Articulate Storyline 3 vs. Adobe Captivate vs. iSpring Suite

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In this article, we will review the essential features of the three most popular eLearning authoring tools: Adobe Captivate 2019, Articulate Storyline 3, and iSpring Suite. Each of these tools is well suited for a particular type of scenario. One solution will work for you when it’s necessary to immediately launch a large amount of eLearning content, while others provide a complex and detailed basis for authoring.

To make your choice a little less confusing, we’ve compared these authoring tools in terms of their distinctive features. So, let’s dive in!

Comparison Chart

A comparison of the best elearning authoring tools: iSpring Suite, Articuate Storyline 3, Adobe Captivate.
 iSpring SuiteArticulate Storyline 3Adobe Captivate

Type of solution

A robust yet easy-to-use suite of authoring tools for various training tasks.

An advanced standalone tool for creating interactive courses.

A powerful authoring tool for creating complex interactive courses.

Best suited for…

– Those who are under a deadline;

– Those who develop courses on their own;

– Those who need to turn pre-existing PowerPoint presentations, Word, and PDF documents into e-courses.

– Those who develop courses as outsourcers;

– Those who have large training departments;

– Those who have a basic understanding of programming (preferably).

– Advanced developers;

– Those who need to teach how to use software;

– Those who develop courses as outsourcers;

– Those who have a basic understanding of programming (preferably).

Ease of use

High

Medium

Low

PPT import
Converts PDFs and Word files into courses   
Built-in audio and video editor   
Number of question templates14 graded and survey questions 11 graded, 9 survey questions 7 graded, 8 survey questions
Number of interaction templates 14 20 19
Dialogue simulations   
 Software simulations   
 Virtual Reality projects   
Interactive flipbooks   
Tech support

Via phone, email, and online chat

Via email and online chat

Via phone, email, and online chat

 Price$770 per author/year$1,398 per license$33.99 per author/month or $1,299 per license

1. iSpring Suite

Rating: 4.8/5 – 254 reviews (G2 Crowd)

Vendor’s promise: “Create dynamic, engaging, and responsive eLearning content in record time. No training required to begin!”

iSpring Suite Full Service

iSpring Suite is a fully stocked eLearning solution for rapid course authoring. It works as a PowerPoint add-in, which makes it very easy to use. After installing the program, you’ll see a new tab on the PowerPoint ribbon.

The toolkit includes special modules for different types of training tasks. There’s a quiz maker for assessments, a video and audio editor for managing video lectures and screencasts, and a conversation simulation tool for mastering communication skills. You can make your learning content more visual with interactions. There’s a whole set of ready-made interaction templates for creating glossaries, catalogs, timelines, references, and FAQs.

Thanks to all these features, there is no need to manually configure complex interactive elements, thus allowing you to focus on content development. All the groundwork has already been done for you.

iSpring Suite is the easiest and fastest way to move a company’s official instructions, manuals, and textbooks online. If you already have PPT presentations, you can turn them into ecourses in just a couple of clicks. You can also quickly convert your Word and PDF documents into interactive ebooks with a realistic pageflip effect.

iSpring Suite provides automatic adaptation of courses for mobile devices. You don’t need to create different versions of courses for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Once done, your courses will work smoothly on virtually all devices.

Here you can see an example of an online course created with iSpring Suite:

Ease of Use

Most instructional designers value iSpring Suite for its seamless integration with PowerPoint and ease of use. If you’ve ever created presentations, you’ll be able to start using all the tool’s features immediately and produce content without needing to contact tech-savvy specialists or take training classes. However, despite its ease of use, iSpring Suite allows users to create complex scenarios, if the situation so requires.

Pricing

iSpring Suite costs $770 per author/year.

Free Trial

You can enjoy the full functionality of iSpring Suite with a 30-day trial without spending a cent. 

Goodies

  • Perfect integration with PPT
  • Simple interface
  • No learning curve
  • Built-in dialogue simulator
  • Tool for creating interactive flipbooks
  • Suitable for mLearning
  • Excellent technical support

Issues

  • Can’t work without PowerPoint
  • No Mac OS support

Success Stories

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Kapitec Software

Kapitec Software uses iSpring Suite for designing engaging eLearning content with assessments.

Sandrine Boarqueiro‐Verdun, CEO of Kapitec Software: “iSpring Suite seems to be the better choice among many solutions on the market for ease of use, a complete set of powerful features, a small price for a comprehensive suite of tools, and a professional support service. I am very happy to have this partnership with iSpring Solutions because they offer high-quality products, listen to customers’ feature requests, and have amazing guys who handle technical support.”

