Articulate Storyline vs. Adobe Captivate


I finally got the chance (read time) to take the new product Articulate Storyline for a spin. Now this product has generated a remarkable buzz in the industry and according to many people it’s the third best thing in the world after chocolate and red wine.

Articulate Storyline has been called a Game Changer and the question is if it can win a die-hard Adobe Captivate fan like me over.

I own Articulate Studio ´09 and that was more of an impulse purchase to be honest. I only really used it once or twice, because I found it to be limiting and not really suited for my purposes. One of the main drawbacks was the lack of possibilities to modify the design of the Engage Interactions, but I really liked the Articulate Quiz Maker functionality.

In my opinion the main drawback of Articulate Studio ´09 is that it is based on PowerPoint. I simply can’t imagine myself creating eLearning courses in PowerPoint (and that goes for Adobe Captivate as well!).

I am by no means a “purist” or “elitist” but I do think that Microsoft PowerPoint is best used to bore people to death with slide after slide after slide..

I had read that Articulate Storyline was a stand-alone product that wasn’t depending on Microsoft PowerPoint so when I installed and launched the trial version I almost fell of my chair.. Articulate Storyline was like PowerPoint in new clothes. The only thing missing was that little annoying paper clip guy saying “How can I help you today?”  (I think MS phased that one out in PPT 2000 but you get my point).

Next step was to go through a couple of the “Getting Started” tutorials to get the general idea of how the program works and the tutorials were very good. Articulate did a good job on making it easy to get started with using the program. There are plenty of tutorials and resources available for you to play around with that will get you going in no time.

The interface of Articulate Storyline is more or less a clone of Microsoft PowerPoint, which also helps you feel at home pretty quickly if you are used to working in the newer versions of the Microsoft Office applications. The interface works pretty well in Articualte Storyline and is easy to find your way around.

I read that when downloading the trial you would receive an email from your “Dedicated Articulate Storyline Coach” that would help you get started and that you could direct any questions to. However, I didn’t receive an email from Articulate after downloading the trial but maybe they know I am a Adobe Captivate fan or maybe they have had so many trial downloads that they have run out of coaches ;o)

[edit:May 16th, 2012] After writing this post I was contacted by an employee from Articulate offering to be my personal coach and help me out with anything I needed. We also found out why I didn’t receive the original mail from Articulate. I am not based in the US so I didn’t use a .com email and therefore the “Coach email” should have been sent to me from Articulate’s partner in my country. Apparently there was a bug in the CRM system at that time causing my local Articulate partner to not get notified about my trial download.

Anyways the tutorials and the well known interface make it easy to get started working in Articulate Storyline.

So for the next day and a half I messed around with Articulate Storyline creating some small sample projects, interactions, scenarios, drag and drops, publishing courses to HTML5 and iPad and basically trying the program out in every way I could think of.

Below here are my observations on my Articulate Storyline test run. Now please note that when I list something as missing or not being possible in Articulate Storyline then it may very well be that it is actually possible, but I just haven’t found the right way to do it yet. If you do spot something wrong then please leave a comment so I can correct it.


General observation:

Articulate Storyline is a great program. It’s much much better than Articulate Studio and after working with it for a couple of hours I was actually having fun trying to think up weird ways of creating content and scenarios.

I have only written down the main highlights and downsides here because otherwise the post would become way to long. So here they are in no particular order.


Clipart and images:

Articulate Storyline comes with a variety of different clipart people with each person available in different poses and moods. There is also an option to purchase a “photo pack” which includes real photographs of people in different poses and moods as well.

The trial version comes with all the clipart people and one of the “real people” called Atsumi that you can play around with. I am positively surprised with the quality of the photographs. They are extremely high quality and probably the best in the market right now.

I am not entirely sure if the full version also comes with the Atsumi character, but I would assume so since it is available in the trial version. Otherwise a character pack with 8 additional characters is available for purchase for $599 now (regular price $2.392) and for free if you already own Articulate Studio ´09.

It is definitely worth $599 for the extra 8 character sets if they are of the same high quality as the Atsumi model.

For me – even if I wasn’t going to use Articulate Storyline it would be worth paying for it just to get the image packs for free. In my opinion this is one of the really big key selling points for Articulate Storyline


Triggers and object states:

This is indeed a really cool feature and I am surprised that it is so easy to work with. A lot of thought has gone into this from Articulate and that really shines through.

It is simple to build even complex scenarios where you can have characters changing state and appearance and display custom feedback based on the user choice.

