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11020 - Is programming knowledge in Authorware really needed?
by - Joe Ganci
In answer to this question regarding why a feature wasn't a standard part of a dialog box:
This is great for those people very familiar with Authorware but for newbies like myself it just leaves me wondering why Macromedia can't simply add an option to the text entry field. What's wrong with a more user-friendly program for instructional designers, not programming wizards?
There's nothing wrong with your suggestion at all. The only problem is, where does it stop? For instance, I think your suggestion is a real good one, but it may serve no purpose to half or more of other authors. On the other hand, they may really like a checkbox or other option that you would never need. I used to write authoring systems in a previous lifetime and this was always the debate: how much do we put in the dialog boxes versus scripting? If we just included every option that people might possibly want, you would have dialog boxes that would fill up the entire screen and have fifteen tabs for switching to other options. You can imagine how unwieldy that would become. It would be a lot harder to find the options needed than the alternative.
What is the alternative? It is to learn a few programming techniques. You don't have to be come a fullfledged dyed-in-the-wool programmer to learn enough basics to double the number of things you're currently able to do in Authorware. A few hours of study can yield a tremendous return on the investment.
I sometimes tell the story about an Authorware scripting class I taught three years ago. One of my students told me right off that she didn't know why she had been sent there by her boss, she already knew how to do everything that she wanted to do in Authorware without any programming knowledge. I told her she was welcome to leave after a half-day if she really didn't feel as if she was learning anything useful. I watched her that morning as her eyes got bigger and she started smiling and nodding her head. Needless to say, she didn't leave. At the end of the class, she said in front of everyone that not only had she not been able to open doors that she now realized she could, but that she hadn't even been aware that those doors existed. Her wants were tailored by what she knew she could accomplish, but now her wants were adjusting themselves to her newfound abilities.
Dialog boxes and icon properties need to cover the items needed by the majority of users. The real secret of Authorware, though, is that you can do so much more when you learn scripting. This is meant as a suggestion, not in any way a put-down. I have successfully taught people to script that came from such diverse backgrounds as cooks, secretaries, and gynecologists, to name a few. It's not that hard to learn, and you will feel power surging through your being beyond all control as you realize the vast vistas that are now opened to you. Well, perhaps I'm exaggerating just a little. :-)
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