Top Authoring Tools for Rapid eLearning Development


Authoring tools are dime a dozen in the market. Explore the latest features of 4 popular tools that make them ideal for rapid eLearning.

Authoring Tools for Rapid eLearning – A Review of 4 Popular Tools

I have a question for you. What do you reckon an average training manager wants while investing in an eLearning program? Low cost, swift turnaround time, easy development, right? Do you know the one way of achieving all three at once – rapid eLearning. It’s the process of developing online training courses by cutting down development time and cost using authoring tools.

What is an Authoring Tool?

An authoring tool is a software to develop eLearning courses without any coding or programming skills. For years, Adobe Flash was the most widely used authoring software giving every other tool run for its money. But with its imminent phase-out by end of 2020, authoring tools that can produce HTML5 output are now in high demand. But amidst this parade, which authoring tool should you place your bet on?

Download guide on Flash to HTML5 conversion.

Truthfully, when it comes to choosing the right authoring tool, the choice is not always simple. Most authoring tools have pretty much the same basic features. And yet, there is always one unique feature in each tool which makes it best suited for your training requirements.

 So, to help you make the right choice, here is a list of the most popular authoring tools in the market for rapid eLearning development.

Top Authoring Tools for Rapid eLearning

Adobe Captivate

Flash may have left the arena, but Adobe is still in the race for best authoring tools with its latest version of Captivate 2019. From developing mobile responsive courses to Flash to HTML5 conversions to simulations, Captivate is the apt tool for rapid eLearning development if you need a highly interactive and immersive training experience.

Here are a few features that make Adobe Captivate worth your choice.

You can design an eLearning course that gives learners an immersive learning experience using 360° images and virtual reality. Captivate has inbuilt VR templates which eliminate the need for extensive programming needed to develop such courses. All you need to do is record a 3D image or use a 360-image from the library and import it into the VR templates.

You can transform a boring and passive video into a highly interactive video using the slides overlay feature. All you need to do is select the slide in which the video needs to be placed, choose the ‘interactive video’ option from the toolbar, and import a video from YouTube or an MP4 file from your system.

Once this is done, place an overlay slide consisting of a knowledge check or question at a specific location on the video. Thus, a mere watch-only video can be changed into an engaging eLearning video in a jiffy.

You can develop videos with live-action web-cam recordings in an on-screen simulation. All you need to do is record a video of yourself using a webcam app, whose background can be removed or made transparent using the chroma key effect (another Captivate feature) and import it to a simulation template.

The best of all features from Adobe Captivate is its Fluid Box 2.0. These fluid boxes are responsible for mobile responsive courses as they allow a seamless transition of content across device sizes and orientation.

Articulate 360

The Articulate suite is inarguably one of the most widely used rapid eLearning authoring tools in the market today. Most eLearning developers love this tool because it can create a range of eLearning courses from low to high interactivity. It also has a really low learning curve because the interface is very similar to that of PowerPoint.

The suite comes up with a variety of apps out of which two are powerful authoring tools and here is what each of these offers you for rapid eLearning development.

Storyline 360

Storyline is a hot favorite for developers while creating animations or scenario-based eLearning courses. It has a library of 5 million multimedia assets such as characters, images, interactive and  templates, which give developers an unlimited supply of copyright-free media assets. To top that, the templates are highly customizable. Storyline can create high-quality animations because it allows developers to put ten different motion paths and triggers on objects.

Rise 360

Now imagine you have readily available ILT materials – manuals, PDFs, and PPT decks. You need to convert these to eLearning courses of level 1 or level 2 interactivity. In this case, there is no point in using the nuanced interactivities offered by Storyline 360. You can just use Rise 360, a cloud-based authoring tool from the same Articulate family to develop such courses.

But why Rise 360? Because there is no need to install it; no learning curve for developers. All they need to do is place the content in the in-built learning blocks. Learning blocks can be for text, image, statements, quotations, lists, and more. These blocks are highly flexible and move around to create a specific layout for a fully-responsive eLearning course.

So if you’re looking to develop an interactive, mobile-first eLearning program; you can’t go wrong with Articulate Rise.

Lectora Inspire

If there is one authoring tool that truly can generate fully-responsive mobile learning courses, it’s Lectora Inspire. Its RCD (Responsive Course Design) feature makes it the first pick for organizations with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and mobile-first eLearning strategies. Lectora Inspire is also one of the choicest tools when it comes to Flash to HTML5 conversion. Un-wieldy, mobile-incompatible course Flash courses can easily be converted into mobile-friendly eLearning courses using the RCD feature.

Tools such as Camtasia and Snagit come as part of the Lectora Suite which allows developers to record their old Flash courses to the MP4 format, add assessments and publish as HTML5 courses. The BranchTrack feature enables the development of branching scenarios without needing any coding.

One of the best features of Lectora is its multilingual switchable interface which makes it extremely translation-friendly. This feature enables rapid eLearning course development in multiple languages; even languages with right-to-left script. It also allows learners to switch languages at any point in the course.

