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Articulate Storyline: A Complete Failure?

For those of you that haven’t heard, Articulate has come up with a new eLearning authoring tool called Storyline.  So far all features look promising, but there is one thing that could ruin this program completely, at least in my opinion, before it even gets out of the gate.

Rather than describe what Articulate Storyline does, let me just cut to the chase:  if Articulate Storyline doesn’t “play nice” with Adobe Captivate then it’s a failure.

Let me explain.

In every consulting gig that I have been apart of, the client always (yes, always) wants Adobe Captivate as part of their online learning strategy.  Be it Adobe’s solid positioning in this space or some other factor, large Fortune 1000 companies think that Captivate is the be all, end all for interactive training.

Any opinion as to which is better really matters little in this case.  The client demands Captivate, so Captivate they get.  However, in many cases I have also made the argument for Articulate Studio given the ease-of-use ability, and it allows my international development teams to easily share course content without strange file errors (that I unfortunately have gotten from Captivate in the past).

So the end result?

I record software simulations in Captivate and present content/process information in Articulate.  As of today, I have launched Captivate from Articulate Studio via a dynamic web-object… Which isn’t all that seamless but I guess it works.  With this strategy, both sides win: client gets Captivate, I get the ease of use from Articulate.

As I understand it, the new Articulate Storyline has some Captivate-like features built-in.  Apparently you can record the screen just like Adobe Captivate.  Thing is, it isn’t Adobe Captivate.

The feature itself might be pretty good (I have yet to test it but it is on my “to-do” list), but at this point “Articulate Storyline” is not the industry standard for screen capture training. Until that becomes the case, then Articulate Storyline needs to seamlessly integrate with Captivate – better than the standard Articulate Studio.

Not because I want it to, but because companies all over the world demand it.

If Articulate didn’t improve the integration, then that would be a shame since they are neglecting a huge part of their business (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tried to integrate the two programs).  I’ll admit that I need to take a deeper look into the features of this program – but I can tell you that if it doesn’t work well with Captivate, it’s a failure in my eyes – just another mediocre eLearning product.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the Founder of LearnDash, a WordPress based LMS and Learning Strategy provider. He also works as a Learning & Collaboration Consultant where he implements large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies.

44 Comments
  1. @Justin: I see this very differently. Storyline is Captivate’s Competitor and shouldn’t integrate seamlessly, and aside from the web page object, it probably won’t. This is a very GOOD thing.

    Do you enjoy the browser you’re using to read this comment? I hope so, because if it wasn’t for the browser wars between FF, Chrome, Safari, IE, and Opera, we wouldn’t have the great browser UX (user experience) we have today. Similarly, since Storyline came out, the Adobe Cp team has been hard at work trying to one-up their competitor. This means better tools for the Learning community at large and forces the tool makers to release better products more quickly.

    I find it remarkable that in a 1.0 release, Storyline has managed to challenge Captivate in a BIG way. There’s a lot of things you can do in out-of-the-box in Storyline that would take a Widget Developer to accomplish in Captivate:
    http://storylinesolutions.com/2012/05/12/how-articulate-storyline-democratizes-elearning/

    However, I do see your point from a Content Developer’s perspective. You want the tools to integrate better out-of-the-box and that would be nice. But I’d contend that based on your skill set with JavaScript and browser DOM mechanics, they already do integrate quite nicely. Both have JavaScript APIs that allow you to control one from the other and also get and set user variables inside of Cp or SL. The web page object for SL and the web page widget for Cp both allow you to “insert” the other into an iframe and you have complete JavaScript access to control one from the other…. depending on your skill set.

  2. Phil

    I stopped reading when you said You had yet to test storyline.

    Captivate is targeted as a competitor for captivate there is no need for one to work well with the other.

    Very strange argument that storyline fails because it doesn’t work with captivate

    • You are absolutely right! I had used Capivate in the past and had nothing but headaches and problems with plug-ins and Adobe server issues. For the past few months being using Articulate Storyline and Articulate Online to publish my e-Learning modules and I couldn’t be happier.

