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Goodbye to Flash – Preparing for the End

For nearly 15 years, Adobe Flash has been a favorite technology for creating e-learning content, supporting audio and video as well as animations, simulations and learner interactions that could be displayed in a browser using the Flash Player add-in, but…no more.

Adobe has announced that they will stop supporting Flash and Flash Player by the end of 2020. Browser support for the Flash Player is being phased out before then and by late 2019, it's quite likely that a substantial portion of Flash-based e-learning will no longer work as designed. And by the end of 2020, content developed using Flash will stop working completely in all browsers.

So, Flash's days are numbered,but you still have time! To help you prepare, we've put together this checklist to guide you through the steps that you'll want to take to ensure that the e-learning in your catalog continues functioning the way you intended even past the coming "Flashpocalypse."

This workspace provides an End-of-Flash timeline, including the schedule for phasing out support for the Flash Player, as well as webinars, support materials and links to additional information, and will be regularly updated to assist you throughout the transition process.

And this also provides a great opportunity to update and modernize your learning catalog as part of your mobile learning strategy. Since neither Apple iOS nor Android supports Flash, removing the Flash from your e-learning now will allow you to re-author your courses to be mobile-compatible so that you can provide your users with learning anytime and anywhere, across all of their chosen platforms.

Preparing for the Adobe Flash Player End-of-Life: Your To-Do List

  1. Stop Using Flash!

    Flash Player is definitely going away. The most important thing you can do immediately is to stop using Flash entirely to develop new e-learning (and instead switch to HTML5 and MP4). If you’re still using an older browser, you may have to keep publishing Flash as a backup technology, but you need to be moving toward full HTML5 support.

    • Verify that your browser(s) fully support HTML5.
      Implementing HTML5 could be a problem if you're using an older version of Internet Explorer (IE10 and older) or IE11 in compatibility mode. If so, be sure your organization has a plan to move to a newer browser.
    • Verify that your authoring tools support publishing to HTML5.
      If your authoring tools are more than a couple of years old, you may want to upgrade them to get the most up-to-date HTML5 rendering.
    • Inform your e-learning developers that they need to author in HTML5 and stop publishing in Flash.
      This step includes informing any outside vendors that you may be using to author e-learning.
  2. Find the Flash in Your Existing Content

    Next, identify any existing e-learning in your content library that may have been built using Flash or that contains Flash files, so that you can create a list of content that needs to be tested.

    • Create a list of all the e-learning content you’ve developed internally that you know uses Flash or that you think might be using Flash.
      If you have a lot of content, you can begin by focusing on older content (created prior to 2016) and content created by traditionally Flash-based development tools (such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Presenter and Storyline).
    • Contact any vendors you’ve used to create e-learning and ask them if their lessons include Flash.
    • Contact any e-learning content libraries you’re using and ask them if any of their lessons still contain Flash and, if so, by what date they plan to update them.

    Saba customers who aren’t sure which content to test and would like some assistance, you can contact Saba Services to arrange for a Flash Inventory Audit on your content library. The Flash Inventory Audit will identify which of your current e-learnings are built using Flash or contain Flash files along with information about when the content was created and patterns of use, which will help you to plan your testing.

  3. Develop Your Testing Plan

    Once you have a list of possible Flash e-learnings, you will want to create a test plan and schedule to review the content and determine whether it will function without Flash.

    • Create a final list of content for testing.
      You may decide not to test content that you know you’ll be retiring before 2020 or content that you know is already scheduled to be updated. If some of your content was created in the same way and using the same tools, you may also decide to only test representative content and not each individual e-learning lesson.
    • Create a test plan and schedule.
      The test plan should include the list of content items that will be tested, the order they will be tested in, who will be doing the testing and a schedule for completion.
    • Develop your process for testing e-learning and documenting results.
      The testing process should include what platforms and browsers you will be testing with and how the test results will be documented.
  4. Test Your Content without Flash Player

    Next, you’ll need to execute your test plan to test your e-learning with the Flash Player disabled. If the e-learning doesn't launch or if certain parts of the content don't play correctly, then you know that the Flash Player is required and that the content won't function after Flash end-of-life.

    • Uninstall or disable the Flash Player add-in on the testers' browsers, launch the e-learning and record the results.
      Just because your e-learning contains Flash, doesn't necessarily mean that it requires Flash. Content developed after 2016 may contain an "HTML5 backup," which means that even if Flash is disabled, the content may still be able to play.
  5. Decide Whether to Retire, Re-publish or Re-author

    If any of your current e-learning requires Flash to play properly, you’ll need to decide whether you plan to retire, re-publish or re-author the content.

    • You can retire any content that you don’t need to maintain past Flash end-of-life.
      If the e-learning is obsolete, you can purge the content and add a discontinue date to any associated courses and classes. If you wish to retain the content for the present, you can add a future discontinue date of 2019 or (at the latest) the end of 2020 to the content, courses and classes.
    • You can re-publish (using HTML5) any required content that was published using an older version of an authoring tool that you're still using and for which you still have the source files.
      For example, if you created an e-learning using Articulate Storyline 2 and published that as Flash, you can open the source files in Storyline 360 and re-publish as HTML5. If your content was created by a vendor and you don't have the source files, you can ask that the vendor provide the source files or request that they do the re-publishing.
    • You will need to re-author any required content that you cannot re-publish.
      Re-authoring will require you to recreate the original e-learning as HTML5 using a new authoring tool and non-Flash assets.
  6. Create an Update Plan and Update Your Catalog

    You have time;now you need a plan. Once you've identified the content, you’ll need to put together a plan with a schedule for re-publishing or re-authoring. You will generally want to focus on your most important content first and then move on to less important or less frequently used content.

    • Create an Update Plan and Schedule.
      The update plan should include the list of content items that need to be updated, whether they will be re-published or re-authored, who will be doing the updating and a schedule for completion.
    • To re-publish an item of content, locate the content source files, import the files into your authoring tool, republish as HTML5 and then import the item into your content library.
      If possible, update to the newest version of your authoring tool to ensure you're re-publishing with the newest technology. And, if you're going to take the time to republish the content, this would be an excellent opportunity to update the content and fix any known issues.
    • To re-author your content, you're going to need to work through your regular process for creating content746entify a new authoring tool and developer (or a vendor) to do the authoring, publish as HTML5 / MP4, import your new e-learning to your content library and then review, test and make the new e-learning available in your catalog.
      Just as for the content you’re re-publishing, this is also a really good opportunity to look at updating and modernizing your e-learning, including optimizing the content for mobile delivery.

    If you need help with re-authoring content, Saba has partners that may be able to assist. Your account representative or customer service representative can help connect you to the right people.

  7. Rest Easy!

    Yes, that was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it! By starting early with your preparedness plan, you've saved yourself and your organization a lot of trouble down the line. Just consider how hard it would have been if you had postpostoned getting started—and even worse, how hard it would have been if you had waited until Flash was gone. You are ahead of the game.

    So congratulations on being Flash-free and ready for the next (r)evolution in e-learning!

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