Your experience/advice re Articulate or similar presentation software?
July 11, 2011 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Do you use or have you used Articulate software or similar, and if so, can you give me your recommendations, thoughts, advice? I'm looking at software (preferably) or services for creating various types of presentations with a bit of style, and I'm a total newb. I need something that will work for business presentations, e-learning (including quizzes and tests), training videos, and sales presentations in formats that will work locally as well embedded in sites – preferably as flexible as possible.

I don't have experience with this kind of software or authoring tool, but I'm pretty good at picking things up. Whatever I use will probably need to play nice with Powerpoint, and it would be good if it offered the ability to incorporate other things as well... AVI or similar, for example. So, I guess I'm looking for a lot of flexibility all around, if possible.

Your opinions or advice for something that won't break the bank? I've heard some positive feedback about Articulate, and it happens to be on sale at the moment, so I'm wondering.
posted by taz to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Second hand: I have a client who develops e-learning and training materials, and raves about Articulate. They say its both robust and flexible enough to address the request they get from their organization, which are quite varied and sometimes fairly complicated and demanding.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:58 AM on July 11, 2011

Articulate is very simple to use. Really, it just turns PowerPoint presentations into Flash files, and has quizzes. The quality what you create depends really just on your PowerPoint skills. I've used it since the first version, and my only complaint is that there are problems with PowerPoint shapes not looking right when you make the Flash file. This has been true from the beginning, and is pretty annoying.

I also use Adobe Captivate, and have since pretty much its beginnings as RoboDemo (and sometimes I use the two together). You can do much more with Captivate than Articulate and frankly get more professional-looking results, but then it is a little more difficult to learn -- it's not hard, but Articulate is pretty simple. When you are ready for even more complexity, you can use it with the other software in the Adobe suite. It's a few hundred dollars less than Articulate. I think it's the better buy if you were to buy only one of them, but it does depend on which features you need.
posted by Houstonian at 5:16 AM on July 11, 2011

I have used Articulate and Adobe Presenter pretty extensively for quick development of e-learning and training materials. Both integrate well with PPT, but Articulate is far, far easier to pick up, less buggy, and more flexible than Presenter -- it also has the advantage of an outstanding and very, very active user community. The suite is super easy to use. You'll pick it up very quickly, and produces pretty good results very quickly if you're good with PowerPoint.

Snap! by Lectora is a more recent entrant into this category that seems to have many of the same functions as Articulate's suite (and is still based in PPT), but it's only $99. I haven't gotten the opportunity to play with it much yet, but it seems full-featured and easy to use. (Much more so, at least, than Lectora's Inspire environment, which drives me crazy on a regular basis.)

On preview, I'll echo Houstonian -- if you're looking for something much more robust and customizable, Captivate is the way to go. There is a steeper learning curve, for sure, but it's not difficult once you start to figure things out. If you already have and use Creative Suite regularly, then Captivate might be a good option for you.
posted by ThatSomething at 5:23 AM on July 11, 2011

I teach courses in Captivate and obviously recommend it, although I can see real advantages to Articulate and Camtasia. 

While I think that Camtasia is a superior app for creating demos, its quizzing options are much less comprehensive than Captivate. Articulate may be better integrated with PowerPoint, but it is also substantially more expensive once you add in modules for interactivity and quizzes. Captivate has strengths of its own -- integration with other Adobe products, widgets, and some decent coding capabilities, so if I could have only one tool, I'd go with Captivate. 

My recommendation: download trial copies of Captivate and Articulate and put them through their paces. Both Adobe and Articulate have very helpful community forums and blogs. I especially recommend the Rapid Elearning Blog hosted at Articulate's site for great ideas on doing more with less, plus free templates and other goodies.
posted by maudlin at 8:23 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might also consider iSpring Presenter. I have trialed Articulate, Captivate and Snap, and currently use iSpring's free presenter for personal projects. Unless you think you'll need to do software simulation, Captivate may be more power and learning curve than you need.

I second taking a look at Articulate's user community and the Rapid eLearning Blog. We are currently using PowerPoint only for elearning. You can really do a lot with it to create nice elearning (and other types of presentations), but you really have to build your powerpoint and graphic design skills. This is also true if you use any of the PowerPoint-based programs.
posted by jeoc at 3:35 PM on July 11, 2011

Do you guys hate it when an asker "best-comments" everyone? :0

I have to do it because every comment helped me out, and the aggregate has given me a much better picture now. Thanks to each of you!
posted by taz at 11:11 AM on July 13, 2011

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