Summer Course Authoring Tool Rankings – Top Ten

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The summer is nearly upon us (or in LA it is already here) which means you can expect the following in your hometown

  • Annoying summer related songs – from Cruel Summer to Summertime and everything else
  • Big blockbuster movies – some that will make you cheer and others that you will demand your money back
  • Road Rage – Everyone’s favorite past time
  • BBQs, swimming and annoying neighbors trying to scam some free food

Of course if you are in the southern hemisphere it is not summer but fall/winter – sorry folks!

With all this fun summer stuff, comes my summer course authoring tool rankings. For #11-#20, I will be posting them in my Linkedin group, “E-Learning 24/7”.   Now put on your sunscreen and get ready…

It’s not a cruel summer

For those who are in my top ten course authoring tool rankings.

#10 Training Bricks – Bricklayer

Formally in the 11-20 rankings, they now push their way into my top ten.  Why you may ask? Well, it is a fun product to create a course. This product achieves makes it happen, especially with a slick UI.

  • Interactivity and exercises
  • Timeline when creating a course
  • Trigger buttons and actions
  • Searchable content
  • Assessment tool including randomization
  • Design effects
  • Fun –  just like that pool party you are going to have in July – I am expecting an invite BTW

#9 Adobe Captivate 7

Nothing like getting your blood boil when you see this ranking and can’t understand why the product is not number one. Well, it isn’t! Perhaps you need a summertime refreshment to lower the flow.

Feature wise the product has quite a bit, but my biggest gripe with Adobe is that this product always seems to be behind its top competitors. Why say that? Because it is Adobe – the same folks who came up with Photoshop a long time ago, who brought us Premiere – a long time ago and who bought Macromedia – again, a long time ago.

  • Themes, interactions
  • Collaboration
  • Screen capture and recording
  • Learning notes – nice
  • Actors
  • Scenario branching
  • Equation tool – I’ve seen more vendors add this thing – and unless you are in education I can’t see why you would use it
  • Audio recording and editing
  • Text to speech – Very nice – everyone should offer this feature
  • HTML5 output including a PPT converter to HTML5
  • Tin Can API, ADA 508 – again this should be universal in any e-learning authoring tool product – but they are not

#8 easygenerator

They offer two versions, but this is in reference to the paid version. Think of it as going to the movies – you can see one that is in the small shoebox theater or one in the large size theater – with lots of seats and a/c that always works.  You want the latter.

  • Adaptive e-learning – the holy grail of courses – WBT and the product includes it
  • Scenarios
  • Assessment tool and question bank
  • Collaboration and peer review
  • Branching
  • Tin Can API
  • HTML5 output – going live the week of June 18th – so if you read this post after June 21-22nd, then it is live

#7  Curatr

curatrCuratr’s product is one of the new hybrid authoring systems to hit the market. These platforms include either gamification, social authoring or a combination of the two. What makes them different than a LMS is the lack of analytics and common standard features including uploading 3rd party content.  That said, I am seeing these hybrid platforms on the rise – in the authoring tool market.

I’m not going to lie here – this product is fun. I mean as fun as walking on sunshine with a beverage in hand and $100 in your pocket.  That much fun!

  • iPad app
  • Object oriented approach – each learner can create their own learning objects. Not only can you create your own learning object but you can also share them, bookmark them and/or report them – i.e. bad learning object.
  • Testing options
  • Learners can add their own comments for each learning object – even if it not their own
  • Leader-board including rankings
  • Badges and levels

#6 CM-Group Luminosity Studio

Why oh why do we have to hear “Summertime” over and over again on the radio, when “It Takes Two” by Rob Base is sooo much better. Speaking of it takes two, this product has more than enough feature sets to take your authoring beyond #2 and straight into #1 for design.

  • UI is crisp and modern – again should be universal in any authoring tool product
  • HTML5 output – Yeah!
  • Work offline with their optional Studio Server – extra charge
  • Synchronized transcripts – ideal for video
  • Collaboration
  • Video streaming
  • Customized branding – another trend in the space and should be universal in the market


Five is the magic number – I think that is how the song goes but if not, no worries, I just created my own version.

