Be Wary of Authoring Tool Comparisons

I often see articles, blog posts, or webinars entitled something like Storyline versus Captivate or How the Top 5 Authoring Tools Stack Up, or some other comparable title. I generally avoid this conversation because to me there are so many variables that there is never one defining thing that makes software A better than Software B. Also much of this debate is subjective since what I think is important may not be what you think is essential. 

When I first got into designing and developing eLearning, it was around 2004, and the first authoring tool I used was Adobe Captivate 2.0. A year or two later, the company I worked for purchased a new LMS. That LMS was from SumTotal, and they also wanted to sell their authoring solution as well. This authoring tool was Toolbook, and I believe it was version 9. A year or two later I left that company and started working for another organization that used Adobe Captivate and I've used Captivate ever since. There were some small jobs done in Lectora and Storyline along the way as well, but I didn't spend enough time in either to form a solid opinion. 

Based on that, you might think that I would be qualified to at least offer my opinion with a comparison between Toolbook and Captivate, but I feel differently. I presently use the current release of Captivate. I've not actively used Toolbook in many years. Most of what I learned about Toolbook has faded from memory. It was a powerful piece of software that published to HTML before many other authoring tools, but that's about all I recall. In fact, it doesn't matter what I remember because even if I had the perfect recollection of the software, Toolbook has updated several times since I used it. The best comparison I could give is to compare Toolbook from ten years ago with Adobe Captivate 2017 Release. Of course, this wouldn't be very fair to Toolbook.

Since most people are like me and don't use more than one authoring tool at a time, I would be suspect of any comparisons between multiple authoring tools. Also, if someone is trying to convince you that software A is better than software B, ask yourself what's in it for them? Does that so-called eLearning expert work for Software A and ultimately is trying to discredit the competition and boost their sales? Hmmm.

If you're a decision maker in your organization looking to purchase elearning authoring software for your people, make sure you talk to your eLearning developers and find out what they have used in the past. Ask them what they liked about that software and what they didn't like about it. Find out what sort of support the software creator offers. Consider what the software includes. If you have to purchase additional software to accomplish the same thing that a single competitor provides in one package, that great deal may not be so good after all.