By Joseph Suarez
Articulate Storyline has been surrounded by a lot of hype for quite some time, and its launch has been no exception. However, behind it all is a solid product with simple yet powerful features and abilities.
Recently out of beta and released to the public, Storyline is the latest software product from a vendor that’s proven it understands what eLearning professionals want and learners are engaged by (no pun intended). Storyline continues on the success of the Articulate Studio product line with a new, yet familiar feeling authoring tool.
While no longer a PowerPoint plugin like Articulate Presenter, Storyline maintained an interface very similar to PowerPoint. So anyone familiar with PowerPoint 2007 or higher will immediately feel at home with the basic Storyline capabilities.
Many of Storyline’s features have been long awaited. Here are three that, in my opinion as a former beta tester, separate it from its predecessor Articulate Presenter and other authoring tools.
Without rehashing any of the Flash vs. HTML5 debate, the fact is the web is in a state of flux. It’s an exciting, yet often difficult, time to develop materials for web delivery, especially eLearning. Flash has its limitations, but currently so does support for HTML5. Then there’s the whole issue of native mobile apps. Choosing which technology to develop for is a tough decision.
No single program is going to solve that dilemma, but at least with Storyline, we finally have a tool that gives us the option to publish as Flash, HTML5, or iPad app. It will be interesting to see just how well these newer publishing options fare over time.
Triggers & Variables
Articulate Presenter was always a great product, but it lacked one key feature: variables that can be acted upon by actions. Storyline solves that problem quite well with the addition of variables and programmable actions known as triggers.
With triggers, you can build simple or complex interactivity. For example, you can use a single trigger to jump to the next slide, or use a series of triggers and variables to create a drag and drop activity. With only a very basic understanding of programming, the sky is the limit.
Best of all, all triggers are listed in order (and in plain English) in a trigger pane. If you need to change a trigger, such as jumping to the next slide instead of the previous, you can do so right from the trigger pane.
Storyline has built in sets of characters, both illustrated and photographic, that can act as avatars or characters in a story. While not the first authoring tool to add such a feature, Storyline makes manipulating character expressions and poses very simple.
The real fun starts when you combine Storyline’s triggers and object state feature. You can easily change character expressions, poses, etc. based on the learner’s actions. For example, an avatar can smile when the learner selects a right answer, or show concern when a wrong answer is chosen. It’s really amazing how quickly interactions like that can be created.
Those are just some of the features of Storyline. A full list of features is detailed on Articulate’s website.