Top 5 ELearning Development Programs

devIf you are involved in the elearning industry, then there is a strong possibility that you have at some point needed a rapid elearning development tool for course creation.

There are many options out there, but most instructional designers will align themselves with one (or a couple) of the tools below as they are considered the most popular in the industry today.

5 Popular Rapid ELearning Software Programs

1. Articulate Storyline – This is the tool of choice for many because it is fairly easy to use and comes with some pretty nifty features and an extremely active support community.

2. Adobe Captivate – Along with Articulate, this piece of software is the workhorse of the industry. It has been around for quite some time and evolved (in a good way) in recent years. It has a bit steeper learning curve that Articulate, but it is just as powerful.

3. Lectora – This is a web-based tool that is best if your course is heavy with text. Not as common as the first two, but still quite a popular option.

4. iSpring – If you are new to the elearning industry, you might have to dig a little before coming across iSpring. That said, it is a solid offering. It’s very easy to learn since it is an add-on for Microsoft PowerPoint.

5. Articulate Studio ’13 – Developed by the same folks as Storyline, Articulate Studio piggy-backs off of Microsoft PowerPoint as well. It is a good choice if you want to create a basic course with some interactions and quizzes.

All of the options above have their pros and cons. Personally, most of my experience has been with the Adobe and Articulate products. There are a variety of reasons for this, but mainly because they are essentially the “Coca Cola” and “Pepsi” of the elearning world – even those who aren’t involved in elearning know them.

If you are new to elearning development, I would recommend the Articulate Suite of tools to get your feet wet, and then expand from there as needed. What Articulate has that the other options cannot match is a very active support community.

The other options also have something similar in regards to a forum of users, but I find the one at Articulate to be the most “noobie” friendly and responsive.

In the end though, the best program for elearning development really comes down to personal preference as well as the type of content you are training to. For example, when it comes to software simulations, I am a big fan of User Productivity Kit by Oracle.

Perhaps you have another favorite that didn’t make the list – feel free to mention it below.


About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

  1. Belal

    Hi Justin,

    I think a big player that will change the industry of e-learning is Zebrazapps. Probably not a “rapid” e-learning development software but is quite powerful and create many complex e-learning scenarios and applications that the 5 mentioned above cannot.

  2. Just returned from LSCon in Orlando. There are some very neat tools on the market (new players like Adapt and Skilitic offerings). However, looking at session attendance, booth swarm and Learning Solutions demos, it was very apparent that Articulate was tool of choice for most (seemed more than half of all Learning Solutions demos were Articulate- most of them Storyline with some Studio mixed in).

    Belal… I have yet to see a function in ZebraZapps that isn’t able to be replicated by the tools listed. Please don’t take that as a slight on ZebraZapps, which is a fine tool; I just like to see anything it can do that isn’t able to be done by most of the tools above. Can you clarify?

    • From my experience, Articulate’s strategy of getting elearning professionals early in their career is paying off (given their easy of use and non-intimidating structure). Is it the most flexible and robust? Arguably not – but they have the loyalty.

    • Belal

      For e-learning resources that are more complex and more robust, Zebrazapps is triumphant because it gives users the ability to setup complicated truth tables, state tables and answer tables to handle all the conditional states. Articulate Storyline, despite possessing the ability to assign different states to objects/elements in the course as well as triggers, fails in making the “programming” of these states easy. For a moderately interactive project in Storyline, you may end up with hundreds of triggers listed on the right side of the screen and it is hard to label everything – very tedious. For a similar project in Zebrazapps, you can accomplish the same “programming” with a few state/truth/answer tables.

      Don’t get me wrong, I really like Storyline, but it doesn’t measure up to the power of Zebrazapps. Storyline is more suited for simple interactivity. Just try creating a Arabic word formation project relying on drag and drop within Articulate and you”ll see the headaches! Been there, done that!

