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Authoring Mode

Authoring Mode


Turn on authoring mode to access a range of ways to customize a Polypad including:

  • Edit advanced properties for tiles
  • Set global settings for the entire canvas. For example, turn off the ability to change the background grid
  • Select which tools appear in the bottom toolbar. For example, turn off the text-box or color-picker tools
  • Select which tile categories in the sidebar appear, or turn off the tile sidebar entirely.
  • Turn on and off actions for tile categories. For example, turn off the ability to cut polygons.
  • Add custom buttons to the canvas to control some tile actions
  • Add a Question Builder tile and drop-zone tile.

Keep reading for more information about each section or watch this tutorial video to learn more:

When Polypad is used inside of Activity Builder, authoring mode is only available for teachers. Outside of Activity Builder, all users have access to authoring mode.

Advanced Tile Properties

In authoring mode, click on the More Tools menu (⋮) to see additional properties for each tile. Then, open the Authoring section to change the following properties

  • Position: View the position of each tile on the canvas. Use these numbers to help with alignment of tiles.
  • Layer: Select Top, Default, or Back for each tile. Most tiles are set to Default. Text boxes, equations, and question builder tiles are set to Top, and the drop-zone tile is set to Back. Learn more here.
  • Interactivity: Customize the behavior of individual tiles:
    • Normal allows you to move, delete, and copy tiles, change the color, and access all options in the action bar.
    • Locked prevents you from making any changes to the given tile. You cannot select, copy, move, rotate or otherwise interact with it. You can edit locked tiles in authoring mode. Locked tiles have a dotted outline around them in authoring mode.
    • Invisible tiles are not shown on the canvas, but still cause other tiles to snap to them. Like with locked tiles, you can see and edit invisible tiles in authoring mode. Invisible tiles have a dotted outline and appear lighter in color in authoring mode
    • Clone when moving locks a tile in place, but allows you to create copies just by clicking and dragging, just like the tiles in the sidebar. This option is like creating an infinite pile of tiles.
    • Cannot move or delete locks a tile in one place, but allows users to select it and interact with some of its properties. For example, making a copy or rolling a die.

    Learn more here.

  • Rotatable: Turn off the ability for individual tiles to be rotated.
  • Alt Text: Edit the alternative text for each tile.
  • For some tiles, additional options only appear in authoring mode. For example, on fraction bars, the toggle to turn on and off the handles only appears in authoring mode. For polygons, you can enter a label for the polygon inside authoring mode.

Global Polypad Settings

In Authoring mode, toggles appear in the sidebar. Changes made to the top and bottom section will go live inside of authoring mode. Changes made to Tile Actions and Properties will only go live outside of authoring mode. For example, turning off “Rotate tiles” will still allow tiles to be rotated inside of authoring mode, but not outside of authoring mode. Alternatively, turning off “Grid selection panel” will turn off the option to change the grid inside and outside of authoring mode.

  • Polypad UI and Features: Use these toggles to control what options appear in the tool bar on the right of the canvas.
  • Tile Actions and Properties: These toggles will apply to all tiles on the canvas initially or those added to the canvas.
  • Display and Audio Options: Turning on alternate tile colors will change the colors of polygons and number bars in the tile menu.

Selecting Tiles and Tools

In Authoring mode, checkboxes appear above each tool on the bottom and next to each category of tiles in the sidebar. Use these checkboxes to turn off tools and/or tile categories. Anything unchecked will still be available inside of authoring mode. Exit authoring mode to see these changes applied. Use the Show tiles sidebar toggle to turn off the tile sidebar completely.

Action Bar Customization

In Authoring mode, an additional section called Action Visibility appears in the More Tools (⋮) menu. Use these buttons to customize what options will appear outside of authoring mode. For example, unchecking some of the actions on fraction bars as shown below will prevent those options from appearing outside of authoring mode. All actions will always appear inside of authoring mode. These checkboxes can also be used to control what tile options appear outside of authoring mode. In the example below, the option to change the label type of the fraction bar is turned off outside of authoring mode.

