Browsing & Navigation

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Before you actually start editing any supports on Symbly, you’ll want to learn how to browse the site to create and organize your supports, as well as share supports with others.

Creating a support is easy. Just click the “Create New Support” button. When you are creating a new support, you can enter a name for the support, as well as enter tags. Tags are automatically separated by spaces, so just start typing! Tags help you organize your supports and make them easy to find later. We’ll talk about tags more in a bit.

Finally, you can choose from one of the existing device templates we have created, or choose to start a new board from scratch. Note that if you are planning on viewing the support mainly on an iPad with the Symbly iPad app, we have two special templates that make sure it will fit the screen just right.

Just click create support, and you’re off! View the other how-to videos to learn how to actually edit supports. We’re going to jump back over to browsing for now.

To show you the power of tagging, here’s an example account with many supports. They are tagged by student with other descriptors such as event names. For example, a quick search for “bobby christmas” shows me all the supports that were created for Bobby to use during Christmas. You can tag a support with as many tags as you want, so for example if a support is shared among multiple students, you could tag it with all the student’s names. Tags are a great way to help keep your supports organized and easy to find.

While browsing through your supports, you have two options. You can click the Quick Edit link if you want to jump right in to the Symbly editor and start editing the support. On the other hand, if you want to change the name or tags of a support, or print it, just click on the name of that support and access the details screen. There are edit buttons that allow you to change the name and description, as well as edit the tags.

There are buttons here which let you edit the support in the Symbly Editor, or create a copy of the support if you want to make a duplicate without changing the original. You can also print the support without opening it first, or delete the support if you are absolutely sure that you don’t need it anymore.

The sharing drop-down allows you to change the sharing settings of your support. By default, all supports are private. However, if you have created an amazing support that you think others will find useful, you can set it to Public. You can also select “Get Share Link” to get a special link you can send to anyone that lets only them access this support.

You can see the supports that others have shared in the Public Supports section. Let’s do a search for “Christmas”. Click on the name of a support to view more information about it. You can choose to “View” the support, which will show you the support in read-only mode. You can also “Copy” the support if you want to edit it yourself. This creates a completely new support for you, but it’s based on the original support, so it starts off with some elements already on the page — like a template! Using the copy support feature allows you to quickly customize a support for your own needs, without affecting the original version. Note that you can also copy your own supports, not just public ones, if you want to make duplicates for editing.

Finally, each public support has a rating feature which allows you to let others know what you think of the support. There’s also a comments section if you’d like to discuss the support with your fellow Symbly users.

Enjoy using Symbly to find and organize all of your supports!

Basic Editing

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Welcome to the Symbly Editor! To help get you started, here’s a brief overview of the various features and functions the editor has to offer.

The most important part of the editor is the page, represented by the big white area in the middle of your screen. To add things to the page, you can select one of the tools from the toolbar at the top of your screen. Let’s start with the box tool. Just select the tool, then click and drag to create a box. Easy! You can then move and resize the box just by dragging it around. If you want to create several boxes, you can copy and paste using the right-click menu, or the keyboard shortcuts “control – c” and “control – v”. You can also hold down the “alt” key and create a whole series of boxes.

Now let’s add some images. Click the image button and the Image Search box will appear. Just type in a keyword, for example, “store”, and you’ll receive results from SymbolStix, Google Images, and more. Then, just drag and drop. You can drop the image into a box and it will automatically be positioned. Or, drop an image onto a blank space and it will appear there instead. In the settings dialog you can adjust what image libraries you search, and the positioning of the automatic labels. You can also star any images, and those will be stored in your image library. When you search for “store” again, those images will appear at the top of the list, so you can be consistent.

Finally, let’s add some additional text. Just click on the text tool, click on the page where you want the text to appear, and start typing! You can also change the size and color of the text using the toolbar.

As you make changes to your support, they are automatically saved in the background. — there’s no need to click any save button. When you’re done, just click the power button to exit.

We’ve only covered the basics, but that should be enough to help you get started. We’d also love to get your feedback! If you have a question or want to make a suggestion, just use the speech bubble icon on the Tools tab of the toolbar. Thanks for using Symbly!

Advanced Editing

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Now that you’ve got the basics covered, let’s go over some of the advanced editing features of the Symbly editor.

Page Setup

Symbly allows you to customize your support’s page setup to fit your unique needs. Just select the gear icon in the Tools menu to change your support’s settings. You can change the width or height of the support’s pages. In addition, you can toggle “Snapping”, which aligns elements on the page to an invisible grid, making it easier to keep them aligned. Turn off snapping if you want to be able to place elements without any alignment taking place.

