Providing context using Custom Text in UPK 3.5

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Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

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by Dirk Manuel | October 2009 | Oracle

The easiest and simplest way to add value to your Topics is to make good use of Custom Text in the Bubbles. In this article by Dirk Manuel, we will simply look at what you can (and should) do with Custom Text.

The Start Frame

You may recall that the very first Frame in a Topic is the Start Frame. This is sometimes referred to as the Introduction frame, which is largely a throwback to OnDemand, as we shall see shortly. As this Frame is the first thing that a trainee will see when they carry out a Topic, coupled with the fact that this Frame is a "non-action" Frame, in that the user does not need to actively do anything (other than pressing Enter to continue), it is a good place to provide some additional information to the trainee.

The first thing that you should explain in the Introduction frame is exactly what the trainee will be learning in the exercise. Certainly the title of the Topic should give them a clue, but this is not really detailed enough. A good source of information for this is the learning objectives of the course for which this exercise has been built, or the competencies, depending on your curriculum development process. For our sample exercise, we could use the bubble shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

This is a good start, but we can do more.

It is always useful, with training exercises, to use realistic business scenarios to explain what the trainee is doing, to put the keystrokes and mouse-clicks into a business context. Trainees are much more likely to remember information to which they can relate. Consider telling a story and walking the trainees through that story as they carry out the exercise. Although it is a fairly spurious example, we will continue with our sample exercise. Here, we could use the bubble shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

So now the trainee has a good idea of what they will learn, and they have an example that they can relate to. The text is also directed at the trainee, so the trainee will feel actively involved.

There is another strong argument for including a scenario in the form shown above. Consider the case where you are providing training for users in multiple locations (possibly countries) or departments, each of which has its own set of customers, products, and vendors. Users will always want to see exercises using their data: orders for their products, placed at their location, and so on. To keep everyone happy, you would need to develop a separate, customized Topic for each location or user group. If the basic process (and, most importantly for us, the Actions in the recording) is the same in each case, this is clearly inefficient. However, if you create a scenario, and say something like "You are a Customer Service Representative in the Tampa Service Center. Customer SunCo has phoned through an order for 1,000 gallons of regular gasoline. You need to record this order in the system so that it can be fulfilled by Fuel Services." then trainees who are not at the Tampa Service Center will at least understand that this is role play. It is make believe, and they shouldn't be concerned that they don't see products that they don't supply at their own location. So set the scene with a scenario in the Introduction pane, and then build on this throughout the exercise.

Introduction Text: Version differences

At this point, it is worth highlighting some key differences between the way the Introduction pane was handled prior to UPK 3.5, and the way that the Introduction pane is used in UPK 3.5.

If you open an Outline Element in the Outline Editor, and select a Topic in the navigation tree, you will see that the lower-right portion of the screen is labeled Introduction, as shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

The Outline Editor is used to organize content objects into the structure that the trainee will see. However, if we look at the published version of the Outline above, we will see the following:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Where has the Introduction Frame gone? Put simply. UPK 3.5 does not display the Introduction Frame in the Player any more. Users of UPK 2.x or OnDemand 9.x will recall that the Introduction Frame certainly used to be displayed, as shown in the following screenshot, which is taken from OnDemand 9.1.5:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Quite why Oracle decided to change the way the Introduction pane is displayed (or not) in version 3.5 is a mystery (maybe they felt that with all that screen space required for the new Oracle branding, there just wasn't the space left to include the Introduction any more). However, it does have some important implications on the way that we are planning on using it.

This is because the effect of a publishing option associated with the Introduction pane has changed significantly. In the Publishing Wizard, the options for the Player package include an option to Show introduction text. In OnDemand version 9.1, this option determined whether the Introduction text appeared in the Outline as well as on the first Frame of the Player. However, in UPK 3.5, the Introduction text is never displayed in the Outline and the Show introduction text determines whether the Introduction text appears in the Player at all (effectively, it controls whether the Start Frame is included in the Player or not.

Version Difference

The Content Development manual for OnDemand 9.1.5 describes the Show introduction text option as working the way described for UPK 3.5. It doesn't work that way; it works the way described for OnDemand 9.1, above. This is clearly a rare case of the documentation being updated before the software.

