Storyline vs. Captivate: Features of Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate Compared Side-by-Side

Storyline vs. Captivate: Features Compared Side-by-Side
Storyline vs. Captivate: Features Compared Side-by-Side

Here, at eLearning Company, we have been asked the question “Storyline or Captivate, which one should I go with?” more times than we can count, so we decided to do a thorough review of both tools to help our readers select the eLearning authoring tool that is right for them. In this guide, we are comparing Articulate Storyline 360 and Adobe Captivate 2019. We hope that the information provided here will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each tool, and will enable our readers to make an informed decision when selecting the eLearning authoring software. Scroll down to start comparing the two authoring tools or click the link to jump to the section of your interest:

  1. Supported Content
  2. User Experience
  3. Learning Design
  4. Advanced Functionality
  5. Productivity
  6. Extending the Tool Functionality
  7. Total Scores

Storyline vs. Captivate Round 1: Supported Content

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Virtual reality projects No support for virtual realityVirtual reality is not currently supported in Articulate Storyline. Average support for virtual realityAdobe Captivate 2019 allows creating basic virtual reality eLearning projects.
Cluelabs eLearning widgets Good support for Cluelabs eLearning widgetsAll Cluelabs elearning widgets work with Storyline 360, backward compatibility with Storyline 2 is also in place. Good support for Cluelabs eLearning widgetsAll Cluelabs widgets work in Captivate equally well as they do in Storyline.
Responsive content Poor support for responsive contentWhile the player itself is responsive and adjusts based on the screen size, the eLearning content, however, always looks the same no matter the device. Good support for responsive contentResponsive eLearning projects are supported and work well with different types of devices, content can adjust based on the screen size.
Software simulation Good software simulation featuresStoryline provides a set of tools to record, edit, and display software simulations. Good software simulation featuresSoftware simulations are supported in Captivate equally well.
PowerPoint import Good PowerPoint import supportUsers have the ability to import slides from a PowerPoint presentation. Prior to importing, Storyline will display a two-dimensional grid showing all slides in the presentation to help the user select only those slides that are needed. Slide content is converted into Storyline objects (text boxes, shapes, etc.), becomes part of the slide, and can be moved around and edited in Storyline. Poor PowerPoint import supportWhile PowerPoint slides can be imported into a Captivate project, it’s worth noting that slides are imported as single objects. This means that content cannot be edited directly in Captivate, any edits have to go through PowerPoint, which adds extra steps to the process and makes the development process less convenient. In addition, you cannot interact with PowerPoint objects through Advanced Actions in Captivate.
Adobe Photoshop import No Adobe Photoshop import supportThere are currently no options to import assets directly from Adobe Photoshop. Good Adobe Photoshop import supportThe assets can be imported from Photoshop. Upon import, they are laid out on the screen as they were positioned in the Photoshop file, saving time on content positioning and alignment. Furthermore, the edits you make later in Photoshop can propagate directly to Captivate, saving you time and effort.

Summary: Supported Content (Storyline-10 points, Captivate-15 points)

So far, Articulate Storyline is only a winner when it comes to importing PowerPoint content. And Adobe Captivate scores higher with virtual reality, responsive content, and Adobe Photoshop import. Both authoring tools work equally well with Cluelabs widgets and software simulations and generally support modern eLearning trends. Here are some questions that can help you decide which tool will better meet your needs:

  • Will I need to import PowerPoint content into my eLearning course?
  • Do I plan to create virtual reality-based training programs, are my learners and organization ready for this type of content?
  • If I need virtual reality compatibility, will I be satisfied with a limited set of VR features?
  • Will my learners access eLearning from mobile devices as well as desktops?
  • If I expect the learners to use mobile devices for learning, will they do this often enough to justify the longer time needed to create responsive learning projects?
  • Will I design slides in Photoshop prior to creating the learning course? If so, how important is it to be able to import designs directly into the authoring tools?