Transforming

You can easily transform the elements on your support. When you click to select an element on the support, you will see several options. The bottom-right handle allows you to resize the elements on the page. You can also hold down the SHIFT key while resizing to constrain the proportions of the element so that it won’t become distorted. The top handle allows you to rotate the elements on the page. You can also double-click the handle to reset the rotation back to normal.

When you select an element, the toolbar will change accordingly to give you options that are configurable. For example, clicking on a button will allow you to change the roundness, border color, or fill color of the button. I can also change the font size and color of text.

Finally, there are buttons in the Tools menu that allow you to control the order of the elements on the page. You can select an element and then move it to the front or send it to the back.

Button Cloning/”Spraying”

You may find yourself in a situation where you have created one button, but now want to create many duplicates of that button throughout the support. You can easily create several clones (or “spray”) that button but holding down the ALT key on your keyboard, and then clicking and dragging the resize handle. As you make the box larger, you will automatically see a preview of how many buttons will be created. When you’re satisfied with the preview, just let go of the mouse button, and the buttons will be created.

Copying/Pasting and Undo

Symbly features a copy and paste feature to allow you to quickly duplicate any element on the page. Just select the element and use CONTROL+C and CONTROL+V to copy and paste, respectively. You can also right-click on the element and select copy, then right-click on an empty part of the page and select paste.

If you make a mistake, you can undo your previous action by pressing CONTROL+Z, or by right-clicking and selecting Undo. You can even undo deletions in case you accidentally delete an element on the page.

Try out some of these advanced editing features on your next support — you’re on your way to becoming a Symbly Master!

Adding and Organizing Images / Image Library

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Symbly features a powerful image search feature that can search from multiple sources at once to find images and symbols for your supports.

As an example, we’ll begin to add a new image to this support by clicking the “Add Image” button in the toolbar. Note that you can drag this window around by clicking and dragging on the top portion. Also notice the Search settings button, which allows us to customize options, including what symbol sets and image sources are searched, and whether or not a label is included when we add an image to our support. Let’s search for “honey” to add to our friendly bear. After typing the keyword, Symbly will automatically search through symbol sets and web images to find some possibilities. You can scroll down through the options, and Symbly will automatically load more and more images — it would take you hours to look through all of them! To add the image to your support, just drag and drop.

Symbly also features an amazing tool to help you organize the images and symbols you use the most: the Image Library.

Now let’s assume that you’ve found the perfect image for “honey”, and you want to save it so you can use it later in other supports. All you have to do is star it! It’s that easy. Now when you search for the keyword “honey” in the future, that image automatically appears at the top of the list. You can star as many images as you want for a given keyword.

Now let’s click the icon to manage our Image Library. Our Library contains all the images we’ve ever starred. Notice that each image has one or more tags under it. These are the keywords that the image will show up for when you do a search. So for our image of “honey”, we could add tags for “bear” and “gooey”, so that it will also show up if we search for those words. There’s also a delete icon if you no longer want to store this image in your library. Deleting it won’t delete it from any supports you’ve put that picture in, it just won’t show up at the top of search results anymore.

Finally, you may want to include a picture off of your computer in a support. There are two ways to upload images. The first option is to drag and drop the image off of your computer into your web browser. The image will automatically upload and be inserted into the support. You can also open up your image library and use the “Upload Image” link. Choose the image from your computer, and it uploads. If you add tags to your uploaded images, they’ll show up when you do a search for images to add to your support.

Your Image Library is account-wide, so any images you upload or star will be available while you are editing all of your supports. This allows you to build up your own customized library of resources that fit your needs, and helps speed up creation of subsequent supports by saving you from the time-hogging activity of sifting through supports and images to find the one you want.

Try starring images and creating your own image library today!

Teams

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While Symbly makes it easy to share your supports one at a time with the public or individuals, sometimes you may want to share many supports with a group of people. Symbly Teams allow you to do just that.

Teams are a collection of Symbly users who share a number of supports. To view your teams, go to the Teams menu and choose the “All Teams” link. On the left side you’ll see a list of public teams that you can choose to join. On the right is a list of all the teams you are are currently in. If you star a team, that team will appear in the Teams drop-down so you can quickly access it later.

To create a new team, go to the Teams menu and choose “Create Team”. Assign your team a short, descriptive name. Teams can be either public, meaning that any Symbly user can join the team, or Private, meaning that Symbly users must be invited to join the team. In addition, Public teams are listed in the public team directory, while Private teams can only be seen by users who are members of that team. In addition, enter a brief description of the team. Then click the “Create” button.

