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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.

There is quite a discussion about what tools to move to now, some deciding what Adobe products to move to, and others looking for the best Non-Adobe tool (a little bitterness persists). Find below several tools that have come up in the various discussions and brief descriptions, as well as other thoughts.
Update: SCORM capabilities are certainly a significant consideration. The product list below mentions SCORM support as experienced or as the product site lists.

 


Adobe eLearning Software (Captivate, Flash, Director, Acrobat)
Most folks are familiar with at least one of the above Adobe products, and all are decent at what they do. Director is likely the most capable for overall eLearning, especially since it retains the ability to use third-party Xtras as well as its overall history in the arena. And if you are at home with Flash's timeline interface while experienced with it and Authorware's scripting, Director may be a perfect migration. However, I personally worry about Director's future...which may completely unfounded.
SCORM-compliance is apparently possible with something called S2PE (?).

Flash seems the safest product to move to considering its diverse user-base and Adobe's plain commitment. It's quite a jump from Authorware but, like anything, with concerted effort it can be mastered and generate some great content. Additionally, with Adobe's extension of the Adobe framework into Flash Builder (aka Flex), the Flash platform is growing significantly and increasingly powerful for 'Rich Internet Application' development. There are concerns, however, regarding Apple's refusal to support Flash on its mobile devices. Stay tuned to that debacle...
Flash is SCORM-compliant using related templates and/or components.

Captivate does what it does very well and has a bright future. It will be interesting to see if it ever can rival Authorware's flexibility and power. For now, if you're doing software training, it is one of a few great products for that sorta thing.
Captivate is SCORM-compliant (1.2 and 1.3)

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, especially since Macromedia's Breeze has been renamed "Acrobat Connect". I'm not quite sure what the relationship can be... Regardless, it's hard to imagine Acrobat ever becoming a tool quite as capable as Authorware.
I've no idea about Acrobat's SCORM capabilities.

At least none of these products have a price-point quite at Authorware's level!


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, Camtasia lacks any sort of complex interaction development, especially compared to Captivate. Will see what the next version brings... Until then, I will continue to keep it in my toolbox for its capture quality, decent editing options, output to SWF, and SCORM-compliance.
Camtasia is SCORM compliant, 1.2 and 1.3 (2004)

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 format. The overall preference seems to be creating some sort of AIR-based interface that can create Flex-compatible source. Great idea!

And maybe it's already half-way done. There have been a few but enthused responses 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 ;-)
Site lists SCORM-compliance but vaguely with no mention of version.


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 seems like a pretty neat tool. Not sure I like web-based, but the innovation seems solid and it's got an indisputable Authorware-based tradition!
Pricing seems reasonable...
Site lists SCORM-compliance for 1.2 and 2004, as well as AICC and TinCan (xAPI)

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 1.2 and 2004 compliant.

Matchware Mediator
Another potential replacement product mentioned in the A'ware List with some decent initial responses. I've not checked this out either yet, and no SCORM 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 truly 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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