Why Migrating Flash To HTML5 For Online Learning Is The Right Decision

Why Migrating Flash To HTML5 For Online Learning Is The Right Decision
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Summary: Adobe Flash is dead. HTML5 is the new de facto standard for creating and distributing online content. But how did that massive transformation happen for eLearning solutions? And why should you think about Flash to HTML5 conversion as well, if you haven’t already? Find your answers here.

Why Is HTML5 Better Than Flash For eLearning?

The beginning of the 2020s marked the end of Adobe Flash, a once-powerful technology that transformed interactive content on the internet for nearly two decades. But what led to the death of Flash? How are legacy eLearning solutions coping? And how can you make the most of Flash to HTML5 conversion for eLearning solutions?

Go back to the internet of early 2000, and you will find Flash everywhere. Games, animations, drawings, video streaming, design, development—whatever made the internet fun in the last two decades had something to do with Adobe Flash. It was the most prominent, happening technology of the time that brought multimedia to every desktop. But all technologies have a lifecycle, and for Flash, that ended in 2020.

The death of Flash was evident. It was pushed out by technologies like JavaScript and HTML5, that improved beyond the capabilities of Flash, and offered much more potential. Not to mention, Flash had become a massive security risk toward its end. But just like the internet of 2022 cannot imagine the end of AI, 5G, or Blockchain, the end of Flash came as a surprise (and a shock) to many. Even today, you will find the web littered with questions about migrating Flash to HTML5 for online learning or development. You may have encountered some of them:

  • Is there any workaround to keep using Flash?
  • How is HTML5 better than Flash?
  • What does the future of online learning with HTML5 look like?
  • How does Flash to HTML5 conversion work?

First A Little Bit Of History

FutureSplash Animator, created in 1996, was bought by Macromedia and renamed Macromedia Flash in 1997. Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia in 2005 and rebranded and relaunched the Flash program as Adobe Flash CS3 Professional, which:

  • Became widely popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Created a similar User Experience across Mac, Linux, and Windows.
  • Allowed all types of online multimedia to play on a desktop.
  • Gave rise to an entire animations and games industry.
  • Was used by nearly 29% of all websites on the world wide web in 2011.
  • Was exclusively used by YouTube during the first five years of its life when it was a Flash-based streaming service.

When Flash gained popularity, JavaScript was in its initial phase of development. It wasn’t in shape to allow users and developers the freedom Flash gave them with its minimal restrictions. As technologies like JavaScript and HTML5 gained mainstream attention and improved beyond the capabilities of Flash, they became the alternative, and then slowly, the better choice because they were:

  • Open source, and hence free to use.
  • More optimized.
  • Easier to implement.
  • Had a lower overall cost for development.
  • More flexible.

At the same time, cybercrimes rose in frequency. As a result, the security issues in Flash that were once overlooked or tolerated in exchange for a superior web experience became blaring warnings, and proved capable of hurting businesses beyond repair. By 2021, Flash-based website share came down to 2.2%.

Adobe announced the end-of-life for Flash in 2017. It ended all official support for Flash on December 31, 2020, and pulled the plug on the Flash Player on January 12, 2021. Today, with no active support for Flash, HTML5 is considered the de facto for web development and eLearning solutions. Flash to HTML5 conversion has allowed businesses worldwide to preserve their content while letting go of their Flash dependencies.

Why Did Adobe Kill Flash?

Why did Flash end? It was likely because of the massive, shining, blazing red sign of "danger" that it had become.

  • Flash has always been insecure in design.
  • Its content was designed with mouse clicks in mind, not the dynamic world of mobiles.
  • Pop-up scams, installer malware, player viruses—there is no end to the issues Flash caused.
  • Flash is not natively supported in any major browser. It requires a plug-in installation to function correctly.
  • The security aspects of Flash were not equipped to cope with a world where cyber threats are an organized crime industry worth billions.

Basically, HTML5 (simpler, easier, open source, optimized) made creative content development over the web cleaner, and the usage of Flash reduced as a majority of the internet moved toward mobile environments. This is most likely why Adobe had to kill Flash.

So Flash Support Has Ended. Can We Still Use It?

Is there a way to still use Flash-based eLearning solutions? Yes. Is it safe? Prescribed? Recommended? Not really!

The reluctance to adopt Flash to HTML5 conversion for your content is understandable. Despite its flaws, Flash was convenient for many reasons to a lot of users. In that spirit, here is the only way you can still use Flash:

  1. Download an older version of any web browser.
  2. Block all auto-updates on the browser.
  3. Add the Flash player plug-in.
  4. Play the content.

