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The EnterPage

The ToolBook Developer's Newsletter
May 20, 1999

Issue 2-03

... From Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corporation.

In This Issue

Introduction: What's happening in the ToolBook® and Platte Canyon world
Update: The ToolBook User's Conference!
Notes from the Underground: The Ugly Duckling: A New Appreciation for Assistant™
Conference Update: ASTD, ED-MEDIA, OLL 99 (Europe), OLL 99 (US)
Putting FTS Pro™ Into an Existing Application
New Platte Canyon™ Products
Expert Information from "Learning & Mastering..."
Coming in the Next Issue
Information on Subscriptions and Article Submissions



by Jeff Rhodes

There is quite a bit happening in the world of ToolBook and for Platte Canyon in particular. The ToolBook User's Conference is gaining momentum. Check out the updated list of presenters. Be sure to register by June 15th in order to get the lowest price. Asymetrix released Assistant 7 to rave reviews. We at Platte Canyon are busy working on "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Assistant 7," which we hope to have available by September. Our lead developer of this product, Dr. Jeffrey Zink, shares some of his initial experiences below. Following that, we'll update you on the ASTD, ED-MEDIA, OLL 99 (Europe), and OLL 99 (US) Conferences. Then Platte Canyon's Cindy Kessler will describe the steps needed to incorporate FTS Pro into an existing application. And we'll tell you about our new Resources Plus™ and upcoming TB Start™ products. Finally, I'll include one of the "Expert Information" topics from "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor 6.5".


Update: The ToolBook User's Conference!

The ToolBook User's Conference will be held at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Aug 2 - 4, 1999. A special preconference session on Instructor™ will take place on Sunday, Aug 1st. Pricing and registration information is available at http://www.tbcon.com. Here's the current list of speakers and sessions. Watch the web site since this list is expanding.

Slade Mitchell (Asymetrix)
1. Using ActiveX controls with ToolBook
2. Developing for Re-usability and Maintainability
3. ToolBook and the 21st Century - Slade

Tim Barham (Asymetrix)
1. ToolBook and the 21st Century2. To Be Determined

Jeff Rhodes (Platte Canyon)
1. Getting Wild and Saving Time With OpenScript
2. How to Create "Let Me Try" Software Simulations with Instructor
3. InstallShield™ Professional Primer for ToolBook Installations
4. The "How's and Why's" of Creating Tracking Systems in Instructor

Craig McDonald (Cerner Corporation)
ToolBook Speaks ODBC

Simon Price (Institute for Learning and Research Technology [England])
Repurposing for the Web

Henry Mengoli (Belanka New Media, LLC)
1. 3-Dimensional Interfaces using ToolBook
2. Managing ToolBook Objects through Databases

Darcy Gibbons Burner (Asymetrix)
Managing Your Courses in Librarian™

Chris Bell (Platte Canyon)
1. Assessing Learning in CBT
2. Using 3-D Animation to Improve CBT - A Case Study

Lee Karns (Asymetrix)
Cues, Hints, Directives: Feedback Strategies For Software Simulations

Dan Lim, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, Crookston)
Designing Learning Games Using OpenScript

Simone Tani (Educom s.r.l. [Italy])
From an RTF file to a WBT

Mr. Jocelyn Martel (Compuexcel Consulting & Software [Canada])
How to Implement a Secure TB II Application on the Web

David Lanari & Marco Perrotti (University of Perugia - Italy)
Implementation Strategies of an Internet-Based Question Bank Developed with ToolBook

Mauro Rech (Midialog Mˇdia Interativa Ltda. [Brazil])
Multimedia Tricks and Techniques

Mark Osborne & Graham Shipman (The British Council [Greece])
Scripted Authoring

Mark Osborne (The British Council [Greece])
Incorporating and Combining Microsoft Agent & Macromedia Shockwave in ToolBook Applications

Jeffrey Zink, Ph.D. (Platte Canyon)
Exploring Assistant's Objects

Martha Weller, Ph.D. (University of Illinois)
The Ins and Outs of Viewers

Paolo Tosolini (Asymetrix)
1. Leverage RealVideo G2 and SMIL technologies to add multimedia impact to your Web site
2. Web marketing management: the case study of Asymetrix Web site

