Product Review – Articulate Storyline 2

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Hollywood is well known for making  sequels.  And people are well known to either like them or dislike them.  Sometimes the sequel is equal if not better than the first. Other times, they are even worse.

  • Godfather 2 – Excellent
  • Star Wars Phantom Menace – Talk to Star War fanatics and they will often tell you that if this was the first one, they never would have made another
  • Superman 2 (with Chris Reeves) – Excellent
  • Speed 2 – Awful.  Keanu Reeves notorious for picking bad scripts at least got this one right

Articulate Storyline 2

Before you start pushing out a blast email to this guy, allow me to explain.  First off, I was and still am a huge fan of Storyline.  Love it. Would wear a t-shirt if they gave me one (no need to send).  If it in my mind one of the best ten products to hit the e-learning cycle in the last five years.  I kid you not.

When I heard Storyline 2 was now available, I anticipated nothing less than extraordinary.  I mean the first Storyline, sweet and then here comes a new version, from a company not known to push out new products for a period of years – must rock.

Then I used it.  Then I cried (uh, not really, but go with it).

Disappointed? Understatement.  Surprised? You have no idea.  Immediate thoughts?  This is nothing more than a sequel and a bad one at that.

Break it down

Good – Excellent

  • Actions, Triggers, Layers, Conditions – Still strong. Lots of possibilities
  • Illustrated Actors – They call them characters and provide an extensive list.  I cannot recall seeing a character in a wheelchair prior to in any product, I found that commendable, but they missed out some ADA 508 capabilities in the entire product itself
  • Ribbon Style – I like the ribbon approach, but in some of the layout windows, I did not
  • Tree option –  I’m a fan of the tree layout option (hierarchy) with the other window being the main layout itself.  That said, I wish they would offer the option of a true tree option, rather than the standard “slide” icon layout
  • Publish includes reporting and tracking details that you can tweak
  • Supports Tin Can – Should be universal with every product out there it isn’t
  • Quizzes and survey –  The survey piece is the key here, I like that they separate the two BUT I found it strange to have survey options that included some of the same in quizzes.
  • Tutorials when opening the product – Good, but.. (see poor)


  • Templates including ones for layout, quizzes
  • Tree left, main build page in center – quite common, nothing that wow’d me
  • Captions – Comes with eight predefined in style
  • Record narration
  • Slide properties –  I have a pet peeve with the term (slides) instead of the terms of chapter, page, etc. – anyway, the properties for most of the ATs today are just so-so
  • Timeline – I was expecting more pop. What I got, fizz.
  • Design as a whole – Again, acceptable, but where was the oomph? Where was the “WOW”?  I saw none.


  • Transitions, Animations, Views –  I am fine using it once, but again, new product-new version, so why I am still seeing PowerPoint within this product to such a point, that TAV are exactly the same as in PPT?  Really missed it there.
  • Screams more like an advanced sequel to Studio than a robust new version of Storyline 2.  I saw more things in this version that reminded me of Studio with updated tweaks than a super robust Storyline.  Yeah, they added new features and new capabilities, but they also took a product that even “Articulate folks” I talked with told me that Studio users using Storyline would have a learning curve.  In this new version of Storyline 2, not needed.  Why the gripe?  If you are creating a product geared towards ID and e-learning developers it should not be as easy as using PowerPoint.  It is.
  • No SaaS – While the e-learning industry as a whole is going into the cloud, AT vendors as a whole are staying with desktop, even though they have features such as notes (ideal for collaboration, SME peer review in the cloud).  Articulate and a few of the other big dogs are holding on to desktop for dear life.
  • One photo character included – The same as last time.  Ugh
  • Tutorials and Help that in order to use you have to be online.  Let me see, desktop product.  Many other desktop products have help built into the product so you can view in your browser but be in offline mode.  Makes perfect sense – to no one.

Time for a deep dive

Upon entering Storyline 2, you are immediately provided with a few options on the left side of the screen, tutorials in the middle of the screen. 

Personally,  I like this because everyone who uses software, often jumps right in and starts going, rather than take the time to read how to do things (inc. myself, reading a guide? Sorry, I need that extra 75 seconds to count my socks).









