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Elearning Authoring tools : Adobe Captivate vs Articulate Storyline

Updated on January 30, 2014
Creating rich and interactive elearning content
Creating rich and interactive elearning content | Source

Adobe Captivate 7 review

Adobe Captivate is an e-learning authoring tool from Adobe that is used to create different types of e-learning projects in .swf format which can later be converted into .avi format. Adobe Captivate can be used to create software simulations, quizzes, and podcasts, screen casts and convert PowerPoint presentations to Adobe Flash format.
Many versions of this software are present, the latest one is Adobe Captivate 7 and its features are discussed below:

Fast e-Learning content development:
Various in-built themes are present which allow developers to give a solid look to the work, these themes range from professional to lively and artistic, not only themes but master slides are also present to help create and maintain consistent and well-formatted work. An aggregator is also present if the developer wants to combine many projects, a multilevel table of contents can also be created which, combined with the customizable workspace and various usability enhancements such as support for panning, text-to-speech facilities, smart shapes and hyperlinks which e-learning projects more captivating and attention grabbing, enhancing user experience.

Collaboration with other softwares:
Adobe Captivate 7’s collaboration with and Twitter allows publishing of e-learning projects on a cloud using which can be accessed by users on Twitter. Collaboration with Adobe allows access to Adobe AIR® which can be used to access a lot of help content. This tool also supports Adobe Photoshop® files and audio from Adobe Audition softwares allowing various multimedia files such as .AVI and .MPEG to be added onto the e-learning projects. All these softwares allow videos to be synchronized with slides and also have voice recording and editing facilities, text-to-speech facilities, smart shapes and hyperlinks to make the projects more captivating and attention grabbing and informative.

Innovative quiz designs:
The Adobe Captivate 7 has various templates to allow the creation of interesting and easy-to-use quizzes with tools for comprehensive scoring of results, partial and negative scoring options, multiple choice question quizzing, and support for GIFT format and HTML5 amongst other things.

Course Delivery:
The types of projects designed using Adobe Captivate 7 can be delivered to the required students through numerous platforms such as through the web, desktops and tablets. They can also be converted to iOS formats to be supported by Apple and Android devices as well. HTML5 can be used to deliver these projects at their full abilities on mobile devices and can be published to Adobe Connect™ giving the users the ability to pause and resume the courses.The projects can be published in multiple formats such as MP4, SWF and PDF. This allows the created content to be available on many formats making it easily accessible for many different types of users.

Edutech Authoring Tools Review


Articualte Storyline Review

This e-learning stand-alone authoring software from Articulate claims to be simple enough for beginners and powerful enough for experts. It is used to create very interactive and creative e-learning projects using a non-programming and simplistic approach.

It has various, creative features that are used to create powerfully captivating e-learning courses. It is relatively simple and comprises of some key elements that are essential to the creation of the project such as notes, triggers, templates, slide layers, states, and characters and many other vibrant features. A few of these are discussed below:

Rapid Content development
The User interface for Articulate Storyline is very user friendly and easy to use with familiar features and templates that help in getting started with the process. It has numerous slide templates with inbuilt features which can easily be downloaded or if the user prefers there is always the option of customizing a template to his or her liking. Articulate Storyline also offers avatars; there are around 4,500 combinations that can be used to create personalized characters that make the e-learning process more interactive. After choosing a character, its expressions and poses can also be changed to match the required need from the media library. States can also be used to make certain objects and characters react to the user’s specific interactions. Slide layers are present, which allow multiple interactions on a single page from object overlay to triggers. There are also triggers present that use a menu style action list to assign special actions to a specific action done by the user. Multiple triggers can be combined with drag-and-drop interactions to enhance user activity in the e-learning projects.


Storyline offers many interesting quiz creating options such as free-form questioning which can include animations and side characters on a quiz to question pooling and question randomization along with tools for scoring of multiple sections of the course.

Course delivery :
The courses and projects made on Storyline can be published on almost all devices thanks to Flash and HTML5. These can be accessed on personal computers, tablets, Apple and Android mobile devices as they support multiple file formats. Articulate Storyline supports double-byte character sets (DBCS), so the user can even translate your courses into Chinese, Japanese, and Korean as well as other languages.

