Updated Comparison of E-Learning Authoring Tools

With the release of Studio ’13 a few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good time to update my authoring tool comparison grid. As always, this grid reflects MY OPINION of working with each of these tools. There’s lots of subjectivity, and I’d love to hear in the comments section how your perspective might differ.

If you’d like a more scientific approach to authoring tools, check out the eLearning Guild’s recent authoring tools survey report (you must be a member to view) or register for their free webinar about the report (where I will be a panelist).

Here’s the overview—details below. 1=first choice, 4 = last choice.

Table Comparison

In this post, I’ll focus on how Articulate Studio’s comparison has changed. For commentary on the other applications, see my previous post on the subject.

Studio ’13 is a very nice upgrade that features new Engage templates, additional quiz questions (including drag-and-drop), feedback layers, HTML5 publishing, characters, and a unified player, among other things. (See list of new features.) The tool has more variety and flexibility than before, but none of the changes have fundamentally changed the positioning of the tool in the broader landscape. It is still PowerPoint based, and many of the interactive features are still template based. For that reason, many of its scores have not changed – it is still easier to use and has better graphics capabilities than the other tools in the grid, and it still has less power than the others – but that’s by design. In these areas, the ratings have not changed.

So let’s look at where there is some movement and “almost” movement.

Mobile

Studio ’09 could not output to HTML5, so it was a non-starter for iOS delivery. The new version can publish to Flash, HTML5, and the Articulate Mobile Player, much like Storyline. I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time testing it for iPad, but early indications are that most features work very well on the iPad. Because of that, I’m going to put it ahead of Captivate, since Captivate still has a decent list of features that don’t work in HTML5. But I won’t give Captivate a 4. It may be a cop-out, but I don’t feel any of the tools deserve to be ranked last in this category. All of them have had significant improvements and continue to do so.

Accessibility

Studio ’13 is still not Section 508 compliant, so it still gets a 4. However, a little birdy told me that 508-compliancy will be available in a free upgrade in the near future. In the meantime, Lectora has furthered its lead in this category. Their 11.3 upgrade that came out a few weeks ago complies with the (WCAG) 2.0 – Level AA.

Software Simulations

Studio ’13 comes with a standalone utility called Replay that lets you record your desktop and your webcam at the same time. The editing interface lets you switch back between the two (or do picture in picture) very easily. You can also add simple captions, images, other video, etc. It’s a nice utility that’s very easy to use. Before Studio ‘09 got a 4 in this category because it had no capability in this area. It still gets a 4 because the tool is not as full-featured as the screen recording options in Captivate, Storyline, or Camtasia (part of Lectora Inspire), but it is still a really nice addition to the suite and is great for folks who want to put together something quickly – which, again, is Studio’s positioning in the market.

So this is a case where the numbers may not tell the true story. In my opinion, the upgrade is definitely worth the money. But it is important to realize that it is a different type of tool than the other three, so we are in a bit of an apple-orange situation.

What are your thoughts?

Diane Elkins
Diane Elkins leads Artisan E-Learning, a custom eLearning development company specializing in the use of rapid- development tools. Diane has been in the eLearning industry since 2001, speaks regularly at national conferences about eLearning, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

5 Responses to “Updated Comparison of E-Learning Authoring Tools

  • First of all, thank you so much for this comparison which I have and continue to enjoy receiving. With the exception of Lectora (as I haven’t used it) I just wanted to suggest that I completely agree with your voting. I have fallen deeply in love with Articulate Mobile Player and just recently got Replay working on my laptop – the features e.g. video in video are brilliant but I am disappointed that there’s no editing feature available – hopefully they’ll receive and implement my feature request soon. Wishing you a lovely weekend, Diane. Cheers, Jason

    • Diane Elkins
      3 years ago

      Glad you enjoy the posts! We haven’t had a chance to work much with the Articulate Mobile Player just because of our clients’ usual LMS restrictions. We’ve also been doing a lot of “quick and dirty” video tutorials to document internal team procedures. I’ve been using Storyline for them, but because they are so simple, I may start using Replay instead.

  • I am trying to decide between these tools and found this overall to be a helpful comparison.

    I am a little confused why you did not give Captivate a 4 for Mobile just because it was not as good as the other tools in that area and had seen improvement over previous versions, however you specifically gave Studio ’13 a 4 on simulations with the reason being that it was not as ‘full-featured’ as the other tools (even though it had also seen significant improvement over previous versions). Your rankings seem to be a little inconsistent in this regard based on your explanations, but I still appreciate the comparison.

    Now to decide which tool to go with…

    • Diane Elkins
      3 years ago

      Fair point, Mike. And I really went back and forth on that particular score. The reason Studio ’13 gets a 4 for not being as full featured is that there is a HUGE difference in capability between what Replay can do and what Storyline/Captivate can do. So while it is better than nothing, it really is a distant 4th. Whereas with mobile and Captivate, it is just a small incremental difference. I think giving it a 4 might make people think it isn’t good at mobile at all, and I didn’t want to give that impression.

      Appreciate the feedback!

  • Interestingly enough, I find Captivate to be much more customizable and robust in regard to interactivity and quizzing (using either JavaScript or Advanced Actions). The 7.0.1 patch for version 7 fixed most of the major html5 issues on tablets for our highly customized training presentations, although it still needs some work in the responsive arena.

    We are required to provide accessible and 508-compliant products (not necessarily the same thing) and have not found any of the 3 products to meet our demanding standards (or our client’s) given the complex materials. Lectora in particular has problems with keyboard-only users getting stuck in the notes panel and their limitations with alternative text options.

    But, improvements have been made by all of the tools and that’s encouraging 🙂

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