Discuss Storyline and More Resources are nice, but you have to be online to see them.

New Project Time

To start a new project, simply click “New Project”.

newprojecthomepage  Before we dive into the header ribbon, here is the first screen you see after selecting “New Project”










  • Header Ribbon – Top of the page
  • Story View (Default) – With mini slide in the center
  • Triggers option to the right

Header Ribbon for main page



  • New Slide – Create a new page, chapter, lesson, whatever, generally speaking Slide screams PPT and no offense to the person who has been doing ID for x number of years, if you said “slide” to someone working on Authorware back in the day, you would have gotten a head slap.  Even ID books or books teaching you how create WBT courses in 2000 (One of my favorite WBT books of all time, interested? LMTK), never used slides. Never.  That said, the trend in the space is replacing the predefined terms of chapter, page, etc. to slides
  • Slide Layer, Convert to Freeform, Zoom Region, Record Screen, and all the others are nearly the same as previous version.  Character icon is different, but not really a big deal. Same with the flash icon.  Who is still using flash, BTW?  You can’t see it on iOS tablets, smartphones unless you use an alternative browser and no offense, I have yet to see one that does a great job.   Yeah, I know folks still use it for online courses and yada yada.  If you are going to offer Flash as an option, why not HTML5?  There are plenty of HTML5 object sites out there.  Pick and Go.
  • Preview/Publish – I am always a huge fan of preview first than publish.

Untitled Slide 1

I wasn’t a real fan of this baby showing up on my main story view screen.  Part of the problem for me, was after adding another couple of slides even before starting with slide 1 (inc. adding a name), actually editing the name became somewhat of an issue.

Especially when you are using the layers box.  You can edit the name there for each slide, but it does not automatically appear within the slide.  That would have been nice to include.  Since I was wanting to build my course quickly, I decided to go use one of those tutorials. Oops, my net connection was down. No luck.

While I was to do all the wonderful things I wanted to do with the layers options, I was still irritated that I was unable to edit the title easily right on the page.  For me, it was due to my mouse getting to the right point (long story), but it would have been nice to just click anywhere in the name box on the slide and whalla it pops up and I can edit it.  That’s just me.

Anyway, I eventually was able to figure it out – and once I solved my little challenge, I was on my way.





So here I am at my scenes section.  I have created my titles – I started with Chapter 1.  The Ribbon makes change and I am off to the races.  In fact, much of the screen changes. Let’s take a look.






  • File – Lots of choices including ability to add translation
  • Insert – Usual fare
  • Design – PowerPoint Fans Activate – Shape of a Design option in PowerPoint
  • Transitions – Hey, that looks just like transitions in PowerPoint..wait a minute
  • Animations – Rinse. Repeat PowerPoint
  • View – I’m getting a headache – did you have to Microsoft to include all this stuff?

Joking aside much of the ribbon, maybe all, I wasn’t doing a cross comparison with PPT, seemed to remind me of PPT.  Again, first time around I’m fine, make a new version, expect some header changes.  Frustration is setting in at this point.

Again, the Triggers option box is up and ready.  I would have liked not to see it.  Perhaps a peeve of mine, but unless Storyline2 can read my mind, how do they know this is what I want to see at this moment in time.


Since this box is repeatedly showing up, might as well look inside the engine as they say.

wjereevents trigger_actions  Once I decided to add a trigger, uh, I did have more than a blank page on that point, you can see there are more than enough actions available to you.





















In fact, I would state this as a plethora of choices.  Well done.  The same can be said for “Events” too, lots of choices.

Uh oh, here comes trouble

I found several issues in the product during my testing of all the functionality and features in the product.

It occurred in the templates section.  I found my issue when going first to insert slides then select templates.

















Before getting to what I found to be a big issue – i.e. bug –  let’s take a quick look here.

  • Templates – Included several options, more on a sec.
  • Basic –  Title and Content, Title only, Question, Question with Media, Blank
  • Quizzing – The usual items including drag and drop, what I found unique was hotspot.  Use a built-in AT product in a LMS and rarely do you find hotspot.  Some AT vendors have removed it as well.  I always found it a mixed bag.  Sounds like to would be awesome for learners, then I would get gripes about the spot locations.  Pass.
  • Screen recordings –  Simple, but I found the recording bar to be tinysmallrecord.  I know it looks big here, but stick it on a page and then look for it.  Anyway, maybe that is just me.
  • Import – Gives you several choices, but I must admit I did find it a bit strange that the default was


I would have seen more complexity options here to import, rather than PowerPoint, Quizmaker, Engage (a nice offering underutilized in my opinion), Storyline or Questions from file.

