Help deciding between Capitvate and Articulate

Oct 14, 2014


I'm trying to decide between software platforms, and every time I research I leave with more questions than answers. Advice/input/guidance from those who have been in my shoes would be greatly appreciated. Some background: 

1. We have no training platform currently, so all content would be fresh - very little importing. 

2. We have several business units - very different types of businesses - within our organization. To start, we would be using this for bars and restaurants. 

3. I need to be able to design courses, track learner progress, create quizzes, create paths for promotion, gather data from said courses, create users, publish to various devices, manage users and manage content. 

4. I will be taking the training to be Instructional Designer Extraordinaire. I have zero experience in digital course design, but many years in facilitation and program design and management. 
5. I have a decent budget. 

Thoughts? Thanks in advance! 

10 Replies
Jennifer Mastenbrook

Thank you for the link. I read through, and realized I left out an important detail - I'm not sure, given the details I shared, if Storyline or Studio would be a better option. THEN I would compare that against Captivate.

I'm looking for as close to an all in one solution as possible. The information on that thread was helpful, but not exactly what I was looking for. Thanks. 

Jerson  Campos

HI Jennifer

Welcome to the community.

I would recommend Storyline and here is why. 

No digital design experience: Storyline is much easier to learn and use than Captivate, but just as powerful if not better. It is very easy to create very interactive courses without needing to use javascript or other outside 3rd party software. Triggers and Variables are a must need to master though to really create some advanced stuff. 

Design Courses and Quizzes: Again Storyline can do all this and it makes it very easy. Plus you'll have the help of many individuals that help out on this forum.  Why not Studio?  I'm probably gonna get some comments on this, but it basically just enhances powerpoint slides. It does a good job, but I find it linear when it comes to course navigation. With Storyline, it's easy to create branching scenarios to add more realism to your courses. 

Single Solution: All three products are single solutions, but Storyline is the easiest to learn. And if you don't ever master some of the more advanced features, you can still create some cool stuff. 

Publish to various devices:  All three will publish to HTML5 for mobile devices, but each have their limits. Some features on each of the products are not fully HTML5 compatible. But there is a mobile app (Articulate Mobile Player) for the Android OS and iOS that can view Storyline and Studio courses.

Track Learner Progress, Create paths for promotions, gather data, manage users, manage content.:This tasks are actually accomplished on a Learning Management System (LMS) All three applications can publish to formats that can push data to an LMS so that you can do this tasks, but the courses don't do these themselves. I'm only familiar with a few LMSs, but if you are looking for something affordable you can look at Moodle (free). It is a very good LMS but you'll be your own tech support.

I hope this info helps.

Steve Baker

All three will publish to HTML 5 to really make things simple I tell people Articulate is must easier to use and much harder to get yourself into trouble using. It also has a nicer SCORM player in my opinion and is easier to use than Captivate. For most people Articulate will work just fine. If you are more of a power users and want more flexibility behind the scene to do more advanced things with your courses then Captivate is the way to go. That said I do not think their Scorm player is as attractive.

For most beginners I would say go with Articulate until you understand course authoring a lot more and are ready for more advanced features in a couple of years. If you are looking to do a lot of screen / software training then Camtasia is a very good product for that. It allows you to take nice videos of yourself narrating and navigating through a particular software package you may be training on.

Learning Management System for tracking progress, making assignments, running compliance reports etc.

To play your courses, create assignments, or sell them on the internet you need a Learning Management System there are a number of them on the internet. Many of them are just shells or UI face fronts for Moodle. (Moddle is driving the backend and they just customize the front end and try to sell you their system as their own) When we were doing our search I really had to press a lot of the sales folks to get them to admit they were just rebranding a Moodle product.

Jerson mentions above that Moodle is free but that is a relative term. Moodle is open source you can download it from the internet for free. Once you download it you need someplace to install it. Unless you plan to run a learning platform out of your garage you will need servers, dependable internet connections, backup software etc.. Servers require operating systems, databases backup units and someone that understands and manages all of that. Typically organizations that run Moodle have some type of IT department. By the time you factor in your server cost, tech costs, programming costs for any customization you may need its not a very free solution. Most organizations that start with moodle do not stick with it. I know there will be those that disagree with me on this but I am not a big fan of Moodle.

There are a number of LMS companies that you can sign up to. After you pay your fee they will set you up with a ready to go learning system. That said many of the larger companies such as Blackboard are very expensive and will not work with smaller entities. I am not sure why so many companies feel like they need to pay such outrageous fees to some of the larger LMS companies in order to get a quality LMS. We looked at a number of companies and settled 2 years ago with Simplydigi. They have a very good enterprise LMS but without the huge costs of many of the other companies. We have been with them for 2 years now and have been very happy. I would start with them and then use them as a comparison for your search.

One last point, when you create your courses make sure they are portable by this I mean make sure they are in a SCORM format in case you decide to change LMS companies.

I hope this helps

Steve Baker

One other note Jen, Articulate bundles certain functions in Storyline vs Studio you really need to compare the two products side by side and see what types of courses you will be creating more of. There is no one person that can tell you which is better for you and your needs. That saidIn general storyline is great for those who don't have any existing content and want a soup to nuts excellent tool for those who already have studio for example makes sense to stick with it and upgrade. For those who have a bunch of PowerPoint course content then studio may make it easier to convert all of the PowerPoint content Those are the general guidelines for authoring and learning systems.

I hope this helps

michelle eames

I had Captivate whic was great but sometimes there were things I wanted to do that needed code and I found the Adobe community less helpful and a wee bit snotty at times.  I also found in the version I had (captivate 4) that you couldn't use the work space to hold pictires whilst you worked on your design or you had to crop them because you couldn't have anything over the edge of the slide..

Storyline is so easy,  if you know PowerPoint you can use Storyline.  The Community is incredible.  The templates and graphics you can get for free and the support and ideas are amazing!

Bruce Graham

@Michelle - just to place Storyline into perspective, and amend something you said, I would say:

"If you know PowerPoint, you can use SOME OF the technical functionality of Storyline - but you still need the Instruction Design skills".

I think most of the great SL courses have very little in common with PowerPoint except the very basics, but yes - if you know PowerPoint you can make an entire SL course.

Travis Wickesberg

One of your criteria should be stability. For the most part, the two programs are the same. They offer very similar functionality. The major difference is stability. Captivate is prone to crashing, freezing, and not working as expected. When we made the switch to Storyline, we spent less time diagnosing development issues, and more time developing great courses. Anyone else agree? Plus, you can't beat this community. 

Creativ Technologies

Hi Jennifer,

As you know Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate both have come up with the new versions (Storyline 2 and Captivate 9). So we have tried to prepare a comparative list regarding the features.

To read the comparison, please visit our blog

If you have any queries you can reach us at  

David Tait

I know this is an old thread that has been revived recently but I couldn't resist adding my thoughts on the subject.

In a nutshell I would choose Storyline over Captivate any day of the week.

I have used both programmes extensively and found Captivate to be very frustrating, requiring many more workarounds to achieve what I would consider to be basic functionality. I use Adobe products daily and have done for almost 20 years and this is my least favourite.

What I like about Storyline is that it has some basic enough features for the beginner but is powerful enough for professional users to create some really high-end material.

I've found that both programmes have strong, knowledgable and helpful communities online.