A Guide to eLearning Authoring Tools and Translation

With so many different authoring tools on the market, it can sometimes be hard to know which is the best fit for creating your eLearning content – and that’s even before translation is thrown into the mix!

Here at Comtec, we work with many eLearning teams to deliver multilingual digital learning programmes. Below we break down some of the most popular authoring tools that we have worked with so far and some top tips when it comes to translation.


Articulate Storyline

Articulate Storyline is the most commonly-used authoring tool on the market. It is desktop-based and works on a screen-by-screen basis, similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.

Storyline allows for content-rich courses and a high level of learner interactivity, with a wide range of features and a great deal of online support and guidance. However, it’s not as compatible with mobile devices as other tools and is among the more expensive solutions on the market.

When it comes to translation, Storyline exports into two different formats: XLIFF and a bilingual Microsoft Word file. Player labels can also be exported in XLIFF format. Once translated by your translation partner, these can then be easily reimported back into Storyline before final implementation of your translated eLearning course is completed.

Top tip for translation: The translation export from Storyline includes behind-the-scenes trigger text (such as NEXT, STOP). Translating these can break the user interface of the Storyline course, so be careful!


Articulate Rise

The web-based counterpart of Storyline, Rise is easy-to-use and allows for collaboration between teams as courses can be shared between Articulate users.

While the design features are more limited compared with Storyline, the use of design blocks means that minimal formatting and design work is required during creation – and this includes during the translation phase.

Similar to Storyline, Rise also exports into an XLIFF. However, the XLIFF is specific to the project it is exported from, so don’t forget to duplicate your project for each language it’s being translated into before exporting your XLIFFs for translation.

Top tip for translation: Just as in Storyline, player labels in Rise can also be translated in XLIFF format. However, the translations of these labels are lost when courses are shared between users in Rise. Therefore, don’t forget to export your translated labels and send this along with your course so they can be easily re-imported on the other end.



Adapt is an open-source authoring tool, established by industry heavyweights Kineo, Learning Pool and Sponge. Using the Adapt framework, it’s possible to customise interactions and develop bespoke content; it’s also easy to rebuild translations and view your translated content.

The biggest advantage of Adapt is that it’s free to use – it also uses responsive HTML5 design which means the learning content looks and feels like a webpage. The user will, however, need to have some experience in coding to be able to install the framework, and if designers are collaborating on a course and/or using custom interactions, these will need to be shared between users.

Adapt most easily exports for translation into .JSON – specifically, 5 .JSON files: articles, blocks, components, contentObjects and course. All 5 of these make up the Adapt course, including behind-the-scenes text such as accessibility and progress bars.

Top tip for translation: These JSON files contain a lot of content that is untranslatable, so your translation partner will need to carefully check what does and doesn’t require translation.



Evolve is a cloud-based authoring tool developed by Appitierre and is one of the newer tools on the market. It integrates easily with SCORM, TinCan and a range of LMS platforms. It’s also feature-rich and allows designers to develop complex courses using media, branching scenarios, gamification and interactivity.

The translation of Evolve content is an interesting topic – the Google Translator Toolkit plug-in, which had previously allowed for the quick and easy importation of translations, was switched off in December 2019. Users with little translation experience have since struggled to find a new process for translating their Evolve content.

The good news is that Evolve now also exports into JSON and XLIFF format, just like Adapt and Storyline, so pairing with a translation partner like Comtec who can handle those file formats means the translation process can be equally straightforward.

Top tip for translation: The XLIFFs and JSONs are specific to the project they are exported from, so don’t forget to duplicate your project for each language it’s being translated into before exporting your files for translation. Otherwise, you’ll have issues when it comes to re-importing the translations at the end!

If we can offer any advice and guidance about the best process for translating your eLearning content or would like to discuss for any other authoring tools, do get in touch. In the meantime, for some more information on best practice when it comes to translating your digital learning content, download our new Ultimate Guide to Translating eLearning Content here.

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