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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Software Simulation Tools

Software Simulation Software has definitely been changing since I originally posted this.

I've recently added some data from the eLearningGuilds Research at the bottom of the page - eLearning Tools Satisfaction. This shows satisfaction among tools that fall into categories related to software simulation: screen capture, electronic performance support (EPSS) and simulation. There are some definite issues with some of these tools not really being for the same purpose, but I was looking to get Assima (which comes under EPSS) listed next to Captivate, Camtasia, etc.

Based on a request on a message board around Software Simulation, I thought I'd pull together some quick links to useful information on the topic:

See also: Camtasia and SnagIt free.

Brandon Hall had their 2007 Software Simulation Shootout. This shootout had:
Not sure what to make of the fact that it did not include many of the market leaders shown in the graph above.

Articles & Posts:

I've listed these tools in roughly the order of popularity based on my experience in presenting this topic at conferences (training & eLearning conferences).

Adobe/Macromedia Captivate - most popular tool, easy to use, file sizes a bit large
Viewlet Builder - easy to use, good for more advanced development, works on Linux
Camtasia - simple to use, but mostly for demonstrations - now have free version
Wink - simple to use, freeware, used a lot in academia, primarily demonstration
Xstream Rapidbuilder - primarly aimed at Windows applications, good balance of ease of use w/ flexibility
FireFly - flexible, powerful, but somewhat expensive tool
STT Trainer - normally used on larger, enterprise application kinds of roll-outs
Assima - great tool for doing larger implementations, e.g. ERP roll-out, especially those with multiple languages, job aids
Swish - Aimed more at animation creation, works well for demonstrations
SoftSim - Easy to use, lacks flexibility for more complex software simulations

One thing to note, we've recently been doing many of our demonstrations/simulations seamlessly integrated into the reference system either through a Portal/CMS or through a tool like RoboHelp/RoboInfo or as HTML pages.

There are a bunch more tools out there as well. A recent Bryan Chapman presentation listed the following:
3.Eedo Knowledgeware
6.OnDemand (Global Knowledge)
10.KS Tutor (KnowledgeSolutions)
11.FireFly (KnowledgePlanet)
12.Captivate (Macromedia)
13.SoftSim (OutStart)
14.ViewletBuilder (Qarbon)
15.InfoPak Simulator (RWD)
16.SAP Tutor
18.SimCorder (TEDS)
19.STT Trainer
21.RapidBuilder (XStream Software)

Text From Chart:

KnowledgePresenter eLearni.. GeoMetrix Data Syste.. 4 9.50
NexLearn SimWriter NexLearn 7 8.97
Content Point Atlantic Link Limited 3 8.97
Performance Analyzer7M (Simul.. XStream Software 3 8.90
Snaglt Screen Capture and Sha.. TechSmith Corporation 763 8.79
HyperSnap Hyperionics Technolog.. 31 8.70
Elicitus Harbinger Knowledge .. 5 8.60
EPSS Assima 3 8.40
KnowledgePresenter KnowledgePresenter 13 8.28
Lectora Trivantis 251 8.24
Adobe Captivate Adobe Systems, Inc. 2412 8.15
Macromedia Flash Professional .. Adobe Systems, Inc. 546 8.12
datango Knowledge Suite datango AG 4 8.10
KnowledgePla net On-Demand .. KnowledgePlanet 6 8.05
Adobe Acrobat Professional Adobe Systems, Inc. 372 8.01
Camtasia Studio Screen Record.. TechSmith Corporation 585 7.99
Flashform Rapid eLearning Ski.. Rapid Intake 48 7.90
Second Life Linden Research, Inc. 19 7.87
Raptivity Harbinger Knowledge .. 32 7.87
ReadyGo Web Course Builder ReadyGo Inc. 3 7.80
ViewletACE Qarbon 14 7.78
Adobe Acrobat Connect (Pro/Br.. Adobe Systems, Inc. 349 7.59
Overall Rating _______
Macromedia Authorware from .. Adobe Systems, Inc. 145 7.56
RWD Info Pak RWD Technologies 6 7.50
SAPTutor SAP 12 a 7.43
OnDemand Personal Navigator OnDemand Soffivare 29 r 7.42
Capture Professional v6 Creative Softworx, Inc. 7 isca 7.40
KnowledgePlanet Firefly KnowledgePlanet 83 . 7.38
SimBuilder Phasient Learning Tec.. 3 a 7.37
ViewletCam Qarbon 23 7.33
RapidBuilder (Software Simul.. XStream Software 12 7.27
Plateau Learning Management.. Plateau Systems, LTD 8 7.16
Altova XMLSpy Altova 17 6.99
ToolBook Instructor SumTotal Systems Inc. 50 6.78
IBM Simulation Producer IBM 18 6.61
Lectora (OpenOffice-Impress/T.. eLearning Consultants.. 4 :::1 6.58
Visual Studio Microsoft Corporation 4 6.45
CodeBaby Production Studio CodeBaby 6 6.43
CustomDoc OnDemand Software 3 6.33
Decision Tool Media 1 3 6.20
OutStart Softsim OutStart 28 6.00
LearnCenter 11 5.56
Wizard Training Suite Assima 6 5.45
Rapid Content Dev System Knowledge Anywhere 3 5.33


Prof Kelly said...

Thanks for the great list of resources for software simulations in training. I look forward to trying them.

Anonymous said...
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Travis Smith said...
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Travis Smith said...

I am very new to this idea and very willing. Can you please tell me which are the two or three best tools (regardless of price) plus the one that's the "best bang for its buck"?

Tony Karrer said...

Travis - if you are very new to this, then I would recommend:

1. If you are simulating - then pick up a Captivate trial and go from there.

2. If you are demonstrating - then pick up Camtasia and go from there.

Either way, you should have much better requirements after playing with these tools a bit.

Anonymous said...

We evaluated several of the listed but found STT Trainer from Kaplan as the best for application simulation. Reasons? Rapid development, ease of use, collaborative authoring and in particular the end learner experience is much more geared to knowledge retention than all the others.

MKWeb said...

The two things I really need in Sim software is right-click and mouse drag functionality from user interaction. Which of these provide that without breaking the bank?

neil w said...

This page and listing is quite old now (2006) but it's still the best comparison site and simulation tool listing I can find! Any chance of a 2009/2010 review of the info? I've used a couple of the products involved (Kaplan, RWD, Assima) and they've all made great advancements.

Unknown said...

Nice list, even if it is older. It lets people see what is out there. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Has anyone used the Datango software?

Heather said...

Do any of these software tools create work instructions like InfoPak. I am looking for document output not just simulation.

Tom Alexander said...

Can anyone help rate the best tools out of Epiance/Epiplex, Assima, Datango & RWD? Thanks.