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Storyline vs. Rise – When to use which eLearning tool?

Articulate Storyline and Articulate Rise, two powerful eLearning development tools which allow the development of interactive digital learning content and assessment. With two eLearning development tools available from the one learning technology vendor, you may be wondering which development tool is the right one to use?

The answer will depend on your particular project. There are two separate tools for a reason, each application approaches eLearning development differently and the most appropriate selection will depend on project complexity, target audience, developer technical ability, project timelines, etc, etc. I have had experience developing course materials utilising both tools and have found both Storyline and Rise to be extremely useful for different project types. Below I’ll briefly outline a few differences you should consider when choosing the development tool for your next project.


Articulate Storyline has been around for a long while now and is the older of the two development tools. Storyline most closely resembles PowerPoint with the developer creating content via a series of ‘slides’. Once a developer is comfortable with the application interface, basic content can be created relatively easily within Storyline, by utilising the tools drag and drop interface and a number of built-in interaction and question types.

However, what makes Storyline such a powerful development tool though is the ability to create complex-custom-interaction types. eLearning developers have the opportunity to use a function known as “triggers” to make an action occur, once triggered. An action may be triggered by something simple such as a learner pressing a button, or by a more complex action, such as the score a learner has/or hasn’t achieved on completion of an interaction. Once a trigger is activated it can complete one or more actions, such as moving to the next slide or playing an animation, or something more complex like increasing the value of a custom scoring variable or running some JavaScript function.

Another benefit to Storyline is the ability to completely customise every element of the eLearning content look and feel. Master templates can be created for overall styling, similar to PowerPoint theming and every slide element can be moved, restyled and customised as much or as little as the developer wishes.

When to use: For complex, custom interaction development or where custom content branding is required.


Articulate Rise is the newer of the two eLearning development tools, having been released in late 2016. While Storyline is a traditional software package, requiring download and install on a developer’s computer, Rise is completely cloud-based, allowing a developer to gain access at any time from any modern web browser. Rise is built as a rapid, responsive web content development tool, allowing developers to quickly create web page-based learning content and interactions, with an easy to use, low complexity interface.

Rise contains an ever-increasing number of interaction types built into the tool. These allow rapid development of content, interactions, the inclusion of audio and video and the development of simple quiz questions. Because the developer is limited to the content types and styling available within the tool, the eLearning content will be consistent in look and feel (mostly) and all content will have consistent navigation with menus and interaction function the same across any Rise projects, regardless of the developer.

Rise is an extremely easy development tool to use, there are no complex menus, no triggers, no code. The interface is simple and anyone comfortable navigating a webpage and who is able to add content to a text box will have no problems creating eLearning content with this tool. Most people I have shown Rise to have been able to commence content creation without any assistance, within the first 20 minutes (most much faster) of having seen the tool, regardless of their technical expertise or development experience.

When to use: For rapid content development, content consistency and ease of development.

Rise and Storyline together

In late 2017 Articulate added functionality to Rise to allow Storyline content to be embedded within a Rise course. While this requires development in both tools, this may allow developers the ability to combine the best elements of both packages, in order to gain some additional complexity in interactions from Storyline when required, but at the same time keep the clean modern interface and rapid development functionality of Rise for the majority of the eLearning content.

Student experience is number one

At the end of the day, no matter our personal development preferences, student experience has to come first. If you decide to develop eLearning content across a variety of tools, take into consideration the student experience and ensure that any transition between technologies is necessary and as smooth an experience for the student as possible. The student should not have to relearn how to navigate their learning content or have to search for a particular piece of learning simply because the development tool has changed.

Even if as developers we need to spend more time developing eLearning content, even if we have additional complexities in developing content, our students learning always has to come first.

Catherine Duncan

Catherine Duncan

Catherine is a learning technologies and digital education practitioner with over twelve years experience across a variety of industries. She enjoys using her technical, educational and creative knowledge to assist organisations in determining their technical and/or training requirements and assisting them in finding the optimum solution.

4 thoughts on “Storyline vs. Rise – When to use which eLearning tool?

  • Anonymous

    Really useful analysis. Just a thought – before end of 2023 – how would people feel about having a Digital Developer Webinar session. I am keen to improve the quality of training in the Apprenticeship Training Providers programmes. Many are simply using “Tell” techniques of boring theory with no involvement or realism / context to the industry application. In addition many do not link their materials directly to the National Course Standards (KSB’s). For developers – this could be an opportunity to improve and enhance teaching and training to become more digital – “Why use a thousand words ???? when a picture(s) will do !” Views welcome – Will D.

  • Madhurima

    Indeed informative. Thanks!

  • Very interesting !
    I’ve used Storyline over the years, but not Rise yet – so it’s really useful to have an overview like this from someone who has used both 🙂

    • Am in the same boat and found this article helpful. Thanks! 🙂

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