Other features:
Software simulation is also an interesting Storyline feature that allows the creator to record his or her screen once and then the program automatically segments this into step-by-step tutorials. The recording can be edited and fine-tuned using tools available in Storyline so there is no need to rerecord the whole procedure if there are any changes that need to be made.

Staff training with elearning software


What are elearning authoring tools

Authoring tools or Elearning software:

When specifically talking about e-learning, an authoring tool is a software package that is used to design and create e-learning projects by developers. It has all the in-built features to allow the creation of dynamic and interesting projects. Each authoring package also has an authoring language and follows some international standard such as SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model).
Two commonly known and used e-learning authoring tools are Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline.

The best authoring tool

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Role of technology in education

What is E-learning?
Technology has been advancing at a very rapid pace in the course of the last few years and has become an integral part of the lifestyle of the current generation. Easily accessible by even the most common place man, technology is making its way into every field of life from entertainment to education. Electronic learning is one of the most common examples of these technological advances. It involves the use of information and communication technology in collaboration with electronic media to create an expressive and effective means of teaching.
E-learning is just an overall term for this new way of teaching. E-learning takes on various forms, each with a distinguished name usually based on the input and output of that method. Some of these types of e-learning are described below:

  1. Computer-based training (CBT):This type of education involves the students using special training programs on a computer. This allows quick and easy teaching at cost effective rates and can be custom designed according to the needs of the courses.
  2. Computer-aided instruction (CAI):This involves the use of technological tools for computer-facilitated communication between students and teachers. It is usually used to pass on instructions and show their implementation by computerized visualization and practice exercises.
  3. Web-based training (WBT):This type of e-learning is similar to CBT except for the fact that the information needed for training is accessible through the internet. It uses audio, video and graphics to teach students and is also referred to as an “online course”.

Captivate 7 Vs Storyline
Captivate 7 Vs Storyline | Source

Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate? Which is the Best


Articulate Storyline is known for its simple and friendly user interface whereas Adobe Captivate is known for having many complex layers; however, the two are not as dissimilar as this general view may tell you. The common features of these two e-learning authoring tools are as follows:

Quiz development:
Both Captivate and Storyline have numerous features to create interesting quizzes. Even though they may have various different types of tools and templates to provide diversity, the overall target is the same which is to produce quality quizzes.

LMS connectivity features
A learning management system is often used to track and manage students’ progress and therefore is necessary to be connected with the course. The LMS connectivity feature allows the developer to define the Learning management system (LMS) connectivity settings and to save those settings. Both Adobe Captivate 7 and Articulate Storyline provide connection to this management system.

Flash-based output
Both products produce projects that are full of multimedia such as videos and animations and therefore require a Flash player.

Learning interactions
Both packages can produce a range of complex learning interactions and both can support branching and multiple file formats like .AVI and .MPEG

Both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate allow user interface (UI) customizations. The developer can pick out the buttons, color schemes, skins and choose which features to turn on and off.

Differences: Adobe Captivate vs. Articulate Storyline
Even though they both fulfill the same purpose that is to create e-learning projects and have the same basic tools, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline are very different in special features they possess which give them an upper hand in certain situations. Some of these differences are described below:

Round tripping is the synchronization of two or more related software artifacts such as models and corresponding source codes. Adobe Captivate 7 is a developing tool that offers round tripping so the user gets to user gets to enjoy the comfort of using Adobe Photoshop, Flash and Captivate with some unique round tripping possibilities. Whereas, Storyline is a stand-alone program and does not offer that feature.

Discover why articulate is better than storyline
Discover why articulate is better than storyline | Source


As it stands, the matter of Articulate Storyline vs. Adobe Captivate is a very difficult one to give a verdict on. Each user has a different opinion and choice of how to work and what to work with. Though this is a very broad topic, we can classify these users into two types in light of the topic of discussion:

Those who enjoy simplistic features (Storyline users)
Those who enjoy professional features (Captivate users)

Adobe Captivate is ideal for the professional user who prefers well-established interfaces, maximized customization, multiple software integration and in-depth development in tight budgets. Whereas, Articulate Storyline is for a user who prefers great graphics, easy editing, maintenance and support along with a very interactive user interface that will allow work to be done simply and quickly. Each authoring tool has many advantages and disadvantages but not enough to outweigh the other. Articulate Storyline, even though it is new in the market is strong enough in its current position to steal some of Adobe Captivate 7’s market but no one has a clear lead in the race.

