Articulate 360: What Does the New Subscription Model Mean for You?
Articulate Storyline users have been anxiously anticipating the release of Storyline 3. For many months, Articulate has been previewing some of the features, such as the new responsive player. Well, the release came on Wednesday, and it wasn’t Storyline 3 but rather Articulate 360. It’s not just an update to the software, but a complete change to their business model and how you might purchase Storyline moving forward.
How does the subscription work?
With Storyline 2, you paid about $1,399 for the software, and you could use it for as long as you wanted. Called a “perpetual license,” you could still be using the same license five years later. Under that model, when a new version came out, you would have chosen whether or not you wanted to buy the new version or keep using your existing license.
With the new Articulate 360 subscription model, you pay $999 (discounted to $599 if you are already a Storyline or Studio user) for the rights to use everything for a year. Then if you want to keep using it, you would pay another $999 to use it for that year. While your subscription is active, you would be eligible for any updates that Articulate puts out. (And they are hinting that they’ll be rolling out new versions with new features more regularly, instead of waiting several years and doing a big upgrade with lots of features at once.)
If you stop paying your yearly subscription fee, you can no longer access Storyline or the other items in the subscription. You can still use any content you created with them, but you won’t be able to edit that content or create anything new.
So is this a better model for you? It depends. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about the pros and cons of Captivate’s subscription model. Many of those arguments are valid here as well.
One thing that’s very different about the Articulate 360 subscription over the Captivate subscription is that you get more than just the core e-learning authoring tool. Which brings us to the next question…
What else comes with the Articulate 360 subscription?
In short, a lot! In addition to Storyline 360, you get:
Studio 360: Studio is Articulate’s other authoring tool that is template based and very easy to use. However, it is not as robust as Storyline.
Content library: My guess is that a lot of people will want the subscription just for this. Storyline 2 comes with about 25 or so illustrated characters and 1 photo character (with the option for a few more). This new content library comes with many more character options in a library that lets you filter by graphic style, dress style, and age. The library also includes some very professional-looking templates organized into design themes that can help you create a cohesive course (as opposed to individual templates that may or may not work together). These content assets can save development teams a lot of time and money.
Replay: This is a simple application that lets you record your webcam and what you are doing on your desktop at the same time. Then you can publish a movie that switches back and forth between the two or uses picture-in-picture.
Rise: This is a new cloud-based authoring tool that creates fully responsive courses. Storyline 360 has a responsive player, but the slides themselves don’t change based on device size or orientation. With Rise, the whole slide changes. It’s template based, meaning it is easy to use, but doesn’t have the kind of full design control you have with Storyline.
Preso: Preso is an iPad app that lets you create narrated, annotated presentations. For example, you can load slides or other visuals, record what you are saying about them, and make annotations on the screen such as circling part of a diagram with your stylus. All of that gets recorded into a movie.
Peek: This application lets you record quick screencasts on a PC or a Mac.
Articulate Review: This service lets you load your courses online for stakeholder review. Your review team can access the courses and add their feedback.
Articulate Live: Subscribers will have access to live online training. There’s very little information on their website about this offering, so we’ll all have to stay tuned to learn more.
So what if you don’t need all of these tools? Well, that’s one of the challenges of a subscription package–it’s an all or nothing deal. If you want all of these things, then it’s a great bargain. If you aren’t likely to use these other tools, then you might wonder if you are overpaying. At this point, there is not an option to buy any of the elements individually.
Are the improvements to Storyline worth the update?
If you primarily care about Storyline and not all of the extra tools, is it worth switching? The major improvements to Storyline 360 are for the HTML5 output. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes changes that make courses work better in HTML5, there’s a responsive player that is easier to use on touch-screen devices, especially phones, and the accessibility features (Section 508 and WCAG 2.0) now work in the HTML5 output. So if you are going mobile, these improvements are a big plus. But even if you aren’t going mobile, these are still good enhancements. More and more nails are going into Flash’s coffin every month it seems, and Flash content will quickly become problematic in many desktop environments. So it’s good to know that Articulate content is poised to be ready for an HTML5-only world.
There are a handful of other “nice-to-have” features, such as a dial (similar to a slider, but round), new trigger events (such as when objects intersect), and a few others. I like many of these features, but I wouldn’t call any of them significant enough to be worth the update. The main business case for updating is the HTML5/mobile enhancements and the extra elements you get with the subscription.
Is Storyline 360 backwards compatible?
Nope. You can open/import Storyline 2 content into 360, but you can’t open/import 360 content into SL2. This is fairly standard for e-learning software.
Can you still buy new Storyline 2 licenses? Will there ever be a Storyline 3?
Yes and yes. And I quote from Articulate Sales Support: “No worries. Our perpetual software isn’t going anywhere. We’ll continuing selling it alongside 360. It’ll just be a little behind feature-wise.”
If you are not interested in the new subscription model for whatever reason, you can still buy a Storyline 2 license. Perhaps you are on a large team who is on Storyline 2 and you don’t have the funds until next fiscal year to upgrade. But now you have a new person on the team. You can’t put her on a new 360 license because her work would then be incompatible with everyone else’s. Instead, she can get a Storyline 2 license. Eventually, Articulate will come out with a Storyline 3 using the perpetual license, and it will have the features found today in 360. But it’s likely to be several months before that happens.
Will E-Learning Uncovered be publishing a Storyline 360 book?
I’m SURE this is the most burning question on your mind, and the answer is YES! The target release date is December 15.
What do you think?
We’re curious to hear what you have to say. What are your thoughts on the new Articulate 360 subscription model?