What makes this even cooler is that the scenarios you build are reusable. Once you have built your scenario you can insert this into other projects and quickly change pictures, text etc. and in a very short time you have a new scenario adapted to that particular project. This is brilliant and is a big timesaver if you are creating lots of courses. Building things once and being able to reuse the content easily is something that every eLearning designer likes and something your manager can relate to as well since it will save time and money.

One minor nuisance with object states on the photographic people images is that the default states (“happy”, “angry”, “confused” etc.) aren’t set up as they are on the clipart people images. This means that you need to create “custom states” to work with the photographic images in scenarios when you want the character to change their expression. Luckily it is rather quick to create these custom states, but it would have been easier if they had been setup per default instead.


HTML5 content:

Articulate Storyline handles exporting to HTML5 exceptionally well. The tests that I did all worked beautifully and that is really a great accomplishment by the Articulate team. Well done indeed.


Publish to iPad:

Again brilliantly executed. I tested a couple of the Articulate Showcase courses and one I created myself on my iPad(3) and they worked perfectly well. It is a clever idea to wrap this into a player app to circumvent the limitations that Apple iOS has for audio and video content.

One thing that I would like to be able to do is to modify the appearance of the iPad app so it could display my corporate logo and use my corporate colors, but I do realize that this may very well not be possible to do with the current setup.

It would be great if it was possible to download / purchase a version of the iPad app that you could customize to your corporate identity and upload to the Apple store yourself. That would make it really powerful for big organizations that want to offer a more customized look and feel to their courses and course player.


Light box slide:

What a great idea. The ability to create a slide with all of the functionality in Articulate Storyline and then use that slide as a “Light box slide” from any other slide in your project is really powerful.


Modifying the playbar:

I know that it is possible to modify the playbar and use your own buttons because I have seen that in one of the showcase demos, but I am uncertain as how it is done. This is a crucial point for me as Corporate ID is a very important factor.

[edit: May 16th, 2012]: See the comment from Jeanetter Brooks below for information on how to customize the player.


Closed Captions:

I don’t think that it is possible to have proper closed captioning in Articulate Storyline. You can use the transcript or you can create an additional layer that can be shown if the user wants to see Closed Captions. However, it’s basically just a text field being shown all at once and that isn’t going to work out for me. If you have a slide that is 50 seconds long with voice-over and want to display the text as “Closed Captions” then it would cover most of the slide area due to the length of it. Closed Captions to me are timed pieces of text that are shown on the screen in sentences when the relevant audio is playing – just as you see with subtitles on foreign movies.


Alignment of text and objects:

One other thing that annoyed me throughout my test run is that it is cumbersome to align things properly on your slides. Sure you can create master slides with placeholders for text and images, but that poses some other problems (for example if your images in some areas are larger than your placeholder).

If I have multiple objects on my stage I would like to be able to align them all “left” or “top” or “Distribute vertically” etc. easily. In Articulate Storyline you will find these tools in “Home” – “Arrange” – “Position Objects” – “Align” or in the object specific menu (Drawing Tools, Picture Tools etc.) when one or more objects are selected. It would have been nice to be able to enable an “Alignment” toolbar or at least have keyboard shortcuts for these functions.

[edit: May 16th, 2012]: Jeanette Brooks posted information in the comment below on how to use the design grid and rulers for this. Although it is a solution and easier than using Master Slides, I would still prefer to have the Alignment Toolbar more easily available to me.


Could it be done in Adobe Captivate?

I have only been playing around with Articulate Storyline now for a couple of days but so far I haven’t seen anything that wouldn’t be possible to create in Adobe Captivate.

However…  Articulate Storyline does have a couple of obvious advantages over Adobe Captivate.

The biggest advantage in my view is the reusability of things. If you create a scenario / interaction in Articulate Storyline you can easily reuse the entire structure and setup in a new course and you only have to exchange the text and images. All basic structure, triggers, states etc. will be preserved and that is brilliant.

This is a massive time saver and would allow you to create a library of different interaction types, that you could then use in your courses almost plug-and-play style.

In Adobe Captivate you can create the same scenarios / interactions as you can in Articulate Storyline but it is much more complex. In Adobe Captivate you would need to use custom variables, advanced actions, show / hide images on a slide etc. It would also need to span across multiple slides in order to work best in Adobe Captivate.

