The Google Plus logo

Converting Flash to HTML5: Creating beautiful content on any device

This is part 1 of a two-part blog series on converting Flash to HTML5. This part looks at why Flash content isn’t the default elearning standard anymore, while part 2 covers ways to convert outdated Flash courses to HTML5.

As an authoring software tool which makes animations simple to create and deliver online, Flash was an almost unrivalled piece of technology during the first two decades of the Internet.

A photo of a screen showing flash to HTML5 options for elearning professionals

Its continuing use is testament to the many challenges Flash has withstood over the years, but recent statistics have suggested that only a tiny minority of all websites now use it.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs articulated many of the issues surrounding Flash when he publicly explained, in 2010, why iPhones, iPods and iPads do not support the software. Technical drawbacks, user experience and flexibility for app developers are among the concerns for Apple and many other companies.

Flash has continued to dwindle in use since the full introduction of HTML5 in 2014 offered a new way to present interactive multimedia content. When Adobe acquired Flash in 2005, it was on 98% of personal computers. But the company recently announced plans to phase out the technology by the end of 2020. Where does that leave elearning professionals who still have Flash elements in courses?

Is HTML5 better than Flash?

If you’ve ever seen a message asking you to download Flash in order to view content on a web page, you will know that it has to be installed as an extra on your browser.

Flash can work on some Android devices with the addition of further software, but it tends to be clunky and unreliable. With HTML5, which is a markup language used to structure content, multimedia plays straight away and looks great – no additional downloads are required.

The key consideration, perhaps, is not so much whether HTML5 performs better than Flash, but more that HTML5 works on more platforms and is more user-friendly. HTML5 also uses fewer resources such as battery life, whereas Flash, for all its longevity, lags and crashes frequently and offers less overall efficiency.

A photo of an illustration showing flash to HTML5 within elearning

What are the benefits of working in HTML5?

The evolution of HTML5 is creating increasingly more flexible, secure and integrated experiences in the provision of eye-catching digital content that works elegantly across all devices.

A large part of this happens because HTML5 is truly “open”. The ability to change any part of its code means HTML5 gives learning providers the flexibility to precisely tailor the look and layout of their content through straightforward techniques.

Almost all companies have turned to HTML5 because it cuts out the costs and hassle of developing content simultaneously across Apple devices, Android and app stores.

How can you switch your legacy content from Flash to HTML5?

With browsers such as Chrome beginning to block Flash by default, HTML5 is likely to increasingly become the new standard for all online content, including mobile learning.

Translating legacy content from Flash to HTML5 is not always simple, as each interaction needs to be recreated and tested at every step, and many Flash courses do not offer the functionality to extract the content into a script.

However, the conversion process is a great opportunity to add value to your training programmes by optimising, reworking and updating your content with the input of learning design.

The complexities of migrating content depend on the format and features of your existing content and assets, but LEO Learning can ensure that your transition is seamless and results in the best possible experience for your learners.

Flash animations, for example, can often be converted directly into HTML5 movies, whereas interactive sequences and templates usually need to be imported into a specially-designed “shell”.

A lot has changed in user experience design since Flash first appeared. As well as future-proofing your content, switching to HTML5 provides a chance to update the look and design consistency of your content, resulting in an improved user experience.

For example, with HTML5 you might take advantage of branching scenarios (in which learners make a series of consequential decisions), diagnostic quizzes and other approaches to learning design which have become more common in recent years.

How does HTML5 contribute to a culture of learning?

With world-class elearning now taking place on multiple devices for global audiences, the training needs of organisations have changed.

By incorporating HTML5 and responsive design, the best elearning authoring tools allow everyone to enjoy high-end, beautifully-fashioned learning on any device at their convenience, reviving outdated content and bringing your learning courses up to date.

Learners looking at your content in Flash will still be able to take full advantage – for now – but converting to HTML5 will make your learning accessible to a greater number of people and devices. The rewards are richer and more dynamic learning courses, without the potential for compatibility issues. Talk to us about converting Flash elements to dynamic HTML5.

Did you know that HTML5 elearning elements work beautifully as part of a blended learning approach? To find out more, download our free ebook.

Download the ebook