A Comprehensive Guide to
Flash to HTML5 E-learning Conversions

This definitive guide will give you complete insights into the Flash to HTML5 conversion process. It will help you discover the different conversion strategies available, the authoring tools that help, and offers checklists, templates, and action plans to ensure conversion is a smooth process.

Time to Read: 20-25 min | Audience: eLearning Champions | Last Updated: January 14, 2019


Flash once held sway over eLearning development thanks to its ability to create a wide range of interactivities and animations. Though its usage gradually diminished with the increasing number of easy-to-use authoring tools, Flash elements still persist in courses running today.

When Steve Jobs decided not to support Flash in any iOS device including Apple’s iPads and iPhones, the tide began to turn. With most major mobile devices and browsers blocking Flash output and Adobe announcing that it will discontinue its support after 2020, the glorious Flash era is soon to coming to a complete end.

Apart from their inability to play on mobile devices, older Flash courses also have some characteristics that are not so attractive to the present-day learner:

Introduction Chart

If you have been using eLearning since the last decade, it is highly likely you still use courses developed in authoring tools which contain Flash components. Courses developed in Flash and courses that use Flash components are collectively referred to as ‘legacy courses’.

Legacy Courses = Flash Courses OR Courses with Flash Components OR Courses developed in obsolete software such as Authorware and older versions of authoring tools (that give dual output of Flash and HTML)
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With Flash becoming obsolete, converting these courses to HTML5 will help you extend their utility without needing to spend the money to re-create everything from scratch. Before we get into that, let’s first look at the various reasons that led to the end of Flash.

The Imminent End of Flash

Major reasons are:
The Imminent End of Flash
The lack of Flash support of iPhones and iPads also made it difficult to access Flash-based courses on these devices. This was a major concern as organizations were looking at the concept of learning anytime, anywhere and on any device. As its utility waned, Adobe (which owns Flash) decided to discontinue its support.
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HTML5 to the Rescue

HTML5, the latest version of HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is the best possible format that Flash courses can be converted to, in order to ensure they run on multiple devices and browsers.
Business Impact of HTML5-based eLearning
  1. Improves your training ROI

    By converting Flash courses to HTML5, you can continue to enjoy returns on the initial investment.

  2. Future-proofs your eLearning & Mobile Learning

    HTML5 is an open source markup language. It does not need any plugins, is compatible across platforms, and is not going to become obsolete as it isn’t a proprietary product.

  3. Improves security of online learning content

    Compared to Flash with its plugins that made a device vulnerable to security threats, HTML5 offers robust security.

Impact of HTML5-based eLearning on Learners
  1. Promotes a learning culture

    With learners having uninterrupted access to courses, learning becomes a continual process.

  2. Make blended learning (combining classroom, eLearning and performance support) a reality, a possibility, enhancing performance.
  3. Makes device-independent learning a reality

    Learners are no longer restricted to one device to access learning resources.

Benefits of Flash to HTML5 Conversion

Converting your Flash and other legacy courses to the HTML5 format will immediately make them accessible to new-age learners the Millennials. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this age group will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2030.

The other benefits that would accrue would be:

Benefits of Flash to HTML5 Conversion
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Four Hard Questions and 4 Easy Answers – The 4 ‘R’s

By now, you should be convinced that converting your Flash courses to HTML5 makes a lot of sense. Now, it’s time to ask yourself some hard questions:
  1. Do you have the source files for ALL your Flash courses?
  2. Do you want to improve the instructional Design for ALL of them?
  3. Do you want to break ALL of them into microlearning modules?
  4. Do you want to translate ALL of them?

Your answer is obviously a “NO”. Flash to HTML5 conversions can be done in 4 different ways depending on what you wish to accomplish.

What exactly are these 4 ways of conversion – RECORD, REPUBLISH, REBUILD, and REDESIGN?

You Have – The 4 ‘R’s

The complexity involved in the conversion process increases toward the right.

So when do you choose what? Read on for an easy way toward the right strategy.

Right Conversion Strategy
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Authoring Tools for Conversion

All modern authoring tools that offer HTML5 output can be used for every conversion methodology. But some are more suited to specific course types and conversions than others:
  1. Articulate Storyline for Flash-like interactivities

    With its low learning curve and easy-to-use features, Storyline is the first option for Flash to HTML5 conversion. This tool can easily replicate Flash interactivities, and for those that don’t have the exact match, it offers best-fit alternatives.

  2. Adobe Captivate for seamless responsive output

    The Fluid Box feature of Captivate 2017 makes it easy to make your Flash-based courses responsive. Though the learning curve is steeper than Storyline, Adobe Captivate is the go-to tool when your Flash courses have a lot of simulations.

  3. Lectora Inspire for quick text-heavy conversions

    Text-heavy Flash courses can be converted responsive to HTML5 with surprising ease using Lectora Inspire. It also offers excellent support to translations with its unique switchable interface feature. Not to forget the scope for collaborative development offered by Lectora Online.

  4. iSpring for speed when PowerPoint Storyboards are available

    The iSpring Suite offers quick conversions of PPTs to learner-centric courses with its range of features that support the inclusion of videos, dialog simulations, and a variety of assessments. So, if you have storyboards, iSpring is a time-saver.