After you’ve created a team, it will be assigned two special tags that you use to share supports with that team. In this case, “#demo-team and #demo-team-edit”. Let’s go to our supports and share a support with this new team. All we need to do is edit a support’s tags and enter the special team tag to share it. Notice that when entering “#” as the first character of a tag, you will see a list of all the tags for the teams you are on.

If you use the “#demo-team” tag, you’ll share a support with the team, but team members will only be able to view or print it, similar to when you share a support publicly. If you use the “#demo-team-edit” tag, team members will be able to edit the support as well, so be sure to only share supports this way with team members who you trust! Let’s share this support in read-only mode for now. When we return to the team, we can see that the support has been shared with the team members!

If you are the creator of the team, you can Administer the team by clicking on the “Administer” link near the team’s name. You can edit the team’s description, and promote other members to administrator status. You can also add members to the team, which you must do if the team is private, since otherwise users have no way to join your team.

Teams are a great way to share and collaborate on Symbly with a group of colleagues. But what if you want to share supports, for example, with a parent who is not a Symbly user? Each team has a unique share link which you can get from the team’s page. You can send this link to anyone, even those without a Symbly account, and they’ll be able to view and print supports in that team. The link doesn’t change, so you can add, remove, and update supports without needing to re-send the link to parents. You could also create a group for a workshop, or create a group before giving a presentation, then just give out one link to all the supports mentioned during the presentation, allowing participants to print them off at their leisure. And those are just a few examples! Enjoy using the teams feature on Symbly!

Interactivity

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Symbly allows you to create supports that are interactive for viewing on the web and on mobile devices. Any box on your support can become a “button” with an interactive feature. Buttons can be stand-alone, or can contain text and images. To create an interactive button, just right-click on a box in Symbly, hover over the “On Click” setting, and choose from one of the following options:

Check Mark

This option will turn the box into an interactive check-mark. You can tell it’s active by the faded check-mark that appears over the contents of the box. Check-mark buttons are great for creating to-do lists and visual schedules. When a Support is in view-mode, shown here, the user can click or tap on the button and the check-mark will be toggled. In addition, the check-mark will stay active even if the user leaves and comes back to the support, which is great for creating a schedule that the user accesses throughout the day.

Reset Page

The reset page option will turn the button into a reset button, shown by a looping refresh symbol. When tapped or clicked in view mode, this button will reset the support to its original state. For example, any check-marks will be cleared. This is a great button for including on the first page of a visual schedule so that it can be reset at the beginning of every day.

Go To Page

This option allows you to link together pages in your support. After you select the “Go to page…” option, you will be prompted to select the destination page from the page toolbar. A green line will appear between the button and the page confirming your selection. When tapped in view mode, the button will navigate the user to the destination page. This button is great for all kinds of supports, including basic communication boards, storybooks, and schedules with individual pages with more detailed task analysis.

Open URL

This option allows you to enter a URL, such as google.com, to be opened when the button is pressed. Be sure to include the “http:” in front of the URL or it may not work properly. When viewing the support both on a computer or in an iPad, clicking or tapping the button will open the page in a new window. One example use of this option is to create a “launch pad” for a studen to access during leisure time, with choices for his favorite web-based activities.

Read Page

This option will automatically read all the text on the page. Note that reading text (also known as “text to speech”) is currently only available when viewing supports on the Symbly Go iPad app.
None

Finally, you can choose the “None” option to remove any actions you’ve added to a button.

Note that a button can have multiple actions — for example, we can create a checkmark button that also goes to a new page when clicked. Also, keep in mind that buttons will only respond when you are in View mode. Check out the awesome interactivity features in Symbly, and we’ll continue to add more in the future!

Symbly Go for iPad

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Symbly Go is an app currently available for Apple’s iPad device. It’s a free companion to your Symbly subscription that enables you to take the supports you create on the go wherever you need them.

To begin, just enter your email and password and tap the “Login” button. You only have to do this once, and doing so will pair this iPad to your Symbly account. Once you’ve paired the device, all of your existing supports should begin to download. You need an Internet connection to do this initial download, but once the download is complete, you can go anywhere, even where you don’t have a Wifi or 3G signal, and your supports will continue to work. The Symbly Go app continuously monitors your connection, and whenever you’re connected, will download any new supports and changes in the background.

To view a support, just tap the support’s icon. You can then interact with the support by scrolling, zooming, changing pages, and interacting with any interactive parts of the support such as checkmarks and page links. Tap the back button to return to your home screen.

The Settings tab allows you to fine tune the Symbly Go app. The Filter options allow you to download only a subset of your supports by choosing to sync your supports, and/or supports the teams you are a member of. In addition, you can enter a list of tags and only supports with those tags will be synced. This is great for setting up Symbly Go on a student’s device — just enter the student’s name, for example, tag all supports with the name as well, and they’ll only have access to their own supports, even if you have many more than that in your account.

