Posted On November 25, 2015

tablet showing flash or HTML5 graphic

We’ve been hearing this for a few years now. Is Flash really dead? Is HTML5 really the way to go?

Let’s look at the history of Flash in a flash. It’s been through a remarkable 20-year journey.

It was born as a simple animation tool called “FutureSplash Animator” in 1996, and rebranded as “Flash” later the same year. To strengthen the product, simple ActionScript was introduced in 1999 with Flash 4, and object-oriented programing appeared in 2003 with Flash MX 2004. Adobe took over the Macromedia product in 2007 and released the powerful ActionScript 3.

From something originally used as a replacement for gif animations, it now has the capability to design complex eLearning, games and apps across various devices.

Despite a few drawbacks, Flash has excellent capabilities for producing an awesome eLearning product. From making lifelike animation with Bone tool, to easy audio and video integration, vector support, motion editor and AS3, developing complex interactions, games and eLearning in Flash is so much easier!

So why is Flash dying then?

Firstly, a browser does not natively support Flash. The Flash Player plugin needs to be installed in the browser to allow flash to play. Your efforts could be a complete waste of time if the intended participant can’t have the plugin installed for some reason, like company security restrictions or lack of admin rights on the computer. Sometimes people are just too lazy to install it!

In the second place, the world is leaning heavily towards mobile devices. The chart here shows that the number of mobile users crossed over desktop users in 2014, and the number is still rising.

More and more users are accomplishing all their Internet-related work on tablets and mobiles, in trains and on buses, and in train stations and in ‘plane stations (I know, they’re also known as airports, I just wanted it to rhyme.)

Flash v HTML

But Flash Player doesn’t run on mobile devices. To stay light and quick, these devices rely on small processers that slowly sip power to preserve battery life. On the contrary, Flash Player sucks memory and resources. Mobile devices can’t spare that much memory and resources, and that’s why Flash Player support has been withdrawn from mobile devices.

To make best use of time, eLearning needs to be accessible on any device. This could be for you, your sales team, employees, students and anyone who wants to learn on the go.

Enter HTML5

HTML5 was born in 2007. Unlike Flash, HTML5 does not depend on any external plugins, just browser compatibility. It’s supported by most of the modern browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and IE9. All tablet and mobile browsers support HTML5 and as HTML5 is a browser feature, it is very unlikely that it won’t be supported in the near future.

HTML5 also provides numerous new features and capabilities that were things of fantasy with previous versions of HTML.

Visual elements like rounded corners are now built in. Adding audio and video to your webpage was never easier. There are endless possibilities for vector drawing and creating smooth CSS animations on the fly. The online community for HTML5 is enormous. There’s a multitude of free open source libraries and tutorials available for creating responsive content – fancy interactions like sliders, accordions, drag and drop, image gallery, stopwatch, parallax content. You name it, you can get it!

With HTML5, you can build a single source responsive website that works on desktops, tablets and mobiles without worrying about any plugin support. HTML5 content is small in size, loads faster than Flash and uses less Internet bandwidth. It can be programmed and maintained with a simple text editor. You don’t have to buy any Flashy software (did you see what I did there?!).

So back to Flash or HTML5.

If you want to make your eLearning future proof and also have it available on most devices, then definitely use HTML5. But if you care only for desktops, then Flash away!

More questions?

Give us a call on 1300 768 550 for to chat about the best way to approach your next eLearning project.