Multimedia authoring system

The educational technology and digital learning wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The printable version is no longer supported and may have rendering errors. Please update your browser bookmarks and please use the default browser print function instead.


Authoring systems are authoring environments that have on-screen tools like menus, prompts, icons etc. that let users enter text, graphics, banching logic etc. and that generate underlying code.

Popular systems

According to Dalgarno (1998), “Vaughan (1993) describes three distinct interface metaphors: the card or page metaphor (used by Hypercard, Supercard, Toolbook, Visual Basic, Oracle Media Objects and Apple Media Tool); the flowchart metaphor (used by Authorware and Icon Author); and the time-based presentation metaphor (used by Action, Cinemation and Director). More recently object-oriented features have become common in many tools (including Apple Media Tool, Oracle Media Objects, Director, Visual Basic and MFactory Mtropolis)”.

This article also features a comparison between Authorware, Director, Toolbook, Hypercard, FrontPage and Visual J++. Today one would have to make an other selections, but the fundamental underlying principles of these systems remain pretty similar.

Commercial educational

Most of these tools also integrate with an LMS, e.g. are IMS/SCORM compliant in various ways. Links below have been checked in June 2017.

  • Macromedia Authorware. This is now dead. Used to be one of the most powerful CBT/CAI tools)
  • Captivate Originally, a rapid elearning (screencasting) tool from Adobe. Getting better, i.e. allows to create most types of interactive courseware including VR
  • Everest ($1995 list price on 15:22, 26 June 2007 (MEST))
  • Raptivity from $300 to over $3000)
  • Articulate (several tools, most now regrouped in Articulate 360, formerly Storyline 2). Industry leader, built on top of a PowerPoint design metaphor
  • Experience Builder (online role-playing simulations). Search for the Experience Builder authoring tool
  • ReadyGo (rather a WBT/e-learning authoring tool, but the "plus" suite can do more maybe).
  • Chaucer. An e-learning content tool with multimedia capacities
  • Composica. An e-learning content tool with multimedia capacities
  • SmartBuilder. As of 2019 probably the system that comes closest to authorware, i.e. more powerful than any other.

Commercial general purpose

Hypercard like
Multimedia presentation, animation and interaction
  • Toolbook ($2795 on 15:22, 26 June 2007 (MEST))
  • NeoSoft, ($200 - 10% for education)

Free or cheap

Hypercard like
  • HM-Card. HM-Card is a set of tools designed to create and peruse: Computer Supported Educational Packages ; Multimedia Presentations and Demonstrations; Interactive Hypermedia Manuals ; Highly interactive WEB sites (not tested by Daniel K. Schneider).
  • MaxAuthor (dead link, dead project?), a free multimedia authoring system for language instruction. Windows 95/98/NT/2000/Me/XP. Student activities include MaxBrowser, Listening Dictation, Pronunciation, Multiple Choice, Vocabulary Completion, and Audio Flashcards. Lessons can be delivered via Internet or MS-Windows
  • Hot Potatoes, The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is not freeware, but it is free of charge for those working for publicly-funded non-profit-making educational institutions, who make their pages available on the web.
    • This is probably today's most popular stand-alone quizzing software - Daniel K. Schneider 15:22, 26 June 2007 (MEST).

There should be more systems I think (but don't know). Therefore also consider WBT tools like eXe. Finally, you also may in certain cases, just use some kind of presentation software.

Free or cheap WBT systems

(authoring for e-learning platforms)

Other/See also



  • Dalgarno, B. (1996). Constructivist computer-assisted learning: Theory, technique and tools. Unpublished Master of Science thesis, University of Canberra. (lost in cyberspace ?)
  • Dalgarno, Barney (1998), Tools For Authoring Constructivist Computer Assisted Learning Resources: A Review, AsiLite 1998. HTML/PDF. (Note: This article is useful also for other design models using interactive multimedia).
  • Dalgarno B (1996) Constructivist Computer Assisted Learning: Theory and Techniques, AsciLite 1996. HTML.
  • Locatis,Craig, Al-Nuaim,Hana (1999), Interactive technology and authoring tools: A historical review and analysis, Educational Technology Research and Development, 47, 3, 9/18/1999, Pages 63-75, DOI 10.1007/BF02299634 (Access restricted)
  • Vaughan, T. (1993). Multimedia, Making it Work. Berkeley: Osborne McGraw Hill.