Abandon Storyline for a reliable HTML5 authoring tool

As a three license owner of Storyline, we've become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress made by Articulate relative to HTML5 performance.   Like it or not, users expect content on their devices, and Storyline does not deliver the promised performance.

We are looking at other authoring tools - what are other content developers thinking?

10 Replies
Russ Sawchuk

Andrew,

I jumped on the HTML5 bandwagon about a year ago. We were getting requests for our quizzes and games to play on mobile devices. So I developed a bunch of HTML5 educational nursing games using ebros templates. I then did some customization so that the game results would track to a database.

Initially everything seemed to work great. Then Firefox updated their browser, and the games no longer worked on FF. So I hired a programmer to fix the problem. Shortly afterwards, Chrome updated their browser and again same problem. Again I had to hire a programmer to get the games to work in Chrome. All of this in a span of a couple of months.

On the other hand, I have had Flash quizzes running for over six years without nary a problem. Also, I notice that drag and drop on my HTML5 games do NOT work very well on Android devices. So I am no longer confident that HTML5 is the answer in the short to medium term. Flash is still reliable and works well. I also have a couple of quiz systems that use PHP and MySQL. These have proved to be stable and reliable and work on most platforms.

What we have done for mobile devices is created specialized apps for iPad/iPhone, Android and Kindle. More work and money, but at least we know they work and look right for those devices.

Right now I battling to get javascript to send results to a database table for my StoryLine games. It works for IE and Firefox, but only occasionally on Chrome and Safari.

Not fun being a developer right now ... especially if you are trying to cater to a global audience. Just my experiences.

Russ

Steve McAneney

This sounds like the same sort of frustration I encountered when using a non-compliant SCORM2004 LMS. SCORM2004 is a 'standard', yes, but with so many different interpretations of it you end up having to customise your content to match the platform it will be used on. Russ' post above demonstrates this seems to be the case with HTML5. It is not rock-steady yet, so content that works on one platform may not work on another. 

hanks for the input Russ, I will steer clear of HTML5 for a little while longer. Andrew, I empathise with you, but if what Russ says is the case, you might not be any better off with other authoring tools? I expect they all advertise "HTML5 compatibility", of course they will!

Andrew Moss

Nicholas, yes our team has been on the forums and support ... nothing helpful really.

I appreciate the detailed feedback Russ has given, and this really underlines the issue - Articulate, and other competitors, should not be advertising HTML5 compatibility.   At best "limited" HTML5 compatibility would be truthful.

With the money we have all invested, and the kinds of solutions people like Russ are going to for customer satisfaction, Articulate needs to step up and support the developers who are supporting their business. 

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Andrew,

First off welcome to the Heroes forum with your first post. I know you mentioned working with our Support team, and I don't see a case number specific to your name, but I'd be happy to check in on your existing cases if you have a case number to share. 

As an addition to what Russ shared, HTML5 is a new and emerging standard in e-learning technology. However, as of early 2014, it hasn't been accepted as the industry standard. As a result, your HTML5 published content might look and behave differently than you intended.

Some of the challenges designers face when developing HTML5 content include: 

  • Finding up-to-date information about HTML5 and its impact on e-learning
  • Getting your published output to look and behave like it does in your authoring tool 
  • Accounting for different levels of HTML5 support across different browsers and devices 
  • Testing across browsers and devices

To help you navigate HTML5 course development, our team has pulled together the following articles

I hope that those help you and others in your development, and if there is a specific issue you'd like us to take a look at we're always happy to. You can share the file(s) here in the forums or connect with our Support engineers for assistance.  If it's something we're able to replicate as a bug, we are then able to report the issue to our Quality Assurance team for further review and to develop a fix or a workaround. 

Russ Sawchuk

UPDATE:

FireFox 28 was released yesterday. Panic ... but when I checked, this time my HTML5 games were still working properly. However, I will need to check every time a new browser version is released!

I finally figured out how to use javascript to reliably send my Storyline game results to the MySQL database table. The problem was that the results were NOT sent in Chrome and Safari IF the games were opened in a NEW window (_blank)! If the games are opened in the SAME window, then all four browsers - EI, FF, Chrome and Safari seem to work well. 

Once I got js send working, the next challenge was how to redirect the browser back to the games page. If you had an Exit Course trigger, IE closed the browser - not very convenient for the viewer. For the other 3 browsers, I ended up with a blank page with the url and passing variables in the address box. This is a security risk. I finally figured out that if I added a redirect at the end of my PHP file, this sent the data to the database table and returned to the desired page. Once the games data are in the database table, I use a program called Navicat to view the data, sort, or export to EXCEL or SYSTAT.