For our purposes, therefore, we need to make sure that the Show introduction text option is always selected when we publish. This option can be found in the Player category of your Options, as shown in the next screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Action Frames

It is possible to add Custom Text to the Topic's Bubbles, either in addition to, or instead of, the Template Text. Using the Template Text has several significant advantages, especially when localizing your content or providing sound. However, the Template Text will only ever be able to describe the mechanics of what the user is doing, it cannot provide business context. You should always try to teach more than just key-strokes and mouse-clicks. Specifically, you should always take the opportunity to add business context yourself, through the liberal use of Custom Text in Action Frames.

Consider the following example that uses solely the default template texts:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Certainly the trainee can carry out the required action and work their way through the exercise, but are they really learning anything? What is the Ext.Ref field, and what is the significance of the value ZBW002342? Should they always enter this value, or are other values possible? Here, we should help the trainee out and teach them something by providing some more information through the use of Custom Text. A better version is shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Now the trainee knows exactly what they are entering in the exercise, and understands the business context so they can perform the action correctly when they are doing their actual job.

Note that here, we have retained the Template Text (we did not insert the Template Text as Custom Text) which will aid in the translation (although the custom text will still need to be manually translated). We simply added the first paragraph that you see in the Bubble above as Custom Text, and positioned it before the Template Text (the Show custom text first button (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5) is selected by default; you can deselect this if required, to have the Template Text displayed first, but for our purposes we want the Custom Text first).

 

UPK will run the Template Text in the next line immediately after the Custom Text, so you need to insert an extra line break at the end of the Custom Text if you want the two texts to appear as separate paragraphs.

In this example, note that we have continued the scenario that we described in the Introduction pane through into this exercise, by mentioning the customer's name. Again, it is always useful to use a scenario so that the trainee can better relate the exercise to their actual jobs. Note that the text For this exercise...is ZBW002342 will need to be tagged to appear only in See It! and Try It! modes.

UPK will run the Template Text in the next line immediately after the Custom Text, so you need to insert an extra line break at the end of the Custom Text if you want the two texts to appear as separate paragraphs.

In this example, note that we have continued the scenario that we described in the Introduction pane through into this exercise, by mentioning the customer's name. Again, it is always useful to use a scenario so that the trainee can better relate the exercise to their actual jobs. Note that the text For this exercise...is ZBW002342 will need to be tagged to appear only in See It! and Try It! modes.

Whenever practical, you should try to provide some more information, whether this is business context, or a continuation of the scenario you are using, even if this is on every Frame. If you intend for your simulations being used outside of a classroom environment, then you should consider providing exactly the same level of information as the instructor would provide in a classroom. Think about what you would say to the trainee, what additional information or guidance you would give them if you sat next to them, talking them through the simulation, and then add that information into the Bubbles as Custom Text. Remember: training is the effective transfer of knowledge, and if that knowledge is incomplete, then the trainees have not been adequately trained.

The End Frame

The End Frame is always displayed as the final Frame in the simulation. There is no End Frame equivalent of the Show introduction text option to avoid having this Frame displayed. This is a good thing, as it means that we can use this Frame to provide some final information to the user. This should be seen as a companion to the Start Frame, and should confirm the information presented in the Start Frame.

In the Start Frame above, we told the trainee what they would learn. In the End Frame, we should confirm that they have learned this. (This much is standard training theory.) If you have described a scenario in the Start Frame, and followed this through the Action Frames, then you should make reference to this, as well. Suitable End Frame text for our ongoing exercise on SAP user options could be:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Although the scenario information is again fairly spurious in this example, it does at least give you an idea of the kind of information that can usefully be included in the End Frame. Again, this information should be tagged for See It! and Try It! modes only.

Note that in this example we have also included a message of You have now completed this exercise. This is a nice courtesy, and confirms to the trainee that they have reached the end of the simulation.

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Explanation Frames

In the previous sections, on the Start Frame, Action Frames, and the End Frame, we have looked at ways to provide additional information into the existing Bubbles. In this section, we will look at how to provide information on Frames that serve no purpose other than to provide information. These are Explanation Frames.

An Explanation Frame is a special type of Frame that does not have an associated Action. When you insert an Explanation Frame, it takes its screenshot from the Frame immediately following it (regardless of whether this is an Action Frame, a Decision Frame, or even another Explanation Frame. This makes Explanation Frames extremely useful for drawing the trainee's attention to particular information on the screen, or explaining things that are not explicitly covered by the Action Frames. Note that, unlike Decision Frames, the screenshot used in Explanation Frames is not "grayed out".

In our sample exercise, we will add two Explanation Frames. In the first, we will add an Explanation Frame informing the user that, although the simulation does not walk them through doing so, they can still change their last name. In the second, we'll draw the user's attention to the message generated by the system when they save their user profile.