Authoring tools for conversion
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Typical Conversion Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Flash to HTML5 conversion has its own peculiar problems. Here are some issues that may crop up and suggested solutions:
  1. Missing source files: Go for the ‘Record’ conversion strategy if courses are of low value or use OCR software to retrieve content.
  2. Complex Flash interactivities: Choose Articulate Storyline or go for the ‘Record’ conversion strategy.
  3. Need to make changes to audio narrations: If feasible, make a fresh recording; if not, make sure that there are clear onscreen text and instructions and remove audio completely.
  4. Flash courses in languages other than English, with no source files: Use OCR software to retrieve content.
  5. Need to make changes to audio narrations: If feasible, make a fresh recording; if not, make sure that there are clear onscreen text and instructions.
  6. Lengthy Flash courses: Rebuild into a curriculum of microlearning modules.
  7. Substandard Instructional Design: Improve instructional design by relooking at the objectives, learning strategy, engagements and assessments.
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The Flash to HTML5 Conversion Process

Flash to HTM5 conversion is a 5-step process that starts with gathering existing resources, evaluating and prioritizing them based on your requirements, and choosing the right conversion strategy.

The Conversion Process
To ensure a smooth conversion, you will also need to estimate the work involved and whether you have the resources to do it in-house.
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Project Management

If approached in a streamlined manner (like the process shared earlier), the Flash to HTML5 conversion process is not a very difficult task. You can definitely handle it yourself if you have just a handful of courses to be converted.

But what if you need to convert thousands of courses to HTML5, developed in different authoring tools and with Flash elements? The sheer quantum of work involved calls for robust project management, and not all courses will have the same requirements. For example, a few might just need straightforward republishing to a new tool, others might involve updating content, while yet a few more might need to be improved instructionally.

Estimating the work involved for each course, identifying and sequencing activities, estimating the duration, establishing workflows, planning for contingencies – all these factors impact the success of your conversion exercise. Quality checks and measures also have to be planned for right at the start and integrated seamlessly into the conversion process.

Ensuring quality involves:

  • Having stringent quality assurance and quality check measures in place
  • Testing the converted courses on all target devices and browsers
  • Ensuring the usage of the style guide, and the prescribed tools, templates, and checklists

Selecting Your Conversion Partner

Before you decide to outsource your Flash to HTML5 conversions, take a close look at the pros and cons. If you have to convert just a couple of courses, maybe your in-house team can do it. However, if you need to convert a large number of courses, the project management required is at a totally higher level. In such a case, it is better you outsource the project to a qualified vendor.

When you decide to outsource the conversion, choosing a reliable partner is very important to ensure success. So, what are the parameters on which you can select your conversion-partner?

Ask the shortlisted vendors these 5 questions:

  1. What is their expertise and track record in Flash to HTML5 conversions?
    • How many Flash to HTML5 conversion projects have they worked on?
    • Are they competent in instructional design and have translation capabilities?
  2. Do they have the manpower to handle large numbers? Are they trained on the tools and processes?
    • Do they have a large team to scale up to your requirements?
    • Is the team well-trained on all pertinent authoring tools, video/audio editing tools?
    • Do they work with wireframes and other tools to speed up the conversion?
  3. Do they have a documented Project Management process? Are their Project Managers certified?
    • Do they have project managers certified with PMBOK and other accepted standards?
    • Do they have the tools and templates to document and communicate every aspect of the project?
  4. Do they have a robust Quality Management system in place?
    • Does the vendor have well-defined processes to assure and check for quality?
    • Do they have standard checklists to preempt, identity, and resolve functionality issues?
    • Is their team trained on testing converted courses in various devices, browsers, and SCORM cloud if needed?
  5. Can they provide testimonials?
    • Is the vendor ready to provide references of clients?
    • Do they have or samples of past work?
    • Are they ready to work on a no-cost prototype?
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How Forward-Thinking Companies Have Done It

We’ve converted huge repositories of Flash courses for 3 multinational organizations.
How Forward-Thinking Companies Have Done It

A Snippet of the First Case Study: Achieving Scale in Flash to HTML5 Course Conversions

Requirement: Convert 1500+ courses developed in Flash and with Flash elements to HTML5, for multi-device compatibility.

Flash to HTML5
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How to Get Started

Flash to HTML5 conversions will help you maximize your training ROI by extending your investment in Flash courses. However, due to the magnitude of the work and complexity involved, you might have a tough time getting the budget approved.

Put together a convincing business case that’ll highlight the difficulties learners will face when Flash courses are discontinued, the benefits of converting – in clear monetary terms, the effort involved, and a clear cost-benefit analysis.

Here are some templates and checklists you can leverage to enjoy a smooth, successful Flash to HTML5 conversion.

  • Folder Structure
  • Project Tracking Sheet
  • Project Status Report
  • Product Acceptance Form

For more comprehensive insights into the 4 conversion strategies – the 4 ‘R’s – download this eBook on the Flash to HTML5 Conversion Strategies.