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CNC Concepts, Inc.

With iSpring Suite, CNC Concepts, Inc. develops training materials for learning how to program, setup, and run CNC machine tools.

Mike Lynch, the President of CNC Concepts, Inc.: “iSpring Suite gives us the ability to create flexible and entertaining eLearning content. I like the robust support for PowerPoint that iSpring Suite provides. All functions of PowerPoint, like transitions and animations, are supported.“

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APEX Anesthesia Review

With iSpring, the company creates online courses for preparing CRNAs.

Kevin R. Baker, a nurse anesthetist and co-founder of APEX: “iSpring Suite is our primary tool for content creation. Believe it or not, we use everything in the toolkit: quizzes, audio and video narrations, interactions, etc. Much of our content is created on the PowerPoint slides themselves, so we make good use of the animation and interaction elements available to us.“

Get a free trial →

2. Articulate Storyline 3

Rating: 4.6/5 – 233 reviews (G2 Crowd)

Vendor’s promise: “Create interactive courses for any device.”

Articulate Storyline 3

Articulate Storyline 3 is an advanced standalone tool for creating online courses. Its interface is somewhat similar to PowerPoint, but it doesn’t emulate it in its full capacity. On the one hand, you’re not limited by PPT logic and have greater opportunities for customizing your eLearning content. But, on the other hand, building courses requires much more time, since everything that you add semi-automatically in PowerPoint, has to be created manually in Articulate Storyline 3.

For instance, Articulate Storyline 3 doesn’t include a specialized conversation simulator, although it has all the capabilities for making dialogue simulations. However, to do this, you need to go deep into working with layers and states of objects, and spend a lot of time on learning, and then fine-tuning, setting up, and testing.

Like iSpring Suite, Articulate Storyline 3 has a full set of tools for adding different objects to the slides and supports HTML5, which is the standard for mobile learning. Thanks to an adaptive player, courses created with this tool play beautifully on any device.

Ease of Use

Articulate Storyline 3 is a robust tool that has enormous content creating capabilities, but it takes a lot of time to explore all of them. So, if you’re not ready to invest the time in training, authoring efficiency can be limited.

This toolkit works great for large eLearning departments where there are all levels of developers, both beginner and expert, and all levels of course complexity are required.

Pricing

The price for a perpetual license is $1,329.

Free Trial

You can try Articulate Storyline 3 free for 30 days.

Goodies

  • More capabilities for customization
  • Robust animation options
  • Suitable for mLearning
  • A community for tech support
  • Great game-like interactions

Issues

  • Requires some training to start
  • No Mac OS support

3. Adobe Captivate 2019

Rating: 3.9/5 – 153 reviews (G2 Crowd)

Vendor’s promise: “Conquer new learning landscapes with a smart authoring tool that lets you create all kinds of fully-responsive eLearning content.”

Adobe Captivate 2019

Adobe Captivate is a standalone eLearning authoring solution which is suited both for solving simple training tasks (creating a presentation or a test) and for developing complex interactive courses. It has robust capabilities for creating Virtual Reality (VR) projects, and making interactive videos and studio-quality HD videos by simultaneously recording webcam and on-screen content.

There’s no special tool for building conversation simulations in Adobe Captivate, but it includes a module that allows you to generate software simulations with the help of effects, triggers, and slide settings. It will definitely require some skill and time. A wide range of interactions is another strong feature of the toolkit. You can make eLearning fun with drag-and-drops, puzzles, games, and other interactions.

Captivate license holders can find images, people cutouts, themes, scenarios, VR environments, interactions, and other assets for creating eLearning content, in Adobe Stock and its Content Library.

One of the main focuses of this toolkit is creating mobile courses, with a feature that lets you customize output content for all types of devices and screen sizes. Given that fact, there are some unique features whose purpose is to create a better mobile experience. For example, the tool supports geolocation, and has special variables that can be used in your mobile course. For instance, in geography courses, you can show learners the symbol of the city where they live.

Ease of Use

Adobe Captivate is a powerful tool that uses new future-ready technologies. It has great capabilities for delivering progressive learning experiences, but comes with a steep learning curve. Though there are a lot of video tutorials, you definitely need to take training classes before you’ll be able to take advantage of all its capabilities.

Captivate is better suited for advanced eLearning instructional designers than for novice or intermediate-level specialists. It’s worth purchasing only if you or your company need to create complex courses and are ready to devote a lot of time to training.  

Pricing

You can buy a perpetual license for $1,299.