#5 Courselab

The free version is very nice, but this is all about the paid version.  What I like about the product is that it is very versatile.  You can do some things as a beginner but if you are an instructional designer you can take it up a notch.

  • Action-based object’s animation
  • Module templates
  • Scenario builder
  • Programmable moving of objects
  • Assessment tool
  • Rules based objects
  • Cascading rules too
  • SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC

#4  ITycom – ITYstudio


When I think summer, I think chilling at the beach, relaxation and lots of humans, especially at amusement parks. Which is a key reason I avoid them, unless people visit.

But this is one product you should not avoid if you want to create your own simulation and do so with a gaming twist to it.

Once I played around with the product I was hooked.

  • Scenario tree – reminds me of a mind map
  • Library of 3D elements
  • Analysis Axis – evaluation criteria and skills you define for your learners’ goals
  • Interface translation
  • Slick UI

#3 Allen Interactions – ZebraZapps

While ZebraZapps offers two versions, this ranking refers to Pro Plus.

I’ll just jump right in to the pool. Err I meant product.

  • Tin Can API
  • Learning Record Store via Tin Can API
  • Templates
  • Movable objects
  • Extensive collection of apps – created by Allen Interactions and end users
  • Ease of use, albeit to really power it up you want to use the actions, triggers and such – so the product is strong for an instructional designer/e-learning developer
  • Nice UI

#2 Articulate Storyline

Storyline can easily be tied at the #1, but despite all its cool components, I have heard from a few vendors that they are facing some issues when end users try to view it on an iPad via the vendor’s LMS. If anyone who has had this issue as well, please send me an e-mail.

That said, the product still gives of enough oomph for anyone looking at a strong authoring tool. Sure beginners and those who have used Studio could achieve some success with Storyline, but to maximize its power like a jet ski, you will need solid tech skills and instructional design/e-learning development skill sets.

  • Templates
  • Actions, layers, triggers
  • Variables
  • Actors
  • Interactivity capabilities
  • Assessment tool
  • Right to left characters – uh, as in languages
  • Output to HTML5
  • Translation support
  • Very nice UI
  • Fun, fun, fun – and yep in the sun too

#1 dominKnow Claro

It wouldn’t be the summer without sunscreen, although I admit I never use it.  Yeah I know the arguments on why to use it, blah blah, blah.  Speaking of arguments though, there is no argument that Claro still dominates the authoring tool market.

I love this product – can you tell? Just like I love sorbet and my car’s sunroof.

  • Output to HTML5
  • On device review – before you publish to a tablet or smartphone, it is always nice to see what it will look like – a feature every authoring tool should include
  • Collaboration/Peer Review
  • Notes and transcripts
  • Templates
  • Actors
  • Branching
  • Assessment tool
  • Actions and triggers
  • Integrated review workflow
  • Screen recording and capture
  • Image editing
  • Narration and web cam recording
  • Desktop meeting and scheduler
  • Very crisp UI
  • Product is strong for both beginners and instructional designers

Bottom Line

Authoring tools continue to get better, but for these authoring tools getting better isn’t enough.  Rather continuing to break down course walls through superior feature sets and an understanding of where authoring tools should be in 2013.

While there is no perfect product – because you can always improve – these authoring tools are showing the rest of the market that you can achieve success for those new to course development and those who have been around the block a few times. 

Speaking of blocks, let me know when you are going to have a block party.

I’ll be there with a few authoring tool friends.

You know the cool ones.

E-Learning 24/7




  1. Reblogged this on Classroom Aid and commented:
    While there is no perfect product – because you can always improve – these authoring tools are showing the rest of the market that you can achieve success for those new to course development and those who have been around the block a few times.

  2. Great blog post. We are new to the L&T space, coming in from the tech doc side with a tool to make authoring, collaborating and publishing structured content easy and fun. I will be looking through your blog more thoroughly and hope to connect with you.

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