To insert an Explanation Frame, carry out the steps described below:

  1. Open up the Topic to which you want to add the Explanation Frame, in the Topic Editor.
  2. In the Frame Navigation pane, click on the Frame after which you want the Explanation Frame to appear. Bear in mind that the screenshot of the next Frame will be copied into the Explanation Frame (this is a one-time copy; you can replace or edit either screenshot without the source Frame being affected). For our exercise, we want the Explanation Frame to show the initial view of the Address tabbed page, so we will select Frame 2, as shown in the following screenshot:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

  3. Select menu option Insert|Explanation Frame (You can also click on the Insert button (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5) on the Standard Toolbar, and then select Explanation Frame (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5) from the drop-down menu.) A new Frame is inserted, as you can see in the next screenshot:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

  4. Note that the screenshot is taken from the next Frame, and not the selected frame. Note also that there is no Action Area, and the Bubble is empty except for an instruction to press Enter to continue.
  5. Enter the required explanatory text into the text area in the Bubble Properties pane. For our exercise, we will use the following text: "If your last name is incorrect, then you can change it in the Last Name field. For this exercise, the last name is correct, so you do not need to change it."
  6. Bubbles in Explanation Frames do not contain pointers. However, you can add a pointer, if necessary. For our exercise, we are referring to the Last Name field, so we will add a pointer to point to this field. The area of the screen 'pointed to' by the pointer will also be scrolled to in Do It! mode if the screenshot is displayed. Click on the Pointer position button (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5) in the Bubble Properties pane to display the drop-down list of possible pointers:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

  7. Click on the appropriate pointer position from the drop-down list. For our exercise, we will use the Left top pointer. You will also have to move the position of the Bubble so that the pointer is pointing to the required screen element. You can do this by clicking on the Bubble header, and dragging the Bubble to the required position.

    You can change the pointer position (or remove the position altogether) for any bubble, on any kind of Frame, by using Pointer position option.

  8. Bubble texts do not have an associated Action; the trainee is not required to do anything other than press the Enter button (or click on the [Enter] link in the bubble) to continue. However, it is worth emphasizing this to the trainee. We can do this by inserting an icon into the bubble, which informs them that this Frame is for information only. To insert an icon, click on the Bubble icon button (Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5), to display a drop-down list of available icons, as shown in the following diagram:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

  9. Click on the appropriate icon to select it. For our exercise, we will use the black "i" image in the top row. This icon will then appear in the upper-left corner of the Bubble (as shown in the finished Bubble for our exercise ahead).

    You can add an icon to any bubble, on any kind of Frame, by using Bubble icon option. However, you should use icons sparingly, and always consistently.

  10. Although there is no Action associated with this Frame, there is still one field in the Action Properties pane that is relevant: Delay time (s). By default, in See It! mode, the Explanation Frame will be displayed for five seconds before the Player advances to the next screen. If you have a lot of text on your Explanation Frame, then this may not be enough time for the trainee to read it all. In this case, you should select or enter a longer period.

Our finished Bubble, in our Explanation Frame, now looks as shown in the next screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

This icon isn't very eye-catching (none of the default ones are), and is only in black and white (probably as a concession to printed output).

So far, so good, but inserting this Explanation Frame has introduced a new problem. Our Explanation Frame has been inserted before the re-join in our Alternative Path. This means that if a trainee chooses the Alternative Path, (the lower of the two paths shown here) they will not see our new Explanation Frame.

We need to move the end point of this Alternative Path to re-join the main path on our new Explanation Frame.

Version Difference

In early versions of OnDemand (8.7 and before) you could not move the end point of an Alternative Path. Instead, you had to either add an identical Explanation Frame to the Alternative Path, or remove the alternative path and then re-record it, joining the main path at the new Explanation Frame.

Once we have moved this end point, our Frame Navigation pane now looks like the example shown in the following partial screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

We are now ready to insert our second Explanation Frame. For this one, we are going to draw the trainee's attention to the message that is displayed when they save their changes. This message is visible only in the very last Frame, so we need to insert our Explanation Frame immediately before this.

Carry out the same steps as described above, to perform the following activities:

  1. Insert an Explanation Frame as the penultimate Frame in the main path.
  2. Add the Custom Text "Your changes are saved, and a confirmation message is displayed at the bottom of the screen." to the Bubble.
  3. Add a pointer, and point this to the message at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Add the same 'i' icon as we used before to the Bubble.