      I think Justin Ferriman is missing the point completely, and I’m sure that if he tries Articulate Storyline he will realize how much better and easy to use is compared to Captivate.

  3. Steve

    You should be able to integrate Captivate with Storyline just fine, beyond embedding as a Web object. The primary output is Flash (AS3) so a direct load / embed of the captivate player should work.

    What types of functions are you looking to support with your integrations of Captivate?

  4. I haven’t tried this one yet but one thing gives me hope – publishing for an iPad isn’t just a browser template! I love when they say “Publish to iOS using the Safari Platform.” We’ve grabbed the mobile learning tiger by the tail and have come to the conclusion right now if we want to do it right we’ll have to grab the Apple iOS SDK kit.

    Buck Bard
    http://tastefunny.blogspot.com/

  5. Somewhat feel like this is saying “Apple is a failure because it won’t play Flash”. Flash, by far, was one of the most omnipresent elements in web design- and VERY much in elearning. Apple wouldn’t integrate it. At all. Failure? Not in the least.

    Yes, Captivate has, like Flash, enjoyed a largely unchallenged position in it’s space for a long time. But even Adobe’s former product evangelist for Captivate noted how Storyline could be a game changer.

    Also, the idea that they have to integrate is a bit strange to me. You have Web Objects in Storyline, a widget to embed web elements in Captivate, many options to publish these items. There is an overlap/venn here where you can get them to “play”- nice or not. I really haven’t seen much that anyone has produced that would take too significant an effort to figure out (i.e. create a page that can house inputs from both).

    I don’t know about this one… why is it Storyline’s responsibility to “play nice” with Captivate. Captivate didn’t natively “play nice” with YouTube or Web Object embedding until developers provided widgets to provide this functionality. You didn’t see folks crying “foul” on Captivate (and let’s face it, YouTube and the web are a wee bit bigger than two competing RCAT tools).

    I hear the point- as developers- there are assets in Captivate that clients may not want to redevelop in order to take advantage of Storyline. Trial and check it out. There are options. Whether one really works for you is truly depending on what you need it to do.

    Spoiler alert: MSExcel doesn’t play very nice with Captivate either. Guess Microsoft is a failure too, no?

  6. Sam Sternman

    Hey Justin,
    I have to agree with you. I think that, in reality, all programs of this type have to work together somehow since I doubt that any of us, working in diverse environments, can use one tool for everything. For me, and I suspect you as well, the project is the project…whether it takes five software tools or one.

    I do agree with Jim L.’s post as well, though…and I think that healthy competition will yield better, stronger tools in the long run. I’m just hoping that we don’t see too many versions with added costs as a result of the competition that’s likely to follow.

    Cheers from California
    -S

  7. Justin

    Hi all-

    Thank you for the comments, much appreciated. I must admit that I was kind of expecting such passionate replies… in our industry it is always tough to hear one side take a jab at another – I get that.

    I have read on this comment thread and in other places that because I didn’t test StoryboardStoryline, that my opinion isn’t valid. I kind of regret sharing with everyone that I didn’t test it… not because I’m ashamed or anything like that, but I think too many readers are focusing on that small piece rather than the point of the post.

    My opinion (whether testing Storyboard Storyline or not) remains the same. Captivate has to play nice with StoryboardStoryline. Why? Because very large companies who hire learning consultants in my field are completely OBSESSED with Captivate. In my world, this is a HUGE deal. The better these two get along the better I am able to meet my client’s requests and objectives.

    For some people this may not matter – but it’s essential in my world. In order to convince billion dollar companies to use StoryboardStoryline, I have to demonstrate its ability to integrate in a friendly way with Captivate. Perhaps this will eventually change as Articulate gains more market share. But at the moment Captivate is what is constantly included in RFPs.

    • First off, it’s Storyline, not Storyboard.

