SIMA Report on Multimedia ToolbookVERSIONS AND UPGRADES
Upgrading from ToolBook 1.5
Upgrading from ToolBook 3 to Multimedia ToolBook 3
Upgrading to Release 3.0a
Long-term Upgrade Path
There are several versions of ToolBook. Developers need to ensure they have the most suitable version.
Experimentation with upgrading a variety of non-TLTP ToolBook 1.5 books has shown that in most cases the upgrade is fairly straight forward and often requires no manual editing to make the new version work. However, books with advanced OpenScript techniques - particularly those involving DLLs - often report a successful upgrade only to then cause a Windows General Protection fault when run. In the case of the Economics Consortium, this has made it impossible to upgrade a single module to-date. This is due to the fact that all of our courseware is built around a template which employs several advanced Windows and ToolBook programming techniques. All the problems are associated with making our custom tools DLLs written in C to work under the new system (largely due to a change in the meaning of "" and NULL parameters). Fortunately, none of the problems which have arisen in the template have taken very long to solve and it is reasonable to assume that once the template is working, the courseware modules themselves will take relatively little effort to upgrade as none of them directly employs complex programming techniques - all complex programming is encapsulated in the template.Once the template is upgraded to run under 3.0, it is then possible to replace a number of our custom tools written in OpenScript with the in-built system ones supported by ToolBook 3 (e.g. graphics buttons, bitmap resources and editing enhancements). The cost of doing this is restricted to the cost of taking advantage of these new features within the template itself; no substantial changes to the existing courseware modules is required to take advantage of these new features. Such an upgrade would be far more extensive in its scope for projects without a core template and would reduce the feasibility of fully embracing the new features during the upgrade process.
ftp: //ftp.asymetrix.com/pub/mmtb3x/updates/ file: MTB2TB.EXE
If you do use MTB2TB it is a good idea to then use MTBXFER (from the same ftp site) to clone a fresh copy of the book after the conversion. This will ensure that the internal data structures are all correct and that no accidentally corrupted objects are introduced.
Older copies of ToolBook will be 3.0 rather than the later and far more stable and slightly enhanced 3.0a.
To upgrade to 3.0a it is necessary to download a patch off the Asymetrix ftp site.
ftp: //ftp.asymetrix.com/pub/tb3x/updates/ file: TB30A.EXE
or, for Multimedia ToolBook
ftp: //ftp.asymetrix.com/pub/mmtb3x/updates/ file: MTB30A.EXE
An extra help file installed when this patch is applied describes differences between 3.0 and 3.0a.
Updates for system books and DLLs are also available in these directories.
Developers should consider the risks and costs of periodic upgrades before adopting ToolBook. ToolBook, in common with other popular authoring tools, is not an open standard and Asymetrix can make and have made arbitrary changes from version to version. These changes can make it difficult to upgrade legacy code or to switch versions in mid development.
On the plus side, ToolBook is Asymetrix's flagship product and they appear committed to its continued development. Although by no means guaranteed, Asymetrix have stated that they wish to retain high levels of backward compatibility to the previous version in each future release of ToolBook.
ToolBook Database Connection is an add-on for ToolBook to simplify accessing third party database tables. The feature highlights quoted by Asymetrix are listed below.
Create database structures without any Structured Query Language (SQL) programming.
Create sophisticated database forms.
Use rich-text format (RTF) to provide appealing database displays.
Comprehensive support for multimedia.
New OpenScript functions for faster query and manipulation of data.
In ToolBook 3.0 Database Connection, the product is let down by not supporting grids. This shortcoming has been corrected in the update for 4.0 but the add-on feels like an add-on and lacks the slick database features of a dedicated database product like Access. Certainly, creating a relational database is easier in Access than in this add-on.
The sample applications which accompany the Database Connection are not particularly impressive and the fact that over 80 database specific functions are added to OpenScript somewhat negates the claim on that this tool "requires no programming".
Although marketed as a separate product, Multimedia ToolBook 3.0 CBT Edition is actually Multimedia ToolBook 3.0 plus a number of system books and DLLs which extend its capabilities to simplify the development of Computer Based Training (CBT) applications. The major feature of the CBT Edition is its computer based assessment with a light weight course management program to record the student results.
Asymetrix have taken the approach of providing developers with a large catalogue of assessment widgets (e.g. multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, click on the answer) to be used to hand craft each and every question in a student test. In practice, this is an labour intensive method for developing large scale tests and is, in the opinion of this report's authors, best suited to small scale one-off assessments rather than the high student numbers and large tests which occur in Higher Education (the maximum number of students is 500 and it is not easy to enter lists of students in a single step).
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