Confirmed Product Showcases (demonstrations and training on ToolBook add-on or related products):

1. Product Showcase: Extending your ToolBook Applications Using Behaviors (Slade Mitchell, Interactive Software Solutions, Inc.)
2. Product Showcase: TBK Tracker™ - Introduction and Training (Chris Bell, Platte Canyon)
3. Product Showcase: Progress Tracker™ - Introduction and Training (Jeff Rhodes, Platte Canyon)
4. Product Showcase: Plug-In Pro - Introduction and Training (Dr. Jeffrey Zink, Platte Canyon)
5. Product Showcase: Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor & Assistant (Dr. Jeffrey Zink, Platte Canyon)
6. Product Showcase: "Other" Platte Canyon Products (Chris Bell, Platte Canyon)


Notes from the Underground
The Ugly Duckling: A New Appreciation for Assistant

by Jeffrey Zink, Ph.D.

Welcome back to my underground world of ToolBook development. Remember my Global Control Hypothesis? The world is now being run by people working out of their basements ...

Today's topic is Assistant 7.0. I'm sure you all remember Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the Ugly Duckling, who, despised and ridiculed when he was born, grew up to become a beautiful swan, greatly admired, respected and loved. What does this story have to do with Assistant 7.0? Well, be honest: What's been the "serious" ToolBook developer's view of the Assistant? We've looked down our electronic noses at this puny cousin of Instructor. "Real developers never open a Catalog." Besides, what good can it possibly be if you can't use OpenScript--that secret language of the TB guru whose real purpose is to keep our users in awe of our "power"?

Perhaps we should think again. As a follow-up offering to our successful "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor" CBT, Platte Canyon is developing "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Assistant 7" to provide that same level of instruction and guidance to Assistant users. As lead developer, I have spent a good deal of time recently inside Assistant 7.0, Asymetrix's latest-and most versatile-generation of ToolBook younger siblings. What I have found has been pretty impressive. It turns out there's quite a bit of developing you can do without ever typing in a word of OpenScript.

Assistant 7.0 is almost exclusively catalog-driven in that every new object comes from a catalog (rather than a tool palette). So you have available a set of catalogs containing just about everything you could possibly need for robust application development, from lines and ellipses to complete backgrounds and sophisticated question objects--all available (and pre-scripted) at the click of a mouse.

We should mention two other unique features of Assistant 7.0, a choice of development modes and the voice-capable Coach. Assistant gives you the option of two development modes, Advanced and Basic. The primary difference between these two is the object properties sheets: Basic sheets (actually they're dialog boxes) are streamlined to provide the developer with only the most essential properties, eliminating the tabs and compacting the choices onto a single dialog box. The result is faster access to the properties you change most. With the click of the view menu, you can rapidly switch back to the sheets you're more familiar with in Advanced Mode. Asymetrix has also incorporated the Microsoft Agent as an animated coach. This ActiveX control (it's Merlin, by the way) offers both text and spoken context-sensitive help that automatically updates based on what is selected in author mode. It's actually pretty cool.

There are a number of other great features (such as the ability to export to DHTML and avoid the need for the Neuron plug-in) which we can't cover here (besides, we can't tell you everything or you won't buy our training program!). While there are some downsides (like the lack of a tool palette), on balance Assistant 7.0 is a much-improved and very user-friendly alternative to Instructor-and at about 60% of the cost of Instructor as well. I suggest you give it a good look before deciding that it doesn't meet your needs.


Field Report: Training '99

Platte Canyon had a “demo station” in the Asymetrix pavilion for the Training ’99 (Chicago, Feb 1 – 3). I plugged in the laptop and demonstrated our new “Learning & Master ToolBook Instructor” CBT as well as some of our other products. I also spent some time showing potential ToolBook users the feature so Instructor™ and Assistant™. Being part of the Asymetrix pavilion was fun because I was able to talk to quite a number of the Asymetrix technical staff (e.g., Mike Florence), management (e.g., John Kellum), training organization (e.g., Joan Kane), and sales force (e.g., Jim Blaisdell). It was interesting to talk to some of the other Asymetrix partners like MediaLinx (also a Platte Canyon reseller) and the Sunset Group. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Jack Siegal, whom many of you know via the ToolBook ListServe. The Training ’99 show itself had some top-notch keynotes and eye-catching booths. I had to spend most of my time in the Expo hall, but I was able to catch an excellent presentation by John Redmon of the Redmon Group. John showed some impressive examples of using ToolBook, Flash, and Visual Basic over the web. As a ToolBook developer, I don’t think this show comes anywhere close to the OnLine Learning Conference (next October in Los Angeles), since that conference contains the Asymetrix Developer’s Conference as well. However, for a wide range of training offerings, this conference would be hard to beat.