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Storyline vs. Captivate Round 2: User Experience

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Intuitive interface Good interface, all buttons have text captions to make the functionality clear. Minimal use of pop-up windows. Menus and buttons are clearly captioned. Working with objects can get confusing because of over-reliance on the Properties panel.
Software responsiveness The application responds well to user requests and features minimal lag and wait time when an operation is initiated. It often takes a few seconds to render a new element, paste an object, etc. During this time the application freezes until the action is completed.
Multiple projects handling Multiple projects can be open at the same time. However, each project opens in its own application window. Multiple projects are shown as tabs of the same application similar to other Adobe software you may have used in the past.
Workspace customization Panels can be resized and moved around, but cannot be completely hidden. The user can hide the panels, but cannot move them around the workspace.
Tooltips Hovering the mouse pointer over buttons and options brings up helpful tooltips. Some items have tooltips, others don’t. No tooltips in the properties panel where the most confusion usually occurs.
Workspace zoom Allows to zoom in, zoom out, fit slide to window size. Zooming in and out can only be done by selecting pre-defined zoom percentages. Allows to fit slide to window size.
Branching view Slides are arranged according to branching logic in both the story view and the slide view. To see the branching sequence, the user needs to open a menu, select an option, which will open a new window.

Summary: User Experience (Storyline-18 points, Captivate-11 points)

The interface in Storyline is cleaner and easier to use intuitively. The user interface in Captivate is less convenient and takes a bit longer to get used to, but overall, once you learn it, you will have no issues working with it. Here are some questions that can help you decide which tool will better meet your needs:

  • Do I have time for the learning curve to occur or do I need to jump right into the authoring tool and start developing?
  • Will I be able to create effective eLearning courses using a less convenient interface?
  • Is my computer powerful enough to work without lag and freezing when performing operations?
  • Is it important to see branching logic at all times while designing the course?

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Storyline vs. Captivate Round 3: Learning Design

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Slide templates A limited number of templates is available through Content Library 360. The Assets feature offers a large variety of templates that can be used.
Icons A great selection of icons that can be used in the course. Icons can be edited directly on the slides (by ungrouping the shapes). A limited selection of icons, many searches return 0 results. Icons can only be edited through Adobe Illustrator.
Text captions Text captions can be used as shapes and converted to shapes, their properties can be changed in the Format pop-up window. You can style a text caption, but the options a limited to (mostly) cheesy outdated presets.
Rollover interactions Can be achieved by using triggers, states, layers. Native functionality for rollover interactions, no coding required.
Interactive videos Can be achieved by using branching, triggers, layers. Out-of-the-box interactive video functionality provided.
SVG images No support for SVG images. SVG images can be used.
Input controls Several kinds of input controls can be added to the slide. Only text entry input object can be added.
Miscellaneous objects Support for sliders, dials, markers, scrolling panels. No significant objects that are unique to Captivate.
Slide layers Slide layers can be used on all slides. No slide layer functionality.
Drag and drops Good drag and drop functionality that could be extended with triggers. Basic drag and drop functionality.
Question slides Questions slides are flexible and can be extended with triggers. There is a little wiggle room when it comes to customizing how question slides work.
Freeform interactions Several freeform interactions are supported. Some functionality can be achieved with the use of actions.
Animations Animations are limited to 16 options. A good variety of animations. Multiple animations can be applied to a single object.

Summary: Learning Design (Storyline-28 points, Captivate-21 points)

If you are planning to create custom interactions, Storyline might be a better option for you. If you, however, are more interested in out-of-the-box functionality, you may like Captivate. Here are some questions that can help you decide which tool will better meet your needs:

  • Will I be using slide templates provided by the authoring tool?
  • Are icons an important part of slide design in my work?
  • Would I be able to build rollover interactions and interactive videos if needed?
  • Will I use drag and drop and freeform interactions?
  • Will I need to use uncommon animation options?

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Storyline vs. Captivate Round 4: Advanced Functionality

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

JavaScript support JavaScript code can be used in the course. JavaScript code can be used in the course.
User variables 3 types of user variables are supported. A single user variable type is available.
System variables System variables are not available. A good variety of system variables is available to the user.
Triggers/actions Triggers allow to program interactivity. Actions/advanced actions allow to program interactivity.
Conditions Conditions can be based on variables and/or objects. Only variable-based conditions are possible.

Summary: Advanced Functionality (Storyline-12 points, Captivate-12 points)

Both tools will allow you to program custom interactions, interactive elements, complex scenarios, etc. Here are some questions that can help you decide which tool will better meet your needs:

  • Do I need to use the system variables to achieve the goal of my project?
  • Will I use object-based conditions or will variable-based conditions alone be enough?

