Is your e-learning still in Flash format?

There’s not that many of us who remember it now but soon after the invention of the World Wide Web, in the second half of the nineties, all the excitement was about “multimedia”; that is, the ability to play video and audio in a web browser. Of the various competing technologies, one of the forerunners was Macromedia Flash (later Adobe Flash). Interaction and additional doses of wizardry were added over the years, arguably culminating with the highly-addictive time-sink known as Angry Birds. Of more relevance here, though, a huge amount of e-learning, developed with leading tools such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate, was in Flash format.

As early as the 2000’s though, all was not well. Despite attempts at a Flash Lite and similar, it never really worked very well on the new mobile devices that were being released by Psion and Palm Pilot, followed by smartphones from Nokia and Ericsson. By the time Apple started bringing smartphones to the masses, the rumblings of discontent were getting louder. The constant security alerts and resulting updates didn’t help. In 2008 an alternative became available in the form of html5, the latest version of the basic technology driving the web, which meant additional browser plugins should, in time, become unnecessary. By 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs had been elected as the leader of the new smartphone-owning masses, and declared that Flash technology would never be allowed near any of Apple’s products.

Surprisingly, it’s taken all the time since then to wind-down the use of Flash, but it will finally reach end-of-life at the end of 2020. If you have e-learning created with Flash, you may have noticed that it’s been more and more difficult to use in modern web browsers in recent months. Some browsers issue all kinds of warnings, and even if you can get it to play, it may be buggy and not work correctly. To be honest, I’m not complaining, as we’ve had a fair bit of work from clients wanting to convert Flash e-learning to html5. Even if the original Storyline or Captivate source files have long been lost, it’s fairly straightforward to decompile a published Flash file into its component text, video, and graphics. Clients have often also taken the opportunity to make small updates to the e-learning (memorably, a patient in a doctor’s surgery wearing quite dated-looking Back-to-the-Future-style Calvin Klein pants, which, to be fair, only required minor photoshopping).

So if you still have e-learning in Flash format, don’t delay: use the contact form now and we can convert it to a format that’s usable on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

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