None of these authoring tools can be called perfect yet as each lacks one or other element. If one is more user friendly, the other is more budget friendly; if one is more integrated with other softwares the other has reusable features. The only conclusion that can be mad is that this clash will only lead to a deadlock until some greater piece of e-learning software is introduced that is the perfect mixture of these two products. In the meanwhile since no alternative solution is present the developers who want excellence in their e-learning projects should resort to using a mixture of both these models together, filling up one’s deficiency with the others capability. Both of these tools have their own significance and the idea is to provide a comparison to people so that they can decide and pick the one according to their requirement and feasibility.

free vs premium authoring tools
free vs premium authoring tools

Articulate Storyline Versus Adobe Captivate Contd

In Storyline the same scenario can be created as in Captivate 7 only the difference is that creation process in much more complex in Captivate 7 in which you need to use advanced options , custom variables etc. This scenario would need to be spread out among a number of slides and all the customization would have to be done for each slide whereas in Storyline all this can be done in a much easier and less spread out way using the slide layering option which allows multiple interactions on a single page saving time and effort.
However, the complexity of Adobe Captivate allows developers to create more complex and advanced courses using widgets, advanced actions capability and round tripping which cannot be done with Storyline making it less attractive for users with a taste for high-tech developing.

Reusable scenarios
Storyline offers re usability of things such as scenarios and interactions. A setup can be completely reused in a different project just by replacing the relevant text and images but in Adobe Captivate, no such scenario can be reused.

Course deployment to Learning Management System
The Adobe Captivate software has faced continual problems in its deployment of courses to Learning Management Systems not only in this version bit many more before it and is still not able to completely eradicate the problems whereas Articulate Storyline makes deployment very easy and very little or no complaints have been heard so far regarding deployment of courses to Learning Management Systems.

Image packages
Articulate Storyline is perhaps most famous for its image packs which are not only affordable at low prices but are of excellent quality. The third-party site images purchased for Captivate though acceptable pale in comparison with those of Storyline.

PowerPoint integration
One of Articulate Storyline’s biggest flaws is supposedly its little integration with PowerPoint. This situation is completely reversed with Articulate Storyline as it is very much similar to if not based on Microsoft PowerPoint. It had a roundtrip with Microsoft PowerPoint which allows easy transfer and conversion of PowerPoint slides to Captivate projects. This makes Adobe Captivate 7 a bit more appealing as users feel more comfortable using it.

Learning Curve
Even though Adobe Captivate7 complex features come in handy for the enlightened developers, those who have not had proper training and are unfamiliar to e-learning development tools will not be able to use it to its full potential. This is where Storyline has a huge advantage, it’s easy to use interface and creative characters attract newcomers to e-learning development and are doing so currently giving Adobe Captivate a run for its money.

The price for the Adobe Captivate 7 package is around 900 USD whereas the price of Articulate Storyline is around 1400 USD. There is a price difference of almost 500USD between the two which may put Storyline at a disadvantage as not all people are willing to pay that much money when they can pay 500 dollars less for a reliable and widely used brand like Adobe which offers more advanced options than Storyline.

Free Authoring tools comparision

© 2014 Aditya Pullagurla


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I have to disagree with some of you findings. If we are incorporating a wide variety of media such as video effects , audio, quizzes and making them work interactively, then Storyline seems to work better. If we are going with the simplistic timing and click with standard branching routines Captivate will handle those well.

    • Adityapullagurla profile imageAUTHOR

      Aditya Pullagurla 

      4 years ago from Sydney

      Thanks for detailed comment of authoring tools software. Cheers

    • SolveMyMaze profile image


      4 years ago

      Great Hub! I like how you sum up the pros and cons of both of the packages. Going from your reviews I would go for the Adobe suite since it does have PowerPoint integration and the more complex nature of the program would allow me to go in depth with it as I become more accustomed to it.


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