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Articulate, Captivate or Lectora?


Since the ASTD TK show, people have been hot on these three software packages: Articulate, Captivate and Lectora. On my webinar series, with email and via twitter, people have been asking me about these packages. Here is my summary of each - I actually replied to someone on LinkedIn about a month ago. Here is a copy of that interaction.

Follow up:

Articulate: Uses PowerPoint as the main development environment and overlays interactions, audio and Flash media over the top. Then, it exports it out into a handy, single .SWF file for distribution on the web. It has a nice wrapper that creates a nice, contained package for navigation and user controls.

Captivate: Uses itself as a development platform and does screen recordings and your desktop. It adds interactions and demonstration pop ups, while also allowing for a degree of branching, quizzes and the new version has great audio controls. Then, when you are done, it exports out to a handy, single .swf file for distribution. It also has a nice wrapper that has great navigation and user controls.

Lectora: Is its own development platform specifically designed for eLearning creation. It allows for the most flexibility, and the pro package has screen capture, audio capture and PPT import as well. It has lots of interaction templates, learning templates and other features that allow you to jump right in and start programming great eLearning.

As for use, it depends on what you want to use it for. I'm not a big fan of PPT for eLearning, but I know lots of people who are. If lots of your training is already in PPT, then maybe Articulate is a good bet : Import your PPT, add some audio and a couple questions and after export, you are good to go. The problem for me is that it uses PPT as the basic development platform and plugs in over the top. Your training looks like a glorified PPT.

Captivate is great for screen capture. Sure, it can do other things, but when you boil it down, its great for capturing mouse movements and screen shots. If you are developing training on a new computer system or software Captivate is really, really good. But for other more advanced elearning things, I've had struggles.

Lectora is great for everything, but there is a learning curve. Everything Articulate and Captivate does, you can do it in Lectora. Plus, the flexibility of Lectora allows you to go beyond and really do some creative eLearning. If you want to build training distributed over the web, and you have a team of creative designers who want no limits, try Lectora.

For each platform, you buy them and install them on your computer. Once you have them, you don't have any additional investment. If you want to upgrade, of course there is a fee, but they don't have any on-going licensing fees. Lectora has some great training courses you can purchase (like $500 a day).

In my work, I program everything using the Adobe Creative 4 suite. I build everything from scratch. However, I've worked with all of these tools. The new version of Articulate is great, and now allows you to use PowerPoint 2007 for PC. If you are a PPT based house, it might work for you.

Captivate allows me to tweak quite a bit, but when all is said and done, it does great screen captures. I currently use it when my client wants me to build training on a software installation ("Let's learn how to use XYZ software). Captivate is also great because of the .swf export. I can bring Captivate files into my flash work if a consistent look and feel is required. I've also talked clients OUT of hiring me, INTO purchasing Captivate and then hiring me to teach them Captivate. Teach a man to fish...

Lectora is the closest thing to building everything from scratch. I am actually using Lectora for a couple of project now, building templates, interactions and full training courses that non-programmers can go in and edit. With Lectora, you can build whatever structure you like, into whatever look and feel you like. Its really, really powerful stuff...not as powerful as building from scratch, but very good. If you want to dive in with no limits, Lectora is a good product.

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Comment from: Cande Filip [Visitor]
Thanks so much - I needed a quick overview of the three with a bit of comparison - this is great.
04/02/09 @ 15:03
Comment from: Owen [Visitor] Email

I don't know if you remember me or not, we met at ASTD Tech a number of years ago. It was great to stumble across this post.

I've used all three of these as well and concur with your assessment 100%. Admittedly, I am new to Lectora so I'm still in the learning curve, but am impressed with what I see so far. I would like to add that if you have the budget, there isn't a need to limit yourself to just one tool. I just published a Lectora course that used the individual flash files created by Articulate, demonstrations created by a 3rd party using Camtasia (.swf files), “click through” exercises created with captivate, all wrapped up in Lectora with a nice assessment. The whole thing works and plays nice with our SABA environment and you would never know how many different tools were used to create it.

Too often, I think we spend a lot of time looking for a "One Size Fits All" solution instead of just integrating the best of breed solutions that are already out there to achieve the best results for our target audience.

Hope you are doing well!