      Second, how don’t Captivate and Storyline play nice together? You can import Captivate the same as you could in Articulate Presenter. Storyline replaces Captivate in many situations, since it has a decent screen capture tool built-in.

      I don’t know if your goal was to generate traffic with a post title like this, but next time, I recommend you do a little research and/or test the tool before you make claims like this.

      Also. If you’re clients are obsessed with Captivate, I’d spend some time learning the alternatives, and drafting a well-written form letter to send to them that outlines the benefits of other tools.

      There are plenty of resources available for you.

      Here’s one: http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2221186

      • Justin

        Brian,

        good catch on the storyboard thing… perhaps it’s too much to be forgiven for a the brain-fart (Storyboard just flows off the fingers more naturally on account that I’ve probably typed in 5,000,000 times)… either way, I updated the post.

        I’m well aware of the integration of Articulate/Captivate as I have done it before. I’m luke-warm to it to be honest. Again, I am a fan of Articulate and prefer it in many cases to Captivate (I tend to limit Captivate to process demonstrations).

        Here’s the thing about the obsessed clients. I can convince them to take on another learning tool, but we are contractually obligated to use Captivate. They put out a RFP (for millions of dollars in work) to anyone who wants to respond. My current company, and our competitors, responds accordingly. Since training is often only a tiny fraction of the RFP, no time is going to be wasted trying to educate the potential client before the work is won. Just doesn’t work that way (although I wish it would).

        So, I roll onto the project and VOILA I have to use Captivate… I’m stuck. Unless, of course, I am able to introduce Articulate (which I have done with success in the past). But we get paid on deliverables, and one of those is Captivate, so thats the reality I must live, and that’s the basis for the original post.

  8. True that Captivate, at the current time is a tail that wags the dog. That does work both ways though ;)

    Reminds me a bit of the days of change from Authorware…

    Also, I just don’t know where the “not play nice” is factoring in here: what, really, needs to be accomplished, and in what way is Captivate or Storyline not “dancing” with each other?

  9. I was never a big fan of Captivate. The only reason I used it was, as you rightly said, for screen captures. Now that Storyline has an improved way of doing screen captures, the world will slowly move on to Storyline. In the era of fast moving technology, we will have to adapt to change and embrace the best. I am sure your clients would see the logic too and see the advantages that Storyline offers, in contrast to the monotonous Captivate. It’s just the matter of time. :)

    • Cyberdude

      After having used captivate and storyline. I would say storyline would take the captivate team back to drawing board to do major changes. i felt with many limitations in captivate for now the storyline will beat captivate quiet easily. i could get 90% of what was needed for my courses in just 30% of the time i had to spend on other authoring software. Cyberdude

  10. Justin, I’m only half serious when I say you must’ve come up with the catchy blog post title before you had any post material. :-) It’s obvious you don’t know much about the Articulate program – in your comment directly above you call it Storyboard rather than Storyline – it’s actual name.

    I’m not sure how helpful it is to write such a post when you really have no idea if the interaction between the two programs isn’t already acceptable for whatever it is you think you need them to do.

    That said, my own experience has been that clients prefer Articulate Studio OR Captivate; I’m not seeing clients ALWAYS requesting CP as you do. Moreover, the two programs provide similar functionality, but SL already offers so much more than CP does and it’s less buggy too. I don’t know about you, but all my CP work is custom work – if you’re doing custom work in CP, you know what a royal pain in the arse CP is to use. SL is gloriously elegant in comparison. Give the market and those Fortune 500 companies a little time to adjust to the fact that there’s not only a new player in town, but there’s a new king on the hill too.

    Check out my website to see my review of Storyline. I have tested the program.

    • Justin

      Hi Kevin, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, my bad on the “storyboard” thing… as I mentioned to Brian above, that word just rolls off my fingertips given the number of times I’ve used it… I’ll make a point to proof-read a little better.

      I’m also first to admit that my client/project experience isn’t going to be applicable to all… that’s just the world I live in so I’m more sensative the integration piece of the two programs.

