Articulate vs. Lectora

When it comes to software development tools, I’m fortunate to work in an environment that understands no two tools are the same and each provide advantages and disadvantages.  The fun part of my job is having a plethora of tools in my ‘elearning development’ toolbox: Adobe Creative Suite, Captivate, Visio, Lectora, and now Articulate.  There are many others, but these are the most popular and most widely used.

As many do, we storyboard projects in Word and PowerPoint.  Over the past couple years using Lectora Enterprise Edition I developed templates that would ease the elearning development process for instructional designers. However, there is still a steep learning curve understanding all of Lectora’s power and control.

Recently, Lectora launched a new tool that integrates PowerPoint slides directly into a Lectora project.  At the same time, we picked up Articulate Studio ’09. In my world that’s like Christmas morning!

In order to fully appreciate both of these tools and to assist our team in choosing the right tool when developing their courses, I thought I’d run a little test…

I made a small PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate the differences between Lectora and Articulate.  The entire project took less than two hours, which included collecting graphics, layout, writing the content, linking navigation, and publishing to a basic web page (html) in both tools.  I’m not boasting, but I’ve been around development tools for awhile and can pick them up fairly quickly.  This is not to say a true novice beginning in the industry would have the same completion rate.  I would honestly double that time for anyone not familiar with working in these type tools.

Collecting graphics was easy.  I used Tom Kuhlmann’s template from a recent blog post on the Rapid Elearning Blog. This package had all the assets I needed (Thanks Tom!). The layout of my test took about half an hour setting up the Master slide and linking the subsequent slides (pages; screens).  Writing the content was just fluff to fill the pages, and publishing took a bit longer in Articulate only because it was a brief learning curve for me using a new tool.

There are major differences working with these two tools.  Mainly, Lectora’s tool is an integrator meaning the work is done first in PowerPoint and then ‘imported’ into a Lectora project.    Aritculate works as a plugin and all development is done within PowerPoint to include publishing.

Advantages/Disadvantages:

Lectora: Power comes with the ability to use JavaScript and XML for some really unique experiences.  However, whatever is not done in PowerPoint will have to be manually constructed in the Lectora project.  Also, Lectora publishes the slide position at x=0 and y=0. In order to center the content on the screen, you’ll need to make additional configurations within the published files. This example was published with all hyperlinks added first in PowerPoint then imported into Lectora.

Articulate: Power comes with the ease of use and minimal learning curve of its tools.  Plus, everything is done within PowerPoint. The downside (as far a I know with minimal use) is the ability to customize by diving into the code.

Summary:

Lectora: No additional publishing configurations necessary.  It is what it is – PowerPoint slides.  Any additional navigation, interactions, or animations must be added once in the Lectora project.  If you want to simply import and publish, all navigation must be linked in PowerPoint first.  Lectora carried all linking and navigation from PowerPoint and there was zero editing to do.  The only odd thing was it published an unknown and unused variable(?)

Published size and folders: 1 folder, 30 files = 420k

Articulate: A very intuitive product over Lectora. Both have a plethora of publishing and user control options.  Since Articulate is integrated, it is obvious that all navigation, interactions, and animations are added or edited within PowerPoint.  Articulate’s default Player template has all the bells & whistles and it took me a few minutes to learn how to simply publish simple slides with user control on screen rather than the player control bar.

Published size and folders: 3 folders, 47 files = 1.14Mb

NOTE: Knowing Lectora well enough I know all those files are used.  Not knowing Articulate well enough I am not sure how many of those files are published by default whether they are used or not.

In my humble opinion Articulate is clearly a smoother experience as it is based on the flash platform whereas Lectora publishes as html and JavaScript.  At first study, Articulate publishes .swf holders and content is moved in an out.  Lectora publishes each page as an .html file and every click of a button rewrites the page on screen. View both examples here:

ppt_lectora
ppt_lectora
ex_articulate
ppt_articulate

Download the slide template from Tom

Download the slide template I used for this example

As mentioned, my experience with Articulate is less than 30 days while I’ve been using Lectora for about two years. Who else has used both products? What other comparrisons have you noticed?

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Comments

  1. says

    Kevin,
    I want to present a review of these products to some e-learning developers I work with but am mostly concerned about 508 compliance. Do you know whether Articulate creates 508 compliant e-learning?

    • says

      Hi Barbara,

      If I understand your question, Articulate supports the development of 508 compliant eLearning. A quick search of their online community and I found several resources both in the Forums and on the Word of Mouth Blog. You can find it here.

      As for if Articulate as a company will create 508 compliant courses for your company, I’m not exactly sure but I believe they develop courses for companies as well. If you’re on Twiter, reach out to both David Anderson @elearning and Tom Kuhlmann @tomkuhlmann. They will certainly be able to answer your question in more detail.

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