Okay so once you have created your interaction in Adobe Captivate – which would take longer time than with Articulate Storyline – then you can of course reuse that in your other courses.. Well no.. The thing is that in Adobe Captivate these things are not really reusable at all. You are able to copy the slides and the objects, but custom variables and Advanced Actions cannot be copied from one project to another.

There are workarounds such as saving your interactions as a template project and start off all new projects based on that template, but it’s not an optimal solution to be honest.

One other thing that Articulate Storyline can do natively is the creation of Drag and Drop interactions / quizzes.

Drag and Drop interactions isn’t per default available in Adobe Captivate. However, here you have the brilliant Drag and Drop Widgets from InfoSemantics to help you accomplish this task. These widgets allow you to create complex drag and drop scenarios in Adobe Captivate with minimal effort.

Using these widgets you can create scenarios in Adobe Captivate that are much more advanced that the ones you can create in Articulate Storyline. When playing around with the Articulate Storyline Drag and Drop functionality I did find it a bit limiting in some aspects. For example when I drag an object to a target I would like my object to disappear when it is dropped on a correct target.  Also I would like to have a “reset” interaction button so that I could reset the Drag and Drop interaction to its default state and start over again.

I couldn’t figure out how to do any of these in Articulate Storyline with my Drag and Drop interactions, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places.

[edit: May 16th, 2012]: Again from the comment from Jeanette Brooks. “Reset interaction” can be achieved by a button with a trigger that reloads the slide. It is also possible to make dragged objects disappear when they hit their correct target. I’ll need to play around with this some more and see what I can figure out.

In other areas Adobe Captivate is much more advanced that Articulate Storyline and will allow you to build more complex courses. This of course also means that the learning curve for Adobe Captivate is higher than Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate has also had some shortcomings in all of the versions to date.

One thing that Articulate Storyline (and Articulate Studio) does brilliantly is making it super easy to deploy a course to an LMS. You hardly ever hear (at least I haven’t seen them) complaints about courses not working in a customer’s LMS. However with Adobe Captivate this has been a recurring issue since version 2 and in version 5.5 it is still giving people problems.


So the obvious question is how does Articulate Studio compare to Adobe Captivate?

Articulate Storyline has certainly raised the bar on Rapid eLearning Development Tools, but comparing Articulate Storyline with Adobe Captivate directly is difficult.

For some people Articulate Storyline will be their tool of choice and for some people Adobe Captivate will be theirs. Then you have people that will be using both applications and maybe even a totally different application to create their content.

I don’t see myself changing to Articulate Storyline instead of Adobe Captivate, but I must admit that I am positively surprised by Storyline. The ease of building complex interactions and scenarios and on top of that be able to reuse these in other projects is really a big plus.

The image packs for Articulate Storyline is also a key selling point. Not so much because of the fact that you can purchase these extra images for a relatively low price but because they are of exceptionally good quality. I have used similar character packs purchased from third-parties and stock sites in my Adobe Captivate courses and while the images were acceptable they cannot compare to the images that you can get with Articulate Storyline.

Adobe Captivate also have some strengths compared to Articulate Storyline. One of the key reasons why I am sticking with Captivate as my main development tool is the round-tripping I get when using the Adobe eLearning Suite. I am able to work in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash and Adobe Captivate with some unique round tripping possibilities.

I never use a “stock template” for any of the courses I develop. All my templates are designed in Adobe Photoshop and I am a firm believer in giving each course its own visual identity and appearance. I know that I can do that in Articulate Storyline as well, but it seems like a major part of the application is based on themes and templates. I prefer starting from a blank piece of paper and then creating my visual design from that. My colleagues work in a different way so this is very much an individual choice.

Other powerful features in Captivate is of course the possibilities to add Widgets, a pretty powerful Advanced Actions capability (although the lack of export / import of actions is a shame), the possibility to export and import XML files for quick localization of content, real Closed Captioning and advanced tracking and reporting capabilities.

I consider myself a power user of Adobe Captivate so I also enjoy that I can access almost anything I want in Adobe Captivate by writing dedicated Flash “animations” or Widgets that can access Captivate system information.

For me Adobe Captivate is my tool of choice, but I am not hesitant to put Articulate Storyline into my toolbox as well because it is a good product and I can see some use cases where Storyline will be helpful for me. They really managed to create a good product but don’t think that Adobe is sleeping its beauty sleep – I am certain that they have some good things in store for us as well for future version of Adobe Captivate.

