There seems to be a bit of confusion around about what exactly makes an Interactive Widget ‘Interactive’ and a Static Widget ‘Static’.
Many people seem to believe that Static Widgets have no interaction with the audience (no mouse, keyboard, controller, or microphone input), whereas Interactive Widgets do. Which is logical because ‘Static’ means no movement and ‘Interactive’ means… Well it doesn’t literally mean movement, but it carries the idea of it.
However, unlike what the names suggest, the difference between Interactive and Static widgets has nothing to do with user interaction or movement.
What is a Widget?
Speaking purely on a technical basis, a widget is a swf. Anything a swf can do, any widget can do. This includes all those cool user interactions that you see in those flash games you secretly play at work.
When the widgets are brought into Captivate, no changes are made to them. Captivate doesn’t somehow turn off interactivity for Static Widgets. So as far as user interaction goes, Static Widgets are just as responsive as Interactive Widgets.
So then… What’s an Interactive Widget?
An Interactive Widget as a Widget with Interactive Object abilities.
Okay let me put that another way. What’s the difference between a Highlight Box and a Click Box?
Before you say ‘Clicking’ I’ll have you know that Highlight Boxes are more than happy to be clicked. Don’t believe me? Then <plug type=’shameless’> try out our Event Handler widget</plug>.
The main two things that set click boxes appart are the Action and Reporting menus.
The Action menu has two drop downs that allow you to say what happens after the click box is successful (when the audience clicks inside the box) or after it has finally failed (when the audience clicks outside the box). The Reporting menu allows you to add the results of the click box to the quiz.
Click boxes are not the only Captivate object to have these menus. Text Entry Boxes, and Buttons also make use of them.
Now here’s the interesting thing. If you go to the main page of the Captivate 5 help, you’ll see a section for ‘Interactive Objects’. If you expand it, what do you see?
Yep. Those three objects that share the Action and Reporting menus are known as ‘Interactive Objects’. And wouldn’t you know it, Interactive Widgets have those menus too!
So that’s what I mean when I say that Interactive Widgets are regular widgets with Interactive Object abilities. In another post I’ll go into how you can harness the Interactive Object stuff for your own widgets. If you can’t wait, then look up the InteractiveWidget class in the WidgetFactory ASDoc.
So then what does a Static Widget do?
Here’s the thing. Although there is a (sort of) justifiable reason why Interactive Widgets are called Interactive Widgets, I have yet to find out what’s so Static about Static Widgets. As already mentioned above, they respond just as well to user input as any other widget.
Probably a better name for them would be ‘Regular’, or ‘Normal’, or ‘Generic’, or perhaps just ditch the prefix altogether and call them ‘Widgets’. Because that’s what they are; a plain widget. Widgets without the bells and whistles. Static Widgets are the basis for Interactive and Question Widgets. Quite literally. The Widget Template for Interactive and Question Widgets is Static Widget’s template with extra code tacked on the end.
The above may make them sound a bit bland. But the beauty of ‘Static’ Widgets is that they have no predefined purpose. While Interactive Widgets live only to trigger the success or failure action, and Question Widgets only exist so as to mark a question as correct or incorrect. Static Widgets could be anything. They are not required to answer back to Captivate. They are free as the wind blows. This is why about 90% of the widgets in the Widget Treasury are Static.
So let’s give Static Widgets a round of applause. Far from being dull and non-interactive, they are in fact the quiet ruler of the Widget Types.
So I hoped that has cleared up some things for you. I’m going to go find a thesaurus now.