Storyline and Rise are powerful e-learning development tools from software developer Articulate. But what’s the difference between the two?

Before we start our comparison, let’s get an understanding of what an e-learning authoring tool is and why having one is important.

What is an e-learning authoring tool? 

An e-learning authoring tool assists with the creation of digital learning content. Using one can help with the loading of learning content into a learning management system (LMS). 

E-learning authoring tools fall into two categories.

SCORM compliant

These types of tools create a SCORM file that speaks to the LMS and can share learner interaction data. This data consists of things like:

  • Course completion information
    • Not Started
    • In Progress/Started
    • Completed (Pass/Fail)
    • Completion Date and Time 
  • Course interaction information
    • Number of Attempts
    • Completion Status
    • Amount of Time Spent in the Course
  • Basic user information
    • First Name
    • Last Name 

Non-SCORM compliant

These tools create files that can be loaded into the LMS but may not provide full interaction data. Such files include:

  • PPT slides
  • PDF files 
  • MP4 files

We recommend speaking with your LMS vendor about how it handles non-SCORM-compliant materials.

Now, let’s compare Articulate Storyline and Articulate Rise.

Articulate Storyline

  • Articulate Storyline resembles PowerPoint, with the instructional designer creating a series of slides. These slides can be highly customized by the instructional designer, including the logos, colors, and fonts, and a customized player can also be created.
  • It has several built-in interactions that make it easier for instructional designers to build dynamic learning content. They can create courses with quizzes, branching, and interactivity.
    • Interactivity is set up by using functions known as “triggers” and “variables.” Once a trigger is activated by a learner interacting with the course, it can complete one or more actions, like progressing to the next slide. Variables give the designer creative freedom to design an almost unlimited range of interactions.
  • It has comprehensive accessibility options, such as the ability to build closed captions.

Storyline is a powerful and robust authoring tool, but there can be a bit of a learning curve. Part of that is learning how everything—slides, triggers, and variables—works together to create an e-learning course. Also, since the interactions are pre-built into the software, it can be confusing trying to troubleshoot why something is not properly triggering.

Articulate Rise

  • Articulate Rise is cloud-based, so instructional designers can gain access at any time from any web browser.
  • It is a responsive web content development tool, enabling instructional designers to create web-page-based e-learning content. This is a benefit when utilizing a mobile-first design strategy.
  • Like Articulate Storyline, Rise contains interactions built into the authoring tool. However, it is limited to the content types and styling available within the tool. Instructional designers will find built-in block designs, such as labeled graphics with clickable hotspots.
  • Other design capabilities include being able to add media such as images, videos, and audio. Rise also has a feature known as “Scenario Blocks.” These create branched scenarios with virtual characters/avatars.
  • You can also use Storyline Blocks to embed Storyline 360 content directly into your Rise course. This allows you to take advantage of Storyline’s sophisticated interaction capabilities while maintaining the clean, modern, and mobile-friendly experience of Rise.
  • Like Storyline, Rise follows accessibility guidelines.

Since Rise is considered a rapid authoring tool, there are limitations as to what it can provide. These include:

  • Limited look and feel — All courses are designed using the same customizable template. Designers can update the colors and labels, but the course structure will always be the same.
  • Limited interactions — While it’s easy to build the content blocks and add your own media, you can’t do much else, like build in custom interactions or move buttons around.

How to determine which one to use

The best way to decide which one to use is to first understand who your learners are. To understand this, you must create a learner persona. Then, you will be able to determine which tool works best for your learners.  

Helpful things to ask yourself are:

  • How will the learning be consumed?
  • Do the learners need a mobile-first design strategy?
  • Do I have the resources (budget, staff, etc.) to develop the course?

A final thing to consider is the complexity of the course design and how much time you have. Using a storyboard to help design your e-learning content can help with these decision points. 


When comparing e-learning authoring tools, you can use many factors. But your top priority should always be, “What’s best for the learner?” Making decisions based on what the learners need will simplify selecting the appropriate tools and experiences. 

As an overall recommendation, we suggest starting with Articulate Rise and using the Storyline blocks to make a course more dynamic. If you find that you need a course to be more robust, switch to Articulate Storyline.

For more information on this topic, check out the following resources: 

Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.

Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!