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Sep
03
2013

Articulate Storyline HTML5 Performance on iPad – An Accidental Discovery

Storyline HTML5 PerformanceArticulate Storyline HTML5 courses generally known for their slower performance on mobile browsers. With the heavier multimedia the mobile browser could be unstable and frequently crash. Articulate support team claims this is due to HTML5 inherent limitations. But in my previous articles i have done some in-depth analysis about storyline’s HTML5 performance while comparing with other major rapid e-learning tools and pointed out few issues with the way articulate storyline courses programmed.

My Previous post to compare leading Rapid e-learning tools -Adobe Captivate7 vs Articulate Storyline vs Lectora Inspire – Side by Side Comparison

But what if you want to stick with Storyline yet looking for options to overcome the HTML5 performance issues? Well, i have made one accidental discovery about how to improve Storyline’s HTML5 performance.

If the storyline course runs inside an Hybrid iOS app (not the Articulate’s iOS App which is a native app) then the performance seems to be significantly improved. What is Hybrid iOS app?  – Hybrid App developed with standard HTML5 technology but wrapped with an iOS app container to function like a native app. There are many pros and cons of Hybrid apps but this approach is used mainly to simplify the development and deployment of apps on multi-platforms (e.g. Single App targeted for iOS, Android as well as Windows).

To load webpages, iOS hybrid app usually makes use of an feature called UIWebview (UIWebview – a Class from Objective C language, Objective C – Programming language used for iOS development). So UIWebview is like an in-built safari browser for hybrid iOS apps. However UIWebview is not exactly safari browser, in fact a lot of iOS developers claim that UIWebview is much slower in performance compares to mobile safari because it does not uses ‘Nitro Javascript Engine’ available on Mobile Safari (Apple claims that Nitro Engine improves javascript execution of mobile safari up to 30x times faster).

So it came as surprise to me how the Articulate Storyline courses performs much stable in Hybrid iOS apps comparing to Mobile Safari Browser.

My best guess for this – Hybrid/Native Apps possibly can consume more memory and resources of iPad than what is allowed for Mobile Safari Browser. I was reminded myself that, storyline tends to perform slower or crash frequently when courses are large in size (lot of pages or lot of multimedia). Obviously large assets consume large system resources and I doubt mobile safari browser is limited by iOS at some point which is not the case with apps. I also believe that e-learning contents such as storyline courses may not be using extreme javascript coding to test the limits of mobile safari or hybrid apps. So Nitro Engine may matters to an HTML5 3D Game but not for a simple slides based e-learning course.

It doesn’t mean Apps never crash, I have noticed a super heavy course (~100 pages with lot of multimedia) crashes on mobile safari just on launching but the same course loads well within the hybrid app but crashes during the mid-point (i was able to proceed almost up to 50-60 pages). So there was still a significant performance improvement when course was viewed from hybrid app.

The Hyrbid app i am referring to is a custom app any iOS developer can build by embedding UIWebview into it. The UIWebview can load your entire LMS into it, or load your sharepoint page with catalog of courses or simply a single course straight forwardly (similar to packaging a captivate based course as an App using PhoneGap framework). So you design your app based on your needs.

So based on my experience, when Hybrid iOS Apps are used to load courses:

  • The Storyline HTML5 courses performance significantly improved
  • You are not bound to any limitations of Articulate Storyline’s iOS App (e.g. no AICC, SCORM support)

If you are interested to learn the how the caching works on these hybrid apps then check out this post – How UIWebview Temp Files/Cookies Storage Managed on iOS Hybrid Apps

 

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1 comment

  1. itzel says:

    Great feedback. We noticed the opposite from your experience. We’ve had same or better performance on mobile safari than on hybrid player. Articulate player has been the best though.

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