New Version of Articulate

As a 'Learning Technologist' working in these times of austerity I am always trying to find 'budget' solutions for my clients.

I'm currently looking at a new product called 'Zenler'. It provides pretty much the same functionality as Articulate but is of course substantially cheaper. Now, the cost difference between Articulate and products such as Zenler isn't significant for my corporate clients but for smaller companies just getting started it can be a big factor.

My question is: Will there be an upgrade to Articulate Studio this year - and will it move Articulate ahead of the competing products such as Zenler?

50 Replies
Steve Flowers

That tool looks interesting, John. It is cheaper but there are a few distinct differences between (my quick assessment of) Zenler and a tool like Presenter. The main distinction is the source format. There is some strength in a tool that uses a source format that can be sent around and reused in other ways.

That said, I like some of what I see in the tool. It's nice to see competition out there. These are the kinds of things that sharpen innovation and drive improvements in tools that lead the market.

If I were a betting man, I'd put money on a tool release from Articulate this calendar year. But that's purely uneducated speculation

Gabe Anderson

John Curran said:

My question is: Will there be an upgrade to Articulate Studio this year - and will it move Articulate ahead of the competing products such as Zenler?


John- this statement seems to imply that our '09 products are not already ahead of competitors like Zenler. What are some of the Zenler features that you think gives it an advantage over Articulate products?

As with anything in life, you often get what you pay for. Zenler may be cheaper, but is it really equivalent? And what kind of support and user community do you get after you buy the product? These might be good things to ask your clients if they want you to look at competing products. This reminds me of some customer survey feedback I saw this morning; I tweeted this excerpt earlier.

Finally, as Justin noted, we're always working on new innovations, but haven't announced any details. Subscribing to the Word of Mouth Blog, or following us on Facebook or Twitter are great ways to make sure you won't miss any Articulate news:

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Gabriele Dovis (italgo)

John Curran said:

It provides pretty much the same functionality as Articulate but is of course substantially cheaper.

My question is: Will there be an upgrade to Articulate Studio this year - and will it move Articulate ahead of the competing products such as Zenler?


If the functionalities are (really) the same, think about that Articulate community is priceless.

John Curran

Gabe - Articulate is clearly the Rolls Royce (ok that gives away my location a little) of PowerPoint based e-learning tools and the support 'community' is truly outstanding but there are still lots of things Articulate could do better/faster/differently. 

Innovations are nice and a real bonus but some basic extra functionality is much needed also (one example - the ability to choose from a selection of players - even iSping does this).

Don't get me wrong - most of my clients are really happy with Articulate but some are also eager to take things on a step or two so an upgrade sooner rather than later would be really good news.

Gem Miller

Steve Flowers said:

That tool looks interesting, John. It is cheaper but there are a few distinct differences between (my quick assessment of) Zenler and a tool like Presenter. The main distinction is the source format. There is some strength in a tool that uses a source format that can be sent around and reused in other ways.

That said, I like some of what I see in the tool. It's nice to see competition out there. These are the kinds of things that sharpen innovation and drive improvements in tools that lead the market.

If I were a betting man, I'd put money on a tool release from Articulate this calendar year. But that's purely uneducated speculation


Can you recommend other e-learning authoring and development tools conducive to a real-time collaboration workflow  with a reputable and reliable SCORM track record on disparate LMS(s)? Thanks.   

Gabe Anderson

John Curran said:

Gabe - Articulate is clearly the Rolls Royce (ok that gives away my location a little) of PowerPoint based e-learning tools and the support 'community' is truly outstanding but there are still lots of things Articulate could do better/faster/differently. 

Innovations are nice and a real bonus but some basic extra functionality is much needed also (one example - the ability to choose from a selection of players - even iSping does this).

Don't get me wrong - most of my clients are really happy with Articulate but some are also eager to take things on a step or two so an upgrade sooner rather than later would be really good news.

Thanks for the info, John. We always welcome product feature requests below:

Request a Feature

As for different players, along with the 4 included with Presenter, there are a number of free and fee-based custom players available (you can create your own or hire someone to create one for you, too):

Announcing Articulate Presenter Community Skins

8 New Articulate Presenter Community Skins

There are some free player skins in the Articulate Presenter downloads area here on Heroes, too.

Bruce Graham

Gabe/Justin, you know my views on this, so I may as well add them here.

It's not that things (such as skins) are not there, it's just that there are many, many people who have hit that url over the last 18 months, and we would like to know when we will see, or get a new release, that's all.

