Custom elearning, Generic

dominKnow | ONE vs Articulate 360: an eLearning Authoring Tool Functionality Face-Off

Sep 28, 2021
Somnath Gupta

dominKnow | ONE and Articulate 360 are eLearning authoring toolboxes with a lot in common.

Both include two authoring options: traditional and responsive. Both promise cloud-based interfaces, teamwork features, review capabilities, screencasting tools, and so on. With Articulate 360’s careful marketing, it’s easy to assume the two products are equivalent.

However, when you take a closer look at usability and feature richness, you’ll find there are some stark differences that impact the productivity and efficiency of your eLearning development.

Sneak Peek: Summary of Comparison of Articulate 360 & dominKnow | ONE

Here’s a quick visual summary of the differences that we’ll expand on below.

compare table

A Piecemeal Package vs a Unified Product

One of the most significant differences between these options is that Articulate 360 is a group of separate products that “integrate” (to varying degrees) while dominKnow | ONE is a single product.

They share categories of functionality, but since dominKnow | ONE is a unified whole, every feature set can do more – and enables authors to do it more effectively.

We’ll highlight the meaningful differences that spring from this as we go “product by product.”

First, let’s address the most fundamental disparity: how connected and consistent each company’s fixed-pixel and responsive authoring options are with one another.

Two Authoring Products vs Two Authoring Options

dominKnow | ONE is built around two main authoring options. There’s Claro, which is “traditional authoring” (fixed-pixel or shrink-to-fit), and Flow, which produces responsive content.

Claro and Flow are equally powerful eLearning authoring tools focused on separate design choices. The interfaces are nearly identical, and most features are available in both, with rare exceptions for those that only serve a purpose in one style.

Assets within your projects can even be shared and reused between Flow and Claro. If, for example, you want a fixed-pixel course with a mobile-friendly supplement or reference, you’ll be able to dynamically share project assets between the two for faster creation and editing.

The same cannot be said of Articulate 360’s authoring options, where true reuse isn’t even an option.

Storyline, Articulate’s fixed-pixel option, and Rise, their responsive tool, are truly separate products with completely disparate interfaces. Storyline is desktop software, while Rise is browser-based. Storyline is far, far more powerful than Rise. In fact, Rise is quite limited in comparison.

They’re separate and unequal.

Now that we’ve explained the relationship between each set of tools, let’s talk about the significant differences between the individual applications.

Storyline vs Claro: Same Power, Different Platform

Storyline and Claro are similar in overall capability and power. They have a lot in common.

They’re both full-featured authoring tools for fixed-pixel eLearning. Both now produce content entirely in HTML5 for cross-device compatibility.

Both handle mobile in the same way. Content pages shrink to fit while responsive course players provide a little more room for the content and support touch for primary course controls.

Some “power features” differ, which we’ll discuss below, but for the most part, both tools are capable of similar courseware functionality.

While some of the unique capabilities of either solution could be a big win for your authors, there’s one enormous difference between Storyline and dominKnow | ONE’s Claro: how you run the software. It sounds esoteric, but it has a concrete impact on your productivity.

Desktop-Based Storyline vs Cloud-Based Claro

By far, the most fundamental distinction is that Storyline is desktop software while Claro is cloud-based.

Storyline: Windows-Only Desktop Software

There are actually two current versions of Storyline. Storyline 360 belongs to the Articulate 360 suite, while Storyline 3 is standalone. They’re very similar – mainly, Storyline 360 comes with stock library access and the suite’s other products, as well as some sharing capabilities. They also differ in price structure – Storyline 360 is a subscription model, while Storyline 3 is a perpetual license.

Despite Storyline 360’s status as part of a cloud-based product suite, all Storyline software is desktop only.

The nature of desktop software is familiar to many (and therefore comforting), but it comes with considerable downsides. To name a few:

  • users are tied to specific machines
  • asset- and file-sharing requires extra effort or software
  • files are easily lost due to hardware trouble
  • software updates suck up time and may cause problems when sharing
  • project version control can be a nightmare

The file-related shortcomings are especially annoying in a teamwork environment. You might need to collaborate, someone might want to use an asset in a separate project, and your company certainly prefers to control their files.

