Authoring Tools Test-Drive: Adobe Captivate vs. Articulate Storyline | April 19, 2018 Event Recap

April 28, 2018 6:11 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

By Susan Camberis
Editor, Training Today

ATDChi’s April all-day workshop featured Diane Elkins, author of E‑Learning Uncovered and co-owner of Artisan E-Learning (www.artisanlearning.com). Diane has built a reputation as a national e‑learning expert by being a frequent speaker at major industry events such as ATD ICE, ATD TechKnowledge, DevLearn, and Learning Solutions.  She shared her expertise at this sold-out event, helping participants compare Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.

The workshop was truly a “test drive” – providing attendees with a valuable first-hand perspective of what it’s really like to work in the two tools.  One of the goals of the workshop was to enable participants to make better decisions about tool choice in the future, rather than having to rely on marketing data or articles.  

“Which tool is best?” Diane asked of workshop participants.  The answer is “Yes!”  

Both tools have great features and raving fans…and, both tools also have “quirks” and critics.  According to Diane, Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate are about 85% the same, but sometimes the 15% is really important. 


  • 1. Business model.  Price points and how the two companies handle upgrades vary.  A perpetual (i.e. “own it forever”) license for Storyline3 runs $1,398 and you’ll pay 50% of this price to upgrade. Storyline can also be purchased through Articulate360, a suite of products available for a subscription price of $995/year.  With Articulate360 “bells and whistles” are coming all the time, as on-going improvements are made.  A team subscription is available, but licenses become more expense.  If you create a file in Storyline3, it cannot be opened in Storyline2.
  • 2. Ease of use (i.e. Learning Curve).  If you’re familiar with PowerPoint, you will immediately notice a familiar look and feel when using Storyline.  Because of this, according to Diane, “You can figure out 40% pretty easily.”  If you’re more accustomed to working in Windows, you can expect to have a steeper learning curve upfront with Captivate.
  • 3. Time Savers.  Articulate360 includes an extensive content library, making it easy to find images and videos, including interactions.  Character options are more limited (~30).  Articulate Storyline also has a very active user community (625K users) called E-Learning Heroes(https://community.articulate.com), which can help you expand your knowledge, connect with other users, and download templates.  This can be a helpful resource to check out, whether or not you choose to purchase from Articulate.    
  • 4. Interactions.  Both systems use “variables” to create content.  Storyline is a generally a better choice for training with fewer variables.  “And/or” logic is easier to set up in Captivate – for example if you need supervisors and front-line employees to see different training content, and different content depending on location, etc.  “Click to reveal” content is generally more challenging to set up in Captivate, as is having buttons that have more than one function.
  • 5. Mobile design. Elkins also discussed the difference between “mobile first” and “mobile responsive” design.  “Mobile first” is when you design first for mobile devices (i.e. phones, tablets) versus desktops.  “Mobile responsive” is when a website automatically adjusts to any device.  If you need training to be truly mobile responsive, Captivate is a generally better choice.   NOTE: Articulate360 includes access to RISE – an easy-to-use, rapid design eLearning tool that is great for smartphones.   

Neither tool is particularly good at producing certificates, so certificates may be better handled through an LMS.  

If you would like to “test drive” either tool for yourself, visitwww.articulate.comto sign-up for a free 60-day trial of Articulate360.  If you have a Mac, sign up for a free 14-day trail for Parallels Desktop 13 (a Windows emulator) at www.paralells.com.  Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Captivate at www.adobe.com/captivate

To stay up to date on the latest with Diane and Artisan E-Learning, follow @dpelkins and @ArtisanElrng.

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