I know the policy is not to reveal a new version, but it a confidence issue - whether it is having to go to another supplier for interactions, or telling customers that they cannot have a certain feature etc. You may have good IP reasons not to issue release roadmaps, but by the same measure, I have worked for many companies that do publish roadmaps.

I use Microsoft products, it's great that they have included screen capture in .ppt 10, I no longer need to e.g. use Snagit. It's all there, in one place, out of the box.

I would like to see features that are central to the product suite, fully supported, and without the need for me to find an add-on company, or be/hire a programmer.

It's not too much of an unusual request is it?

Bruce

Justin Wilcox

Throwing an artificial release date or list of new features out to the public prior to release is problematic for a lot of reasons. We don't want to be forced to release an unfinished product because we set an artificial release date. We don't really want to show our cards regarding new features for competitive reasons and also simply because not every feature makes the final release.

That's why we don't provide release dates or offer any information regarding features in future products.

I think what would give you less confidence is if we released a crappy product full of bugs that was missing a bunch of features we told you we were going to include.

Regarding what's going to be in a future release, remember that for every person out there is a "must have" feature set. We obviously aren't going to get everyone's must have features included but we do take feature requests very seriously. We have a team that reviews every feature request that comes into us, including myself. We are certainly aware of features that a lot of people are looking for that we hope to implement.

Bruce Graham

Thanks Justin.

  • I for one would never expect a "list of features", but merely areas that were to be concentrated on/have some attention.
  • I would not want an artificial date, merely an indication of, perhaps, H1 or H2.
  • I certainly would not want or expect (from anyone...), a buggy release.

I have seen all of these work well, and been involved in them several times, training the business areas to support this type of regular release schedule, both spot and version releases.

In terms of perceptions, merely keeping the product name in synch with the current year is a good enough reason (IMHO) to release small enhancement packages.

Perhaps my experience is unusual.

Bruce

Simon Perkins

I'm also looking forward to the new version - and hope (and kind of expect) it to be this calendar year.  

Sure, the current version does a lot of the things I (or rather, our clients) need, but there are many things it could do better - or even do at all, e.g;

- QM multiple column drag n drop

- multiple bookmark storage 

- better use of embedded video (with player customisation etc)

But what I would say for the time being is take a look at how much you're pushing the product.  For me, QM in particular gives a lot of scope for visual interaction and assessment.  Plus there's the community AND the tutorials - where any of us can find and develop loads of new methods of doing something. And some of this comes down to how skillful we are with PowerPoint + how capable the tool is at taking that content and converting it within the course.  There are loads of other PowerPoint-based tools out there - but I don't know one that offers the scope and functionality of Articulate.  That said, 09 has been around for a good while now, so I'd expect the next version to be pretty extraordinary.  

So for now, I'll try and push AP as much as I can.  That's probably why I've been on here asking all sorts of dumb/awkward (and probably annoying to some) questions in the last few months.  But without that support, I wouldn't be as far down the line as I am.

James Brown

Zelner looks cool but it's not as cheap as you may think. This company is in England and I would question if the $499 pounds or $499 U.S. Dollars? If we are talking pounds, than we are talking appox. $800 U.S. dollars. In the past I have purchased software on the cheap only to discover that the cheap software I purchased was just that, cheap.  Plus you're probably going to have to deal with techs from who knows where and good luck on calling these guys. When you look at a product, you have to add in support costs unless you are a self starter and from what I have seen of the Articulate team, and the end-users here, Articulate may cost a bit more but the level of customer support you are getting is top notch and you are not waiting days for an email.

I simply stating my opinion based on years of dealing with suckless technical support where I honestly knew more about the issue than the technician I called. I also have been doing tech support for over 12 years and besides the company I work for, there are very few companies that offer the support level offered by Articulate. Again, that's just my honest opinion and I wish other U.S. software companies would follow this example and stop out sourcing American tech support jobs overseas.  Let's stop investing in China and start reinvesting in team U.S.A.

Bruce Graham

With the greatest of respect, I think that leaving a post like that on a Global board, with people from all nations, (some of whom, me included use extremely talented, articulate (excuse the pun), skilled and highly reliable Asian support talent on a daily basis), is a little out of order.

"...waiting days for an email response from Pakistan..."

This is a Global Forum, with Global contributors, many of whom you might have just insulted.

Bruce

Brian Allen

James Brown said:

I simply stating my opinion based on years of dealing with suckless technical support where I honestly knew more about the issue than the technician I called. I also have been doing tech support for over 12 years and besides the company I work for, there are very few companies that offer the support level offered by Articulate. Again, that's just my honest opinion and I wish other U.S. software companies would follow this example and stop out sourcing American tech support jobs overseas.  Let's stop investing in China and start reinvesting in team U.S.A.

