The Faceoff: Desktop vs Cloud Based Authoring Tools

September 12, 2019 by Vladana Donevski

When we talk about eLearning authoring tools, which a decade ago were an emerging practice, it is safe to say that it was indeed a different world. As we shed light on the scenario of today, we realize that we’ve come incredibly far in the sense that considerable progress has been made.

Now, it is the cloud-based authoring tools that dominate the industry, yet desktop-based ones are still holding up Click To Tweet

Are these cloud eLearning authoring tools the future, and will these be able to take over the traditional desktop tools completely?

Let’s have a look at specific parameters here. They will give you a quick comparison between the two for enhancing your knowledge of each of these tools. It should help you to make an informed decision when planning to opt for authoring tools for online training.

Cost Efficiency

With desktop authoring tools, they don’t come for free. There will be expenses when purchasing the license, and the cost depends on the number of systems you’re planning to install the software on. This means the more the systems, the higher the cost of installation. Additionally, for every upgrade or new purchase, there is an additional purchase cost. In some cases, choosing the right software development company instead of doing all of the hard work is a smart choice.

Cost Effective

On the other hand, eLearning authoring tools come as SaaS (software as a service) which implies that you pay for the authoring tool as you use it. Besides, the new updates to the tool are a part of the purchase without any additional costs.

Easier Usage

Adobe Captivate and Lectora Inspire, which are perfect examples of desktop authoring tools offer pretty sophisticated features. As a result, they also have high learning curves which prove to be time-consuming. Users for these tools need to explore a lot or even undergo some training to get comfortable using them.

Learning curve

Cloud-based tools, on the contrary, have a lower learning curve as these are intuitive. When they were designed, it was with taking into consideration various factors regarding the users. Hence, they can instantly get familiar with content creation and move to the next point.

Collaborative Authoring

Each author works independently in case of desktop authoring tools. Once an author creates appropriate content, it must be then published and shared with other co-authors. As they review it, making changes to the same is a tad bit lengthy and arduous process.


In this case, choosing a cloud-based authoring tool is a wiser decision. There’s no fixed number of authors that can work simultaneously on content creation or updating, which saves a lot of time and effort. This results in not only quicker content creation but also ineffective creation as authors can discuss and make potential edits to the content. What’s more, there are some cloud-based authoring tools which also feature the ability to add clients and staff as ‘reviewers’. This way they can review and suggest changes in real-time to the authors.


In terms of flexibility, desktop-based authoring tools shouldn’t be your first preference as these are quite rigid. This is, in the sense that publishing content takes time, and once published, it is hard to make changes. Any needed updates require running back content through the desktop tool and reworking on it.

However, cloud-based authoring tools offer extreme flexibility. It comes with agile features where content can be quickly published with content updates and changes being a breeze. Additionally, users can view content from any geographical location, and there are no platform compatibility issues.

The complexity of the eLearning program

Desktop authoring continues to remain a choice when branched scenarios are included in online training programs. Also, if you include highly interactive content templates and games, desktop authoring tools are what you must go for as they facilitate easy inclusion of the same.


On the other hand, with cloud-based authoring tools, you can create simple online courses rapidly. Still, unfortunately, it doesn’t support the inclusion of interactive media yet.

Is cloud-based authoring the future of eLearning industry?

Cloud-based authoring tools are giving a fierce competition to the conventional desktop-based authoring tools. It happens in different spheres, including ease of use, cost efficiency, collaborative authoring, and flexibility. However, these still need to come a long way when it comes to interactive media of which games are a part.

Hence, it is safe to say that cloud-based authoring seems to dominate the eLearning industry. Soon, incorporating all the latest enhancements and advancements successfully will lead to overcoming their current shortcomings. However, there’s still a place for desktop-based authoring tools in the eLearning industry and is expected to remain transparent in the future as well.

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