Death of Flash

One of the fond memories of my past was traveling with my best friend in college to Toronto to see the newest craze in web design. This was the mid 90’s so the Internet was still a very new medium, complete with terrible background images, a design that looked like a 5-year-old made it, and that blinking text thing that no one really liked. The Internet was definitely in its infancy and creating a website that was interactive and engaging was time consuming and incredibly expensive.

We arrived in Toronto and saw what at the time was one of the most amazing technologies we had ever seen. It allowed web developers to create interactive content that seemed almost limitless and even had a robust scripting language we could use. At that point in time, it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was called Macromedia Flash.

While Flash has given a lot to the Internet over the years, it’s days are short-lived at this point and it’s current owner, Adobe, has said they will officially retire it in December of 2020. With new technologies like HTML5 and a variety of performance and security issues that have crept into it over the years, what once was the greatest thing to hit the internet has become an outdated elephant.

The downside to the retirement of Flash is that a lot of eLearning courses have been using Flash almost since its initial release and a good percentage of those courses haven’t been updated to fully utilize other technologies. To find out if your courses contain Flash, ask yourself the following questions:

Were your courses developed before 2017?
There is a better chance that your course uses Flash if it was built before 2017. One of the main eLearning authoring tools that are used is Articulate Storyline. When I was a beta tester of their newest version Storyline 360 in 2016, one of the greatest new features was a completely rebuilt HTML5 engine. This means that Storyline no longer needed Flash at all to function spectacularly. 

Are you being prompted to enable a plugin when you launch your courses?
When running Flash on almost all browsers (well, those that still support it), you need to enable a plugin. Since HTML5 is part of the HTML standard and will need no additional plugins or software to work on most modern browsers, being promoted to enable a plugin when your course starts is a good way to identify if your course is using Flash.

Are you forced to use Chrome or Internet Explorer 10 or 11 for your courses to work correctly?
Another surefire way to see if your course contains Flash content is to try to open it in a browser other than Chrome or Internet Explorer 10 or 11. If it doesn’t open with any other browser than these, it probably uses Flash.

Converting a course from Flash to another format isn’t a straightforward process and, worst case, you may end up having to recreate the course altogether. The good news is that HTML5, which is the current standard, is a part of the HTML specification, not an add-on, so it won’t be going anywhere and backward compatibility is almost guaranteed so there’s a very good chance that this is the last time you’ll have to rebuild your courses.

If you’ve realized that your courses are built in Flash and you need to come up with a solution, we can help. Reach out to us using the Contact Us form on this site and we’ll book a 1-hour strategy session to create a migration plan.

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