The average LMS shopper spends approximately 2.5 months searching for the right LMS, with companies spending $1,870 per vendor evaluation. It makes sense trying to make your LMS search more efficient, and less costly. However, you should ensure that you are not cutting corners that will end up costing you more in the long run.

One such short cut may be the decision to select a built-in authoring tool rather than buying both an LMS, and third-party authoring tool. Built-in authoring tools allow you to create e-learning content directly within an LMS. Third-party authoring tools are standalone software, such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate, with which you can create interactive e-learning content.

Having built-in authoring software may seem less complex than taking the time to choose a suitable authoring software to pair with your LMS. It’s important to know the impact of this decision ahead of time. Using these types of authoring software has both advantages and disadvantages. This article aims to outline these, to help you make an informed decision.

Advantages of a built-in authoring tool

Built-in authoring tools offer limited course authoring functionality, which means they are easy to learn.

Using a built-in authoring tool allows you to build and publish directly within your LMS, usually via drag and drop functionality, so you can quickly build a basic course.

A built-in authoring tool allows you to avoid purchasing software licenses that require specialized training and expertise to use. However, there may also be an extra charge for the inclusion of this feature in an LMS.

Advantages of a third-party authoring tool

Third-party authoring tools allow you to create SCORM compliant courseware. SCORM makes your courseware portable, and having copies of your SCORM files means you can load your courseware to another SCORM compliant LMS. Not having a copy of your project files ties your courseware to the vendor.

Third-party authoring tools offer a host of features and powerful interaction functionality that allow you to create beautiful and engaging e-learning courses.

Most major authoring tool providers have online forums to exchange knowledge with other users, as well as local user groups and conventions to help with your course development.

Most third-party authoring tools have a development team working on continuously improving the tool, which means they are regularly updated with new releases and patches. Certain tools will even accept feature requests if it is missing a function you need.


  • In some cases, using a packaged LMS/authoring tool solution can work out, e.g. if you want a quick and basic solution.
  • Using a built-in authoring software can result in you missing out on the benefits of using a third-party authoring tool.
  • The general consensus of the e-learning community is that courses developed in a built-in authoring tool are unattractive and difficult to use, compared to those created in a third-party authoring tool.
  • When using a built-in authoring tool, always make sure you retain your project files so that the continuity of your e-learning course does not rely on that of your LMS vendor.
  • Based on the above points, we would recommend using a third-party authoring tool if you need to develop e-learning that is rich in interactivity.

If you have any questions about the topics discussed or want to find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact us, or tweet us @Firmwater.