Introduction to the least known component of themes: Object styles.
A while ago I posted a blog comparing a Theme for consistent design of a project, with the older Template workflow (which is bit buggy at this moment):
You will have read that I always start each project by creating a custom theme, starting mostly from the Blank theme which has the minimum amount of master slides needed for each theme. More recently I offered some tips in Themes Q&A
Due to my past as civil engineer, I would like to compare a theme with a building :
- Theme colors palette (see Theme Colors) is the foundation. Palette is independent on type of theme: non-responsive, fluid boxes or breakpoint views.
- Object styles, the topic of this blog are the pillars. Breakpoint views need slightly different styles for objects containing text.
- Master slides are the beams. As in a building there is a lot of interaction between beams and pillars, together they are the structure You will often going back and forth with object styles while creating the master slides. Master slides depend on type of theme.
- Can be considered as optional: Recording defaults and Skin, depending on the project if you need them
Now you are ready to complete the building by filling in the walls, floors…. In Captivate those are the slides.
Captivate’s Object Styles
Contrary to a word processor, Captivate has no Text styles in the sense of a word processor. which mostly has a bunch of paragraph styles (includes leading, space before and after paragraph, indents, bullets….) and word/character styles. I will post a future blog about the Object Style Manager where you’ll find all object styles used in Captivate’s themes. Let us look at some examples:
- Caption style: includes indeed the font, font size, eventually attributes (bold, italic, light), font color and leading, alignment but also the type of caption, margins within the caption, and the transition type. In the themes packaged with Captivate the caption type is mostly set to transparent, but that was not always the case in older versions and doesn’t need to be always transparent.
- Text Entry Box style: has the formatting of the text but also the Fill (color and transparency) and the Transition:
- Button style: becomes more complicated, because the button style includes 3 of the 4 Inbuilt states (Visited is not included). In the screenshot, which shows a Default style (see later) for the button you can see that by default a Transparent button will be inserted. For each state the text formatting of the label is defined (in case of a Text or a Transparent, button, this is not possible for an Image button which cannot have a label), but also the fill (here a gradient, and full opacity), stroke (color, width and style) and the corner radius. Formatting for the two other types is much more limited.
- Smart Shape style: the most versatile object in Captivate can be used as text container, hence the text formatting similar to caption styles. But it can also be used as a button. That is why the object style has the same InBuilt states as for the Transparent button. The corner radius is missing because you can edit it when you choose a rounded rectangular shape.
Default Style: In the previous screenshots you see that all styles were set as ‘Default style’. The checkbox is automatically dimmed in that case. When you insert an object of that type, it will automatically be inserted with that default style. The other styles which are not marked as default style can be used, but you’ll have to change them manually after inserting the object. Here is a screenshot of the 3 possible styles for a TEB. In a previous screenshot you did see that the Yellow is set as default style, this is one of the other styles that can be used:
Overridden Style: If you edit some formatting after inserting an object on the stage, a + sign will precede the style name as you can see in this screenshot (I changed the transparency of the fill and the font size). This is labeled as an ‘overridden style’.
Why is doing so considered to be bad practice in any style-based application? It means that if you have to make changes later on, this object will not be touched anymore. Maybe your client/boss wants to have another font for the TEB? If this is the only TEB in the course, you can find it and edit this TEB in place. When dealing with more TEB’s it is much easier to edit the object style itself (see later), it will be applied automatically to all TEB’s in the course, except for those with an overridden style.
Style menu in Properties : many sections in the Properties panel have a so-called ‘hamburger’ menu button. That is also the case for the Styles part, in this screenshot you see the style menu expanded for that TEB with the overridden style. You can now choose to create a New style (if I want to keep the default style for later to be inserted TEB’s) or Save the editing in the existing style if you want all the TEB’s in this project to have this edited style. There is also a Reset Style to revert to the original style.
The option Apply this style to…. is a bit confusing in this situation. Suppose you have another TEB which is using the Default TEB Blue Fill Style you can use ‘Apply this Style to all objects with Style Default TEB Blue Fill, but it will be the original Yellow style that will be applied, not the overridden style. I would prefer to save first the edited Yellow style.
Create a Custom Style
You can create a style in the Object Style Manager, but it is easy to use the ‘from example’ workflow:
- Have a quick look at the Object Style Manager to see what is included in the style for your object type. I showed several screenshots above. It is not always clear from the Properties panel which features are included in the style. Example: Transition is included in some styles, not visible in the Properties panel but in the Timing Properties panel.
- Insert an object of that type on the stage. It will be inserted with the style set as Default style.
- Edit the features which you detected under 1. to your wishes. Do not forget the states (Normal, Rollover, Down) for the interactive objects. The styled field will show that you have overridden the default style.
- Open the Style menu (hamburger) and choose the option ‘Create New Style’
- Give the style a significant name and confirm with OK
The style will appear in the Object Style Manager. But you don’t have to use the OSM to:
- Set the style as Default style: is possible from the same Style Menu. Beware: for the example of the shape button, I would not set this as the default style because all shapes would take on that style. Really hope that we can have a default shape button style which is different from the default smart shape style in a future release.
- Apply this style for all objects with a specific style. This is a workaround I sometimes use: for shape buttons I don’t use the default smart shape style, but one of the other styles (like a hint shape style if I don’t use it in the project) as long as I am not sure about the wanted button style. When I decide to create the definite style for all shape buttons, I can use the Apply this style to replace all those ‘hint’ shape styles by the new shape button style.
This problem only exists for shape buttons. Most other object types are not used for different goals like shapes.
If you want to include features which are not part of the style in a quick way, use the duplicate functionality (CTRL-D). It will keep not only the same style in the copy, but all features, including eventually attached advanced actions.