“You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.”
— Agent Smith, “The Matrix”
After serving for twenty years, Flash is settling into a well-earned retirement.
The platform still has its fans, but the same could be said for Abe Vigoda, zoot suits, and vinyl records. Its time as the dominant tool for creating and playing online content has come and gone.
A Brief History of Flash’s Demise
Steve Jobs dealt the killing blow in 2010 with his famous “Thoughts on Flash” essay. Once Apple declared that they were getting off the Flash bandwagon, it was only a matter of time before other industry leaders followed suit. YouTube, the go-to spot for video on the web, abandoned Flash at the beginning of last year in favor of HTML5 as their default player. Most recently, Google turned its back on Flash, announcing that starting January 2, 2017, Flash ads will no longer run on the Google Display Network or DoubleClick.
Even Flash parent company Adobe has conceded that HTML5 is the “best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”
Implications of Flash’s Downfall
If you have Flash-based eLearning programs, you’ve probably started seeing the impacts of Flash no longer being supported. Have your learners reported any issues with parts or entire training courses no longer working on their mobile devices?
If you haven’t yet, you soon will as the mobile revolution marches on. A Milward Brown study found that 91% of adults have their mobile device within reach 24 hours a day, and that people use their smartphones 147 minutes a day on average. In response to this trend, companies are turning to mobile solutions for their training and educational needs. The days of students and trainees working through modules on a desktop machine are numbered.
But mobile is just the tip of a seismic Flash problem for the training community. For any company still using training modules or courses built within the last 15–20 years, this move away from Flash isn’t just about an old software technology dying off.
The Real Flash Issue: Legacy Training Courses
“In its heyday, Flash was the go-to authoring tool for trainers building custom eLearning courses,” says Anthony Biondi, Brella’s Director of Digital. “As a company that built its fair share of Flash-based eLearning courses, we understand the difficult pain that companies are facing with their older eLearning courses. It’s a significant legacy code problem whose full scope is still being assessed and with no one-size-fits-all solutions.”
Now while out-of-the-box authoring tools like Articulate and Adobe’s Captivate have helped some trainers and companies update their courses, these programs haven’t been able to provide the more robust solutions that some companies need to make their legacy eLearning courses compliant with modern standards.
Fixing Your Flash Legacy Problem
Brella recently helped a long-standing eLearning client with this very Flash problem. For over a decade, Brella has worked with Fleetwood, Pa.-based 2PLUS Communications on employee training courses for the popular, NY metro area convenience store chain, QuickChek. QuickChek trains on soft skills as well as very specific content and procedures. Flash made the most sense as an eLearning development tool because the company wanted a rich learning environment for their employees. However, the need for interoperability with their new Learning Management System (LMS) put another nail in the coffin of Flash. QuickChek had to make a tough decision about the future of their learning courses: convert or build new ones.
Because the course content was still relevant, they made the decision to convert. The Brella Digital and 2PLUS teams then set to work converting the existing Flash-based courses to HTML5. In total, the Brella Digital team converted 26 courses to HTML5, and in the process made them SCORM-compliant with QuickChek’s LMS. 2PLUS founder Glenn Gautier was thoroughly pleased with the results: “Brella has always been the ‘go to’ resource for excellent technical execution. Whether it’s coding or video production they do a great job.”
Brella Director of Business Development Rudy Birtler noted, “Updating to this new, SCORM-compliant standard will extend the shelf life of these learning materials, and the client can now get a deeper use from their Learning Management System.”
With new alternatives to flash that are faster, cleaner, and more secure, there really is no reason to hesitate bringing legacy flash content into the future.