Owen Holt
Dell Inc.
Communications and Training Consultant
Global Finance Systems
08/06/09 @ 10:33
Comment from: Karen [Visitor]
Thank you for this post. It solidifies the research I've done on these three products and confirms my decision to go with Lectora. I am a lay-person and will be getting my e-learning developing feet wet this this product. I appreciate your time and feedback.
08/11/09 @ 09:29
Comment from: shahid [Visitor]
I was looking for Articulate/Lectora comparison, this is enough. Thank you.
08/27/09 @ 04:34
Comment from: Indu [Visitor]
Thanks very much for this comparison. I am new to Lectora and was wondering if it was worth the effort, learning it. I am now convinced that I can go ahead.
Thanks again!
10/21/09 @ 11:09
Comment from: MF [Visitor] · http://www.mf9design.com
Excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to give a summary.
11/30/09 @ 08:49
Comment from: aarvey [Visitor]
presently looking at RWD uPerform or Lectora as a choice...Any suggestions please..
12/15/09 @ 23:43
Comment from: Elisabeth Zeller [Visitor] Email
Hi! Thanks for the comments, it helps alot. I'm new to articulate and Lectora, but have them both as well as captivate. I've been tasked with creating interesting,fun,interactive,web based courses from content found in the instructor led courses in which power point shows are used as the teaching aid. It seems like LECTORA is the way to go. The tests in LECOTRA seem like they are more integrated and look less like they are inserted from another place as the tests look in quizmaker as part of articulate . any ideas would be helpful. Has anyone taken training in LECTORA that they've found great? Thanks!
01/13/10 @ 14:31
Comment from: Naiya [Visitor]
I used Lectora when I was researching LCMSs in 2007 and I absolutely loved it. I also tried Captivate, Articulate, and Camtasia (for like a minute) and I did find that Lectora did more stuff... but Captivate has a much shallower learning curve and produces software sims that were fine for our needs.

Great comments, and thanks!
01/27/10 @ 02:50
Thanks for the comparison. I've used Captivate and Lectora. I like Captivate more for demo-ing? applications, rather than Lectora. I do like Lectora for training like safety or ethics. The learning curve is MUCH greater in Lectora than Captivate to me it's like the difference between driving an automatic versus a stick shift. I have more control with Lectora. But sometimes I don't have the time for the "programming" that's involved with Lectora. Both are great tools. I am now learning Articulate Presenter (formerly Breeze I believe). So far it's like Powerpoint on steriods. I like it too! But I just like learning new stuff.
02/25/10 @ 22:05
Comment from: Bob Gayou [Visitor] · http://emscribesytems.com
I am a physician who owns a nationwide scribe training business and we train at multiple sites across the country. We've purchased Lecotora (great to see the positive comments) because a lot of our training is site specific and needs tweaking to match the site. I'm looking for a consultant to help us with our first conversion to online training after which we will do it in house. Where do we look for such a person - many of the commentors here seem to have the expertise we are looking for. We use lots of videos and audio simulations (5-10 minutes each) and lengthy boring power points. Anyone interested. Were based in Santa Barbara Ca.
03/20/10 @ 08:25
Comment from: Minnie [Visitor]
How about adding UPK to your comparison? I'm a UPK expert.
03/30/10 @ 22:48
Comment from: Deborah Carlson [Visitor] Email · http://www.rwd.com
Please add RWD uPerform to the mix. Our product has recieved top awards in Brandon Hall shoot outs, and for enterprise customers is a seamless, content management, tracking and course delivery system all in one!
06/16/10 @ 06:52
Comment from: Melinda Smith [Visitor] Email
This was really helpful information. I know this article is old, but hopefully I'll get a response. Can you still import flash into Lectora? Or work with RoboHelp?
06/22/10 @ 13:47
Comment from: Thomas Toth [Member] Email
Yes, you can still import Flash into Lectora...they make it really easy. Its a button to insert the final .swf file.

RoboHelp exports to HTML and utilizes standard HTML, so I would be very surprised if you couldn't bring Flash .swf files into that tool as well.
06/22/10 @ 16:16
Comment from: Lucy Moore [Visitor]
I am an independent training consultant and need experience in either Articulate or Captivate in order to obtain jobs. Any ideas on getting experience in either of these?
07/01/10 @ 08:01
Comment from: Mark Morrison [Visitor]
At work we use Captivate for simulation training (especially for systems training), but wrap the captivate SWF's into a Lectora course for LMS integration.... like a shell really.

Only thing to remember (especially if you aren't integrating the skin in Captivate into 1 SWF file)

1. Insert the Captivate skins SWF into Lectora using the add animation button (remember to set parameter wmode transparent if you need transparency)

2. In the course title add all the SWF's you published in Captivate, and paste copeies of the SWFS into the IMAGES folder in Lectora. You should now be able to preview in Lectora you entire captivate movie.

