyon's extended email based technical support. Prices for support and the upgrade are:

Level II Support and upgrade from 6.5: $695
Level II Support and upgrade from 6.0 or 6.1: $895

At Platte Canyon, we pride ourselves on offering the best value on ToolBook® and related products to our customers. That's how we have become the leading reseller of Asymetrix products! If you live in the US or Canada, call us toll free to place your order: 1-888-ToolBk-1 (1-888-866-5251).

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What's Coming in Instructor™ 7?

With Assistant™ 7 being released, Instructor™ 7 shouldn't be far behind. In fact, we recently received a listing from Asymetrix about some of the planned features for Instructor™ 7.0. While this is a preliminary list and features could be added or removed, it certainly provides enough to whet the appetite!  Instructor™ 7.0's expected new features:

Export to DHTML
Just like Assistant™ 7.0, Instructor™ 7.0 will be able to export to DHTML. This means that your exported pages will load much faster than the previous HTML/Java solution. All catalog objects will be supported for exporting to DHTML including all question types. Path animation will also be supported, Finally, any behavior produced using the new event/action system will be supported.

Event/Action System
The Event/Actions System provides a way of adding considerable functionality to a book without coding. Any object or page in a book can have any number of actions associated with different events. The Event/Actions System user interface allows developers to associate actions with different events for ToolBook objects and pages. It allows developers to edit all necessary features of a particular action. All of the behaviors created in this manner will be exportable to DHTML.

Internet Enabled Books
You will be able to open TBK files directly off the Internet without the use of Neuron. This means that you can run files that are stored on the Internet in a "broswerless mode."

New Catalog Objects
New objects available from the catalog will include players for MS Office content and Real Media files, and objects that can point to content (text and graphics) on the Internet and be updated automatically. Also, we hear that there will be an extended object for incorporating the MS Agent into your book without writing code. This means you can have Robby the Robot fly around your screen by just setting some extended properties.

ADO and OLE Automation
Both of these new standards will be implemented in Instructor. ADO (Active Data Object) is the replacement for ODBC. OLE Automation will allow ToolBook to control other Windows applications in a similar fashion to the now outdated DDE.

New templates and enhanced Specialists round out the planned picture.

Availability and Pricing
We hear that Instructor™ 7.0 should be released early this summer. Pricing is not available yet, but remember to upgrade through Platte Canyon where you can get free extended email based technical support as well as $50 off any Platte Canyon product including the popular training CD-ROM, "Learning & Mastering ToolBook® II Instructor."

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OpenScript Tips From Jeff Rhodes

When we were testing a big custom release last week, we noticed that we had failed to set some of the review questions to be reset on enterPage. We had all these review questions on a single background, with the Feedback field on the background (as well as the "Show Answer" button from the Platte Canyon Answer Key™). When the question did not reset itself, then you could actually see the feedback from the previous question. Not a good result! So how could we quickly change all the questions? Using the command window of course! Here's the script. I've included the getQuestionID() function as well, though those of you who own the Progress Tracker™ already have this function.

counter = 0
step num from 1 to pageCount of this background
	pageID = page num of this background
	questionID = getQuestionID (pageID)
	if questionID <> null
		asym_wid_autoreset of questionID = "enterPage"
		increment counter
	end if
end step
put counter

to get getQuestionID page pageID, string allQuestions
	local stack widgetList, questionList
	local string questionID,qName

	if "tb60r.sbk" is not in sysBooks
		push "tb60r.sbk" onto sysBooks
	end if
	widgetList = ASYM_CollectWidgets(pageID)
	while widgetList <> null
		pop widgetList
		qName = tbk_wid_name of it
		if (qName contains "ASYM_Q" OR qName = "Fill-In Hotword")
			questionID = it
			if allQuestions = null
				return questionID
				push questionID onto questionList
			end if
		end if
	end while
	return questionList
end getQuestionID       

While we're on the subject of ToolBook question objects, you might be interested in this technical support question from one of our Instructor™ customers:

Q: Is it possible to change the weight of a question object with a script? I have been unable to find a property to do this. At this time, I have the quiz set up so that the script changes the maximum score from 2 points to 1 point if the user misses the question the first time (the user gets 2 tries). The problem with this is the total points possible for the quiz is changed.