Articulate Studio includes a robust recording product, I wish that those recordings would be listed here or some other types of media.






Let’s jump back to the issue I found with Templates.

Click Templates within this window and check out the choices


You have a wide variety of choices and I did like that the provided some information about the interaction and what you could do – as an option – with this interaction.


I decided to go with Tabs interaction. Big mistake.












Again, this is likely a bug, but I was surprised to find it, then again, who is not surprised when they find a bug.

The Tabs Interaction comes with four tabs.  tabtemp


My problem arose with Tab 1 and Tab 3.  The Tab 1 in my Storyline2 came with a picture image holder (to change the image or remove it) and grey text.

The What? in red – that is me.  : )

That black text – no idea where it came from, because I did not write it, and initially I thought it the grey was a shadow of the black text.  Nope, separate text.

Hello Raid? I have a big bug for you to eradicate.


I also found a similar bug in Tab 3 (conspiracy? You decide).

tab3Again, the Tab 3 had grey text and some black text over it and once again they had nothing to do with one another.


And yes, it is another bug.








Final Hits

As with any product review they can go on and on.  So here are a few other areas.

At some point you have to publish your course.  With Storyline 2, the choices to pick from are more than enough.  As noted earlier in the post, I liked the reporting and setting options, but would have liked to seen some explanations on what they mean when you clicked either in the box next to each one or on the text.  After all, Articulate provides interaction details which no offense to anyone is quite more simply than reporting and tracking specifics even to an expert designer.

publish I like the fact that Android has arrived with Storyline2, but let’s not forget that a player is not the same thing as a native app.

And this is no native app.

It would have loved to see some options under quality.   Anytime someone says optimized, I want to know what does that mean, especially when it says for standard delivery.

Is there another kind of delivery?  If yes, can I have it?


Under the LMS section is where you can find the reporting and tracking.


Not sure why “Word” is a publish option.  I could see you importing Word or some other text editor but not publishing to Word.









Bottom Line

My biggest issue with Storyline 2 is that it does not deserve to be listed as a new product in the general sense of the word.

It is a sequel, an update to a version of their offering.  I do not know that sales data points between Studio and Storyline 2, but I do know their track record of new versions of Articulate.  Previously to Studio 13, their last version was 09.

They are not known in the AT space as a vendor that pushes out new products every year, let alone every two years.  They make tweaks. They make fixes.  So, when Storyline2 showed up, it told me that sales must have been fantastic and as a result, Storyline2.   When you take a deeper gaze into the product and if you can hold off any bias, you will see what I see, a lot of Studio.

Again, it has added new features and new capabilities, but in my opinion it should have done more.

  • Gesture capability for tablet users
  • Speech to Text
  • More video capabilities and features – video courses and use of video is huge in 2014 and will get bigger in 2015, yet the options in Storyline2 were minimal at best
  • Ability to create your own actor – not just poses, and such, but upload your face or maybe yourself as a photo character
  • Gaming elements – I mean why not offer the ability to create “game” based courses
  • Heck I’d take some gamification elements like adding points or badges within the course before it goes to a LMS or for those folks who want the incentive points, rewards, badges but do not have a LMS
  • Multilingual options rather than importing translation text
  • Interface options such as connecting with SurveyMonkey or others along those lines

But they didn’t.  They decided to go little rather than big and see if that will suffice.

Generally speaking, based on responses to my preview, it worked.  The folks who responded to me via Twitter, Linkedin and on a thread in the Articulate community, overwhelmingly rejected my assessment.

And I am totally fine with that.

After all some people love sequels.

I’m just not one of them*.

E-Learning 24/7

*Exceptions – Superman 2, Godfather 2, All that Batman movies (C.Nolan films), Bad News Bears Breaking Training, a couple of Planet of the Ape movies (the originals from the 60’s).