10 New Features You’ll Love In Articulate Studio ’13

articulate-13-reviewWhen I discovered Articulate Studio ’13 was released, I immediately downloaded and installed the trial version. Although you may prefer the design freedom you’ve found in Storyline, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the new Studio ’13. It now borrows quite a few of the features we like in Storyline, giving it a truly fresh upgrade.

If you have legacy projects created with Articulate Studio ’09, you’ll feel compelled to enhance them with the improved functionality and look of the newer product. You’ll also like Studio ’13 if you are new to eLearning or are in need a rapid production tool—design and development are faster with this version.

Overall, Articulate Studio Pro ’13 has a light and modern feel that you can sense in how it looks and responds.

Don’t Know the Products?

If you’re not familiar with Articulate Studio, the Professional version is now a bundle of four products that convert PowerPoint slides to a running multimedia presentation or interactive eLearning course. Presenter is the foundation program that works as a plug-in with PowerPoint. Engage and Quizmaker can be embedded into Presenter to add interactivity, exercises and test questions. The new Replay product allows you to capture screencasts and webcam video separately or simultaneously. Replay is not reviewed here, but looks like a powerful addition to the suite. Now on with the features.

1. One integrated player for all products

As Tom Kuhlmann mentioned in our podcast interview, the previous version of Articulate Studio used a different player for each product (Presenter, Quizmaker and Engage), creating a “Frankencourse” that had three different design styles within one course. In Studio ’13, the three products are well-integrated and seamless. You can’t tell where one product starts and ends, so that Engage interactions and Quizmaker exercises or test questions merge perfectly with the Presenter player. This is a huge change and should improve learner satisfaction.

2. Slide Properties support nonlinear navigation

Not only has the Slide Properties interface been redesigned, you’ll find improved functionality in the properties. Most important, you can now control the navigation on each slide without needing to make your own navigation system. You can choose whether a slide has a Previous or Next button, providing more sophisticated approaches to branching.

articulate-slide-properties

3. Greater control over the player

The player is now similar to the one used in Storyline. You can more easily control the features you want to display in the player, such as Title, Menu and Resources. And it’s easier to edit the menu items.

articulate-player

4. You’ve got characters

Studio ’13 comes with the same illustrated and photographed characters you find in Storyline. You will find a Character icon on the Presenter and Quizmaker toolbars and in the Engage Media box, making insertion quite easy. My only concern is that over time, learners around the world will end up seeing the same characters in all of their courses. Still, this is a great option for people with no funds to buy characters and it encourages storytelling and using scenarios.

articulate-characters

5. You can display an Exit tab

articulate-exit-tabIt may seem simple to you, but many users are still unsure of how to close a course when it runs in an LMS. You now have the option of displaying an Exit tab next to the Resources tab in the upper right of the player. This makes quitting more graceful.

6. New publishing features

In addition to publishing to Flash, you can output a file in multiple formats, including HTML5 and Articulate’s Mobile Player, which optimizes it for the iPad. There’s also a download option so users can view a course when they are not online.

articulate-publishing

7. Engage is modernized and has more interactions

Engage, the interaction builder, is lighter and modernized. The interactions are styled with a flat look and work correctly. In the previous version, it was difficult to work with bullets. There are also ten new interactions, including an image zoom, accordion, checklist and glossary. See the window for choosing interactions below. Previous interactions are improved too. My favorite improvement? In the Labeled Image interaction, you can turn off the swirling marker animation so that the markers remain still.

new-engage-interactions

8. It’s much easier to edit the colors in an Engage theme

The user interface for editing Engage theme colors is straightforward. You’ll figure out how to use it quickly because the interface is better and Preview mode works nicely.

edit-theme-colors

9. Quizmaker has free-form interactions like Storyline

I must admit this is another giant breakthrough. You can now design more complicated interactions in Quizmaker, which you can integrate into Presenter. You can create your own drag and drops, hotspot, text entry and pick one or pick many exercises and use them for discovery learning, to reinforce and practice or to assess skills and knowledge.

articulate-quizmaker-freeform

10. You can adjust where the feedback box displays

One problem with the old version of Quizmaker was that the feedback box often covered up answer choices, so learners couldn’t see both the answer choices and feedback at the same time. That is no longer true in Studio ’13. Similar to Storyline, Quizmaker now allows you to access the Feedback Master to adjust where the feedback box is displayed. You can create new Feedback Masters so you have many options, such as creating your own style of box. To access the master, select the View tab and then Feedback Master in the toolbar. See below.

articulate-freedback-master

Conclusion

I couldn’t be more pleased with the new Studio ’13. It seems to take care of most or all of the problems found in previous versions. Yes, it was long in coming but it was worth the wait.


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Comments

  1. Craig Hadden – Remote Possibilities says

    Thanks for the review, Connie. I haven’t tried this new version yet, but I like that Presenter’s based around PowerPoint, which for me makes designing slides much quicker and easier than in (say) Captivate.

    With the makeover on the Slide Properties (in your point #2), I hope Articulate have kept the ability to select several consecutive slides then right-click and set some of their properties (e.g. whether they advance automatically). Have you tried that in the new version?

    In #6 (publishing), Articulate say version ’13 is “up to 5x faster” in creating output. Have you found that to be the case? (Even “just” 2x faster would be a huge improvement!)

    For #7 (Engage), the new Conversation type looks promising. My biggest beef with Engage is that usually designers just use it to present information, instead of challenging learners to actually THINK. (So much so, I call it enRage! Most of its options lend themselves to very robotic “interaction” of the click-and-read variety, so calling it “Engage” seems highly ironic to me.)

