We live in a world where change is inevitable, constant and a big part of our everyday lives. Although it’s challenging at times, we’ve learned to accept it and find creative ways to adapt. New methods, processes, technologies and tools are reengineered, reshaped and replaced — and Adobe Flash is no exception. It’s had a great run for over 20 years and has been a dominating force on the web, where it’s used to develop and play animations, audio, video content, games and web applications. Soon, however, it will be permanently put to rest.
Even though Flash forged the way for media-rich, interactive web experiences, it performs poorly on mobile devices, is restricted on iOS devices has a negative impact on battery life and presents an ongoing security risk. With the advancement and broad acceptance of the HTML5 and a combination of other web technologies, we no longer need Flash.
As of Dec. 31, Adobe will no longer provide support for the Adobe Flash player. Subsequently, operating system (OS) updates will remove Flash from all browsers, and it will not be included or available in future browser versions. Companies reliant on Flash for development and playback should remove any reliance on this technology prior to December, as any Flash-based content they have will not work next year.
Content created as recently as 2018 may have Flash. Many media-rich websites and applications include Flash, and most browsers support Flash content. Therefore, if your organization has been creating web content, it’s likely that some of it contains Flash.
Many organizations are just beginning the process of examining their content and figuring out the steps they need to take to mitigate potential issues. Below are six steps to help you migrate from Flash to HTML5.
1. Perform a Content Audit
Take a look at your existing content to identify whether it has Flash. Look for files ending in “.swf” and/or “.flv,” “.f4v,” “.f4p,” “.f4a” or “.f4b.” If you have access to the content folders, the simplest way to perform the audit is to use the search feature on those folders for the file types listed above.
If you are looking at a web page, you can right-click on the page. If you see “Zoom” and/or “About Adobe Flash Player” in the popup dialogue, then that page uses Flash. There are also tools available on the internet that can search published content. Keep in mind that if your site is behind a firewall, however, they may not work.
2. Create a Log
Document all of your findings by creating a spreadsheet of all the content that contains Flash. Include the URL of the site or page, the project name, the content package name or other unique identifier, and the type of content (e.g., course, web site, web application, game or video). If you have other important information, like the content owner or stakeholder, include it; you will probably need it later.
3. Create a Plan
As with any project, it is important to create a plan to successfully achieve your goals and objectives and to define the full scope of the project. Part of creating the plan is discussing with content owners what you found in your content audit. If you are the content owner, you will need to determine if the content is something that you can retire by the Dec. 31 deadline, if you can update it in part or if you will need to completely rebuild it.
Keep in mind that just because your content has some Flash, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole site, course or application will not work. You will need to test it by removing the file or replacing it with something that is not Flash.
You will also need to find out whether you have the source files for the published output. If this is the case, the conversion process may be a lot simpler. Your plan should also include a time frame for rework, design, development and testing.
4. Retire Outdated Content
If you’ve decided that you will no longer need a piece of content, remove it from your systems before the cut-off date. There is nothing worse for a user then to visit a page where nothing works.
5. Update Content
You’ve determined that you have content that contains Flash and that you still need it. Now, what?
If your content is a single content object (“.swf”) or a Flash audio or video file, you may be able to just update that single file. If you have the source or project file and the application where it was created, the conversion might be a simple process. Many applications have made accommodations to output the same content as HTML5, MP3 or MP4. If it is a single file, especially a Flash media file like one ending in “.flv,” you can easily convert it with a free open-source tool. If the content was created with a legacy application (an older version), this process may not be supported, and you might be out of luck. Unfortunately, applications or websites that are published as Flash use what’s known as a “Flash template” or “shell,” and you will need to completely rebuild them.
It is worth mentioning that there are .swf-to-HTML5 conversion applications out there that may be worth a try, especially if you have a small project and no source files to work with.
6. Create New Content
At this point, you have decided that it’s time to create new content — an opportunity to take advantage of the latest best practices and standards to create something that supports multiple devices, is accessible, and is fast and efficient. It’s also a good time to reevaluate your training and determine what’s working and what’s not.
It’s equally important to choose the right tool for the job. Most mainstream applications for creating websites, games, web applications and learning can output your content as HTML5 content, along with a combination of other standard web technologies and libraries. The beauty of HTML5 is that it provides greater reliability and performance. It is supported by all major browsers and mobile devices, it’s standard and widely adopted, it makes it easier to create accessible content, and it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO).
Remember, if you are doing a complete rebuild and replacement of existing content, it’s important to make a plan and allow enough time to work through the design and development process and then conduct a thorough review and testing of your project. Your new content should be in place before Dec. 31 cutoff date.
Time is running out — start now!