3. When publishing in Lectora to AICC/SCORM/HMTML or CD the captivate SWFs will publish to the root directory. You will need to cut them and paste them into the IMAGES directory of your published files. The captivate movie will then display correctly on your LMS/HTML Browser.
08/27/10 @ 18:10
Comment from: Graham Betts [Visitor] · http://www.bettscomputers.com
Captivate was never intended as a complete E-learning development package. It is an advanced screen capture program that has gradually grown to do other things as well but it is essentially still a screen capture program which requires integration into a program like Lectora much like Mark Morrison has stated.
11/12/10 @ 14:20
Comment from: Kenneth C. McCoy [Visitor] · http://mccoyinternational.com
Hi I'm an instructor and I want to migrate to a virtual invironment never to be seen again. I'm lost with a limited budget.Can some one suggest to me what I should buy/learn/ in order to take my content from the class room to the web and charge admission. I need a reliable path

02/02/11 @ 20:08
Comment from: Tracy Hassell [Visitor] Email
I have browsed the comments. Really good. I too am an instructor and course developer. I too have a limited budget. What is the best pairing keeping budget limitations in mind for housing Captivate created content to apply a wrapper that will produce a hierarchical layout of the content. The content will be inserted into a web based product. the housing of the content would be ideal too. We have the ability to do it in-house but getting a developer to create a place to hose it that is robust for the user is difficult to do. I get tossed off when any other work comes to the Developer to do. So in a nut shell they want it. But don't want to devote any time to assist in getting me there, cost free by developing it in-house. They can do it, but don't care to it seems. So I'm looking for a way around my road block. Any suggestions?
02/18/11 @ 10:08
Comment from: robin firestone [Visitor] Email
I am a training professional living in south florida and need to know all three systems to get a new job. I missed out on the revolution. Where can I go to learn them? I need live teaching - can't learn from a book or a quick online tutorial.
06/06/11 @ 11:19
Comment from: VK [Visitor] Email · http://vinayakkadam.com
One more point to justify why Lectora is great:
If at all you come accross some limit while developing your courseware in Lectora, you can very easily develop that particular interaction/animation using Adobe flash and embed it in your Lectora courseware.
10/19/11 @ 06:28
Comment from: Jeannie [Visitor]
So if you had one vote, which would you choose? Considering all factors including ease of use, cost, etc.

11/16/11 @ 10:40
Comment from: Simon [Visitor]
Lectora is a great tool, trying Articulate after Lectora is simply painful and restrictive.

Take on the curve and your courses will improve - great article.
11/21/11 @ 16:15
Comment from: Preity [Visitor] · http://sequentec.com
I was looking for Articulate/Lectora comparison, this is enough. Thank you.
12/12/11 @ 01:28
Comment from: Keith Carson [Visitor]
We purchased Captivate last year, and I am extremely disappointed. There are several things the program claims to be able to do that it doesn't do. When you go to their forums, you then find out these are known problems, yet it doesn't appear they are doing anything to fix or address the issue. If I had to do it all over again, this would NOT be the product we would purchase.
01/13/12 @ 13:51
Comment from: BASSI [Visitor]
Thanks for the post, i've got the information i required.
01/16/12 @ 00:27
Comment from: varun bhardwaj [Visitor]
Much neeeded article for me. Thanks :)
02/14/12 @ 06:11
Comment from: Jessica [Visitor]
Just a small correction on your Articulate comments...Articulate does not export to a single swf (http://community.articulate.com/forums/p/964/29871.aspx), unfortunately.

Personally, I prefer a blend. Articulate does a nice job putting a "shell" around the content but does not allow for rollovers or pop up-type boxes (unless you learn to think outside the box and use hidden slides in PowerPoint), which is kind of stifling. I use Captivate to create interactivity and simulations (since I don't have Flash). Then I export them into Articulate. The key to Articulate is really, really being a PowerPoint expert, since at its heart, Articulate is PowerPoint on steroids.

I realize the same can be done with other tools, but Articulate does work fairly nicely with SCORM compliance for various LMSs. Captivate isn't as flexible with them, IMO. Lectora does have a steep learning curve. Also, not many of my clients have Lectora. More have Captivate and/or Articulate.

Also, I do find Articulate's eLearning Heroes Blog and Messageboard INVALUABLE. It's got a huge user base and everyone there are extremely helpful and quick with suggestions.

And a quick note, Captivate 5 (and 5.5) are not as compatible with Articulate as one would like. Captivate 5 introduced ActionScript 3 and Articulate isn't dealing in that yet. There are ways around it that you can find on the Articulate blogs.
04/17/12 @ 14:46

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