      And yes, CP is a HUGE pain (which is why I was eventually able to convince the powers that be to base most our training in Articulate on my last engagement)… Also, my current client is doing only Articulate, so that’s meant less headaches on my end.

  11. Allen

    Justin,

    That clients want what they want–in this case the ol’ stand-by–has NOTHING to do with the virtues of the new kid in the frey. I get that. However, your conclusion does not logically follow. If StoryLine does not play well with Captivate that doesn’t make it a failure; it makes it a challenger, a David. Once upon a time IE was the undisputed Golliath in the browser arena. Then came FireFox. So FF became the browser to watch. Then came Chrome. Giants loose market share all the time.

    Don’t count SL out before the battle has even really begun. I happen to know that Articulate was at great pains to select just the right rocks and a really well made (and well tested) sling for this Golliath! And we all know what happened with the real David and Golliath.

    –Allen

    • Justin

      Hi Allen, thanks for stopping by.

      Great points, certainly nothing wrong with being a challenger. I say bring it on, I personally would love to see Captivate toppled by Articulate as I have nejoyed my Articulate experience a lot more than Captivate.

      My original post is a snap-shot of my world in instructional design in the year 2012. I just hope that potential clients catch on sooner rather than later.

  12. Justin,

    Not going to rehash what others have said, but to this point I see a trend in the comments from your opinion:
    1) You make a claim that Storyline is a failure yet you have zero experience with it.
    2) Captivate doesn’t integrate
    3) Clients want what they want.

    Seems your whole premise is based on an authoring tool and not a solution. I’m an experienced user in Articulate Studio, Captivate, Lectora, and now Storyline. I rarely if at all let a client guide the project based on a tool. In fact, all my recent clients who came to me with an existing content library in either Studio or Captivate I offered a better solution using Storyline. Then I build a quick prototype to SHOW the advantages and benefits.

    I’d be curious to read a review and/or opinion of yours after you’ve spent some time actually working in Storyline. If then you find you can’t do the same if not more than what Captivate offers, I’ll retire the stage to you. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to carve out the next 30 days and download the free trial.

    Cheers and thanks for a healthy debate!
    – Kevin

    • Justin

      Hi Kevin, Thanks for the comment. The 30 day trial is certainly on my shortlist, but chances are I won’t get a chance to use it in “real life” (until, you guessed it: clients asked for). After I get some play time, I’ll provide an update to this post.

      • As I mentioned initially, all my clients who came to me with Articulate Studio or Captivate needs, I presented them with a better option. Once explaining the benefits and building a mock prototype, they were convinced.

        Real life is what you make of it. I don’t guess. My clients don’t ask either. I “show” them the capabilities.

        The only thing I would ask is bump up the ‘play time’ on your shortlist before posting an update.

    • I too have found the tool part of the discussion interesting. Maybe I have been lucky but rarely has a customer micromanaged a project to the point where the tool used was more important than the results.

  13. PeteB

    Hi

    Well, I’m not going to just rehash what’s been said ad nauseam on the thread. There’s been way too much of that already.

    I work with Blue Chips too, and yes, they can be a bit pedantic about what they want – sometimes rightly, and sometimes hmmm not so rightly. That being said, my experience is that if a case can be made that your approach is as good as their ‘preferred’ one, and can be done at an equal or lower cost, then they will at least listen.

    Anyway, back to the tool. The Storyline ‘Show Me, Try Me’ feature is a worthy competitor to Captivate and I would always opt to use it in a Storyline-based deliverable, all other things being equal.

    It is my belief that there are two things that Captivate does (in my limited experience) that Storyline’s integrated tool does not:
    1. If you require wholesale translation of the screen capture into multiple languages you can’t export it for a translation company to work on and re-import (even though even in Captivate this isn’t an exact science)
    2. Post recording, you don’t have the same degree of control in re-jigging cursor movements in Storyline. Admittedly Storyline does allow you to fiddle with the cursor post-record, but it’s a bit limited.