Finally – the last thing that I want to comment on is the recent discussions that there has been on the whole “Community” issue. Articulate do have a very strong community and some very helpful bloggers such as Tom Kuhlmann with his Rapid Elearning Blog, which I also subscribe to. However, saying that Adobe Captivate does not have a strong community isn’t really fair in my opinion.

The advantage that Articulate has is that almost all of their community is centered on This naturally makes it easier to find solutions and help.

The Adobe Captivate community is way more diversified. You have individual bloggers like me, Rod and Tristan Ward, Lieve, Jim. You have the forums on and where you have Rick Stone, Lieve and Rod Ward again doing an exceptional job on helping people out.  You have the Adobe Captivate Facebook page  and the Adobe Captivate Developers blog Finally you have an active Twitter community centered on the #adobeCaptivate and #cpTips hashtags and 4-5 LinkedIn groups.

There is plenty of community out there, but it might be a bit difficult to find the right channel that works for you. However once you do there are almost always people that are ready to help you out.

Okay – I guess that was all that I could think of writing about Articulate Storyline vs. Adobe Captivate. Articulate really managed to create a great product with some cool features. It’s great news for all of us in the eLearning world because it is exiting times to be working in this field. Competition is healthy and will help raise the bar for all of us. Now I’m off because I need to get started working on a new “Light Box Widget for Adobe Captivate” because that feature in Storyline is just awesome ;o)

If you found this useful please do share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn using the links below.

I would also appreciate your comment on what you think about Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline or my blog article here.




  1. Hi Michael and thanks so much for your post! 🙂 Here are a couple things that I hope will help with regard to the items you mentioned. About the drag/drop items and making them disappear when they’re dropped on a correct target, this is an easy way to handle that: And if you’d like to reset the interaction, you can always create a button with a trigger that takes the learner back to the same slide, and set your slide properties so the slide resets to its initial state (more about that and other slide properties here: You also mentioned close captioning, and Tom shares some great ideas for that here: Regarding alignment of objects,a lot of folks like to use the design grid to help with that – here’s a bit more info: Again, thanks so much for giving Storyline a try. We are really proud of it and eager to see all the cool stuff the e-learning community creates with it! Take care.

    • You can very easily insert a logo in both Articulate Storyline and Articulate Suite09 presentations. In Articulate Storyline, click the Home tab and then the Player tab. At the bottom of the list of options under player, you can insert your own logo.

  2. One more thing I forgot to mention. In your post you wondered about customizing the course player in Storyline. There are lots of ways you can customize that: In fact, what some designers like to do, if they want a really customized look, is make the built-in player invisible and create their own custom navigation on their master slides. There are so many possibilities! To your point about the chocolate and red wine at the beginning of your post, I might even argue that it beats both of those. 😉

    • Hi Jeanette,

      Thank you for the kind words and your post. Although Articulate Storyline is a great program it will never beat chocolate or red wine ;o) I don’t see any piece of software doing that though so that is nothing to be ashamed of.

      You did however manage to create a really powerful and easy-to-use piece of software so you have many reasons to be proud.

      Also thank you for clarifying some of my questions and short comings in my post. I have also received an email from David Anderson with some great information and also an offer from another person at Articulate offering to be my coach, since I didn’t receive the email.

      I will update my post later today with the new information so that it reflects all of this.

      Next step is to purchase a full version and try it our in a real production project and see how that works out.


  3. Great review and very timely!

    What did you think of the way Storyline handles screen captures, as compared to Captivate? I am a big proponent of a true screen ‘capture’ (i.e., image-based) versus a video-based capture method ala Camtasia, simply due to the lack of true editability of video-based capture. I work for a software company and often times when I’m developing courseware it is on pre-alpha software that is not feature-complete, but we need it to be that way in the course in anticipation it will be come rollout. Or, more common, I’ve had to edit the captured image ‘background’ to take out proprietary data, or enter ‘demo’ data in fields, etc. This is all easily done in a graphics editor and then brought back into Captivate to replace the current captured image(s). So it results in a 100% editable and maintainable ‘recording’, whereas you don’t get that level of maintainability with a video. Sure, you can trim or cut/delete portions, but unless Articulate has come up with something truly masterful I just don’t see a video-based capture approach being as good.


    • Hi Mark,

      Your comment got caught in my spam filter, so I didn’t see it until now.

      I only briefly tried the Storyline screen capture functionality and my initial reaction is that it is pretty good. I only recorded some random stuff and haven’t tried to edit it in yet so I will need to take a look at that.

