authorware beginner's guide

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  • Authorware Beginners Guide

    for

    Building Experiments

    Danil Lakens 2005

  • Index Index ................................................................................................................. 1 Introduction ........................................................................................................ 2 1. So, when do I get to program something?............................................................ 3 Where you will learn the basics of Authorware and the main interface 2. So now what? ................................................................................................ 10 Where you will change the standard settings of your experiment 3. Boooooooooring. ............................................................................................ 12 Where you will use radiobuttons and the decision icon 4. Hey, this is really a lot of work! ........................................................................ 17 Where the functions of the Text Entry are explained 5. Maybe I prefer paper and pencil tasks. .............................................................. 20 Where you will make a standard instruction display and use the wait icon 6. So am I pretty good now, or what? ................................................................... 25 Where you build your first questionaire 7. Authorware programming is a piece of cake! ...................................................... 30 Where the functions and variables are introduced 8. Riiiiiiight. Do I look like a nerd to you?............................................................... 33 Where all different time-related programming is shown 9. Everything I made looks so plain. ................................................................... 36 Where looks do matter and the conditional response put into practice 10. How about that questionnaire I made?............................................................. 40 Where you are instructed in the functionality of loops 11. Ok, now give me something difficult. ............................................................... 42 Where we wander around in the wonderful world of lists 12. Is that the best you can do? ........................................................................... 47 Where the navigation through the experiment is broadend 13. So long, and thanks for all the fish! ................................................................. 52 Where the safe storage of your data is ensured 14. How about packaging?................................................................................... 56 Where the ins and outs of distributing an experiment are discussed 15. So now can I go? .......................................................................................... 58 Where some advice is given for further information about programming

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  • Introduction Welcome to this short introduction to using Authorware. Using a computer to administer experiments has several advantages over paper and pencil tasks. First, all data is directly stored on the computer, which saves a lot of time manually typing in the data, and its very simple to import the data in statistical software like SPSS. Second, Authorware provides a lot of ways to interact with the participant. The program can guide the participant through the experiment, react to the participants choices, and provide feedback. Third, it can make experiments more enjoyable for participants. Since the first version in 1987, Authorware has developed into a program that is easy to use and which can integrate text, sound, animations and digital movies to create interactive programs. Authorware is therefore a powerful tool for social psychological research. Its important to note that Authorware is not a very accurate tool to measure reaction times. If you are interested in experiments where reaction time is the main dependent variable, consider using E-Prime software. For all other experiments, Authorware will be your best bet. I recommend using the latest release of Macromedia Authorware. All examples in this guide are based on Authorware 7.02 but will work with older versions of the program as well. This guide is written for Authorware on the PC. This will not make it useless if you have a Mac, but it can make it slightly more unpractical. I will use a lot of examples to teach the basics of programming in Authorware. Every example will teach you something new. They build on each other, so it is advisable to start with the first exercise and work your way through to the last one, even if you do have some basic skills in Authorware programming. Tips are given in all exercises which could be of use to you even if you know the basics. This beginners guide is not a reference manual; it is a workbook. There is no index in the back. You follow all examples step by step, read the explanations and learn the basics of making experiments in Authorware. However, this guide has turned out to provide a rather complete overview of different possibilities of Authorware and providing clear examples of how to put these to a practical use. There will be situations where you will need Authorware to do something we have not discussed here; in most cases, it will be possible to program Authorware the way you want, but the commands needed are too specific for a beginners guide. In the last chapter, we will give you some advice on where to look for help in those situations. I am not a computer expert myself. But thats not necessary to learn how to use Authorware, and its not necessary to teach someone else the basics of the program. Depending on your skill level, making all examples in this guide will take you about 20 hours, making this guide extremely condensed. Still, I wouldnt advertise this guide with the slogan Learn Authorware in 20 hours! The only real way to learn programming experiments is by doing so yourself, and it will take a lot longer than 20 hours. Still, a good start will get you a long way, and in my own personal view, this Authorware guide for beginners will be the best introduction to programming experiments in Authorware you can get. Finally, Id like to thank my colleagues Chris Reinders-Folmer for his excellent help and comments, and Wilco van Dijk for giving me the time to work on this guide. If you have comments, suggestions, questions or want to report some errors that I surely will have made, feel free to mail to D.lakens@psy.vu.nl. Danil Lakens March 2005

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  • 1. So, when do I get to program something? Well, almost. Well explore the Authorware interface by building our first interaction. Open Authorware, and start a new file.

    This is what you will see. The vertical line with the white hand next to it is the flowline. For now, its empty. To the left of the screen, youll see the Icons bar. In it are all icons Authorware has, 14 of them. The names of all Icons are shown in tooltips; just let the mouse cursor rest above an icon and youll see the name appear. The top-left icon is called the Display Icon. This is the one we want to have on the flowline. You can put icons on the flowline using the Click-and-Drag technique. Click on the Display Icon and hold down the left mouse button: the cursor arrow now changes to a display icon. Still holding down the left mouse button, drag the icon over to the flowline and release the mouse button. The Display Icon will appear on the top of the flowline. Now, select the name next to the display icon by clicking on it. Type in a new name instead of the untitled: in this case, name it Intro.

    TIP: Always name icons. This will help you enormously when building bigger Authorware pieces. The Display Icon is generally used to visually present information, such as text or pictures, to the participant. The Display Icon we just put on the flowline is grey, and not black like in the Icons bar (at the left of the screen). Why is this? If an icon is grey, this means that it is empty, and therefore will not do anything yet. If participants encounter an empty Display Icon, theyll just see an empty white screen. Thats not what we want, so lets put something for the participants to see in our icon. Double-click the display icon we have put on the flowline to open the presentation window. This presentation window is what your participants will see when they go through the experiment. For now, it looks pretty empty, so lets figure out how to put something in the presentation screen. When double-clicking the display icon, Authorware automatically opens the Tools bar. On the toolbar (see picture on the next page) are icons for the options you have in the

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  • presentation window. The ones youll use the most are the text and the arrow icons. Authorware provides you with a great scope of layout options, but the downside of this is you cant just go and type in text in a Display Icon like you would in Word. You have to select Text in the Tools bar first, and you must deselect Text by clicking the Arrow symbol if you want to perform other operations after you typed in something (for instance, if you want to drag the text you just typed in to another location on the screen). Displaying text in the presentation window is pretty straight forward. Click on the Text Icon. The cursor changes from the arrow-cursor to the bar-cursor you probably know from Microsoft Word. Click with this cursor somewhere in the lower half of the presentation window. A blinking cursor appears under a horizontal bar; this is a text field automatically created by Authorware. Now type in: Welcome to this experiment. After youve done this, you realise that you wanted to have this text a lot higher, actually in the upper part of the presentation window. Click on the arrow icon in the Tools box. Click-and-Drag the text to the upper part of the presentatio