Or, download a desktop Flash player (like FlashPoint) and use it to play downloaded Flash content, wherever you find it. But, don’t!

If you choose to run Flash content this way, you are essentially creating an environment that nourishes breaches, welcomes malware, and invites all kinds of cyber threats to your system. Your browser has no way to protect itself, your system., or your information. You are not allowing the browser to update itself. And, any Flash content you use or play in current times is bound to have vulnerabilities, not to mention that the process is technical, not very user-friendly, and time-consuming.

You may stomach it for individual use, but you certainly can’t subject an end user to it. If you do, do not expect good engagement or conversion rates. If you want to continue using your legacy Flash-based eLearning solutions, Flash to HTML5 conversion is your safest bet.

Is HTML5 Better Than Flash?

In many ways, yes! And those are the ways that matter in today’s internet landscape.

A Comparative Study Of Flash Vs. HTML5

1. Timing

  • Flash had epic timing
    Between 1996 and 2000, Flash was the better choice. JavaScript had poor support, and HTML5 hadn't been created yet. Flash was the only technology that allowed easy online multimedia creation, distribution, and consumption.
  • HTML came much later
    HTML5, the fifth-biggest HTML version, was launched in 2008. It brought a less rigid, highly compatible, and advanced user and developer-friendly multimedia consumption behavior to the fore, leaving Flash behind.

2. Responsiveness

  • Flash was responsive for its time
    We called it "liquid design" back then. Flash used containers to deliver interactive design through the Flash player plug-in. No matter the operating system you ran—Mac, Windows, or Linux—or the aspect ratios your desktop had—1024×768 or 800×600—Flash offered an almost similar interactive experience. The problem was it couldn’t compete on wide screens, and it never came close to adjusting for mobile browsers.
  • HTML5 brought true responsiveness to the table
    Unlike Flash, the interactive part of the content created in HTML5 is a part of the code. Any HTML5 code contains programming for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The CSS element allows a developer to create an eLearning solution that can be played on any device, of any resolution or screen size, with equal finesse. Any browser can read and load all the pages without needing an external plug-in.

3. Their Role In Online Video Streaming

  • Flash was the first to allow video streaming
    The Flash player brought about a new era of streaming media. eLearning solutions of the time used Flash to integrate videos amongst their content. For a good while, Flash was the de facto platform for playing online videos. The world’s most popular video streaming website YouTube used Flash player for the first five years, then a combination of Flash and HTML5 for the next five years, before switching completely to HTML5.
  • HTML5 video streaming options changed the game
    HTML5 video playback technology opens an entire range of possibilities—from playing recordings online to live streaming. It allows entire videos to play at once, but it can also play multiple segments progressively at a time. In addition, one of its distinct features is adaptive streaming, automatically choosing the video quality based on the user's network strength or changing the video’s audio language based on user preferences.

4. Security

  • Flash operated on an insecure architecture
    Flash had always been a little buggy. By 2015, Adobe was patching security holes every month. In its nineteenth year of operation, Adobe Flash needed 143 bug fixes, something no mature software could be proud of. As a result, users almost always operated Flash with a defensive strategy to escape its vulnerabilities.
  • HTML5 was built with cybersecurity in mind
    The architecture of HTML5 allows cyber risk management. It is more secure than any Flash code, but not entirely immune to malware or security issues. The difference is that HTML5 is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Its attack vectors are regularly studied and defenses prepared to keep the User Experience safe.

5. Search Engine Friendly

  • Flash was outright SEO-unfriendly
    Flash and SEO did not mix well at all! The interaction of Flash and web crawlers did not work the same way as it does with HTML tags. Flash did not share information the same way either. Its textual content was structured differently and evaded straightforward registration with crawlers. The links used in Flash content were also not very crawler-friendly.
  • HTML5 is very SEO-friendly
    HTML5 tags are critical ranking differentiators. They can be used to directly approach a search engine and tell it what a website or web page is all about, which categories it qualifies for, and how it should be ranked. In addition to SEO, the correct HTML5 tags can also help improve website usability and hence, the User Experience.

It is essential to understand the time factor in all of this. Flash was the need of the hour two decades ago. HTML5 went one better, but that is how all technologies evolve. Those that can’t keep up are pushed to the sidelines eventually!

Is HTML5 More Secure Than Flash?