The Symbly Go app has text-to-speech capability that is not enabled out of the box. To enable it, you must make a one-time purchase of TTS voices, provided by Acapela. Note that these are separate charges from your Symbly subscription, and are tracked by your Apple ID, not your Symbly account. They are not recurring charges. After you purchase a voice, it will download and install. Then it will automatically turn on. Speak Mode allows you to tap on any button or text in any support, and it will be read to you with the active voice. If you turn it off, than only pressing buttons such as those with the “Read Page” interactive option enabled will use the TTS. You probably want to leave Speak Mode on in most cases.

Finally, you can Log Out and Unpair the device, and it will no longer count toward your iPad Synced Device limit.

The Symbly Go app is a great way to extend the usefulness of Symbly. Use it on your own devices to always have your entire library of visual supports at your fingertips. Install it on a student or client’s device, and any visual supports you create for them will always be up to date without any additional effort on your part — no cables, or iTunes syncing. Try out Symbly Go today!

Real-Time Collaboration

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Symbly features a powerful architecture that allows you to edit your supports in real-time with others. We call this “real-time collaboration.” To demonstrate, here is the same support being edited in two different browsers, logged in as two different Symbly users. Notice that as I begin to edit the support on the left, the other user’s screen updates in real time showing the changes that I’m making. I can just as easily make edits on the second user’s screen and see them reflected on mine. Symbly offers you the powerful ability to work with others even if you’re not in the same room, city, or even continent!

This collaboration extends to our iPad syncing. If an iPad synced to your account has an active Internet connection, as you edit a support in your browser the iPad is updated within a minute or less with the changes you’re making. In addition, if an iPad user has the support open on their device while you’re editing, they’ll see those changes come through in real-time. If the iPad doesn’t have an active connection, it will retrieve all of the changes you’ve made at once the next time it’s able to perform an online sync with the Symbly servers.

We’re very excited to see how useful real-time collaboration can be for tele-practice, trainings, special education classrooms, and many other potential applications. Give it a try today!

Editing on iPad

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Welcome to Symbly editing on the iPad! Here’s a brief overview of how to get started. A quick disclaimer: please keep in mind that the best way to edit supports with Symbly will always be with a desktop computer — mobile editing is quick and convenient, but it isn’t as easy or polished as using a mouse and keyboard. With that out of the way, let’s begin.

First off, a word on navigating around. The most important part of the editor is the page, represented by the big white area in the middle of your screen. To scroll around the page, tap and drag on the rulers along the sides of the screen. If you tap on an element you’ll select it, and you can tap and drag to select multiple elements.

To add things to the page, you can select one of the tools from the toolbar at the top of your screen. Let’s start with the box tool. Just tap the icon, then tap and drag to create a box. Easy! You can then move and resize the box just by dragging it around. In addition, you can tap and hold to bring up the context menu, which allows you to set button actions, and also to copy, paste, and delete elements.

The toolbar also allows you to modify the properties of elements that you’ve selected, like changing the shape of boxes, changing the fill and border color, and changing the size, color, and font of text. There are also advanced settings and tools in the “Tools” menu, and don’t forget to access the “Help” menu if you get stuck and need some assistance.

Now let’s add some images. Click the image button and the Image Search box will appear. Just type in a keyword, for example, “store”, and you’ll receive results from symbol sets and the web. You can scroll through the results by tapping and dragging in the gray area along the right-hand side of the search box. To insert an image, just tap and drag it into the page. You can drop it into a box and it will be automatically positioned inside, or you can drop an image onto a blank part of the page and it will appear there, instead. In the settings dialog you can adjust what image libraries you search, and the positioning of the automatic labels. You can also star any images, and those will be stored in your image library. When you search for “store” again, those images will appear at the top of the list, so you can be consistent.

Let’s add some additional text. Just tap on the text tool, tap on the page where you want the text to appear, and start typing! You can also change the size and color of the text using the toolbar.

The page toolbar lets you add multiple pages to your support. You can scroll by tapping and dragging along the gray area in the bottom portion of the toolbar. You can also tap and drag to re-order pages, and use the “Create Page” button to add a new page.

As you make changes to your support, they are automatically saved in the background. — there’s no need to click any save button. When you’re done, just click the power button to exit.

We’ve just covered the basics to help you get started. Be sure to watch the other How-To videos under the Help tab on the toolbar to learn additional advanced techniques including image library management, adding interactivity, managing pages, and more. Enjoy editing supports on your iPad!