I couldn't agree more, on all of the statements above - Articulate support is heads and tails above the majority of their competitors and I have always found them to be extremely responsive.

I don't have any inside info on when or what the next version of Articulate will look like, but I can guarantee it will be FANTASTIC.  The rollout of Studio '09 was extremely bug free, and I expect the same from the next new version.

James Brown

Sorry -- modified my post because I do not wish to offend anyone, and Bruce thank you for pointing out this is a global community. I'm simply tired of U.S. companies outsourcing jobs from the US. and Americans struggling to find jobs because their once stable U.S. job has been sent overseas. The U.S. sends billions of dollars in aid across the globe when there are starving, unemployed Americans here that could benefit from this same foreign aid. Personally I would like the U.S. to reinvest in America and give our 9.1% unemployed Americans a job.

On a side note, when I purchase software, and it does not work as expected, I wish to speak to someone and not have to wade through hours of phone prompts to speak to a representative only to be hung up on or to receive a message that the tech support is closed. I also wish to speak to someone with a technical background who can help me troubleshoot my issue. There have been too many occasions where I have contacted a products technical support with an issue only to have them respond a week later with a frankly an irrelevant response. If the person on the other end would have read my original email, they would have deduced that I had already tried the solution they just emailed back to me and I simply wanted to know what I should next.

Again, my posts are not intended to offend anyone and I apologize to anyone who I may have inadvertently offended with my comments.

Bruce Graham

James,

Thanks for modifying the post, I agree that the Global marketplace is very different, hard to understand sometimes, tough to get used to, but it is here.

I live in the UK, 90% of my work is for non-UK companies. I work for several US companies, I am contracted to a Chinese company, I work for a Belgian company, and I occasionally work for EMEA/UK companies. I offer no apologies for "taking jobs" - I Propose, Submit and Win because I am the best at what I do in my chosen market niche.

There is another thread about "where do you get your work?".

Forums and online marketplaces have made a new type of work possible, it's here to stay I'm afraid.

The latest IMF economic forecast (out yesterday I believe...) suggested China would overtake the US as the World financial powerhouse in 12 years, (and I know that statistics can be misused, misquoted and misleading), however, frankly I'd rather work with Chinese clients than sit here bemoaning the fact that the UK has lost it's production base, so that's what I'm doing, and I am trying to make that plan start happening, today.

Bruce

Gabe Anderson

Thanks for the feedback on new releases, Bruce. I know that not everyone likes our tight-lipped release / feature policy (and I totally get that), but hopefully you and others will like what we have up our sleeves, when it's ready for prime time. Better yet, hopefully what you see from us next will make the wait worth it. I realize that's not really something you can sell to clients (wait and see), but it's the best we can do.

I'm also happy to add you to our invite list for future beta programs, if you'd like. Just drop me a line with your email address.

And thanks, Simon, James, and Brian for the kind words about our support / community and products!

John Trone

Sure, guess IE9 got me.  Lets try with compatibility view on.

I was saying that I agree with the comments that its fine to keep release features and dates quiet for competitive reasons etc.

I would suggest modifying the Platinum Membership Plan; the current plan states one upgrade for 1 year, two upgrades for 2, and three upgrades for 3 years.  When I read it, I feel that implies that Articulate is on a 12 month release schedule and I would expect major releases annually.   ( I know you extend the time, if no major upgrade, but its about expectations)

Most of the software vendors I deal with have switched to annual plans where we pay 18-25% of the initial costs annually and it covers support and upgrades.  Sometimes we pay more if the level of service is high and we have dedicated reps, 24/7 response times etc.   We normally get an expected release cycle, not specifics.   Fixed annual costs makes our budgets easier too.

Justin Wilcox

Hi John. Those are great points and there are a lot of software companies moving towards that type of model. That's certainly something we are aware of. I do understand that our current PMP plan can be a little confusing in terms of time and how that relates to the number of upgrades you get. We will certainly be reviewing how we handle PMP and pricing prior to releasing the next round of products.

Iain Conliffe

I'm sure this in the works, but I'd love to see ActionScript 3.0 supported across the board. We're a few months away from 3.0's official 5th birthday. Over the years I've built so many little widgets and other things written in AS3, and I was bummed when I found out I couldn't use them in Articulate.

In any case, yes, you absolutely get what you pay for.