You might be tempted to “fix” some of this by directly saving Storyline files to an automatic back-up or shared drive. Not so fast! Articulate, itself, recommends against that. Since Storyline files are so large, saving them anywhere except your computer’s hard drive may result in file corruption. Unless you’re saving every file in two places, you could lose all your work.

The other fly in the Storyline ointment? It’s Windows-only. Almost a decade after its original debut, there’s still no Mac-native version. Mac lovers either have to run a virtual Windows environment or create a dual-boot. The former eats up CPU and RAM, while the latter hogs up to 128GB of storage space. Plus, you need to pay for additional software which isn’t always compatible with the latest version of Mac OS.

Even on its intended OS, Storyline is only available as 32-bit software. At this point, most people run 64-bit for everything. Comparatively, 32-bit runs sloooww, especially if you’re using a lot of multimedia in your projects (as you should).

Claro: Browser-Based Software, Available Anytime and Anywhere

Claro is part of the cloud-based dominKnow | ONE. You can access it through a browser on Windows, Mac or even Chromebook and get the exact same user experience. No downloads, no licenses, no fuss – just a log-in.

This makes short-notice edits possible on the go or away from your main computer. It also facilitates troubleshooting without the complication of specs. Updates are seen but not “heard,” and you’ll never lose hours of work to a hard drive crash or because a teammate forgot to share an update.

Unlike Storyline, cloud-based Claro allows real-time collaboration, along with central control, oversight, and content management. And if a team member leaves, you won’t have to worry about lost files or complicated license switches. Just deactivate the old employee and invite their replacement.

Cloud-based software does require an internet connection, and that makes some folks nervous. However, this proves to be a non-issue for most clients – in fact, most users find that cloud-based eLearning authoring tools reduce most “technical difficulties” instead of adding to them.

Power Features

As we said earlier, Storyline and Claro’s capabilities are similar for most users. Their power features – hefty abilities that minimize tedious work or programming – differ somewhat.

For many users, it will come down to a matter of preference. What specific functionality do you need the most and which tool makes it easier? For example, dominKnow | ONE has some unique actions and triggers like “Invalidate module” and “When page is complete.” These can eliminate the need to create multiple actions and triggers, as you’d need to do in Storyline, and therefore greatly simply your design and efforts.

We gathered some popular items to compare below. Note, this table does not include a complete list of programming-free elements for either app, just a few highlights.

eLearning Authoring Tool Functionality

For some power users, Storyline will remain the clear choice. While dominKnow | ONE provides ample room for customization and advanced design, in some areas Storyline has more features that carry more depth and power.

However, dominKnow | ONE has an edge for beginners who want to create interactive, engaging content with little technical expertise. It has a range of built-in widgets for common components that, in Storyline, have to be built with elbow grease or third-party script.

dominKnow’s native widgets don’t just benefit beginners – they actually make development faster for everyone. Since the widgets in Claro and Flow have a broad range of options for configuration, intermediate and advanced users can benefit without sacrificing their vision.

Rise vs Flow: How Full-Featured Do You Want Responsive Authoring?

Whereas Articulate and dominKnow’s fixed-pixel authoring options are quite similar in power but different in platform, their responsive options are similar in platform but disparate in power and flexibility.

Cloud-Based, But Not Equivalent

Articulate’s Rise is cloud-based software, which grants it some of the same advantages as dominKnow | ONE: anywhere access, invisible software updates, and secure storage.

With both vendors’ responsive tools, features like user management, collaboration, and real-time co-authoring become available at certain subscription levels. Feature richness isn’t quite equivalent. dominKnow | ONE’s user management and permissions functionality are more robust than that of Articulate 360 Teams. Real-time co-authoring is fairly similar but dominKnow has additional bells and whistles to facilitate communication and collaboration.

Content management and reuse are where things diverge. Template-sharing is possible with a Rise subscription, but unlike Flow, no mechanism exists at any level for central management, control, or reuse of content.

Full-Featured vs Basic

Rise has a reputation for being easy to use. It is, in comparison to Storyline; Rise has widgets to speed development and aid novice authors. (A reminder: dominKnow | ONE has these capabilities in both Claro and Flow.)

