Which tool should I use?
Before deciding on whether to use Storyline or Lectora please read through this short document on the comparisons between the two.
There is no outright winner between the two, platform has different strengths and weaknesses and choosing the best software really depends on your specific needs and technical capabilities. I’ve read several reviews, comparison blog posts and looked over tons of comparison tables. Not everything mentioned was relative to our needs so I have weeded out the important bits that affect us most. The aim is for this review to be unbiased but feel it should be disclosed that I have more experience of Storyline than Lectora. I have used Storyline for several projects large and small whereby Lectora I have only played with 2 x 30 day trials.
- Learning Curve
- Ease/speed of development
- Simulations / Screen capture
- Formative assessment
- Mobile compatibility
- Browser compatibility
- Publish options / reliability
How quick is each to pick up? I felt Storyline was the easiest to get running with. Its simple layer based timeline felt familiar bundled with a tool ribbon along the top that looks a lot like PowerPoint. The whole thing felt familiar and I only really needed to get used to triggers and actions.
Lectora took a bit longer to get my head around. Instead of layers and a timeline it instead uses a hierarchy tree layout where elements trickle down through from top to bottom. You build areas by creating Books containing chapters and pages. Maybe because I have a history in Flash and Photoshop that Storyline felt easier to get to grips with than Lectora. The hierarchy tree thing took a bit for me to understand the power fully and resulted in me having to go back and re-do certain elements properly.
Ease / Speed of Development
How quickly can you get results? Storyline wins this one for me. Its snap to object/grid is great, accurate and saves a lot of time when it comes to pleasing the pixel police with alignment. Lectora just doesn’t match up here and I found it took more concentration and nose pressing against the screen to be confident that I had lined elements up to be pixel perfect. Another advantage I found was that because Storyline is slide based like PowerPoint, once a slide was completed with its actions and trigger’s in place you can simply duplicate the entire slide or layer and it carries over all attached variables, actions and triggers. This really does allow for rapid authoring.
Lectora also has the duplication tool, so if you get your first page right and duplication the pages down this does allow for rapid development, however, just like storyline if you make a mistake you will need to amend each page.
Both tools have equally good animations palettes here. Both allow for entry and exit animations and both allow custom animations along a motion path. Lectora has a few extra animation features than Storyline yet Storyline felt more familiar due to having layers and a timeline to work with.
Storyline has this one. It has a whole host of image editing tools and customisation available that Lectora simply does not have built in.
“With one right click of your mouse you can crop, recolor, add a border, add a shadow, add a reflection, add a glow, adjust brightness, adjust contrast, adjust transparency, blend, and shape or use a preset mode. This is all done while images maintain quality and without having to edit in another software.”
Lectora does come with a copy of Snagit, another piece of image editing software also available separately. This just means a bit more of a round trip instead of editing the image where it lays within the resource.
Lectora also doesn’t have a freehand tool, or allows an image shape to be a hot spot without the whole of the image being involved.
Both are good at handling videos and both can embed YouTube videos. From experience, if you want a seamless video loop animation then Lectora is better here. It is possible with Storyline but is a bit of a hack to make work and even then it doesn’t feel seamless. It’s worth noting here that neither is good on mobile devices if you want more than one video playing at the same time on a single page. Mobile devices only allow one video to play at a time.
Simulations / Screen capture
Lectora wins hands down here. Storyline has a simple yet effective interface built within itself which means you are able to get things done a little more quickly than Lectora but it severely lacks any useful features normally associate with screen casting.
Lectora on the other hand comes with Camtasia, a product so good that it is also sold separately and could be why Lectora is the more expensive product. Camtasia could be a little complicated for the non-developer but is a full on screen casting powerhouse. It outputs SCORM compliant content and has a whole host of features that will allow you to create the most engaging, professional looking work.
Assessment / Quizzing
Again here Lectora is the dominant tool. Although there is nothing wrong with what Storyline has to offer, Lectora is capable of more complicated actions involving variables. A huge advantage Lectora has is the ability to use HTML tags to call in libraries such as JQuery. This opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Neither are great in this area. For Storyline there are two options for mobile. Browser based HTML5 or wrapping it in its own Storyline player for iOS and Android devices. Having tried both I can say they both have their pros and cons. I found some animations clunky in the HTML5 version and strangely in the wrapped version the animations worked fine yet the standard ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons would glitch at best and took some time to respond to touch. The HTML5 output is definitely the lesser of two evils but still a long way to go before it can be considered a worthy mobile publisher. As with web development there has to be some extra consideration given to projects that are intended to work cross platform. Certain elements that work for desktop just simply won’t work on mobile, drag and drop targets being too small to grab being one of the problems. Both tools will not output responsive content so your design has to work across both mobile and desktop if that is your intention. If you are making a mobile only version then you will be able to tailor the interactions to suit mobile. You have to ask yourself, how many people will try to use the resource on a mobile as we all know certain tasks are a lot easier to do on Desktop.
There’s no clear winner here due to the varying types of content across different learning resources. Chrome seems to be the better browser for both Lectora and Storyline although both tools claim to work on IE8 and up I tend to disagree. Each has its own unique set of bugs, some glitchy, some unresponsive and some crash altogether. My advice here is to test test test, on as many browsers as possible and then when your done testing. Test some more.
Publish Options / Reliability
Lectora really stumbles here with its publish errors and warnings. A number of errors will prevent you from publishing until they are resolved and can sometimes take up quite a bit of time (and patience) to rectify. Although there is no great difference between the two with regards to publish outputs the UI in Storyline wins. It is clearly laid out with a range of intuitive options. Lectora needs a lot of work here as its publish section doesn’t feel natural and is severely lacking in something.
Storyline – Pros and Cons
|Can build custom templates||Have to manually create and maintain menu if not using the built in player|
|Snapping is good for alignment||No automatic page numbering|
|Great image editing facilities||Adding a new item to stage increases the timeline time. So if you have set timeline to 2sec then each time you import an image you need to reduce timeline back down again.|
|Good publishing UI||Can’t play audio across slides. e.g. Narration.|
|Quick to pick up and learn||Animation / Video looping not great|
|Good forums and online help||Screen capture options and video editing tools extremely basic|
|Triggers can be quite limiting|
Lectora – Pros and Cons
|Additional coding is allowed like JS which can bring in additional elements like image sliders, using HTML tags||Doesn’t have a free hand drawing tool|
|Coding allowed for automatic page numbering and the variables are set up||Not so good forums, unless you pay for the service..|
|Built in menu||Alignment in this software doesn’t quite match up to Storylines accuracy|
|Vast options for Quizzing styles||Those used to timeline and layer may find the Books, Chapters and Pages layout a bit of a learning curve.|