By Jeff Rhodes

Conference Update: ASTD, ED-MEDIA, OLL 99 (Europe), OLL 99 (US)

Please stop by and say hi if any of you are attending these upcoming conferences:

ASTD '99: May 23 - 27, Atlanta, Georgia

Chris Bell will present an educational session on the various methods that Platte Canyon uses to evaluate student performance in its CBT applications. This session will cover topics discussed in the paper, "Evaluating Performance for a Software CBT," which will be published as a chapter of the upcoming ASTD book, Measuring Learning and Performance.

To read this paper, please see information on purchasing The ToolBook Companion.

More information: http://www.astd.org/virtual_community/astd99/index.html

ED-MEDIA World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications
June 19 - 24

Jeff Rhodes will conduct a "Corporate Showcase" on "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor" in Session #3054 at 2:45PM on June 22, 1999

For more information: http://www.aace.org/

OLL 99 (Europe)
July 20 - 22, 1999, Cheltenham, England
4th International Conference
Cheltenham & Gloucester College of HE
Sponsored by Asymetrix Learning UK LTD
Also sponsored by Platte Canyon Multimedia Software Corporation

Jeff Rhodes will be conducting a Preconference seminar and will be giving at least one session. The exact topics have not yet been selected by the organizers.

OLL 99 (U.S.)
October 18 - 20, 1999, Los Angeles

Platte Canyon will have a 10x20 booth right near the entrance to the exhibit hall. Chris Bell will be giving these presentations:

1. Using 3-D Animation to Improve CBT - A Case Study
2. Assessing Learning in CBT
3. Integrating 3-D Animations and Highly Compressed Video into ToolBook Applications (Asymetrix track)

Jeff Rhodes will be giving these presentations:

1. How to Create CBT that Teaches Software
2. InstallShield Professional Primer for ToolBook Installations (Asymetrix track)


Putting FTS Pro Into an Existing Application

by Cynthia D. Kessler

The "boss" recently suggested I add the functionality of the Platte Canyon FTS Pro by Denny Dedmore to our "Learning & Mastering" series and then add an FTS Pro section to the training itself. About four hours later, he asked me to submit an article on the process for this edition of The EnterPage. (He's a big one for "Since you're going to learn it anyway, why not write about it.") As an initial tribute to FTS Pro's ease-of-use, four hours experience actually gives me something to write about.

FTS Pro is a utility that allows ToolBook programmers to incorporate Full Text Search (the ability to quickly search through all the text in an application) into their own applications. The idea is to generate an index of the words that appear in your application and then distribute the index and the FTS Pro system book at runtime. This provides your end-users with the ability to quickly search for words and then jump to any page that appears in the results. Very nice feature!

FTS Pro allows for plenty of customization, mostly through properties. For example, you can customize the index, method of calling, instructions seen by your end-users, and language used. To give you an idea, you can:

§ Index the text of buttons, fields, recordfields, combo boxes, and hotwords
§ Index any number of books
§ Exclude objects (including pages and backgrounds) from the index
§ Ignore specific words when indexing, or index only certain words
§ Add indexed words to a page that do not actually appear on the page
§ Customize page names that appear in the index
§ Index any text, including numbers and foreign characters in the upper ASCII range

By default, the FTS Pro system book adds a "Search" menu to both author and reader level. The author level menu includes developer tools for configuring your book(s) prior to indexing. You can also use OpenScript to set properties and to call the FTS Pro functions directly. For example, in our "Learning and Mastering" series we need the "Search" feature to appear on our custom menu, so we simply make the appropriate FTS Pro function call from there.

