PowerPoint add-in tools have been around for quite some time and among them none has captured the market or the imagination of eLearning designers as much as has Articulate Studio. Studio’s last major release (Studio ’09) was in September 2008. Since then, there have been nine updates to Studio but no major upgrade … until now. Now Studio ‘13 is released.

As I’ve written before, PowerPoint add-in eLearning development tools give you an edge in that they let you create learning quickly and easily, but they don’t necessarily replace more powerful tools, such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. Guild research has clearly demonstrated that most eLearning shops tend to use a combination of tools rather than just one, and that usually includes a PowerPoint add-in such as Articulate Studio ’13. Note that, as with all other PowerPoint add-ins, Articulate Studio ’13 works in Windows only, not in PowerPoint on Macs.

For those of you familiar with Articulate’s other major product, Storyline, you’ll see that Studio Pro ’13 includes some new features very similar to those in Storyline, but in no way does it replace Storyline.

What’s included in Studio ’13?

Articulate Studio Pro includes four individual products, each of which can also be purchased separately:

  1. Presenter
  2. Quizmaker
  3. Engage
  4. Replay

Articulate Studio Standard includes Presenter, Quizmaker, and Replay, but does not include Engage.

Let’s take a look at each of the four applications.

Articulate Presenter’s features are all present in the PowerPoint ribbon that Articulate installs, except for two options, Quizmaker and Engage, both of which can be launched from the ribbon but they are separate applications that you can also run separately. Replay is not launched from the ribbon (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Articulate Studio ’13 ribbon

What’s New in Presenter ’13

  1. New Publishing Options. When you publish from Presenter ’13, you will still get a Flash version, which is now updated to the latest version of ActionScript. However, now you have the option, as you can see in Figure 2, to also publish to HTML5. You can then provide links to both the Flash and to the HTML5 versions as needed. You can also stipulate that a learner using an iPad can take advantage of the Articulate Mobile Player, if present. It is a free app that learners can download and it does a great job of interpreting the Flash version for iPads. These options are the same as in Storyline.

    Figure 2:
    The Articulate Presenter ’13 publishing options

    Articulate states that the new publisher also works up to five-times faster, so you may no longer be able to take long coffee breaks when you publish your Articulate presentations!

  2. New Playback Options.
    1. The earlier version of Articulate was a bit problematic when you combined Presenter, Quizmaker, and Engage interactions. Each had its own navigation and menu options and so, when reaching a quiz question, there would be two sets of navigation on the screen, one from Presenter, the other from Quizmaker, and the learner would be able to skip questions easily. Now all three products have a unified menu and navigation scheme, which I think is much more elegant and logical.
    2. You can also now set up playback so that when a learner leaves in the middle of a lesson and returns later, you can provide three different resume options. See Figure 3.

      Figure 3: Player Resume options

    3. In Presenter ’13, you can customize almost everything about the player. Colors, fonts, and background images are all changeable. You can now also set the menu location and contents the way you like, and you can choose which navigation bar options the learner can see and access. You can even set any of 122 text labels that the learner might see to any text you wish or show the standard labels in any of 17 different languages. See Figure 4.

      Figure 4:
      Player text layer options

    4. Also, you can now set up slides in PowerPoint to be any size you wish. Presenter will handle any size.
  3. Characters. Both illustrated and photographic characters are now included in Presenter. These are the same character sets available in Storyline, with 40 illustrated characters and nine photographic characters. You can choose from different expressions and poses, thus allowing for thousands of combinations. See Figure 5.

    Figure 5:
    The Articulate Presenter ’13
    Character options

  4. Animations and Transitions. Articulate now is able to handle most PowerPoint animations and many of the slide transitions as well. That means if you are using animations and transitions, they will likely be preserved when you publish from Articulate.
  5. User Interface Improvements. Presenter now looks more modern, and dialogs are easier to understand and use.
  6. Videos. Presenter ’13 lets you insert videos from your hard drive, your webcam, or from a website. You also have a few other options, and Presenter now includes a video editor as well. That’s pretty sweet. See Figure 6.

    Figure 6: The Articulate Presenter ’13 Video options and editor

Articulate Engage ’13

Engage is a separate application but it can be accessed from the Presenter ribbon. These are wizard-based dialogs that let you create any interaction from a collection of twenty, which doubles the number of interactions that were available in the prior version of Engage. As you can see in Figure 7, your choices now include a media panel, tabbed images, a conversation option, and more.

Figure 7:
The Articulate Presenter Engage interactions

Each interaction has a consistent dialog and each includes the ability to add your own images, video, audio, characters, and Flash movies. See Figure 8 to see how two interaction dialogs compare.

Figure 8:
Two Articulate Presenter Engage interactions

Articulate Quizmaker ’13

Quizmaker is also a separate application you can access from within the Articulate Studio’s Presenter ribbon or that you can run separately. It allows you to create both graded and survey questions. It uses a multi-tabbed set of ribbons, as seen in Figure 9.

Figure 9:
Articulate Quizmaker options

There are three types of questions. You can see graded questions in Figure 10, survey (nongraded) questions, seen in Figure 11, and freeform questions, seen in Figure 12. Freeform questions transform any objects into an assessment, which is a powerful feature. Drag-and-drop interactions are also included. Every question type is editable in a form view and in a slide view. The latter includes a timeline and layers similar to those in Storyline, although here layers are limited to two: correct and incorrect feedback.

Figure 10:
Articulate Quizmaker graded questions

Figure 11:
Articulate Quizmaker survey questions

Figure 12:
Articulate Quizmaker freeform questions

What’s New in Quizmaker ’13

Quizmaker shares several updates that are similar to those added to Presenter ’13.

  1. Publish to HTML5 and use the Articulate Mobile Player on the iPad
  2. A more efficient and pleasing user interface
  3. Illustrated and photographic characters
  4. Embedded videos
  5. Embedded web objects
  6. Create a custom size for your quiz

Other new features include:

  1. Import questions from Excel or from text files
  2. Feedback layers allow for more flexible options, including media, images, web objects, and more

Articulate Replay

Replay is a new product from Articulate. It is a video editor that lets you record screencasts while also recording yourself on a webcam if you wish. You can have videos switch out, and you can have two videos play at the same time.

Replay provides a video timeline that lets you choose to do the mixing of videos, add transitions, and more. You can create picture-in-picture effects, add audio and images, and also add lower thirds, which are those strips of text with an optional logo that explain what you are viewing, such as the name of the person speaking in the video.

Replay includes a lot of nice features for a low-cost video editor. See Figure 13.

Figure 13:
Articulate Replay

Suggestion for Studio ’13 improvements

  1. It’s a bit annoying to have to wait for Quizmaker or Engage to open when launching them from the Presenter ribbon.
  2. It would be nice if you could set up several interactions in Engage without having to return to Presenter between each one.
  3. If you could access Replay from the Studio ’13 ribbon it would be easier to edit videos and have them embedded automatically on slides.

Pricing models

Articulate Studio ’13 provides a free 30-day trial at www.articulate.com. You can purchase Studio ’13 or its individual products separately. The following are standard retail prices. Upgrade pricing is also available and varies depending on which Articulate Studio ’09 product you own and which current product you wish to purchase.

Studio ’13 Pro: New Studio ’13 Standard
(does not include Engage):
Presenter ’13: $799 Presenter ’13: $799
Quizmaker ’13: $699 Quizmaker ’13: $699
Engage ’13: $499 Replay: $200
Replay: $200 Total if purchased separately: $1,698
Total if purchased separately: $2,197 Total if purchased together: $999
Total if purchased together: $1,398