Rise comes up short on the other end of the scale – in flexibility and customization. This is true of both its design choices and functionality, which we’ll dig into below.

These limitations will frustrate advanced users, and ultimately, they represent a huge deficiency in Articulate 360’s usefulness and impact on your learners.

With dominKnow | ONE, you don’t have to compromise the complexity of responsive content. Flow has all the features, customizations, and power of the traditional design approach, Claro, as well as some advanced features uniquely applicable to responsive design.

Design Choices

While both Rise and Flow support no-programming responsive design, Rise provides a one-size-fits-all look and feel, while Flow is just as robust and customizable as its fixed-pixel cousin.

Rise offers users a single theme and a single size of responsive “block,” leading to very generic output. Flow offers dozens of themes and block configurations. Both offer theme customization but the options in Rise are limited and tied to a single design while Flow’s are quite extensive, including the ability to customize through advanced CSS.

All of these come together to provide variety and flexibility in Flow – not only between projects of the same type but in the kinds of eLearning you can author. dominKnow’s customers use Flow to build visually interesting learning material in the form of webpages, searchable knowledge bases, formal courses, and much more.

Articulate Rise has a single design choice that enables users to build visually uniform, “minimalist” scrolling content.

Features and Functionality

Flow provides more than a hundred features that aren’t available in Rise. Further, Rise’s widgets are much more limited than dominKnow’s, and worse, if it’s not in a widget, it can’t be done.

Rise doesn’t support advanced interactions the way Storyline or dominKnow | ONE’s authoring options do. This can lead to the misperception that responsive content can’t be highly interactive and engaging. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not a shortcoming with the format, but rather a shortcoming in the tool.

Often, an instructional designer’s “solution” for missing functionality in Rise is to embed Storyline content as a block on a responsive page. As you might imagine, the addition of non-responsive content requires careful work by the author to avoid delivering a poor multi-device experience to their learners. This tactic also complicates future edits.

In addition to having fewer features overall, the functionality that Rise does provide via built-in widgets is less flexible than Flow’s.

For example, both tools have a branching scenario builder. In Rise, there are limits on the length of potential responses, as well as the character choices for each. You can’t upload audio or create your own characters for the scenario. You can’t use variables and there’s no automatic xAPI integration tracking a learner’s path. There’s also no visual map of the branching, which leads to a lot of testing and confusion when building more complex branching scenarios.

With Flow (and Claro)’s scenario builder all of these are standard capabilities.

This is a common theme for Rise. Its other widgets have similar limitations that don’t exist in Flow. Plus, Flow widgets can easily interact with other page elements and vice versa. In Rise, widgets interactivity is self-contained.

Peek, Replay, and Storyline vs Capture: Software Simulation Features

Articulate and dominKnow both have one more content-creating tool in their arsenal, specific to software lessons. dominKnow’s software simulation feature is Capture. In keeping with the theme of separate but similar products, Articulate has three different options: Storyline’s native feature, plus Peek and Replay.

Peek and Replay are separate applications that come with Articulate 360. Both create mp4 output only and include the option for audio narration. Peek and Replay screencasts can be shared as a standalone video or embedded in a project (Storyline and Rise).

Peek 360 has no editing capabilities, so it’s billed as being specifically for “quick screencasts.” It’s native to both Mac and PC and it’s always available in the menu bar or system tray for easy access. It also creates a sharable link automatically.

Replay 360 provides video editing options like cutting a section, splitting the recording, removing audio in specific places, creating picture-in-picture effects, and adding text to the bottom of the video recording.

Storyline (360 and 3) has its own built-in screencast ability. It can do everything Replay can, but it also provides three other useful abilities: breaking a screencast into step-by-step slides to serve as an easy reference, converting it into an interactive simulation where learners can practice, and making that simulation into a scored test.

dominKnow’s software simulation option has similar output to Storyline but there are fundamental differences in production that are beneficial.

As in Storyline, learners can watch the lesson in motion (Show Me), practice the steps interactively (Try Me), see the steps laid out in slide fashion (Guide Me), and take an interactive scored test (Test Me). At the push of a button, Capture can also produce a job aid, which is a consolidated Guide Me, formatted to be more printer/PDF friendly.