      I do know the feeling about working on pre-alpha software and having to redo the recordings many times. Image based recordings tend to be easier to edit and there is also the added benefit of being able to manually edit the image in Photoshop or similar to remove / change information on the screen.

      I was recently involved in a project where we did a lot of recordings on a new webbased booking system and 2 days before launch they changed the name of the system. The name was written with big letter and a logo at the top of the screen and visible on alot of the screens in the recordings. Because we had recorded it with Captivate we could take a screenshot of the new name, crop the image and insert it on the relevant slides. It took 10 minutes to do this to all our chapters so that was a quick fix. If we had recorded this with full motion video it would have been a nightmare to edit.

      Full motion video does look nicer but it takes a lot more planning and also requires that you are recording the final version of the product in my opinion.


    • Hi Mark, I hope that I understand your comment correctly. From what I understand, Storyline takes a full motion video of whatever you’re recording. THEN from this saved recording, it will automatically choose certain frames based around actions within the recording (mouse clicks, text entry, etc) and what option you chose (i.e. view, try, or test). So the default settings will give you the slides (images) with the mouse movement etc. You can edit these slides, or go back to the screen recording video and alter which frames it chose to create the slides if you don’t like where it chose. I think this is fundamentally different than how Captivate does it, and eliminates the need for re-recording in most cases (of course I could be wrong).

      Does that give you a different perspective?

  4. I’d say, an engaging review of the Storyline. A collateral benefit will be a big jolt to the rather self-assured team of the bright Adobe engineers now that the bar has been raised so high. As a long suffering Captivate user, I hope they’ll come thru with a truly finished product and put an end to the perpetual beta feel one gets with their version changes.

    • I agree – the release and functionality of Storyline should bring Captivate Engineers up on their toes ;o)

      Also – sorry for the late approval of your post. It got caught in the spam filter.

  5. Nicola Bennett on

    Hi Michael,
    I found this article really interesting – thank you.

    Up to now we have created all our e-learning courses using Captivate and have become very familiar with the software and its features.

    The main reason we are looking at Storyline is that we are having issues with building a course in Captivate that incorporates a number of different captivate projects which have interactive elements (mainly screen recordings with click boxes).We have inserted these as a animations (there is not an option to insert flash object) and the problem is that none of the interaction works, which is a key flaw.

    Is it possible to insert a captivate project into another and retain interaction? I have read many forums that say this is not possible.

    Yet storyline allows you to insert flash files that retain all the interactions.

    We have tried to use the Aggregator but there are several issues with the pre-loader and loading times on each project, it’s just not useable.

    I feel another winner for Storyline is the ‘Story View’ which allows you to quickly create new slides/scenes and link them together. I think this is very wooden in Captivate. What are your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Nicola,

      Inserting a Captivate project into another Captivate project almost always result in problems. Basically it is because that the controls of the two movies interfere with each other and that Captivate does not handle animations with “nested movieclips” very well.

      You could try my Loader Widget – and see if that fixes your problem.

      I don’t know how Storyline would behave if you inserted another Storyline project into itself (and if it is even possible) but I’ll try that out and see if it works.

      The Story view is indeed a nice touch. However what I like the most about Storyline is actually the reuseability of the content. Building complex interactions / scenarios and being able to remodel them to another course in minutes is really an awesome thing.

  6. Great review, Michael –

    A few other areas where Captivate has the advantage include the built-in TTS and the ability to capture interactions from VM windows.

    I prefer Storyline from a workflow and control of output standpoint. I never really liked the way the Captivate build flow worked. Personal preference. The interface and overlay styles rub me the wrong way as well. Another personal preference.

    Version 6 looks to remedy both of these items. Storyline isn’t perfect. But it’s pretty darn good for version 1.0.

    • Indeed Steve. The TTS in Adobe Captivate is prety neat. I also like the way that Captivate allows you to add Closed Captioning natively.

      The two previews that has been released of the upcoming Adobe Captivate 6 does show some interesting features and personally I like the interface in Captivate 6 better than any of the earlier versions.

      Articulate Storyline is not perfect, but as you say for a 1.0 release it’s pretty darn good. In some areas Storyline outperforms Adobe Captivate by miles (especially when it comes to reuseability of content) but let’s see what else the upcoming CP6 have in store for us.

  7. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the great review of these two authoring tools! I am currently a Captivate user but I always had issues publishing my courses to an LMS. Later I learned that the setting should always be at Complete/Incomplete for reporting when publishing CP courses to an LMS for it to work properly. I remember going through almost 100 test files to get it to work. Till today, my CP courses are still restricted with Complete/Incomplete course results.

