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Authorware was EOD'd on 08/03/2007. For shame, for shame... We can still use Authorware where appropriate, and folks are still working with it with newer versions of Windows (though Mac OS support is pretty much dead now too). We will keep this site running to help those who still like to work with this extraordinary product. Otherwise, time to move on to some new tools!

 


Authorware is dead, long live Authorware.

The power of Authorware in eLearning development is yet to be rivaled, thus there remains a discussion about what are the best substitute tools. Find below several tools that have come up in the various discussions and brief descriptions, as well as other thoughts. SCORM and xAPI (TinCan) capabilities are certainly a significant consideration. The product list below mentions SCORM and xAPI support as experienced or as the product site lists.

 


Adobe eLearning Software (Creative Cloud, Captivate)
Adobe's move to the Creative Cloud method of licensing (subscription) has caused a lot of controversy and alienated even more folks than the EOD of Authorware...but Adobe is committed (so far) to the process and, fairly, it does offer a solid value IF users can make use of the majority of the offered software.
It's odd that Captivate requires its own unique subscription licensing and is not included in the Creative Cloud, so the financial advantage of CC is a bit less on the eLearning community - as they need to maintain two subscriptions (CC and Captivate).

At this time, Captivate is by far Adobe's strongest eLearning software tool. Adobe Edge has promise but, so far, moreso in adding interactive and animation elements to Captivate. With those additions and Captivate's ability to output to SWF and HTML, as well as decent responsive design capabilities, it remains a solid tool for eLearning courseware development.

Captivate is Flash and xAPI compliant, though I feel Captivate's xAPI implementation needs more flexibility (i.e. allow a custom LRS target).

Flash WAS considered the best alternative when Authorware was EOD'd, but no longer. Until Adobe rolls full HTML5-output into Flash (which is coming along slowly), Flash should not be considered a wise IDE for eLearning development (though, sure, use it to make some fun, non-interactive animations published as MP4).

Acrobat has come a long way - it's not just a document viewer anymore. While not up on the latest mutations, it is interesting to see it being increasingly discussed as an eLearning tool...though it's hard to imagine Acrobat ever becoming a tool quite as capable as Authorware.
Acrobat does not have any native SCORM or xAPI capabilties.


Techsmith's Camtasia
Speaking of creating training for software applications and processes, I've yet to see anything outshine Camtasia's capture quality. Techsmith has spent years refining their proprietary capture codec, and it shows. However, at this time,while you can create simple interactions in Camtasia, it does not rival Captivate's interactive options. Will see what the next version brings... Until then, I will continue to keep it in my toolbox for its capture quality, simple editing options, output to MP4, and SCORM-compliance.
Camtasia is 1.2 and 2004 SCORM compliant but not yet xAPI compliant.

University of Nottingham's Xerte
A lot of the Authorware discussion has focused on how to maintain the icon-dragging/flowline metaphor while outputting to the SWF and HTML. There continues to be an
enthused, if not muted, response to Xerte, developed by Julian Tenney. I've not had a chance to check it out yet but definitely intend to....and it's FREE! (take that, Adobe ;-)
I believe Xerte supports SCORM and xAPI but it's not readily apparent on their site.

ZebraZapps
"A cloud-based authoring and publishing platform created by Allen Interactions. ZebraZapps allows developers and non-programmers alike to create rich, interactive applications easily and quickly, as well as share, publish, and sell objects or entire applications."
This is a neat a powerful tool. Not sure I like web-based, but the innovation seems solid and it's got an indisputable Authorware-based tradition, as well as probably being the tool coming closest to Authorware's capabilities.
Pricing seems reasonable...
Zebra Zapps is SCORM and xAPI-compliant.

Qarbon
This is another product that's been around a while, and I played with it briefly a few years ago. Ultimately we settled on RoboDemo (now Captivate) over this product, though I forget why. I've kept this on my back-radar though. Again, no chance to play with it yet and, while more targeted along the lines of Camtasia and Captivate, it's an interesting option. Several pricing options are available, but seems a nice bundle can be had for about $500 to $700.
Site lists SCORM 1.2 and 2004 compliance for the Viewlet Builder and Viewlet Quiz products.