Here's my answer: Your question is a hard one because you are exactly right that changing the asym_wid_maxScore of the question will change the total allowed points of the quiz. I've traced through the code and believe that the only way to do this is to adjust and asym_wid_ansArray property of the object. The relevant part of the array is column 11:

[answer num][11] = weight of the score. These should all add up to one. For a multiple choice question with one right answer, then one of the entries will be one with the rest zero. So what you want to do is reduce these so that they add up to 1/2 after one wrong answer. Here's a crack at the type of code that you want to do:

to handle reduceAnswerScoresByHalf object objectID
	-- pass in the question object as a parameter (e.g., group "multiple choice")
	local ansArray[][]

	ansArray = ASYM_WID_AnsArray of objectID
	maxIndex = item 1 of dimensions(ansArray)
	QType = ASYM_WID_QType of objectID

		when QType = "TRUEFALSE"
		when QType = "MULTICHOICE"
		when QType = "MULTIDROP"
		when QType = "SLIDER"
		when QType = "NAMEPART"
		when QType = "MULTIDROP"
		when QType = "MULTIOBJ"
		when QType = "TYPEIN"
		when QType = "MATCHITEM"
		when QType = "MATCHOBJ"
			step num from 1 to maxIndex
				ansArray[num][11] = ansArray[num][11] /2
			end step
			ASYM_WID_AnsArray of objectID = ansArray

		-- these have different scoring so you'd need to look at separately
	end conditions
end reduceAnswerScoresByHalf       

I've done a quick test on this and it seems to work. Let us know how it works out for you.

NOTE: We can't promise to always write code for you in response to your technical support questions, but we always try to do our best. This type of service is why Platte Canyon is now the leading seller of ToolBook outside of Asymetrix themselves.

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Expert Tip from "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor™"

Note: this is one of the 100+ Expert Information topics from the "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor™" CBT. Each issue of The EnterPage will include a new tip.

Topic: Key OpenScript Messages

ToolBook sends standard notification messages when key events occur during your Instructor™ application. One of the most important times is when you first start your application. Here is a list of key messages along with a brief note on when you might want to handle them yourself.

(In order of occurrence from top to bottom) enterSystem -- use for command line parameters enterApplication -- sent once per book every time you show a page from the book in the mainWindow; assign system books and other housekeeping enterBook -- I don't use much but can be used for some of the same things as enterApplication, but here the message is sent if you show a page from a book in a viewer enterBackground -- sent each time you enter a new background enterPage -- can be used to initiate actions on the page; displays the first page on startup

Some of the other key messages are:
mouseEnter -- often change the cursor for buttons and other objects
mouseLeave -- change to cursor back to the default
leaveApplication -- save user information and other "cleanup"
leavePage -- return objects to the default state
leaveField -- format text in an entry field
keyDown -- detect that a user pressed a key
keyChar -- determine (and format if necessary) what the user types

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Jeff Rhodes to present at European OnLine Learning 99

We are pleased to announce that Jeff Rhodes will again be traveling "across the pond" to present at the "European OnLine Learning 99" conference. Held July 20 - 22 at the Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, this conference promises to be the premiere gathering spot for European ToolBook® developers, as it has in previous years.

Jeff will be offering several presentations as well as giving away copies of "Learning & Mastering ToolBook® II Instructor" to a few lucky winners.

For more information, watch future issues of the EnterPage.

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Coming in the Next Issue of the EnterPage

  • Sneak Peak: Instructor™ 7.0
  • ToolBook® User's Conference Preview
  • More OpenScript tips from Jeff Rhodes
  • ToolBook Tip (from Learning and Mastering CD-ROM)
  • More

Information on Subscriptions and Article Submissions

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. If you do not wish to receive future issues, send an email message to EP@plattecanyon.com with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. 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.   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.

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