In this article, we review the essential features of the three most popular eLearning authoring tools: Adobe Captivate vs. Articulate Storyline 360 vs. and iSpring Suite.
All of them are well suited for a particular type of scenario. One solution will work for you when it’s necessary to launch a large amount of eLearning content immediately, while others provide a detailed and complex basis for authoring.
To make your choice between Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline 360 and iSpring Suite a little less confusing, we’ve compared these authoring tools in terms of their distinctive features. But first, let’s take a brief look at each solution.
Rating: 4.6/5 – 248 reviews (G2 Crowd)
Articulate Storyline 360 is an advanced standalone tool for creating responsive online courses and is included in an eLearning suite, Articulate 360. Its interface is somewhat similar to PowerPoint, but it doesn’t emulate it to its full capacity. On the one hand, you’re not limited by PPT logic and have greater opportunities to create custom 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 360.
For instance, Articulate Storyline 360 doesn’t include a specialized conversation simulator, although it has all the capabilities for making role-plays. However, to do this, you need to go deep into working with layers and states of objects, spend a lot of time learning, and then fine-tune, set up, and test.
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.
Price: Only available as a part of the Articulate 360 eLearning suite. Starts at $1,099 per user, annually.
Rating: 3.9/5 – 184 reviews (G2 Crowd)
Adobe Captivate is a standalone authoring solution that’s 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 role-plays in Adobe Captivate, but it includes a module that allows you to generate software simulations with the help of effects, triggers, and slide settings. A wide range of interactions is another strong feature of the toolkit. You can make eLearning fun with drag-and-drop quizzes, puzzles, games, and other interactions.
With a set of advanced techniques like enhanced actions with system variables, text entry boxes, mathematical expressions, and widgets, you can create complex event-based interactions established on multiple conditions. But it definitely takes some skill and time to learn.
Price: $33.99/month (annual commitment and monthly payments required)
Rating: 4.7/5 – 521 reviews (G2 Crowd)
iSpring Suite is a fully stocked eLearning solution for rapid course creation. It works as a Microsoft PowerPoint add-in, which makes the course development process fast and hassle-free. You can turn existing PowerPoint content into online courses in a matter of minutes or build engaging courses from scratch. The toolkit has special modules for different types of online training tasks, including a quiz maker, a video and audio editor, and a tool for creating role-plays. It allows you to produce responsive content that displays perfectly both on desktops and mobile devices.
The iSpring Suite Max plan comes with an ever-growing content library, a custom character builder, a web-based authoring tool for creating page-like courses in a browser, and a tool for creating a course portfolio.
iSpring’s toolkit is indeed an exceptional software that offers a plethora of outstanding features. But what sets it apart is that it remains remarkably user-friendly. Its intuitive interface and user-centric design ensure that even a novice course developer can easily navigate and utilize its capabilities without feeling overwhelmed. But if you still have any issues or questions, you can always contact the vendor’s tech support or find the needed knowledge in its community.
Price: Starts at $770 per author/year.
Adobe Captivate vs. Storyline 360 vs. iSpring Suite: A Feature Comparison
Now let’s dive deeper into what each eLearning authoring tool has to offer. We’ll compare the three solutions according to a few criteria: ease of use, content authoring capabilities, and collaboration features, and we will evaluate them on a 3-point scale. Captivate vs. Storyline vs. Suite — which one is the best fit for you?
Ease of use
|Articulate Storyline 360
|Ease of use
Articulate Storyline 360 is a robust tool that has enormous content creation capabilities, but you’ll need 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.
Adobe Captivate is a powerful tool that uses new, future-ready technologies. It has multiple great capabilities for delivering progressive learning experiences, but comes with a steep learning curve.
iSpring Suite is integrated with PowerPoint. If you’ve ever created presentations, you’ll be able to start using the tool immediately and produce content without needing to contact tech-savvy specialists or take training classes.