Lectora recently launched a cloud-based authoring tool similar to Inspire – Lectora Online. This tool allows collaborative authoring which helps in cutting down further time for rapid eLearning course development.

iSpring Suite

When it comes to top authoring tools, iSpring is one of the most easy-to-use and agile authoring tools. It truly lives up to the name and objective of rapid eLearning authoring tool. It reduces the time, effort, and resources needed for courseware development and yet can produce highly interactive courses.

You hardly need any training to use iSpring because it’s a PowerPoint plug-in. So if you have ILT materials full of PPT decks, you can convert them to interactive eLearning courses in a jiffy using iSpring. This tool isn’t just for programmers and developers but is designed keeping instructional designers in mind. Instructional designers don’t have any technical expertise but iSpring authoring tool enables them to develop interactive eLearning courses on their own.

iSpring 9.7 comes with a native app iSpring Play which is another step towards making training accessible anytime, anywhere by gearing up mobile learning.

So now that you have a rough idea of what each of these rapid authoring tools offer, are you ready to make your choice? But here’s a suggestion you shouln’t overlook – you should never make the decision regarding authoring tools without consulting your instructional designers and developers.  After all, the tool is only as good as the people using it. So go ahead and set up a meeting with your rapid eLearning experts to discuss and choose the right authoring tool.

Summing It Up

And if you don’t have a in-house team or lack expertise in rapid eLearning development; you can always opt to outsource. Here is an eBook for you on how to go about finding an outsourcing vendor.

E-learning Development Outsourcing: A Comprehensive eGuide to Select the Right Vendor

Recent Comments

  • 2/12/2013 at 10:24 pm

    Storyline is being used by many developers, it has been very popular in the early months. Many people are also waiting for the version of Articulate Studio with both software tools offering output to HTML 5.

  • 2/14/2013 at 5:30 am

    Good synthesis – although I agree with Scott (above) that the HTML5 output from Storyline is a great function I’d be reluctant to go without!

  • 2/22/2013 at 9:14 am

    Thanks Scott and LearnDash for your comments. We need to wait and watch to see how Articulate Studio can handle HTML output. It would also be interesting to review to what extent courses can be made interactive, accessible, editable and translatable in newer version.

  • 3/08/2013 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Sharath,

    Thanks a lot for a very good analysis and summary on the authoring tools.

    I am from the Raptivity team and I would like to suggest a correction. I differ from you when you call Raptivity an authoring tool. Raptivity is not an authoring tool but an interactivity building tool. It provides you with a diverse set of 180+ customizable learning interactions with Flash and HTML5 support thus making it capable to be used in developing e/m-Learning courseware projects. These interactions can then be easily integrated with most of the authoring tools you mentioned, like Articulate, Captivate, Lectora and others.

    And as you say, one can create the basic course content using any authoring tool(s) based on his/her eLearning requirements and then the interactivities can be created using Raptivity. Based on my interactions with customers, I can easily state that one can create a basic course using an authoring tool and take it to next level of interactivity and engagement using Raptivity. Also, usually it doesnt take more than half an hour to customize any interaction of Raptivity.


  • 4/10/2013 at 11:19 am

    Hi Smita,

    Thanks for the correction, appreciate your time in commenting. I agree with you that Raptivity is interactivity builder which allows course developers to quickly and easily create engaging learning interactions

  • http://Julia

    7/04/2013 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Sharath
    Thank you for a great blog writeup on this. So glad that I could refer to an experts opinion without wading through tons of information.
    I am new to the e-learning field. Which one would you recommend to use for a private school by day and general tutoring centre by night. We want to minimise teacher interaction and allow students to view lessons at their own pace. We will be uploading live teaching sessions as part of each lessons tutorial. As well as other media.
    An e-learning environment where we can access and keep stock of what students are doing as well.
    Kind regards

  • http://Jay%20Dharap

    7/10/2013 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Sharath,

    So I’ve stumbled upon your blog and would like to know…If i wanted to build interactive modules, where things swivel upon clicking(like cards in a memory game) or things can be clicked and dragged (like a jigsaw puzzle online) or things react upon clicking (e.g. you have to identify all the countries in the EU, and you click on each country on a grey map, and if it is right, the country turns blue upon clicking, and if wrong, it turns red and then back to grey)…Which one of these (other than Flash…I’m not a developer!) would come closest to offering this kind of interactivity?

  • 2/21/2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks for the comment, since your requirement is to upload live training sessions and to access and track student’s progress any “learning management system” would help you. If you want to go for cost effective learning management system, I would recommend you open source LMS Moodle. To know more about Moodle, visit this link

  • 2/21/2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Jay,

    I would recommend articulate storyline, with this tool you can develop high level interactivities. For one of our clients in Canada, we have developed such interactivities you mentioned in the comment. Check this blog for details

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