First, let me start by congratulating everyone who works for Articulate for the launch of Storyline. Undertaking a monumental job such as writing an application like Storyline from the ground up is no easy feat. However if there’s a company that can do it, that is certainly Articulate.
I have been a fan of Articulate for a long time even as I worked for Adobe on the Captivate and eLearning Suite products.
The day after leaving Adobe, I had my first meeting with Arlyn Asch, Articulate CTO, who spent time with me going over Storyline and after an hour of talking to Arlyn and seeing what they were working on, it was a enough for me to believe that sure enough Storyline was going to be a game-changer. Since then, I have had the opportunity to speak with many more great folks who work at Articulate, including Adam Schwartz, founder and CEO, and every time I do, I realize that they are passionate about what they do and everyone shares the same interest, namely to create great products and delight their customers. No wonder they have thousands of superfans, who rave about their products and who recommend them to their peers via Social Media Networks.
Before I share my thoughts on why I believe the new Articulate Storyline changes things for all of us in eLearning and makes a big splash in mLearning, I’d like to preface by saying that the reasons I mention below are based on my experience working intimately on Adobe Captivate for over 13 years, dating all the way back to its early days at eHelp (when we called it RoboDemo), later becoming a Macromedia product and more recently working 6 years at Adobe as the Senior Product Evangelist for Adobe Captivate and the eLearning Suite.
So here it goes, these are the things that have impressed me about Storyline, some are features but I also consider the intangibles, such as Articulate’s community, to be important factors too, which is why I put the Articulate Community at the top of the list.
1. The Articulate Community. I don’t really know if Articulate will put this as a feature on the box, but they probably should. This is one of those intangibles that I believe deserve more credit and thus I have started off my list by praising the amazing community that people like Tom Kuhlmann, David Anderson, Jeanette Brooks and so many others have passionately worked on for a very long time. In a blog post entitled 5 Reasons why you should join the Articulate Community if you are in eLearning I wrote that in reviewing Articulate’s apps, I would have to say the community would have to be the killer feature because it was unmatched in the eLearning Industry. I also said in this article that for me, one of the most frustrating things about working at Adobe on the Captivate team was the poor support and customer care Adobe provided to our customers, because it negated all the great things we all did as Evangelists. Bad support and customer care is something you will not find when you become part of the Articulate community, I guarantee you, so this alone is enough to recommend the new Storyline vs. Adobe Captivate. But of course, there’s a lot more.
2. User Interface and User Experience. If there’s one thing we have learned from the mobile App revolution is that a great user experience is critical these days, apps have to delight customers and ultimately the user interface is the app. I always measure the success of an app by whether it keeps me coming back to it or I simply use it once and then put it back in the virtual shelf. Articulate in my experience builds software that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also intuitive and easy to use. I remember the first time I installed Articulate Engage, I thought this is how software should be built, it’s beautiful and engaging. It was almost like using a beautifully designed iPad app. It kept me coming back for more and that’s how I feel about the new Storyline.
3. Virtually No Learning Curve. If there’s one thing Articulate knows is helping customers design eLearning and it shows in the way they developed Storyline. Storyline is a standalone application that isn’t built on top of PowerPoint, however if you know how to use PowerPoint you are going to feel comfortable using Storyline. One thing I used to hear quite a bit from brand new users of Adobe Captivate was that it was fairly difficult to get started and many times I heard that once they started their first project, staring at the blank slide canvas was intimidating. Articulate made sure this wouldn’t happen with Storyline. For example, even if you are new at developing eLearning, whenever you insert a new slide into your project, you will be presented with ready-made slide template such as highly interactive scenarios that you can easily customize, as illustrated below. And that’s just the beginning, there’s a link in this dialog box that takes you to the Articulate Community, where you will be able to download more free templates as they become available. This is impressive not only for new users but also for seasoned ones.
4. One-stop shop for eLearning Assets. One of the challenging things about building eLearning is getting all the right images in place in order to build life-like scenarios, we often have to resort to various sites in order to secure the right images for the project at hand and frankly this can be costly and time consuming. Articulate knows this and I like the way they approached solving this problem in Storyline. Storyline not only includes many illustrated and photographic characters out of the box (more will be available for purchase) but they also include variations of each character, which they are calling poses and these include thinking, surprised, waiting, excited, etc. So it’s easy to find the right image for any project and this is another reason to recommend Storyline.
5. Interactions without a single line of code. One of the secrets to making eLearning effective is to include just the right amount of interactions in order to keep the learner engaged, and Storyline makes build interactions, even complex ones a breeze. When Captivate introduced Advanced Actions, I wasn’t all that thrilled because in my opinion not many eLearning Professionals want to bother writing code in order to build powerful interactions, instead I would have prefered to have gone the route that Articulate went, and made it simple to include interactivity without typing code. Storyline introduces the concept of Triggers, Slide Layers, States and Variables in order to build even the most complex interactions. Another reason to like Storyline in my opinion.
6. Next Generation of Screen Recording. This is one of my favorite features in Articulate Storyline. Storyline approaches making software simulations in a whole new ways as compared to Adobe Captivate. For one thing there’s a feature for zooming and panning, similar to Camtasia, and something Captivate users have asked for a long time. But that’s just the beginning. Unlike Captivate where you have to select whether you want a demo, assessment, training or full motion out of a screen recording session and then you end up with multiple projects if you choose multiple types of screen recording, Storyline takes a completely new approach. In Storyline, when you record the screen you end up with a high resolution video that you can use as is to show your learners a particular process along with zoom and pan features. However, from that video you can also go back and insert a step-by-step show-me version, as well as a try-it and test-me versions, all without the same project and all from a single screen recording session. But wait, there’s more. Storyline also comes with a feature called Action Fine-tuning, which allows you to go back and make fine adjustment to your software simulations. I will be posting a video on this in the coming days.
7. HTML5, Flash and Mobile Learning. Last but certainly not least is what Articulate is introducing in Storyline as it pertains to something I’m very passionate about, namely HTML5 and Mobile Learning. I really like what Articulate has done regarding publishing to HTML5 and enabling learners to use their iPad to consume courses created in Storyline. I have been testing Articulates new iPad app for a while now and I’m happy to say that taking a course is right on the iPad is a very pleasant experience. I would like to see Articulate gradually expand beyond the iPad and into other mobile devices over time.
There’s so much to like about the new Articulate Storyline and I could easily keep this list going but I believe all of these reasons are compelling enough for new users to embrace Storyline, as well as for existing Articulate Studio users to want to add Storyline to their tool set and I also envision loads of Adobe Captivate users wanting to switch over to Articulate Storyline.
Post translated into other Languages
A couple of days after this post went live, I received a direct message on Twitter from Amir Elion, who asked if he could translate the review into Hebrew and add something I missed, namely the Right-to-Left language support in Articulate Storyline, to which I replied, of course. A day later, this is what he tweeted:
— Amir Elion (@amirelion) May 5, 2012
I would like to thank Amir for his kindness, and I would like to extend an invitation to any one else who would like to translate this post and others, into other languages. Thank you in advance.
What do you think of the new Articulate Storyline? Please share your thoughts below.