Trivantis Lectora
Lectora is a solid product that does closely follow the Authorware 'flowline' metaphor. Last I used it, it was not as refined as Authorware (if A'ware could have ever been called refined) but has many of the same capabilities, including fairly complex interaction capabilities and the ability to integrate various forms of media. This is another on my short list (which is actually growing kinda long) but it too is pretty expensive at $2,495 for Inspire ($1595 for Publisher). However, its capabilities somewhat close to Authorware, perhaps that's not terribly unjustified...AND it publishes to HTML, which can make for nice mobile-compatibility.
Lectora Publisher is SCORM and xAPI compliant.

Matchware Mediator ORM support takes it off the short list. Two different versions priced at $439 and $899. Of course, the more expensive seems more Authorware-like due to the included 'power of programming' feature.
SCORM is not mentioned anywhere on the Mediator website nor KB.

Toolbook Instructor
I was introduced to Toolbook about the same time as Authorware and used it a bit for some fairly basic development. Having started 'programming' with Hypercard on the Mac, I caught on to Toolbook quickly and really liked it....but I focused on Authorware and haven't touched Toolbook in years, though I still have the Toolbook II box on my software shelf...
I'd take another look; though while pricing years ago was around $3200, there's no mention of pricing on the site now that I can find...soit's not on the short list. If I wanted to spend that much, I'd just buy Authorwa...oh, drat...
SCORM 1.2 and 2004 complaint, per the website


Smart Builder
Has generated some enthusiasim on the Aware List, but with the hesitation that this is a web-based tool. Supposedly an "installable" version is in the works but, til then, depending on a web-based tool could be unnerving? On the other hand, many folks depend on hosted LMS systems... With a 'Flow Chart' interface, it may be a tool with a GUI most similar to Authorware. Pricing is $1,970/year per author for a Hosted Solution, but they require contact for information on a Purchased Option.
SCORM 1.2 and 2004 compliant
 

Open to suggestions!
There are a ton of authoring tools out there in one form or another. We'll keep an eye on the A'ware List and the Adobe Authorware forum for future suggestions to post here, as well as continued reviews by anyone who may have a chance to really dig into any of these products.

One quick addition to the SCORM discussion; having worked with an LMS developer (ICS Learning Group) for some time, we have found that while products can claim SCORM-compliance, their implementations all seem to have their quirks. Just because a product claims to be SCORM-compliant does not necessarily mean the actual LMS integration will be trouble-free. Keep the fingers crossed...


General thoughts on the "EOD'ing" of Authorware
It's a shame such an esteemed, if not under -appreciated, -funded, and -marketed, product with its rich, long history, its power to create compelling eLearning, and its huge published disbursement has been abandoned. I truly believe Adobe had good intentions for the product during and shortly after the Macromedia aquisition. Authorware had even already undergone a brief version 8 beta period before the 'merger'.

But once Adobe moved development to India and the new programmers got a crack at updating the code, I guess it was just deemed too expensive for the product base and projected sales. Additionally, I imagine there was some competition with Director for resources. Adobe made the decision to pour those resources into Director and stop upgrading Authorware. Sad for a good portion of Adobe's developers, but surely good news for the Director folks!

This seems especially unfortunate as all Authorware really needs are a few upgrades to stay current, such as an updated Flash sprite and whatever tweaks are required to have it work seamlessly with Vista and IE 7. Of course, an updated Mac player and improved text-handling would be nice too...

There are calls for Adobe to open-source the product. There were also apparently a few offers to buy Authorware from Adobe before this EOD decision was announced. While there may be some patent issues involved, Adobe doesn't seem interested in anything but continuing to sell version 7 as long as it is at all profitable (which is easy when there are no resources being invested). Maybe when sales finally fall to some grey level, Adobe will "do the right thing" and let Authorware live on outside its grasp. Only time will tell.

I started with Authorware in 1994 with version 2.0 and have been a faithful user since. Not a bad run...and A'ware is still a useful product in many situations. It's a shame to have it waste away. Let's keep up hope that salvation will be found someday. Til then, onward with our eLearning development!

 

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