Our new Explanation Frame appears as follows:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

So far so good. But yet again, a new problem has been introduced. Now, trainees who follow the Branch will not see our new Explanation Frame. Unfortunately, this time there is no easy solution. Although UPK will let you change the re-join point of an Alternative Path, it is not possible to change the end point of a Branch to have it re-join the main path that is, to change a Branch into an Alternative Path. (Maybe Oracle will consider this as an enhancement for the next release of UPK.)

Copying and Pasting Frames

In the previous section, we had a problem where we had a Frame in our Main Path, which we also wanted to be available in our Branch. Fortunately, UPK 3.5 introduced some new functionality that we can use to resolve (or at least work around) this problem. This is the ability to copy and paste Frames. For our exercise, we will simply copy our new Explanation Frame from the Main Path, and paste it into the Branch. This is fairly inefficient, as it means that if we want to change the Bubble Text for this Explanation Frame we have to do it in two places (or just re-copy-and-paste). However, it will save us from having to delete and then recapture the branch, and will be faster than inserting another Explanation Frame and re-entering our Custom Text.

To copy and paste Frames, carry out the following steps:

  1. Open the Topic from which you want to copy the Frames in the Topic Editor.
  2. In the Frame Navigation pane, click on the Frame that you want to copy. Other options:
    • If you want to copy multiple Frames, then click on the first Frame in the sequence, then Shift+click on the last Frame in the sequence.
    • If you want to copy an entire path, then click on the first Frame that you want to copy, and then Ctrl+click on any other Frame in the path. Be careful when using this option, as UPK will select all of the Frames that will be seen by trainees who follow this path even those frames in the main path. In the following example, we (i) clicked on the first Frame in the Alternative Path, and then (ii) Ctrl+clicked on the second Frame in the Alternative Path. The result is that all of the Frames in the Alternative Path are selected, along with all of the Frames in the main path after the point where the Alternative Path rejoins the main path. If there are subsequent Alternative Paths, then the main path is selected. (If you want to force the use of a specific path, then simply make this the default path.)

      Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

      This feature (of being able to copy an entire path) is extremely useful in cases where you have a simulation that includes multiple paths, but now want to split it out into separate Topics for each path.

    • You cannot copy non-contiguous Frames (that is, you can only copy a sequence of Frames). If you need to copy multiple individual Frames, then you need to perform multiplecopy-and-paste actions, or copy and paste a sequence that includes all of the required Frames and then delete the unwanted Frames from the pasted sequence.
    • You can only copy-and-paste; you cannot cut-and-paste. If you need to do this, then you first need to copy-and-paste the Frames, and then come back and delete the Frames that have been copied.
  3. Right-click on any of the selected Frames, and select Copy Frames from the context menu. This is shown in the following screenshot:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

  4. If you want to paste the copied Frames into a different Topic, then close the Topic Editor for the current Topic, and then open the destination Topic in the Topic Editor.
  5. Right-click on the Frame after which you want the copied Frames to be inserted, and select Paste Frames from the context menu, as shown in the next screenshot:

    Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Our Topic now includes an additional copy of our Explanation Frame, as shown in the following screenshot:

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5

Note that the entire Frame and all of its contents have been copied. In our example, this is only the Bubble (including the Custom Text, icon, and pointer), but if you copy a standard Action Frame, then the Action Area (including any multiple action areas that have been defined) and Actions (including Alternative Actions, but not alternative paths) will also be copied.

Summary

This article explained how to improve the quality of simulations by providing context through the use of Custom Text, and by using Explanation Frames.

If you have read this article you may be interested to view :

Oracle User Productivity Kit 3.5 Build high-quality training simulations using Oracle UPK 3.5 using this book and eBook
Published: September 2009
eBook Price: $41.99
Book Price: $74.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Dirk Manuel

Dirk Manuel is a freelance training and documentation consultant, who has spent the past 20 years specializing in the development of training materials for large-scale ERP projects. He has been using UPK (and its predecessor, OnDemand) for five years, and has developed several hundred high-quality training simulations using UPK. Dirk has taught UPK and OnDemand to training developers in England, the United States, Japan, and Guatemala, both for his own clients and for other consulting companies. Dirk is also a proofreader for Packt Publishing, having proofread over 25 books to date.

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Inserting a line feed in the template text. by
My people want a line break in String Input text so that the second part always goes to a new line. I found the text in the template editor but I can't find a way to insert a line feed between the words field. and Enter. "Enter the desired information into the Test field. Enter "Value1" or "Value2"."

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