At present, yes, but there is an argument in this question, and rightfully so. Flash operated differently. It was the obvious "hero" at a time when a uniform online multimedia content experience was a novelty. So, even though Flash came with security issues, it was retained for its value. That changed when:

  1. HTML entered the scene.
  2. The demand for Flash dwindled.

HTML5 is a World Wide Web Consortium recommendation. It is maintained by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group—a consortium backed by Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft. It was created with user safety in mind. However, it is as much a target for malicious attacks as Flash was. The only differences are that HTML5 is more prepared to take on these attacks than Flash ever was and that HTML5 lacks a lot of vulnerabilities that Flash had.

What Does The Future Of Online Learning With HTML5 Look Like?

It looks reliable, performant, fast, optimized, and secure. Using HTML5 in eLearning solutions is profitable. It is easy to work with, accessible in multiple ways and builds beautifully.

But we aren’t just talking about HTML5 development. We are also talking about converting Flash to HTML5 for online training content. So, with your legacy Flash content in mind, and with no viable alternative to promote its usage, how does HTML5 look for your eLearning solutions? Here are some parameters to help you figure that out.

1. HTML5 Is Mobile

Flash failed to impress the growing tide of mobile users on the internet. HTML5 targeted that very group with a responsive design. For eLearning solutions, responsiveness equals accessibility. Migrating Flash to HTML5 for online learning content will ensure that your user base can access the content from any device, browser, system, or screen.

2. It Facilitates Creative Content

Online training requires engaging an audience through any medium available, be it impromptu drawings, quizzes, questionnaires, or other elements. This is why transforming Flash to HTML5 for online training content is an apt choice. You can build custom players and stream audio or video without issues. HTML5 Canvas allows you to create animations or 2D/3D elements as well. This flexibility allows you to convert your legacy content and make it better at the same time.

3. Interactive Gaming

Gamification is a great tool to encourage participation and boost engagement. Stories, competitions, chapter-based challenges, badges, rewards, and eye-catching visual design: interactive gaming makes eLearning more interesting in many ways. With HTML5, you can create enjoyable experiences for trainees, including:

  • Timed quizzes
  • Simulations
  • Scenario-based tests
  • Immersive storytelling
  • Milestone challenges

4. No Language Barriers

HTML5 makes localization very easy and supports content distribution across regions. This is another advantage of migrating Flash to HTML5 for online training content. With HTML5, content extraction and translation is easier. Its semantic-driven tag structure leads to clean codes, which in turn leads to easier crawling and cleaner translation across the web.

5. Simplified Coding

HTML5 allows the possibility of creating clean code. It is descriptive. It is easier to understand and segment. It is mindful of structure. It allows the code to wrap more functionality in less space. Overall, HTML5 can translate your legacy Flash content into effective eLearning solutions with no compromises and multiple enhancements.

Why Did Websites Stop Using Flash?

Way before Adobe ended Flash for good, businesses were shifting their content to other platforms. The reasons were:

  • Steve Jobs banned Flash support from all Apple devices in his open letter to Adobe Flash on April 29, 2010.
  • Flash was not in sync with search engine crawling algorithms.
  • The security concerns around Flash were multiplying by the day.
  • It required a separate plug-in to play Flash-based content.
  • Flash content took up a lot of system resources.
  • There were several new and better alternatives to Flash.

How Does Flash To HTML5 Conversion Work?

The process of Flash to HTML5 conversion is well-known. It has been years in the making, after all.

An 8 Step Guide For Migrating Flash To HTML5 For Online Learning

  1. Gather the source files for your legacy Flash content.
  2. Disintegrate and separate the course into text and media elements.
  3. Find an authoring tool of your choice.
  4. Create interactive elements to be used in the transformed eLearning solution.
  5. Build a strategy to translate each segment of the legacy content into the new format.
  6. Start the transformation, going by segments, and convert them according to the strategy.
  7. Test the converted solution for performance and reliability.
  8. Release the migrated eLearning solutions for users.

The question arises, how to find the tools required for this process. You can choose from a wide range of options available online.

  • Articulate Storyline
  • Lectora Inspire Conversion Suite
  • Adobe Captivate
  • Adapt Learning
  • iSpring Tools
  • Zenler Studio
  • Elucidat
  • Raptivity
  • dominKnow
  • Easygenerator
  • Gomo
  • Composica

HTML5 Is The Present And Future Of eLearning Solutions: Prepare Accordingly 

Flash defined the magic of the internet and the world wide web for a lot of us. It was the foundation upon which many businesses built million-dollar empires. Letting go of it was never going to be easy, but now you have to! Migrating Flash to HTML5 for online learning is no longer a convenient option. It is the choice you must make if you wish to keep your eLearning solutions in business.