Adding in this capability has resolved the major complaint I had about StoryLine! I can now monitor, track and evaluate the activities on my SL courses and quizzes. I love StoryLine! I am now able to create dynamic courses and interactive activities that I could have only dreamed about a couple of years ago. My clients and end users can't get enough of them. In addition, I have very few problems with StoryLine itself (not the impression you get looking at these forums). Technical support is excellent and the community is simply wonderful!

I buy, use, evaluate and discard many software programs each year. I deal with many different types of vendors. There are a couple of things that I appreciate with a few of the other vendors. These are things that I wish Articulate would consider. One is customization - I can get programs customized either for free or for an affordable cost. This comes in very useful when the software does not quite meet your needs or you need a small additional feature.

The other service that I really appreciate is the availability of addons or plugins! I would like to see Articulate and/or third parties make available optional components for StoryLine to expand its functionality. Things that come to mind are a database connector, TinCan module, a HTML8 converter/publisher, an Android converter/publisher and perhaps some component that can convert our StoryLine programs into apps. I'm sure there are others that us developers would appreciate.

Just some of my thoughts and experiences. Thanks.

Russ

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Russ,

Thanks for the update and sharing your solution and feedback here! They're incredibly helpful for other community members to see what you ended up implementing and for our team as well. If you'd also like to share your thoughts on those particular features, I'd recommend submitting a feature request for them as those go to our product development team. It may be a bit more involved, but if you'd put them into different requests it'll be easier for our team to categorize and keep track of the different requests and how often we see them.

If you need anything else, please feel free to let us know! 

Laura Winzen

I am late to this conversation and I do not claim to be either an HTML5 expert or a Flash expert, but...

Our organization is using TechSmith Camtasia to develop interactive video for some of our online education and it works great because Camtasia has a smart player that will try to run the interaction using HTML5 first, if that does not work it will run it in Flash. And it works like a charm on all of the browsers and devices that our learners use. Brilliant, right?

(Side note: We also don't have the audio problems with Safari on iPad with these interactive videos that we do with Storyline interactions. Not sure why.)

I was assuming as I started developing interactions in Storyline that when I published web output with HTML5 that it was setting up a similar approach. Not true! The dang thing doesn't work on Android. But why not? Why can't it publish both HTML5 and Flash output like Camtasia and use the one that works on that device? Wasn't Storyline marketed and launched  as the solution to the iOS/flash/HTML5 problem? Couldn't Storyline offer it's own smart player, studying Camtasia's model?

I am going to submit an enhancement request asking the Storyline team to look at this approach because it does work very well and is getting us through this awkward gap in HTML5's readiness.

Any thoughts, gang?

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Laura,

Thanks for sharing those ideas here, and if you haven't already submitted them as a feature request to our product development team I'd encourage you to do so. We really value your feedback and the more users who share similar ideas such as this, the better. 

To answer a few of your questions, Storyline does publish Flash and HTML5 (if the latter is selected) and depending on the device used to access the content, Storyline will determine which version to show the user as described here.  Although we don't currently support Android browsers, a number of users have discussed in the forums which browsers or set ups have worked best for them, and you may want to search for a few of those threads as well. 

As I mentioned before, HTML5 is still a new and emerging standard. Our team has been working on HTML5 improvements and enhancements to known issues with every update, and those are detailed here, but we still know there is work to do. So again, our thanks for sharing your thoughts here in the forums and with our product development team directly. 

If you do find something that works in Flash, and even while viewing the HTML5 content in a browser such as Google Chrome but causes issues on your iPad/iPhone, feel free to connect directly with our Support engineers for further testing and to file any necessary bug reports. 

Laura Winzen

Thanks so much for your quick reply, Ashley. I did just submit that feature request. I've been combing through posts that might be able to help with our Android challenges but have found no resolution yet.

I appreciate that this is a difficult time in development with Flash on the way out and HTML5 not fully baked yet, but to have no way at all to make interactive education work on ASUS tablets or popular Samsung S4 and Droid phones is a real handicap for us and for our members. And it makes us, the instructional designers, look stupid for recommending purchase of a development tool when it was supposed to resolve these device problems in the first place. I'm sure you've heard this all before.

Thanks again,

Laura