    If either of these two aren’t show-stoppers (and the client is phlegmatic), then I don’t see a huge advantage in going the Captivate route.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’ll be pushing with all my might to use Storyline over Articulate Studio (and Captivate) where possible.

  14. I just want to see the updated post after he has tried it because we are the only resellers of Articulate Studio and now Storyline in South Africa so it is our job to make sure that our clients warm up to these tools and like one of the guys who commented that clients will always want a different tool that they used more comfortable with but it up to you to show them alternatives and create a demo for them on how the tool can solve they are issues. We were using Studio before they warmed up to it and now rapidly liking Storyline.

  15. Mike

    One other reason Storyline is a no-brainer for myself and thousands of others? Their outstanding online community. It’s just one more things that shows that Articulate creates products specifically for instructional designers, while Adobe flails in the water trying to figure out which business model they’re going to follow this year.

  16. Vinayak Kadam

    Agreed to a few points….but….I am just looking at the positive side of the tool as of now. Reason is very simple – Its jst the first release of the tool….shouldn’t we wait for two more releases at least before arriving to a conclusion ?

  17. asif

    I have both capticate and storyline and i dont even touch Captivate now. i really dont get this argument, i dont think stoyline had any intention to work with captivate and why should it. its doing extremly well considering its the first frikin release. we had to use captivate because there was a time where it had no competition. you either use one or the other. simples. there might be benefits to combine but its no big loss. i

  18. John McConchie

    Yes, I am an Articulate fan and really like the new Storyline. But Justin, you should not have been verbally beaten to a pulp for your post. You describe a simple reality, namely, that sometimes RFP’s specify the product and you are forced by that circumstance beyond your control to make the best of it. Hopefully, SL will make such a name for itself that the problem goes away.

  19. Mike

    @Justin I’m not sure if you’ve had the opportunity to test Storyline yet, as this article has been posted for a good while now, but I know exactly what you mean about Captivate being the “most wanted” by corporate entities looking for a solid e-learning solution. I work for a large international company and we use Articulate Studio 09 and Captivate. A few co-workers and I participated in the beta testing for Storyline and it was very impressive, even as a beta. When the official release came out, our company purchased licenses almost immediately. Here’s the problem, though…the “higher ups” still want us to use Captivate for the majority of our screen captures and simulations. I think Captivate is a great tool, but I’m really hoping that we can eventually get away from using multiple tools for our projects. The main reason we picked up Storyline was because it was a single tool alternative to Articulate Studio, which is three separate tools on it’s own, and that’s not counting the stuff we do in Captivate.
    Anyway, I’m still praying that the powers that be will recognize that Storyline is a fantastic standalone tool, and we could save time and money by getting out of the multiple tool development dungeon.

  20. Why are you allowing your client to dictate to you which authoring product you use? Surely it’s your call, as the developer and consultant?

    I wouldn’t hire a plumber and then tell him which tools he had to use to fix the leak in my bathroom!

    • Hi Ryan-
      Thanks for the comment. The tools we are to use are outlined in the RFP, so in order to win the work, our firm has to agree to the terms (b/c if we don’t, someone else will). It’s like when a big company wants to implement a huge ERP system, and they put out an RFP for the latest version of SAP. A company won’t respond to that request saying they will not do SAP, but will do PeopleSoft instead. Ya know?

      (wow, that was a lot of acronyms)

  21. I respect your opinion. However please note that storyline is not a tool for creating simulations alone. Producing simulations are just one feature that storyline posses. Storyline is a fully capable rapid e-learning authoring tool and capable of performing so many tasks.

    Captivate is in the industry for a very long time it was mainly used for simulations production. Adobe has made significant improvements to it recently to use it as a e-learning production tool which is now comparable with Storyline.

    I have been working with storyline since it’s release and i agree that HTML5 and iOS outputs still have a long way to go and mature well.

