Adobe Captivate's ability to screencast and create interactive educational material make it a powerful tool, but its steep price tag may deter smaller businesses and personal users. Depending on which features you need, you may find that some alternatives can get the job done just as well. For screencasting, there are several options available. For interactive presentations, however, there are only two viable alternatives.
ActivePresenter is an e-learning and screencasting program developed by Atomi Systems. ActivePresenter is comparable to Captivate in many ways, including the ability to create interactive video presentations that can be exported to SWF Flash and numerous video formats. It also supports screencasting and exporting presentations into SCORM-compliant formats. ActivePresenter comes in three feature tiers: Free, Standard and Professional. Free has the fewest features but no cost, while Standard and Professional have increased feature sets as well as a price tag.
TechSmith's Camtasia Studio is a screencasting and screen capture program that includes some features useful to e-learning. Camtasia Studio can capture video and audio from the screen, webcam, microphone and system audio. It also supports adding in PowerPoint slides, voice narration and capturing keyboard entry. Editing features include full video and audio clip control, effects and transitions, captions, titles, annotations and cursor effects. You can also add quizzes and surveys and export to embeddable HTML, YouTube, iTunes and FTP. Camtasia Studio is available for free trial, but requires a purchase after the trial period.
If you're looking for simple screencasting and screen capture videos, you can also use CamStudio. CamStudio doesn't replicate the interactive features of Captivate, but it does offer numerous features to enhance your videos. These include adding captions and annotations, picture-in-picture video and custom cursors. You can also control what portion of the screen is recorded, as well as export video to AVI and SWF. CamStudio is also free for personal and professional use.
ShinyWhiteBox's iShowU is a Mac-only screencasting and screen capture program. Designed specifically to interact with Mac computers and automatically detect monitor settings, iShowU lacks some of the e-learning capabilities of Captivate. Its simplified interface, however, makes screencasting for beginners much easier. You can control every element of the capture, including system audio, microphone levels and video size. You can also set a timer for recording so you can record based on your schedule's needs. IShowU is available in several different feature tiers at varying price points.