Adobe Activate is also available by subscription. You can subscribe for $33.99 / month (annual commitment and monthly payments required; early termination will incur a cancellation fee)

Free Trial

You can download and install a free 30-day trial version of Adobe Captivate.

Goodies

  • Capabilities for creating VR projects
  • Tool for making interactive videos
  • Built-in software simulator
  • Extensive mLearning capabilities
  • Mac OS support

Issues

  • Steep learning curve
  • No built-in conversation simulations

The Best Authoring Tool

Every eLearning authoring tool has its pros and cons. More importantly, each of the reviewed software aims for different goals and different audiences. That’s why it wouldn’t be correct to choose the best one from among them. Still, we can state what each of the authoring tools is best suited for.

  • iSpring Suite is the best solution for people who are under a deadline, develop courses on their own, and for those who need to turn pre-existing PowerPoint presentations, Word, and PDF documents into e-courses.
  • Articulate Storyline 3 is the best authoring tool for instructional designers who develop courses as outsourcers, have large training departments, and have a basic understanding of programming.
  • Adobe Captivate is the best authoring toolkit for advanced developers who need to teach how to use software, who develop courses as outsourcers, and have a basic understanding of programming.

Whichever one you choose, make sure you enjoy the tool you’re using. If your authoring experience is causing you headaches and forces you to deal with technical issues instead of making cool learning content, perhaps trying another tool would be a better option.

All the tools mentioned here offer free trials, so we invite you to dig in and discover which one is the best tool for you! If you want to produce content without consulting tech-savvy specialists and spending time on training, start with an iSpring Suite 30-day trial and explore all its features right away.

 

20 comments on “Articulate Storyline 3 vs. Adobe Captivate vs. iSpring Suite

  • There are many other programs that deserve consideration. If you want more ability to edit video, try Camtasia or Active Presenter. The latter is hands-down the most cost effective option, the former offers the best video editor. The free version of AP is pretty darned impressive, and the price for the most expensive version is only $299. You should really check it out before considering any of the higher priced alternatives.

    iSpring easily wins the day if you are a non-coder who already creates a lot of PowerPoint content, and your LMS supports SCORM. That probably covers a lot of territory, but neither SCORM nor xAPI is useful on my campus, and we support TWO LMSs. I used to recommend iSpring as the easiest way to generate stand-alone content from PP, but that was also when the price was much lower.

    iSpring would still be my recommendation for non-coders if it provided a way to kick off an LTI grade passback response. I can do that with Active Presenter (somewhat insecurely) because it lets me call an arbitrary javascript function in the containing page, and I can add the function to an html template for the non-coders I support. AP does not offer apps, but the types of content that flow from PowerPoint don’t tend to work well on tiny screens anyway. I prefer to force students to use a ‘real’ computer so they can get the full benefit of whatever learning content their instructors provide. With the LMS, students don’t even know what they are missing out on until they’ve logged in using a conventional browser.

    LTI is up and coming. It’s not a trivial thing to support from the eLearning company side because it requires a server-side piece to deal with oAuth, but I still can’t understand why companies like iSpring aren’t racing to support it.

  • Thanks for your comment, Beth!

    To the Camtasia point: we’re pleased to announce that iSpring Suite 8 (coming this fall!) will include a screen capture tool and an enhanced video editor.

    As far as campus LMSs are concerned, we recommend iSpring Learn LMS as a solution for anyone who is looking for reporting capabilities that go far beyond SCORM.

    Regarding LTI grade passback, you can add any javascript functions you like in the index.html generated by any of iSpring’s desktop authoring tools. Full support of LTI in general is not something we currently have on the roadmap, but we will put it down as a feature request for future consideration.

    Thanks again for your input, and have a great day!

  • How do I call the function from the slideshow? I need to be able to call it based on user actions, most likely a response to a question, but also possibly whenever a quiz is complete. If I can send my function a quiz score, that would be huge, but I haven’t see a way to do it in any of the versions of iSpring I’ve ever run.

  • I really can’t open the door to other LMSs. We already support two on our campus, which is one too many.

  • Thanks for including G2 Crowd as a resource for your article! Glad we were helpful to you, and hope we are to your readers as well! (Disc.: I’m a G2 Crowd employee.)

