Why the 2 versions of Storyline - SL3 and SL360?


I delayed upgrading from SL2 because I only need the Storyline software (I work in localisation on finalised courses) and did not want to take out a subscription for the full Articulate 360 package as I would be paying for software that I would be unlikely to use. I know a lot of other people in my industry who have been slow to upgrade.

I was delighted to hear that I could now buy a license for Storyline 3, only to find out that it was not totally identical to the SL360 that comes in the Articulate 360 package.

Why are Articulate making things so difficult?
Adobe manage to have a CC Suite with options to take a single package, 2 or 3, or the whole lot. Why couldn't the stand-alone Storyline license be the same as the one in Articulate 360 and why could it not be bought as a stand-alone subscription?

There is now the concern as to if files created in SL360 can be localised using SL3. Adobe must be rubbing their hands together with thoughts of all the people who will move to Captivate!

Is there any plan to bring SL3 and SL360 in line so both versions have identical features?

Thanks (hopefully)


7 Replies
Mark Schwartz

Thanks Sarah for your interest in Storyline 3, and I'm sorry that you find our approach to the packaging and compatibility of Storyline 3 and Storyline 360 as difficult.  

First off, I would suggest that if you haven't already done so, that you consider a free 30-day trial of Articulate 360.  I've personally spoken to many prospects who did not feel that they would use the other products and services included with Articulate 360 and only wanted Storyline 3.  After they trialed the additional features available to them within Articulate 360 that compliment Storyline 360 - Content Library, Articulate Review, and Articulate Live, they were sold on Articulate 360.   And the additional products within 360 - notably Rise, among them, were icing on the cake!  By the way, here is a quick comparison of Storyline 3 vs. Articulate 360.

As a critical part of an integrated solution - Storyline 360 cannot be purchased as a stand-alone product.  It's elegantly designed to work with the other products of Articulate 360.   As the other products within 360 and Storyline 360 evolve, we will deliver those new features at no additional charge to current Articulate 360 subscribers.  

We've done our best to maintain as many key features within Storyline 3 and Storyline 360 as possible.  We've also worked hard to ensure backwards compatibility with previous versions of Storyline.  For example, any Storyline 1, 2, or 3 project can be opened and used in their follow on replacement versions or Articulate Storyline 360.  

We are aware that Adobe does offer a subscription version and perpetual version of Captivate 17.  It's unclear to us if they will guarantee project compatibility between those versions. Perhaps you should check with them. But, one thing I do know is that Captivate 17 is not also offered as part of an integrated, all-in-one e-learning solution like Articulate 360.  So if they are able to offer it, this is the likely reason.  

I'm sorry you view our approach as "difficult."  If you'd like to see a live demo of our Storyline 360 features, feel free to reach out to sales@articulate.com and we'll be glad to host a demo for you. At very least, perhaps after seeing that, you'll better understand our approach.  Thanks for your post.  

Sarah Whitfield

Hi Mark

Thanks for your reply. I did run a trial of Articulate 360 back in the Spring - but only used the Storyline part. I have also spent quite a bit of time looking at the comparisons.

For my job, I am working on courses that are already complete and are being sent for translation. I need to make adjustments to the original course before exporting the content for translation and I will then format the translated versions. All I get is the Story file and I need to deliver it back in the same version of the software so the customer can open and amend it if required. This was very easy with SL2 because it was a single version (although maybe different update levels). Now I am faced with the choice of SL3 or the full Articulate 360.

Because I have been told that SL3 and SL360 are fully compatible I have opted for SL3. My reasoning is that I can always add 360 later if required (ie. the software versions become significantly different) but I would still need to run SL3 to support those customers.

For information, when I referred to the Adobe CC Suite I was thinking of InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop etc. I realise Captivate is a stand-alone package but my comment relating to that was that it has a single "current" version and as one bit of software the subscription is much cheaper than a full 360 package.

I live in the hope that you will start offering subscriptions to SL360 without the rest of the package.


Frank Klepper

To Storyline Staff,

I searched the database and Q&A for questions and issues similar to mine.  The above comments from Sarah are the closest that I could find.  Following is my situation.

I purchased the perpetual version of SL2 in 2014 in order to modernize our commercial Well Control Training Program and move away from our instructor's dependence on MS Power Point Presentations.  SL2 and Articulate On-Line appeared to be the most cost effective method to update our long running training program and transition to an interactive and cloud based resource.  Having spent several thousand hours authoring in SL2 and publishing to Articulate On-line, I made the decision in late 2016 to purchase a subscription to SL360, thinking it would make my life easier during 2017 to continue with modifications and improvements to our program, while I spent much of the year on the road and away from my main work station.

Yes, I found SL360 to be "backwards compatible" and easily imported (and converted) my previous SL2 projects.  The problem is that all the work (several hundred hours) I invested in SL360 has been wasted by rendering my "so called" perpetual version of SL2 useless!  Anything worked on, updated, or improved on in SL360 can no longer be opened in SL2.  

It is extremely frustrating that I did not realize the flaw before I invested so much (time and money) in SL360.  I clearly  did not understand the meaning of "compatibility" as used by Articulate.

Such is the price of progress and advancement!  No point in crying over the mistake now, but as I do not intend to be locked into a subscription service in perpetuity, after already purchasing a premium perpetual product, I want to avoid making the same mistake twice!

I am now considering upgrading my perpetual SL2 to the "perpetual" SL3, but I have been unable to get a clear and straight answer from anyone with Articulate if this will allow me to "salvage" the work that I have done in SL360. 

I simply want to know if SL3 will be able to import the projects I have worked on using SL360 during the past year.

I will be grateful for any advice from the Articulate Staff or other users that have insight to this issue.

Kind regards,

Frank Klepper

Petroleum College International


Frank Klepper


Thank you.  This is good to know.  I think it will be worth the upgrade from SL2 to SL3 and then I can plan for the eventual divergence between SL3 and 360.  I do understand the Articulate move to the subscription based 360 product line.  Repeat business is the Holy Grail of consumerism, but as a (small) businessman myself, I have to work especially hard to stay up with the "Big Boys".

Best regards and many thanks!



Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Frank,

Phil is right - today if you had a file created in SL360 you'd be able to open it in Storyline 3 and have access to the work and features you'd done. Some of the newest features such as the random number generator aren't available in Storyline 3. Take a look at the specifics of compatibility here. 

You should also have the back up files from Storyline 2 on your computer once you opened them in Storyline 360. Look for the files that are labeled with -SL2 Back up.story and you can open that one in Storyline 2.