The training world seems certain that FLASH based training modules are dead and that HTML5 is the way to go. This argument has raged since 2010, but recent advances in tools and the momentum created by the HTML5 gaming industry are changing the balance. It’s all well and good for startups and gamers to adopt a new platform, but what about the billions of dollars invested in existing Flash based training modules and courses. Not an easy or fast decision.

Should you jump off the Flash wagon then? Maybe or maybe not – let’s look at the pros and cons. Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short. — Steve Jobs, 2010.

In the “For HTML5” corner:

There are Several Compelling Reasons to go with HTML5-Based Animation

  • It’s an open standard with no licenses or royalties.
  • Within reason modules can run anywhere, especially phones and tablets, and it gets better all the time.
  • It is very easy to make basic modules that are interesting and visually stunning (OK it’s missing a few features).
  • There is an undeniable amount of momentum behind both the standard and the tools required to develop content.

Against HTML5:

  • It’s immature technology that is still a moving target (if you are missing a feature wait a weekend and it will appear).
  • Things like connecting to databases and other plumbing require a different skill set than Flash did (once understood it is easy, but there is a learning curve).
  • The available development tools promise a lot, but struggle to deliver in everyday use.

In the “FLASH is the way to go” corner:

  • Flash has a very rich feature set.
  • There are tons of experienced developers who can make really cool modules.
  • Database connectivity, state management and other advanced features are broadly understood.
  • The self contained nature of swf files makes asset management a snap.

Against FLASH:

  • It’s proprietary and closed.
  • Other than Adobe development tools are less than robust (because Adobe own the product and it is closed).
  • Platform independence is a problem.
  • It is very demanding for less powerful handheld devices.
  • Apple doesn’t support it (even though in reality you can install support).

So, should you switch to this fashionable and seemingly worthy replacement of the venerable platform Flash? The answer is not as obvious as you think. Adobe, who are Flash’s developer, is pressing hard with it’s Edge development platform for HTML5 development as a replacement for Flash. They have seen the writing on the wall for Flash. However, in reality if you have spent $100,000 on a Flash based course then it is probably going to cost almost as much to recreate it! That means that unless you have significant new content and/or have to change delivery platforms, it is very hard to make an ROI argument that stands up. After all, if it works in your business or environment, why spend the extra budget?

The biggest risk though, is that you will run out of runway at some point in the future as LMS systems slowly stop offering support for Flash and users use platforms that only support HTML5. So, changing over is a pain and expensive, but looks like it is inevitable. HTML5 looks to be the default way of delivering training modules, video and assessment content some day soon.

If you have a need to update an old flash based training video program or need to explore the best way to implement a new program, please request a free video assessment for more details, examples and a discussion about how to implement the latest video production and delivery techniques for your next project.