Storyline vs Captivate: The ultimate review of all reviews

Adriann Haney | 09/18/2012

Want to make sure you’'re totally on top of the Storyline vs Captivate debate before you procure any new eLearning software?

Well you could plough through the countless blog posts and comments from the major players stoking up the Storyline vs Captivate war right now, or you could just take two minutes to read our "Ultimate review of all reviews": It’s like a dummies’ guide to all the major Storyline vs Captivate comment posted on the blogosphere so far.

We'’ve crunched reviews, comments and related posts from bloggers like RJ JacquezJonathan GroveKevin Mulvihill and dozens more, to come up with the internet’s most succinct review of all the major Storyline vs Captivate commentary.

Storyline vs Captivate: our proposed joint-statement from eLearning’s leading bloggers

It’s never easy to get consensus from a group of industry thought-leaders, but if you locked these guys in a dark room and told them they couldn’t get out until they’'d agreed on one joint statement, here’s what we think they’'d say:

“If it’'s an authoring tool capable of producing great courses for the desktop and the tablet, then Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate are the two must-have solutions for any shortlist. When it comes to deciding which one is best for you, well that depends: “If most of the eLearning team is already familiar with tools like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, Captivate may well suit you best (especially if you plan to use it alongside other products bundled in Adobe’s eLearning Suite).“ If your business has a large back catalogue of PowerPoint-based eLearning it wants to convert, is stoked with instructional specialists rather than technical specialists and coders and is keen to better leverage the expertise that’s locked up in the company’s wider SME community, then Storyline’s promise of full functionality with ease of use probably makes the new Articulate authoring tool your best option.”

Fair Assessment?
Short and concise it may be, but our proposed joint-statement from eLearning’s leading bloggers has been some time in the making. What’s more, we hope it’s prone to change as more comment comes from more users across the eLearning community.

Monitor the blog posts and comments fueling the Storyline vs Captivate debate long enough and we think you’ll find two basic debating positions underpinning the story so far:

  1. The Adobe learning curve is steep and hard to master, so those who are masters of it tend to be Adobe’s greatest defenders. This inner circle of fluent Adobe eLearning Suite users defend their status quo by pointing to the elite tranche of technical functionality (like the ability to add Widgets or export/import XML files) that Adobe has traditionally delivered.
  2. Learning and development teams are opening up and discovering new ways of working. They’'re keen to push more social and informal learning tactics into the workplace. They want Storyline style full functionality platforms that are easy to use to help them realise a learning infrastructure that engages more people and leverages skills from a wider portion of the workforce. 

Familiar, easy to use interface 
Storyline’s easy learning curve is highlighted in almost all the blog comment we’ve studied. But it’s not universally praised across all Storyline vs Captivate reviews.  Some reviewers say that Storyline’s easy to use interface means sacrificing some of the fine-grain functionality that has traditionally appealed to course developers in the past. But as L&D departments adopt new social and informal learning strategies, most experts see value in demystifying the content creation process and making it more collaborative.

Writing in his WPLMS blog, learning & collaboration consultant Justin Ferriman pinpoints Storyline’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach as the software’s greatest asset. Like so many course creators taking Storyline for a test drive right now, Justin likes the product’s easy to use interface and its incredibly familiar feel. Even beginners can create professional looking eLearning, fast.


Game changing killer apps
Well known across the learning landscape as Adobe’s senior eLearning evangelist, JR Racquez left Adobe late last year to focus on mLearning analysis.  So far, his mlearning revolution blog has featured several compelling entries to fuel the Storyline vs Captivate debate.

It’s undoubtedly a crude over-simplification of Racquez’s highly considered  and insightful analysis on both software packages, but distill down the soundbites and it’s impossible not to notice that, for Racquez, Captivate 6 lacks all of the the “revolutionary...real game-changer” features he expected to see in Adobe's new product however, he can pinpoint 7 reasons why the new articulate storyline is a game changer for elearning and mlearning.

If Storyline is the game changer that RJ Racquez says it is, then it’s fair to say that some learning leaders are more ready to play by the new rules than others. Wendy Wickham has been a Captivate user since the days of Macromedia. As she reviews the changing requirements of the learning community she serves, she’s made a point of putting Storyline through its paces and thinking long and hard about the pros and cons of both elearning software packages. As a result, wendy’s must-read “In the middle of the curve” blog catalogues the decisive points that the Storyline vs Captivate debate has sparked in many eLearning experts this summer.

She’s mindful of increased demand for mobile training and notes some feeling of “discomfort with Adobe’s mobile strategy”. She’s introduced Storyline to team-players and noticed “unusually positive feedback” from co-workers, many of whom are seasoned Captivate users. She notes the importance of being able to address software simulation and believes that tools available so far just don’t adequately address the issue.


Re-usability
For Adobe Captivate specialist Michael at CPGuru.com, it’s the re-usability factor that makes Storyline really stand out. “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.”

Like many of the Bloggers we’re monitoring for our ultimate review of all Storyline vs Captivate reviews project, Michael also highlights features like Storyline’s Drag and Drop interactions & quizzes plus the range and quality of the character pack that comes bundled with the Articulate software as stand out features for Storyline.

Storyline vs Captivate: Join in
It’'s early days and new opinions from eLearning’s bloggers are changing the tone of the debate daily, but so far this summer, it’s Storyline’s easy to use killer apps and clearly defined new features and benefits that are winning over eLearning’s software neutrals and prompting long term Captivate fans to re-think and re-evaluate.

Think our ultimate review of all Storyline vs Captivate reviews is missing something?

Tell us about blogs or articles you think should be included or add your own insight to the debate.