September 23rd, 2019 E-Learning

Whether you want to create your own online course or to build multiple courses for a client, use the best elearning software can make a huge difference.

The truth of the matter is that not all of these solutions are created equal. Ideally, you need to find a good balance between an elearning development tool that has a rich feature-set, but is not overly complicated.

This can be easier said than done. Today’s market has been flooded with bare-bones software offerings that will leave you frustrated when you can’t accomplish seemingly simple tasks. On the other hand, there are also options that have so many features that the user experience is flat-out terrible. You won’t use 90% of the features available, and all of the clutter will make it difficult to do the simple tasks.

So how do you know which options is best? Depending on your project needs, the following tools should be considered.

5 Best 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. 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.

3. LearnDash – A budget friendly yet feature-packed solution for creating elearning courses. Nominated as a Top ELearning tool by ELearning! Magazine, use it by itself or with any of the tools that are included in this list.

4. 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.

5. Lectora – This is a web-based tool that is best if your course is heavy with text. It’s not very common but does have a loyal following and worth a serious look as you compare your options.

All of the options above have their pros and cons. Personally, most of my experience has been with LearnDash (naturally), Adobe Captivate, and Articulate products.

Even since this article was originally written (approaching six years ago now), these are many of the same players in the elearning software game. Each provider has evolved quite a bit to keep up with the times and overall growing use of elearning across all industries. If anything, this has benefited consumers. My personal view is that each platform has become significantly easier to use.

But when it comes to your project you don’t want to sacrifice functionality for ease-of-use. In the end you need to pick something that has enough functionality to help you meet your learning program objectives, but built in a way that helps you create content efficiently.

If you are new to elearning development, then LearnDash, iSpring, and the Articulate Suite of tools are a good starting point. You can then expand from there as needed. Articulate and LearnDash both have a very active community. LearnDash in particular has a thriving Facebook Group where people share ideas and help one another. LearnDash is built on the most popular content management system (WordPress) in the entire world as well, which means you will have no shortage of resources available to you.

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 creating. For example, when it comes to software simulations, I am a fan of User Productivity Kit by Oracle (not included in the list above but still worth looking into for certain projects.).

Perhaps you have another favorite that didn’t make the list. If so, then feel free to mention it below!

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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Hi Justin,
I’m loving your blog posts. I’m curious – are these tools going to lose their relevancy when people use WordPress for their Learning Management Systems?

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.

Avatar Belal

Wasn’t that familiar with Zebrazapps, thanks for the share – will look into them.

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.

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,

Avatar Belal

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.

Avatar Rick Judson

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.

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.

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.

Avatar Susan

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 🙂

Avatar Jamie Robe

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.

Avatar Ed Thrush

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.


Avatar Lauren

I’m curious which of the three mentioned here you choose and how it is working out. When you create content on a 508 compliant tool and publish it through LDash, does it remain complaint? Thanks in advance for any advice you have for someone making a selection.

Avatar Ta

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!


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?

Avatar EG

Hi EG-

Yes you can use Storyline with LearnDash. Tin Can API is necessary to record any data from Articulate. This can be done using our GrassBlade integration and the LRS of your choice.

Where is your documentation for using Storyline with Learndash?

Avatar Joseph Dowdy

Happy to help Joseph – if you reach out to us via support we can provide some more context on how to use the two depending on your unique project goals.

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.

Avatar barbara

What about Mac users? Are all these software for windows?
Thank you so much

Avatar Blanca

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?

Avatar Laura

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.

Avatar Nola

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

Avatar Arnold Lambert

Is Abobe presenter 11 comparable with your LMS

Avatar Karyn Taylor

It can be used in LearnDash using our GrassBlade integration as long as it publishes to Tin Can API (xAPI).

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.

I’m familiar with all the tools that you’re mentioned in the article (and I have my favorite, but there’s no need to say this out loud and support one against another – they all have, I believe, some indispensable advantages), but looking at the comments, I learnt about some new, I’ve never heard about! That’s great! 😀

In today’s technological world, it is hard to ignore the e-learning. It is a big platform for those who want to be trained in every aspects of development programs have never heard about this inspiring before. Thank you for sharing it as I find it very useful.

I recently stumbled upon H5P. It’s open-source and already features some really nice, interactive modules you can easily integrate into your website. It’s not quite ready to fulfill all needs, but its development most definitely is worth observing:

Avatar Ben

how do you compare your company to moodle, and other same company

Avatar rico

Hi, I am new to authoring tools. I want to create my new LD course with iSpring. It is more affordable that Storyline right now. Would it be hard to learn?

In terms of VR, immersive learning, creating mobile responsive courses with Geotagging, integration with photoshop and multiple other video based features, Adobe Captivate 2019 is the best. It can take some time in mastering the tool but once that is done, it can be a highly customizable tool.

Avatar Vikky

Captivate and Articulate are the big players for course content creation and elearning authoring. Specifially in areas of mobile responsiveness, immersive learning, import and embedding of videos from YouTube or Vimeo and backward compatability, Captivate seems to have the better options.

Avatar Grace B

Captivate offers more options for creating Software Simulations. Storyline just has a Record Screen option. Captivate allows you to record all three modes simultaneously, but Storyline allows you to record one mode at a time. Captivate provides more options of screen size. The Screen Area option provides range of screen size based on device size such as ipad, iphone, and full screen. The Application option provides range of screen size based on application size such as PowerPoint, Skype, and Google. Storyline provides only three screen size options: 720×540, 720×405 and full screen.

Avatar Diane.C.

I think iSring Suite suits not only beginners. Since the company launched version 9, iSpring Suite features a complete solution for creating professional video courses, 14 new interactive templates, and a fully redesigned quiz authoring tool enhanced with drag-and-drop exercises. All these improvements take iSpring Suite to the next level in eLearning authoring making it an essential tool for course creators.

Avatar Karen


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