Settings made to one tile will apply to all tiles of that category, even those tiles not yet on the Polypad. So, settings made to one fraction bar will be in place for all fraction bars.

Enable All and Disable All

Use the Enable All and Disable All actions to select or un-select all options. When clicking Disable All, all toggles will be turned off and all checkboxes will become unchecked, including those in the action bar customization described above.

Adding Custom Action Buttons

To add a custom action button, first select the tile or tiles you’d like controlled by the button. Then, to add a button to the canvas, open the More Tools (⋮) menu, expand the Authoring section, and click Action Button. Next, use the dropdown menu on the new button to select the action you’d like the button to perform. The following actions will appear in buttons for all tiles.

  • Show: Outside of authoring mode, clicking Show changes a tile(s) setting from invisible to normal. For this button to work, be sure the change the interactivity on the tile(s) from Normal in Invisible. Once Show is clicked and the invisible tile is revealed, the button no longer causes any action (unless another button is used to make the tile invisible again).
  • Hide: Outside of authoring mode, clicking Hide makes the tile invisible. Once Hide is clicked and the tile is invisible, the button no longer causes any action (unless another button is used to make the tile appear).
  • Toggle: Use the toggle button to go back and forth between a tile(s) being invisible or appearing. When first adding the toggle button, the tile(s) will continue to appear on the canvas. To set the initial state so the tile(s) starts as hidden, change the interactivity to invisible.
  • Flash: When selecting Flash, the tiles(s) will automatically become invisible. Outside of authoring mode, clicking Flash will cause the tile to appear on the canvas for a given number of seconds (the default is 1) and then they till be become hidden again. To change how long the tile will flash for, click on the button inside authoring mode and use the Duration input field in the action bar of the button.

Some tiles have additional action button options:

  • Play: This action is available for any tile that can play music (polygons, number bars, fraction bars, graphs, and the track tile).
  • Randomize: This action is available for any time that can be randomized (dice, coins, spinners, and random number cards).

Edit action buttons within authoring mode. Double-click on the text to edit the label on the button. Use the circular handle to change the size of the button. Use the color picker to change the color of the button. Outside of authoring mode, the button cannot be edited.

Here are some examples the action buttons in use:

Question Builder and Drop-Zone Tile

In Authoring mode, a new section in the tile menu appears called Authoring Tools

  • Question Blank: In Authoring mode, you can change the location and enter in the correct answer for the question blank tile. Outside of authoring mode, the correct answer will change to a “?” and validation occurs for inputs. See below for a GIF of the question blank tile in use.
  • Drop Zone: In Authoring mode, you can change the location and settings of the drop zone tile. Outside of authoring mode, users can only add tiles to the drop zone.

Question Blank Tile:

Drop Zone Tile

Use drop zones to help students drag-and-drop tiles into certain regions on the canvas. A number of options are available within Authoring Mode, including 3 Layout options. These options control how the tiles placed in the drop zone will be organized.

  • None: The tiles will remain in the spot they are placed.
  • Center: Tiles will be moved to the center of the drop zone.
  • Flow: Tiles will be organized starting in the top-left corner and flowing to the right.

The Padding between tiles and the edge of the drop zone can be set in the More Tools (⋮) menu inside authoring mode. Padding will impact tiles when the Layout is set to Center or Flow. Use Tile Limit in the More Tools (⋮) menu to define the maximum number of tiles allowed in a drop zone. For example, if the tile limit is set to 2 and there are two tiles already in the drop zone, and a third tile is placed in the drop zone, one of the other two tiles will automatically be removed from the drop zone. Of the 2 tiles, the more recently added tile will be the one removed.

Use Drop zones inside of Activity Builder to be able to define a Source and export the data from the drop zone into Computational Layer. Read more about Using Polypad in Desmos Classroom and about the Polypad Component and Computational Layer.