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Dated: Nov. 10, 2009

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Flash

7. Components

Flash comes with ready-made user-interface components that you can add to courses and configure through the Component Inspector and the Parameters panel. These components include: Radio Buttons, Checkboxes, Text Fields, clickable Selection Buttons, List Boxes, and Combo Boxes. Components in Flash CS3 are easier than ever to customize; simply double-click on a component and edit its skin.

ActionScript can call on a specific object and test whether its condition matches a Boolean value, as in a Radio Button or Checkbox. You can even use ActionScript to test for specific conditions and return certain values, to create your own quizzes and test interactions.

You can also dynamically update the text for components from an external text file. So application development is much easier now, using Flash Components and ActionScript.

8. Dynamic Text

As mentioned above, Flash lets you pull text into Dynamic Text fields. You can import variables from a simple text file, or load text from an HTML or XML file. Flash CS3 has expanded its capabilities to handle XML files, with E4X.

You can also use a loader object to bring external text into text fields. This loader object has specific conditions that when met, will display text when the loading is completed (or display an error message if a problem occurred). Dynamic text can be formatted through an external CSS file, or using simple HTML tags. But any text field that will be accepting dynamic text should have all font characters embedded or set to a system font.

The major advantage of using dynamic text is flexibility. When the content of your application changes, its much easier to change an external text file than to change text embedded in a Flash file. Text that is imported dynamically is cached by the Flash Player, so be sure to clear your cache when you update the content of your app.

9. Built-In Quiz Templates

In addition to its built-in learning interactions, Flash also offers Quiz templates. Simply go to File, then to New, and in the Templates section, select the Quiz category.

There are three Quiz styles to choose from. At the left of the stage, a Control component provides instructions and is governed by the Component Inspector. You can make adjustments to the entire Quiz and choose result options. Each frame in the Quiz template has its own set of learning interactions for you to choose from. So when you need a multiple-choice question, you can copy and paste the frame for multiple-choice questions and modify it as needed.

Its very easy to set up a Quiz from this template. And by default, the Publish settings are set to SCORM 1.2, for sending the templates Quiz results to an LMS. Well talk more about that in the next section.

10. Built In SCORM/AICC Support

Flash supports the SCORM 1.2 and 2004 standards, as well as AICC. Any application that you develop in Flash (that needs to communicate with the SyberWorks LMS) must be published using these templates. Go to the File menu, and then to Publish Settings. Click the HTML tab and choose the appropriate template for the type of tracking you want.

In an HTML file that has been published by Flash, you will find a large JavaScript file, containing all of the functions and variables necessary to populate the Application Programming Interface for the LMS. There are also functions for connecting Sharable Content Objects with the LMS.

But keep in mind that Flash does not generate a manifest file for its published content. So you may need to use an external manifest application to collect all of the components in your application, for upload to an LMS. (A manifest file is a library of all of the assets required for a course, including SCOs, HTML, SWF, and other files.) The SyberWorks LMS supports all SCORM 1.2- and AICC- compliant courses, and our customer-service representatives can help you configure your manifest files, for hosting on our LMS.

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