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Storyline vs. Captivate Round 5: Productivity

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Object placement Smart guides appear when dragging objects. Custom guides and grid can be turned on/off. Manual placement only. Guides, smart guides, and grid are not available.
Preview options Users can preview the current slide, current scene or the entire project. Additional preview options are available (next 5 slides, preview in the browser, SCORM cloud, etc.).
Publishing options Multiple publishing options: SCORM, AICC, xAPI, video, Word document, Review, etc. Fewer publishing options: SCORM, AICC, xAPI, video.
Default labels The functionality can be achieved with feedback masters. Possibility to set default text for some text captions in the project.
Community/support A vibrant community that readily provides support with any questions another user may have. A somewhat active community of Captivate enthusiasts. User questions are likely to be answered.

Summary: Productivity (Storyline-12 points, Captivate-10 points)

While Captivate provides more preview options, Storyline wins with output options, which can often be a deal-breaker. In addition, careful placement and alignment of slide objects take less time and effort in Storyline. Here are some questions that can help you decide which tool will better meet your needs:

  • What is the preferred format of the final deliverable?
  • Do slide objects need to be aligned precisely?
  • Will I be reaching out to the community if I run into problems?

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Storyline vs. Captivate Round 6: Extending the Tool Functionality

Feature

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Saving interaction data Possibility to save data generated in the learning course. Learner’s data can be captured and saved.
Storing learner’s input in PDF Variables can be used to save the learner’s entries to a PDF file. The learner’s input can be saved into a downloadable PDF file.
Building leaderboards A leaderboard can be added to the course. The course can feature a leaderboard to boost engagement.
Creating custom high score lists A custom list with functionality similar to a leaderboard can be added. Similarly, a custom list can boost engagement by providing leaderboard-like features.
Capturing learner’s geolocation Learner’s location can be captured by the course. The course can determine the learner’s geolocation.
Editing text without re-publishing the course Dynamic text labels can be edited without having to re-publish the course. No need to publish the course if dynamic labels are used for the text.
Drawing dynamic charts A chart can be drawn from user variables. A custom chart can be displayed on the slide.
Drawing comparison charts Comparison charts are supported. Similarly, comparison charts are supported.
Adding custom progress bars A custom progress bar can be placed on or below the slide. A custom progress bar can be placed on the slide.
Displaying content full screen The slide and the project content can be shown in full-screen mode. The project content can be shown in full-screen mode.

Summary: Extending the Tool Functionality (Storyline-30 points, Captivate-28 points)

Both Storyline and Captivate support eLearning widgets that can extend the tool functionality.

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Storyline vs. Captivate: Grand Total and Summary

Articulate Storyline

Adobe Captivate

Supported Content 10 points 15 points
User Experience 18 points 11 points
Learning Design 28 points 21 points
Advanced Functionality 12 points 12 points
Productivity 12 points 10 points
Extending the Tool Functionality 30 points 28 points
TOTAL 110 points 97 points

In conclusion, it’s worth mentioning that both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate can each offer unique features not provided by the other tool. If you are trying to decide which tool is right for you, it will be helpful to take a look at the list of features provided in this guide and take note of how each authoring tools scores on the features that are important to you and are key in the project you are working on.

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What content types do Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate support?

Articulate Storyline is better when it comes to importing PowerPoint content. And Adobe Captivate scores higher with virtual reality, responsive content, and Adobe Photoshop import. Both authoring tools work equally well with Cluelabs widgets and software simulations and generally support modern eLearning trends.

Which authoring tool provides a better user experience?

The interface in Storyline is cleaner and easier to use intuitively. The user interface in Captivate is less convenient and takes a bit longer to get used to, but overall, once you learn it, you will have no issues working with it.

Which authoring tools offer better learning design options?

If you are planning to create custom interactions, Storyline might be a better option for you. If you, however, are more interested in out-of-the-box functionality, you may like Captivate.

Do Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate offers advanced functionality that can support complex learning projects?

Both tools will allow you to program custom interactions, interactive elements, complex scenarios, etc.

Which authoring software has better productivity tools, Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate?

While Captivate provides more preview options, Storyline wins with output options, which can often be a deal-breaker. In addition, careful placement and alignment of slide objects take less time and effort in Storyline.

Storyline or Captivate, which one should I go with?

Both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate can each offer unique features not provided by the other tool. If you are trying to decide which tool is right for you, it will be helpful to take a look at the list of features provided in this guide and take note of how each authoring tools scores on the features that are important to you and are key in the project you are working on.

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eLearning Company Blog | April 2, 2019