Summary: Suite – 3 points; Storyline – 2 points; Captivate – 1 point
If you need to create complex scenarios with VR and a high level of interactivity and are ready to devote a lot of time to training, Adobe Captivate will be a good fit. But if you’d like to build common but still professional-looking courses without long-term training and specific skills, iSpring Suite will be the best choice.
Content authoring capabilities
Articulate Storyline 360
Storyline includes triggers and layers that allow you to go above and beyond in producing customized training content.
There’s no slide layer functionality, and working with triggers is pretty clunky, so Captivate doesn’t provide much in terms of creating customized courses.
You can build courses right in PowerPoint. You can use PPT animations and hyperlinks to create custom interactive elements.
Storyline’s quiz maker provides 20 ready-to-go question templates and enables you to create cheat-proof quizzes.
With Captivate, you can build interactive quizzes with 9 question types. The tool provides a wide range of quiz settings.
You can create online quizzes from 14 ready-made question templates, customize the design and testing rules, and track employees’ results online.
There’s no specific tool for building role-play simulations.
Similarly, Captivate doesn’t have a tool for creating scenarios.
It has an easy-to-use tool for creating interactive scenarios with characters, authentic locations, and voice-overs.
Storyline has a built-in webcam recorder and a basic video editor for polishing your video content.
You can record webcam videos and then split or trim them, add images, audio, and effects, and change the background.
iSpring Suite lets you record presenter videos and fine-tune them by adding annotations, images, merging videos, and inserting freeze frames.
The tool enables you to record your screen and then use that video as is or leverage built-in editing tools to create a step-by-step demonstration.
Captivate includes four different modes for recording software simulations: demonstration, assessment simulation, training simulation, and custom.
You can record screencasts with annotations, display hotkeys on the screen, and spotlight mouse actions.
You can create interactive videos by adding triggers, hotspots, branching, and layers.
There’s specific functionality that lets you add bookmarks and overlay slides to create interactive videos.
This can be achieved with the help of animations and triggers that you need to create in PowerPoint.
Storyline supports the integration of 360° photos, enabling users to create basic 3D experiences.
Captivate allows you to create immersive VR scenarios using 360° photos and videos.
iSpring Suite doesn’t have this functionality.
20 preset interaction templates are available.
The tool offers 19 templates.
The toolkit comes with 14 ready-made interaction templates.
Summary: Captivate – 20 points; Storyline – 18 points; Suite – 18 points
Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline rank a little bit higher than iSpring Suite since they allow you to create complex projects with VR training and interactive videos. If these are key features you’re looking for, you’d better select one of these two authoring tools. But if you’d like to build basic courses with quizzes, interactions, and role-play simulations or turn existing PowerPoint slides into online courses, iSpring Suite will be a good solution.
|Articulate Storyline 360
|Online space for storing and sharing
There’s no storage on Storyline, but the review tool is included in the subscription and provides 150 GB of storage for learning content.
No online service
The iSpring Suite Max plan comes with iSpring Space, an online service where you can store all your courses securely and share them with your learners via a link.
The review tool allows you to gather and share feedback on all Articulate 360 content.
No tool for collaboration on content
In iSpring Space, you can invite your team to review your courses and receive their feedback instantly.
Summary: Suite – 6 points; Storyline – 6 points; Captivate – 3 points
If you’d like to speed up eLearning course authoring and facilitate the process of content review, you’ll need to select between the Articulate 30 subscription and iSpring Suite Max.
Adobe Captivate vs. Articulate 360 vs. iSpring Suite: Total Score
|Articulate Storyline 360
|Ease of use
|Content authoring capabilities
As you can see, all the tools have a lot in common. They all allow you to create eLearning courses, quizzes, and video tutorials. At the same time, Adobe Captivate and Articulate 360 have unique features that enable you to produce VR projects and interactive videos. But keep in mind that Captivate is not the best solution if you’re going to work on multiple projects with a team. iSpring Suite is a better option if you’re not ready to invest much time in training and would like to start creating great courses right off the bat. It is also a great choice for content development teams. Try iSpring Suite for free for 14 days to see if it’s a good fit for you.