“What do you mean, ‘Flash End-of-Life approaching’?” General Kala

Three years ago, Adobe announced that it would finally pull the plug on Flash, the godfather of multimedia software platforms. For almost a quarter of a century, Flash has been the go-to software for billions of businesses. It is still used on a daily basis for presentations, training decks, eLearning and games.

Adobe Flash’s end-of-life is 31.12.2020.

Adobe’s official advice is that “all users uninstall Flash Player before the EOL date”. Users will be prompted by Adobe to uninstall Flash Player on their machines later this year and Flash-based content will be blocked from running in Adobe Flash Player after the EOL Date.

Since a large component of eLearning content uses Flash for more dynamic or interactive content, this is a hard deadline for migrating such content off Flash.

Government departments, education organisations, healthcare providers, anyone who has content that was designed to last for years with only minor updates – many of these companies are still using Flash.

If Flash supports your learning, training or administrative business content – the end is approaching. But you still have time to manage the changeover.

The Nail In Adobe Flash’s Coffin – Cyber Security

Critical security flaws have dogged Flash over the years, putting end users and enterprises at risk. Us.norton.com reported as recently as February 2020 that “in-the-wild attacks are exploiting yet another newly discovered zero-day vulnerability in the latest version of Adobe’s Flash plug-in for Web browsers.”

Adobe has had to issue patch after patch to mend these ‘security holes.’ Anyone who’s ever used a computer in the last 30 years has encountered the frustration of having to update Flash on a regular basis to stay secure. It’s had more patches than a quilt.

What Will Replace Adobe Flash?

There’s no longer any real need for a privately-owned proprietary plugin like Adobe Flash to run media content in web browsers. There’s an open-source solution that’s evolved in recent years to do exactly what Flash does – HTML5.

HTML5 is supported by all web browsers across the board. It’s portable. It’s more secure because it works within your browser, not as a plug-in. Plus, it’s ‘responsive.’ Which means that content you create can be viewed on laptop, tablet, iPhone or any smart device without the need to recode for different platforms.

Especially with remote working, ease of access, anytime, anywhere, across all browsers and platforms, has become our new normal.

Most web development already uses HTML5 – its content manipulation, editing and design functions are superior to Flash. A recent independent user review described it as “Easy to learn and easy to implement in design. This is a very stable, reliable web design tool.” (July 2020)

What Do I Need To Do Right Now?

If you haven’t begun the change management process, it’s action stations. Since this change affects several key areas – IT, training and project management, involving a change management specialist to steer it from the start may make sense. The clock is ticking.

Start by conducting a forensically-detailed audit of all your content. Is it still relevant, up-to-date and serving a purpose? Or is it time to end-of-life it too?

The key stages to plan are:

Audit your content – what do I have, and do I want to keep it?

Update your content – refreshing with new examples will extend its shelf-life

Convert your remaining content – from Flash to HTML5

Create new content – now is a good time to create some innovative and intuitive content to help skills stick

Content you need to keep

If you don’t need or want to make major changes, this is a ‘straightforward’ conversion job.

Even though this seems straightforward, allow plenty of time for the source file conversions. As a rule of thumb, converting a slide from Flash to HTML5 can take 30 minutes. A 100-slide presentation therefore would take 4 days, plus testing time across multiple browsers.

Content you need to refresh

If you’ve rebranded, or the design and animations look dated now, this is a good opportunity to rebuild the content in HTML5 and futureproof it.

Content you need to convert

It is possible to use an off-the-shelf online conversion tool for this process. There is no guarantee, however, that your content will come out the same way it went in. Code can get mangled or a vulnerability may be injected into it during the conversion. You can’t assume the same functionality or even the same format will come out in HTML5 as in Flash.

There is a hidden spanner in the works too, as Bright Affect CEO Dale Peters cautions. “A percentage of these online converters may have clauses hidden deep in their small print Ts & Cs, that say you forfeit ownership of your content in exchange for the conversion. You may be putting your intellectual property at risk.”

And another spanner in the works. HTML5 will run in most browsers. But different browsers handle HTML5 differently. Older browsers such as Internet Explorer 9 or 10 are particularly troublesome. If your customers or employees are using different browsers for remote working, you will need to check that your newly-converted content runs across multiple browsers.

Proactively Manage The Change

Setting out a scope, schedule and timeline for updating your content will save hair-pulling levels of frustration down the line in 2021.

It is worth considering engaging an external agency to help you on your journey – this will avoid any unnecessary updating of obsolete content.

Manage the change from Flash to HTML5 and you will save your content (if not the Earth).

Bright Affect are change management and content creation specialists. Contact us via telephone or email.