    I recently tried out Storyline and WOW! In the first try, publishing the course worked with my LMS (Subtotal) with Complete/Incomplete AND Pass/Fail. To be honest, this “bug” nearly cost me my job.

    I really like that no widget, no excess coding or actions were needed to alert users who returned to finish their unfinished course whether they wanted to “resume or restart the course”. Also, their menu and interface is pretty easy to use as well.

    My next research project was to find a way to retain actions set in a course when a user leaves and returns to finish up their course such as indicators on a custom menu screen that shows a section was completed (some use colors and check marks). Considering that Storyline already integrated this option into their program has me sold to include the program into my toolbox of elearning softwares.

    I REALLY hope the next version comes out soon with the abilities that Storyline offers because I find it essential in course development. It is quite embarrassing when clients ask me why certain functions are not available in their courses.

    Of course, I understand there are pros and cons for each software but I have been an Adobe fan for over a decade and I want to continue that streak.

    Thanks again Michael .. you’ve always been great! Looking forward to CP6!!

  8. Thanks for doing this comparison which is quite helpful. My biggest issue with Adobe Captivate is how the bullet points go all wonky when the PowerPoint presentation is imported into Captivate. I have searched user forums to find a solution – using space bar – which I find very frustrating. I just tried Adobe Captivate 6.0 and they have not corrected this bug. Any suggestions?

  9. Storyline has won me over (mostly) with LMS and HTML5 functionality, plus ease of use. But one Captivate feature that will keep me going back to it is the export to MP4, which is not available in Storyline.

  10. Thank you Michael for the post, one thing that the Articulate team added recently (like the las 10 days) is the Translation export capability both in word and xml, which is a big point for us . We use Captivate but I find Storylie easier when it comes for my SME’s to rapidly ramp up in the easy of use. Yes , the UI is very PPoint oriented , and maybe that is a selling point for rapid e-learning.

  11. “Closed Captions:

    I don’t think that it is possible to have proper closed captioning in Articulate Storyline. You can use the transcript or you can create an additional layer that can be shown if the user wants to see Closed Captions. However, it’s basically just a text field being shown all at once and that isn’t going to work out for me. If you have a slide that is 50 seconds long with voice-over and want to display the text as “Closed Captions” then it would cover most of the slide area due to the length of it. Closed Captions to me are timed pieces of text that are shown on the screen in sentences when the relevant audio is playing – just as you see with subtitles on foreign movies.”
    Great article. The workaround for this could be to create multiple layers with text and time each one to sync with your audio as it plays. Also I’m guessing (haven’t tried it) that you could have an on and off trigger for caption so users could turn them on if they need and off if they don’t.
    I’d like to test this out to see if either of these would work.

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  13. I have been mandated to look at Articulate and comparing it to Captivate. We are currently using Captivate 3 and considering EITHER upgrading to version 6 OR getting Articulate (can’t have both!).

    My main concern is screen capture and recording, wich is in all our projects. We also have trouble with quizzes but it’s minor.

    Maybe Captivate 6 will have all of our issues resolved, or maybe Articulate is right for us.

    We (still) don’t have a LMS, so that’s not a concern (yet).

    Your article is helpful, thank you for your insight.

    • Hi,

      Just had 2 weeks to do an evaluation of Captivate 6.
      Seems to offer all the features to produce ELearnign such as Sofware Demo (screen recording – video), Sofware simulation (screen capture with mouse mouvement and keyboard inputs) or standard project.
      The difficult part of it is the NOT intuitive commands/menus layout.
      Some new features must have been added randomly. Simply, they should start their own ribbon exercise or re-analise the location of certain commands
      eg the Find & replace is be found in the Window menu.
      Otherwise, great tool.

    • Hi, just curious what you ended up choosing. I’m doing the same comparison now. I’m a long-time CP user, and I get the impression that Storyline doesn’t handle s/w demos as well as CP.

  14. Maggie Cowan on

    Re: Drag and Drop Activities
    You can make an object “disappear” by creating a custom state where you actually delete the item from the state. I’ve used this in an activity where a user drags items to the trash can. Technically they are still on the slide, but they have been changed to an “invisible” state.

      • I’m using Saba 5.5, Captivate 6, and SCORM 2004 v3. Things aren’t as “plug and play” as I had originally thought they would be.