The FTS Pro help is well organized and easy to follow. As a new FTS Pro user, I'm delighted with how smoothly initial integration went, and am very comfortable with customizing as needed. In addition, the speed of the FTS Pro search in our "Learning and Mastering Instructor" application is impressive, especially considering how extensive the application is.

Overall, adding FTS Pro to our training has been a breeze, and it contributes a powerful and extremely useful feature. Thank you, Denny!

More Information: http://plattecanyon.com/ftspro.aspx


New Platte Canyon Products

by Jeff Rhodes

Since the last issue of The EnterPage, we released a new product called Resources Plus. This product was born from the process of starting "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Assistant 7." We wanted to use the current "Instructor 6.5" version as a starting point., so we used the Plug-In Pro to export the 1000+ bitmap resources to individual bitmaps. We then went through each one and either updated it to the Assistant equivalent, left it alone, or put the bitmap in the "to be deleted" category. The problem came when the number of bitmap resources to be deleted came to over 200! It wasn't as simple as just deleting all unused resources, since many of the necessary resources are accessed only via OpenScript and are hence not shown as being used. Rather than trying to do it manually, I wrote the Resources Plus utility. Here is the general procedure:

  1. Select a ToolBook Instructor 6 or Assistant 6 book
  2. Sort and view unused, used, or all resources of a particular book. Sort by name, ID number, or number of times used.
  3. Build a list of resources to either delete or save from the files in a selected directory. Used with the Plug-In Pro or LE's "Import/Export Resources" utility, this feature allows you to export all resources of a book, put those that you no longer need into a separate directory, and then use that list of files to automatically build a list of resources to delete.

Price is $45.

More information: http://www.plattecanyon.com/resourcesplus.aspx

We also have a product called TB Start in beta testing. It is an "autorun" executable written in Delphi that the developer can customize solely by editing configuration settings in the .ini file and changing a bunch of graphics in a \graphics subdirectory. It is designed for deployment when the runtime is on the hard disk but the application is on CD. The program checks a registry entry to see if the installation has been completed. If so, the "Start" application button is enabled. It reads the registry to build a complete command line to the tb60run.exe (or, soon, tb70run.exe) as well as to the ToolBook file itself. With various configuration switches, you can also enable the ability to start in author mode, have a help button, and launch an external file (such as a readme). Tentative pricing is $195 per developer, who can use it for an unlimited number of autorun files.


Expert Information from "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor"

Note: this is one of the 100+ Expert Information topics from the "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Instructor" CBT available from Asymetrix (www.asymetrix.com) and Platte Canyon (www.plattecanyon.com).

Topic: How are Hyperlink Messages Saved?

When you set a hyperlink for an object, ToolBook saves the settings as the _asym_hyperlinks array property of the object. As with the CBT Question editors, the Hyperlink editor is just an interface for writing this array. Here is what each row of this one-dimensional array means.

Row 1: The event that triggers the hyperlink. This is always buttonClick when done via the interface but can be other events as well. However, if it is another trigger, then the hyperlink must be initiated via OpenScript using the ASYM_DoHyperlink() function.

Row 2: The page to show or pop up. This might be the name of the page, its ID, or a relative term like <next> or <previous>. For a URL, this is the URL line (e.g., the web site).

Row 3: The viewer in which to show the selected page. This is blank for the same viewer as the object or the viewer's ID number for other viewers. It is also blank when hyperlinking to a URL.

Row 4: This is the name and (if needed) path of the book if the hyperlink goes to or pops up a page from a different book.

Row 5: This is true if the hyperlink is to a URL and false otherwise.

Row 6: The transition for going to the selected page. This could be a value like "zoom in left speed 750". This row contains the style of the popup viewer for popping up pages.

Row 7: Either "jump" for going to the page in the main window or "popup" for showing the page in another viewer.

Row 8: The viewer in which to show the hyperlink. This is typically <targetWindow>.

Row 9: The value of sysCursor during the time the hyperlink is executed. This is the hourglass (4) by default.

Note: You can set hyperlinks via OpenScript using the ASYM_AddHyperlink() function.

Coming in the Next Issue of the EnterPage

  • Sneak Peak: Instructor 7.0
  • ToolBook User's Conference Report
  • Update on "Learning & Mastering ToolBook Assistant
  • 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