  • Thank you for your comment!
    We also find your resource extremely useful for an impartial evaluation of our products and services.
    Keep up the good work! :)

  • That’s good to know. Do you have the same sort of option from iSpring Suite? I used to be able to add quizzes into a module using just Presenter, but I see that is no longer possible. It’s been a long time. I was your biggest fan 5 or 6 years ago, but I haven’t taken a good look at iSpring for quite a while. Every now and then I download a trial version just to see, but I’ve never looked at either the Suite or the QuizMaker. Basically I only consider programs that would let users build an entire learning object with one UI. My users already have perfectly good quiz engines in our LMS. What they need, IMO is a way to sprinkle quizzes into their content in a way that has teeth. Self-test questions are great, but students won’t bother with them unless the score goes back to the gradebook.

  • iSpring Suite and iSpring Presenter both include QuizMaker as part of their authoring packages. Using either of them, you can insert quizzes directly on PowerPoint slides, and any javascript you use in the QuizMaker will be operative from within a presentation.
    You’re more than welcome to check out a free trial of Suite, Presenter, or just standalone QuizMaker and see how well it suits your requirements. In our humble opinion, using Suite or Presenter to sprinkle quizzes throughout a presentation is a really robust method, but if your users already have quiz engines (and an LMS) that they’re satisfied with, then of course we understand that suggesting a transition may be more trouble than it’s worth. (Also, strictly speaking, Suite and Presenter don’t satisfy your “single UI” requirement, since the constituent tools are separate UIs.)
    Once again, thanks for your thoughtful comments! We hope you’ll continue to recommend iSpring to colleagues or friends who may be shopping around for the right tool.

  • A few notes on Articulate Storyline 2:

    – If you are hosting your e-learning on an LMS that requires authentication, keep in mind that the mobile app used by AS requires the Tin Can API to be installed in the LMS in order to trigger the mobile app download prompt. This is a problem with an LMS with authentication since the API will not be able to access the LMS without authentication. I might not have technicalities exactly correct, but in our use (with Moodle), we are strictly reliant on HTML5 playback. This is fine, but not always optimal.

    – AS is very strong with being able to customize triggers and variables. If you are novice, this may not seem like an important factor. But I guarantee that as you become more experienced and your training needs become more sophisticated, having these features is a MUST.

    – The AS user community is outstanding! Just about every stopping point situation I have encountered is addressed within the user community often with downloadable examples and timely input from AS’ support staff.

    – On the downside, there are a number of quirky limitations and authoring experience “weirdness” that are frustrating: You cannot bulk delete variables; the copy/paste process works one way under one set of conditions and another way in other conditions; the one button you use the most (preview frame) is buried in a menu which requires two clicks instead of one; captioning requires a tremendous amount of manual effort — there should be a built-in tool for this; you cannot edit the message that appears when the trainee exits the program — you have to do this manually in a stupid way; the method of triggering completion to an LMS is limited to two options which don’t always reflect how you might want to achieve this; sometimes you can build in triggers that should work but they don’t — you have to come up with alternative methods for triggering things in a way that AS understands despite having built trigger logic that should work (but doesn’t); the image editing system is clumsy and wonky to use — all editing fields should be in one panel (not two) and the dimensions should be able to be edited with absolute numbers, not relative.

  • Can someone post some extra video tips concerning about practical usage of Ispring. I mean how to produce a video right after producing a PPT. Yes I have already studied Ispring tutorials, but I am looking for some extra explanations.

  • Thanks. Ispringsolutions has been quick to answer my questions and present some kind of solutions.

  • Good Comparison.
    In terms of Powerpoint import, seems like ispring ranks higher than articulate, captivate.
    In terms of VR, immersive learning, creating mobile responsive courses with Geotagging, integration with photoshop and multiple other video based features, Adobe Captivate ranks better than Articulate storyline.

  • Dear,
    good morning, The problem continue
    I need help urgently.

    I created a file in powerpoint and then published it to SCORM using iSpring 9.
    The problem is that when uploading to my organization’s LMS platform, it runs
    normally, but the LMS platform doesn’t recognize the completion of the course.
    It is as if I did not move between slides, progress does not change from 0 to
    100%. Can you help me with a solution?

    The files created are:

    res (folder)
    adlcp_rootv1p2.xsd
    ims_xml.xsd
    imscp_rootv1p1p2.xsd
    imsmanifest.xml
    imsmd_rootv1p2p1.xsd
    -data (folder)
    –files
    (slides.js, slides.css, fonts, imgs …)
    -index_SCORM.html
    -lms.js
    -metainfo.xml

    -inside the res folder
    –in the data folder.

    I used the% AWARDED_SCORE% variable.
    But there’s no way, we’re about to move from Adobe Captivate to iSpring solutions, but with this gap, it becomes impossible.

    I’m from Brazil, I used google translator.
    Thanks a lot for the help.

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