The big difference between Capture and Storyline’s tool is how your procedure gets recorded. Capture records in HTML5, which you convert to a video file if needed. Storyline’s tool records in video but converts to HTML5 when asked.

Why does this matter? A few reasons that boil down to “dominKnow’s tool does more of work for you.”

Because Articulate’s screencasts begin as video, they will capture any hesitations or mistakes, and the only remedy is to start again or edit the errors later. You also need to be conscious of your pacing.

When dominKnow’s Capture makes Show Me, it’s not replaying what your mouse did in real time. Instead, it captures all the key frames, clicks, and hotspots, then animates the mouse from one step to the next. Hesitations don’t show up at all, the pacing is programmatically determined, and if you do click on the wrong thing, you can just delete that step.

The primary output is HTML5, but you can convert to mp4. Even if you bungled the recording in real time, the video will play this cleaned-up version.

Capture’s approach to audio is similar. Audio is optional; you upload a separate clip for each step after the fact. You don’t need to speak without error for 30 seconds while flawlessly performing all steps; you just need to narrate already-documented steps in five-second chunks. If you edit or change the simulation’s steps later, the audio tracks automatically move with the step to which they are attached. This makes perfection easy.

Of course, if you convert your Show Me to an mp4 and it has audio attachments, they’ll be incorporated as a single, well-synched audio track.

The HTML5-first method also makes slide and simulation editing, updates, and output easier. No need to write instructional text – Capture drafts it automatically based on your recorded actions. It pulls the names of buttons and other elements by tapping into accessibility features. You can edit or augment after the fact, but the bare bones are written for you.

Stock Content Libraries

Articulate 360 and dominKnow | ONE both come with content libraries that include stock images, character libraries with multiple poses, course templates, and themes.

Both brands’ libraries are large, though Articulate 360’s is bigger. Articulate has millions of “course assets” while dominKnow has tens of thousands.

Characters and images are available both as photos of real people and as animated characters. Articulate 360’s characters can include animated lip movement to represent “talking,” while dominKnow’s do not.

As we discussed earlier, templates and themes in Articulate 360 aren’t equally distributed to the fixed-pixel and responsive authoring tools. Storyline has a huge variety of customizable possibilities, where Rise is option-poor. In dominKnow | ONE, both modes are equally varied and customizable in design, and themes are centrally managed for all teams based on permission control for larger teams.

Review/Feedback Tools

Both Articulate 360 and dominKnow | ONE include reviewer tools that have many similar benefits: a cloud-based, simplified review interface, the ability to gather feedback from unlimited reviewers, in-context comments, and discussion threads that consolidate feedback.

Articulate 360 comes with Review 360, which is an “integrated add-on” for Articulate products. When you’re ready to share a project with SMEs and other stakeholders, you publish the latest version from Storyline or Rise into Review 360. Then, you can send out links to the project. Reviewers can leave feedback at the page level for context. Individual comments can be marked as “resolved.”

dominKnow | ONE’s reviewer workflow is built into the authoring interface instead of standing separately, and this makes a significant difference in the functionality.

Firstly, there’s no need to publish your project before inviting reviewers. This not only removes a step from each review cycle, but also means changes are dynamic for authors and reviewers alike.

Additionally, authors see the comments in the same place as they make edits, streamlining the revision process, providing context like the reviewer’s screen size on a responsive project, and, as a bonus, serving as a communication tool between co-authors. With Articulate, project contributors must go back and forth between the feedback and the authoring tool, then publish again before any reviewers see the updates.

dominKnow’s review tool also has review scheduling, notification, and reminder features that keep you from having to chase your wayward stakeholders down personally.

In Summary

Given the popularity of Storyline, Articulate 360 is a solid choice for individual power users who want to hang on to their favorite tool while acquiring extra functionality like easier feedback and light responsive authoring. For freelancers and others will little teamwork in their development workflow, its collaborative shortcomings will go unnoticed.

However, dominKnow | ONE offers superior collaboration tools, more robust content reuse options, a richer responsive authoring experience, and more flexible UI for authors of varying skill levels. That makes it a valuable addition for large eLearning operations, teams that need room to grow, and anyone that wants to create sophisticated mobile-first projects.

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