      Best regards,

  3. Rick Judson

    We have been doing development in dominKnow’s Claro tool. It is cloud based and produces HTML 5 courses that run on iPad/iPhones, Android tablets and phones (unlike some other tools), as well as desktop/laptops of the Windows/Linux/Mac worlds. Also plays on Kindles and even some gaming platforms. We needed to ensure we were not relying on Flash in today’s world of mobile learners. It is easy to do sophisticated animations synched to audio/video, or user interactions, and includes autoplay of next page audio/video on iPad/Android tablets without need for any kind of app. Supports SCORM, including publishing directly to SCORM Cloud for testing. As we utilize global/remote development teams having this cloud based, with all assets available and shareable across courses (including glossaries and resources), this is very advantageous. We are able to avoid issues related to course files (who’s got the latest). Also has built in ability for capturing reviewer comments from our globally dispersed reviewer group for developers to analyze and address. It is not aimed at some of the complex scenarios addressed by Zebrazapps, but for general, engaging elearning, reusability, and dispersed development teams, it works quite well.

  4. Hi I can’t help but point you to easygenerator ( We have a web based and a windows version. Both are available as a free edition on or a monthly subscription base. Check us out and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

  5. We use Composica ( It is Licence or cloud based and produces HTML 5 courses that run on iPad/iPhones, Android tablets and phones (unlike some other tools) … easy tool for great result.

  6. Susan

    I love Storyline, but my big beef with Articulate is that they still haven’t made it available for the Mac platform. There is some clunky DIY workaround you can try, but this lack of adaptability has me looking more closely at Adobe Captivate again.

  7. Jamie Robe

    Thanks for the tip on ispring – I downloaded the ispring free version to try out. Looks cool so far. I had never heard of it until reading your post đŸ™‚

  8. Ed Thrush

    The tool also depends on the environment. I work in government so there is a need to meet 508. This is especially true for government employees which has a higher population of disabled and elderly. So a large requirement is to not only have dynamic training but also accessible training on many devices for many different disabilities. Flash is not good at this. There are ways to make some controls work, but the effort is too great and many effects you want cannot be used.

    As a result tools that run on multiple devices using with well coded HTML5 that also meets 508 (essentially all options work via keyboard, all text is exposed to screen readers) are ones that will get a larger audience over time. We have used Captivate and Epilogue, we will phase them out and move to tools such as Claro, Elucidat, Smartbuilder (I am still deciding so any input welcome). Since they produce HTML5 with 508 built in, that is the direction we want to go. Some of the packages even can imitate simulations, basically mimicking the videos.

    • Lauren

      Hi Ed,

      We’re currently considering replacing Storyline with Claro. If you’re able to share, I’d love to hear about your experience/evaluation so far with Claro.


  9. Hi Justin!

    I have another e-learning authorngsoftware for you, which focuses on HTML5:

    IMC Content Studio

    IMC Content Studio represents mobility and simplicity. Equipped with HTML5 standard and SCORM-compatible, the authoring software can be used in almost any context (offline, online, with and without a learning management system). The intuitive user interface and the supplied templates and modern designs offer an ideal kick-start for great content that can be viewed anywhere. With IMC Content Studio, you are not only provided with a modern e-learning authoring software, but also a tool for creating interactive books, comics and presentations.


    You can download a 30-day trial from our website!

  10. EG


    Does Storyline Articulate work well within Learndash? Do you need to use Tin Can API? If so, are there resources on how best to do this?

  11. barbara

    how about knowledge presenter – i found it user friendly and powerful… lots of great features that makes it easy for the most novice instructrional designer. can do simulations, quizzes, interactive activities, etc. its based out of the UK – i don’t see it used much here.

  12. Laura

    Has anyone had any experience with ClickLearn?
    I like the fact it can provide end user assistance within the live environment of integrated systems (i.e., SAP, MS Dynamics, IFS).

    Do any of the other packages mentioned above do this?

  13. Nola

    Any recommendations for software to design for offline use on tablets? I’m designing for use in places without access to internet, so my ideal configuration would sync up to an LMS when it is online, but function fine when it isn’t.

  14. Arnold Lambert

    Lol…!Am real new in e learning authoring tools and I have just learnt Articulate studio 13 and Articulate Storyline2…!With all comments and analysis am somehow confused.
    Lol….Let me work hard.
    Thanks for all

  15. Hello. I second the request to know if there is any documentation for using Storyline with LearnDash / WordPress. I am interested in knowing what authoring tools (if any) have strong and proven compatibility with LD and WP. If you look at the WP plugin repository for example, there are very few plugins for Storyline – which would probably indicate this is not done often and may not work very well. I had an experience using Adobe Edge Animate not long ago and the only plugin was by a volunteer and there were compatibility issues and difficulties uploading and embedding the content.

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