    I have also wrote detailed article about storyline a while back after evaluating it’s pros and cons, it can be referred here:

    Articulate Storyline – A real value add for the e-learning industry? – electronmedia.in/wp/archives/1118

  22. Articualte Storyline is a powerful tool, last year we have developed more than 100 courses and by the end of first quarter in this year we have already developed more than 100 course and all our clients were happy. Our COO Dr. Ayesha Habeeb Omar has shared her experience on Artitculate Stiryline..Here are the blog links to read what she said
    http://bit.ly/18RHnVc

  23. Josh

    This article is ridiculous. And the title of the article is nothing but sensationalism. The Fortune 1000 companies you’re talking about who demand Captivate…who are they? Because those companies that I’ve been working for want whatever works best. Right now many of them are switching to Articulate. And in this age, if you want to be nimble you’ve got to have multiple tools and use whatever works best for each individual project. I think companies are leaning that way these days to become more nimble and user friendly.

    • Hi Mike-
      Thanks for the note. Yes, I understand the difference, but synergies between products is expected today, plain and simple. Microsoft is a competitor of Apple, but they have versions of Microsoft Office that work on their operating system. In the end it means more sales, not less.

  24. Joe Ganci

    Hi, all, If you’re interested in a feature-by-feature comparison of the Captivate and Storyline, I’ve just completed my own. It’s nine pages long. Email me at joe[at]elearningjoe.com for a copy.

  25. JR

    I have used Storyline for a year+ and Captivate for 3 years. Articulate Storyline wins hands-down. It’s the best tool for developing eLearning and takes 1/3 of the time to create complex interactions using Storyline’s intuitive and powerful variables and triggers. Silly to say that Storyline is a complete failure, but I guess it gets people to read your article, so good idea on the marketing front…. even if it’s not true.

  26. Mahesh Murarka

    Justin,

    I have bought Learndash and planed to use it with published content from storyline. Since you haven’t used storyline, I have a strong feeling you may not have even tested Learndash with storyline. Anyway my money is gone on Learndash but would you please update your product website about this fact. Infact you should make Learndash only for big corporates and clearly mention its preference for captivate.

  27. I know I will not state anything groundbreaking, given all the comments above, but it was fun for me to read this article, some 2+ years after it was published.

    All I can say is – I am glad the prediction was not true, as in SweetRush we have adopted a heavy use of Storyline. But then, if this was true, we would’ve gone a different direction a long time ago.

    But I think there is one specific premise used by the author that provoked my arguments, even with disregard of the Storyline angle. According to the author “In every consulting gig that I have been a part of, the client always (yes, always) wants Adobe Captivate as part of their online learning strategy.”

    Here is my experience
    1) The name Captivate does pop-up quite often, but mostly for the system training. In other words – it is relevant, when the screen captures, and especially dynamic demos and simulations are needed. However there are plenty of topics covered by e-learning materials that have no use for screenshots or desktop demonstrations.

    2) Very often clients use a wrong terminology by saying “we need to include captivates” where by “captivates” they mean screen captures in general, with disregard of how they produced. As a result, there are plenty of WBTs out there that cave “captivates” which in reality were captured by tools other than Adobe Captivate (Storyline, Camtasia, etc.)

    Finally I will add that in SweetRush we had a chance to create a series of Storyline courses that included “captivates” made naively in Storyline. I am happy to report that the tool held up quite nicely, and while it was lacking all the bells and whistles that Adobe Captivate offers when it comes to screen captures, it most certainly did the job.

  28. JJ Kanapi

    Great post, even more helpful trail.

    I use to be a training facilitator (since the era of Captivate 5.5) and Im now into instructional design as well as development full-on. My trial for Articulate Storyline has 8 days left (on my 2nd computer…planning to run another trial on another PC… which would be the 3rd) and at this point, I wouldn’t mind paying for the whole thing along with its add-ons. Apart from it’s functionality and obvious ease of use, the community, as mentioned in one of the comments a couple of years ago (“,) (E-learning Heroes) is just awesome. Especially for intermediate users like myself.

    Justin, I hope some RFPs now include Articulate Storyline.

    Cheers from Australia, mate.

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