    In #9 (Quizmaker), it’ll be great to be able to use drag-and-drop questions. Like you say, a huge step up.

    I’d be interested to see if the new version’s more reliable than ’09. For instance, when sharing Articulate projects (package files) in a team environment, we’ve found that often the package doesn’t contain all of the Quizmaker or Engage elements used. (More details here: http://www.articulate.com/support/kb_article.php?product=ap9&id=ne82wobr6vff.)

    Anyway, thanks again. Now the tough choice might be between Studio and Storyline!

  2. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Craig,
    Let me just say that if you are experienced or work on an experienced team, I think there’s no question you’d want to go with Storyline. The ability to use variables and layers is really powerful. On the other hand, it doesn’t have all the design flexibility of PowerPoint yet, so that’s something to consider. I’d recommend downloading trial versions. I guess it depends on your needs.

    Okay on to your questions:
    Slide Properties: There is a Properties box to the right of the list of slides. You can multiple slides and switch back and forth between Advance Automatically and Advance by User. Not sure how this works with Engage and QM slides.


    Publishing:
    I haven’t had the update long enough to say and the current course I’m working on is small. Publishing seemed pretty quick on this small course and I’m not sure under what conditions it could be 5x faster. No graphics or media?

    Engage: You can get creative with Engage and use it for true interactivity, but it is mostly designed (I think) to present content in a more interesting way. But for true interactivity, I think it’s best to use Quizmaker. You can insert free-form and pre-made QM activities throughout a course for discovery learning, practice, reinforcement, opinions, etc. So with QM having more question types, it makes the package much more powerful.

    Hope this helps.
    Connie

  3. Ryan Keiffer says

    I like the way the new integrated player looks but I do not like the way it functions with Engage. It treats every item in Engage as a slide, so that if you click the Next button in the player, it starts cycling through the items in the Engage interaction in the order they were laid out in Engage. So if you tell participants to click on items in Engage and then click on the Next button to continue with the course, the odds are that the Next button will start cycling them through the items in Engage that they already viewed. The only solution seems to be that when you have an Engage interaction, you tell participants to click on the Next button to view each item in Engage in order. What this means is that the integrated player has basically made Engage interactions linear! It is absolutely crazy!

  4. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Ryan,
    To remove the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons in an Engage Interaction, go to Interaction Properties and in the Playback options, uncheck the option: Show prevous/next buttons.
    Connie

  5. Ryan Keiffer says

    Hi Connie,
    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, I don’t want to remove the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons from the player, I want them to actually go to the previous and next slide, not go through items in the Engage Interaction. In Studio ’09, you could tell participants to click the items on their screen in an Engage Interaction and then click the NEXT SLIDE button when they were finished. The NEXT SLIDE button actually went to the next slide. In Studio ’13, if you tell participants to click the items on their screen in an Engage Interaction and then click the NEXT button to go to the next slide when they are finished, there is a good chance the NEXT button will take them to another item in the interaction instead of the next slide. So the only way in Studio ’13 to keep participants from being “trapped” in Engage for a while is to use linear interactions that participants click through in order using the NEXT button, or click on the title of the next slide in the MENU tab which my clients don’t want participants to have to do because they are not very tech-savy.

  6. Ryan Keiffer says

    Unfortunately, the integrated player was designed to treat each item in an Engage Interaction as a new slide. So it is not a bug, it is something they intentionally designed that way for some reason. In addition, if you record audio in Articulate Presenter on a slide that contains an Engage Interaction or a QuizMaker Quiz, the seekbar in the player doesn’t work with the audio. Again, not a bug, but an intentional design issue. On slides that contain an Engage Interaction or a QuizMaker Quiz, the seekbar is only designed to work with audio embedded in the interaction or quiz…not Presenter. This is another item that made more sense in Studio ’09 which didn’t have the integrated player. Unfortunately, I keep running into these issues where the integrated player in Studio ’13 looks nice but doesn’t seem to have been thought through very well when it was designed. It actually took functionality away that we used in Studio ’09 and didn’t provide any viable options my clients will like.

  7. Paresh Gupta says

    Hi Connie,

    Could you please help me out with my following queries:

    – whether studio’13 has the ‘states’ and ‘variable’ feature
    – whether storyline’13 has any pre-built interactions like studio’13 has in form of 20 pre-built engage interactions.

    Regards,
    Paresh

  8. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Paresh,
    I think you should double-check these answers in the Articulate community.
    – As far as I know, Studio ’13 does not have states or variables
    – As far as I know, storyline does not have pre-built interactions, like Engage, but they are very easy to build in Storyline. However, there are pre-built interactive activities in the quiz tool. But not necessarily for presenting content. Also, community members often donate interactions.
    Connie

  9. Sana says

    Hi,

    Let me share my exeperience with Studio ’13.

    I have just discovered 2 very important functions (for me) available in Engage ’09 and missing in Engage ’13:
    – In ’09 you can add a media (like a SWF file) and to display it in full size. In ’13 it is impossible. So Flash movie are always played on a “small” thumbnail and custom size is very limited.
    – In ’09 it was possible to link to external files like a PDF document. In ’13 it is impossible, you can only lingk to a website.

    Sana.

  10. Connie Malamed says

    Thanks for your comment, Sana. I know there have been some losses in functionality in Engage 13. I hope you are letting the Articulate folks know what you would like to see back in there. BTW, I usually place PDF files as an attachment, if that helps.
    Best,
    Conne

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