        • Captivate 6 has much better SCORM support than earlier versions (not that it is any comfort).

          I have had some dealings with Saba and Captivate earlier but that was with Captivate 4 and 5. At that time we had quite a few issues with getting the content to work but we managed in the end.

          Have you checked out Rod Wards LMS guide here:

          It has info about Saba and Captivate, so perhaps this can point you in the right direction.

          • Actually, I have read that. I actually bought his book entitled “Infosemantics_Troubleshooting Captivate 6”. I’m kind of chopping my way through the murky jungle at the moment. I highly recommend the book to anyone, as it’s answered tons of questions, still haven’t found out everything yet. Fingers crossed.

  15. Hi Michael,
    I am leaving my current organisation and going to an organisation who uses Articulate.I use captivate and love it – like you I prefer to design my own templates. So this concerns me about articulate. Maybe I can twist their arm and ask for captivate as well.
    Thankyou for the great read.

    • If your new organization is using Articulate Storyline there should be good opportunities to design your own stuff. It is pretty much possible to “turn off” all the Articulate stuff (navigation bar, toc etc.) so you have a vanilla project you can design as you like 🙂
      Good luck!

  16. I am assuming the age of this post makes it a bit misleading now. I think Captivate 7 which is now out addresses some of Adobe’s shortcomings when compared to Storyline. For what it’s worth, I spent some time with both tools as a relative beginning to rapid e-learning development. Initially, Storyline won me over due to it’s intuitive interface and making complex things simple to grasp and implement. Captivate UI is consistent with Adobe products but is a bit off-putting. But in the end, the power and richness of the capabilities in Captivate led me to that product over Storyline.

    • Hi John,
      Indeed the release of Adobe Captivate 7 changes things quite a bit. Articulate Storyline still has superior variable and “Advanced Actions” functionality compared to Captivate, but I bet that it going to be addressed in the next version.
      I’m actually doing an interesting test soon. I have a rather complex project created in Captivate 7, which will be delivered both as Flash and HTML5. Once the Captivate version is ready I’m going to recreate one of the course modules entirely in Storyline to compare workflows and of course the final output. I’m especially interested in seeing how Storyline will handle the HTML5 output of this course.

      • Thanks. I’d be interested in seeing the two versions side by side. I’m fortunate that currently all of our self-paced online courses are viewed on a standard issue laptop running windows so I have yet to really contend with alternative devices and HTML5 but I am sure the sands of time will change that. I’ve produced a couple courses using Captivate but thus far, they begin with a PPT import and then are embellished with Captivate. I’ve yet to really build from scratch in captivate.

  17. As an e-Learning professional who has used both programs extensively, I would argue that Storyline beats Captivate 8 days a week, hands down, in nearly every way imaginable, especially if you’re choosing a program for your department/team (and not just choosing it for yourself as a freelancer):
    – Storyline has a much more intuitive interface and gentler learning curve (experienced Adobe users will not intuitively grasp the Cap. interface whereas PowerPoint users, even amateurs, will grasp the Storyline interface very quickly)
    – Storyline integrates with PowerPoint much better (there are still issues–such as text subtly re-sizing, Smart Art imports as pictures, not text or the last bullet in a bullet list appearing wonky–but overall, these are minor compared to Captivate’s difficulties with PowerPoint, such as…)
    – Importing slides as images, requiring you to edit in PowerPoint and re-upload; this is a very time-consuming process, a common theme with Captivate
    – Also, importing slides as images means students/viewers cannot use the search feature to find text that originated in PowerPoint
    – I want to re-stress the importance of this integrating with PowerPoint issue because of how many of us in e-Learning are required to work with instructor-designed PPTs; building from scratch in a program is often not an option.
    – In general, Captivate is a much slower program with more lags and a far greater time strain on your workflow; we once ran a test and found that it took us 3x longer to create equivalent presentations in Captivate than it did in Storyline. THIS IS HUGE FOR LABOR COSTS IN THE LONG RUN! We switched from Cap. to Storyline and within one month, the saved labor costs had covered the cost of two Storyline packages (4 licenses) AND two new computers.
    – Storyline integrates better with HTML5 (no audio in Firefox, and while I know this isn’t Cap.’s fault, it’s FF’s, this is huge) and mobile devices AND it’s mobile player allows for offline storage and presentation access which is great for learners with bad, spotty or infrequent internet access.
    – As this article states, there are ways/hacks/work arounds/widgets to make Cap. accomplish similar things as Storyline, but they take more time, must first be figured out, often don’t integrate well with HTML5 and mobile devices, and why should you have to hack one piece of software when a better one does the same things inherently and more intuitively?
    – Storyline handles templates and faux-templates much, much better indeed.
    – Storyline’s support community is much better.

