Adobe Flash: A Brief History
As of January 12, all Adobe Flash content is blocked from use! While this has been in the works for literally years, it has still caught some people by surprise. First of all, why no more Flash? And what do we do now?
We asked our very own Terry Aurit, Chief of Instructional Design and master of basically everything, to give us a Flash history lesson. The following includes the ways that the changes have affected Savvy’s content library for law firms: SavvySMART Content Library (SSCL). (In a nutshell, Savvy planned for this and our current content isn’t affected by these changes at all.) Please contact Savvy if you need law firm training content that was ready for this change before it happened!
And in a Flash… It Was Gone.
In the beginning.... Flash was a really awesome add-in that developers used to quickly deploy videos that could run anywhere (browser, standalone window on your computer, etc.). EXCEPT, Apple never got on board. That is why our content and many other things wouldn’t work on the iOS system. When we first started selling our SSCL back in the early 2000s, Apple users were out of luck.
As Apple got bigger and more powerful, Adobe (which owns Flash) realized they needed some sort of solution that wasn’t just a plug-in to development tools (like Captivate). So, in older versions of Captivate, you could not publish content that didn’t rely on Flash. With newer versions, you could choose to include Flash or not. They were straddling the line, while warning all of us that Flash would eventually go away and we should make plans.
In its place is the new industry standard markup language for use in web browsers: HTML5. See, the big difference here is that Flash could run without a browser. HTML5 is actually looking for a browser to play the content.
Because Flash was an add-in, it was very prone to hacking. HTML5 isn’t requiring you to download and load some other app that needs updating. It just looks to the web for an open window and plays the content. HTML5 capability is updated by the browser vendors, and not waiting for a company like Adobe to send out patches or updates. All of the responsibility is on the web hosts, as I understand it.
We heard from one of our clients in about 2017 that they were proactively eliminating Flash in their environment. That meant that none of our eLearning would play, since they were blocking the Flash add-in to the browsers. At that point, we republished ALL of our content into what we call a “No Flash” version. It is a SCORM-compliant package (meaning a standard Learning Management System can interact with it by gathering usage data, adding bookmarks on where someone leaves off, and sending feedback such as a score to the LMS). But, not all of our clients use an LMS, so until this week, we were also publishing our content in a version that included Flash. Those people could just double-click on an .exe file and it would magically play. Now that “magic” is no more! Flash Player has been completely disabled everywhere!
SavvySMART Content Library for Law Firms
We do still deliver the initial purchase of our SSCL on a flash/USB drive. (The word Flash here has nothing to do with the Flash add-in. It’s just meant interchangeably with thumb drive, external drive, etc.) The reason we send the drive is that our content is now over 130GB. Asking anyone to download 130GB would tie up their internet service for hours (if not days).
After they receive the initial drive, they are encouraged to keep it or copy it to an internal network drive. It is this location where they can begin adding updates that I announce via Backstage Pass or when I send a link to a folder that is our Quarterly Update. This quarterly update is really just an accumulation of all new/changed content since the last update. For those folks who are maintaining a physical copy of the SSCL, they can merge this newer content (which they download, since it’s much smaller than 130GB!) with their existing and have an up-to-date full library.
I work on a local drive that is automatically sync’ed with our ShareFile account. All of our SSCL clients have login credentials to ShareFile and can download anything they want, on demand. So, it’s kind of a push/pull relationship. We push out new content, and they pull it down.
For our LMS clients, though, it’s not really push/pull. It’s “ask/done” – they ask for new content after I announce it, and we magically put it in their LMS.
Please contact Savvy if you need law firm training content that was ready for this change before it happened!
If you are facing issues with blocked Flash content, or looking to uninstall your Flash Player, check out this Adobe site for a bunch of information and how-tos.
To read a bit of geeky gossip about Flash (and more history about the program), click here.