    • Stu – interesting post. Thank you for that!
      Did your team use the latest version of Captivate (Captivate 7) when you did your comparison between Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline?
      When I wrote the article above I compared Storyline with Captivate 5.5. In its latest version (7) you do have Native Drag and Drop capabilities and many of the earlier short comings have been addressed. However Captivate 7 is not a flawless program and still has its quirks, problems and weird personalities.
      HTML5 output in Captivate 7 is for example not what I would expect it to be performance wise. I haven’t done a full comparison with Storyline’s HTML5 output but it is on my to-do list.
      We just purchased 5 licenses of Articulate Storyline at work as well. Mainly to explore the tool and see if it will help us cut down production time on certain projects. We also plan on recreating a massive course from Captivate in Storyline and compare the workflow and especially the output performance in HTML5.
      The article here is actually long overdue for an update. Adobe has released Captivate 7 and Articulate has released numerous bug fixes and patches to Storyline since the article was written. I am waiting a bit so I can draw on the experiences we will gather at work when we start using Storyline in real production courses.

  18. I strongly prefer Captivate, but I do think it’s worth noting the seemingly contrasting approaches the two vendors have toward each product.

    At Adobe, Captivate is treated as an unwanted, inconvenient step-child — for example, it’s not part of Creative Cloud and support is more-or-less non-existent. The fact that users, such as yourself, step up and provide assistance is noteworthy, but it’s time Adobe takes their own product more seriously. This includes doing releases with actual advancements, improvements, and bug fixes (instead of cosmetic changes and product regression). It also means you stop positioning other products as competitors (e.g. Edge and Presenter), or at least clearly identify the pros & cons of each product and their different use cases (as Articulate does with Studio, Storyline, etc).

    In other words, in my opinion there is heaps of evidence that Articulate takes a lot of pride in Storyline, and that Adobe has almost none in Captivate. It’s a shame for many reasons, the chief being that I still feel Captivate is the superior product overall.

    • Totally agree on this point K.C.
      Adobe doesn’t put much faith into Captivate as an application in their overall product and marketing strategy. The team behind Captivate does a great job with the application but in the big Adobe picture Captivate isn’t really regarded as an important application.
      The fact that Captivate isn’t in the Creative Cloud is disappointing and annoying. It would make more sense in putting the application into CC with all the other Adobe applications. They might even see a bigger interest in Captivate from new users with this approach.
      Articulate is different – they pretty much only focus on eLearning related products. This is definitely a strength and there is no doubt that the people working in Articulate are proud of their product and enjoy working at Articulate.
      Maybe we should set up a petition to get Captivate into the Creative Cloud 🙂

  19. One thing I have found to be troublesome with Captivate is that its progressive event videos (i.e. embedded on the slide, not streaming) sometimes take too long to load for learners accessing the course in an LMS. I am curious if Articulate Storyline offers better video capabilities than Captivate.

    • Hi Steve,
      This is not a fault of Captivate but simply the nature of “progressive downloads”. It would behave exactly the same way in Storyline or any other product.
      The problem is most likely with your server. Most LMS’s runs on Shared / Virtual servers and are not very powerful. They are not dimensioned to deliver video content at an acceptable rate. Typically the available bandwidth from a shared server is also on the low side so if you have simultaneous users viewing the video at the same time it will have a negative impact on performance.
      Progressive video really only suited for small clips. If you want to get decent video delivery you need to either use a real streaming service or upgrade your LMS server to a high performance dedicated server.

  20. Recently downloaded StoryLine, however it does not seem to be able to do drag drop quizzes, that allow the drop items to be dropped into multiple shape items and still be correct. That’s a real pain for flexible object placement quizzes.

    The relationship seems to be one to one for correct drop items, rather than one to many. Sure you can drop the items into many container shapes, but only one shape will be the correct answer. I wold like the option to allow multiple shapes as correct answers, so if you have two of the same images and two drop containers, they can go in either correctly. It would be a great enhancement to allow this functionality.

    2 July 2014

  21. Thanks for the great review. Plenty of food for thought on which one to purchase. Think I will try the trial versions first. I’m currently swinging towards Adobe E-Learning Suite, seems to have Captivate but not Storyline.

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