8-Step Checklist for Converting Adobe Flash Player to HTML5

January 30, 2020

You already know that you’ll need to convert elements of your website and your online training materials before December 2020 because of the end of life of Adobe Flash Player, and you’ve chosen HTML5 as the replacement, but what comes next? We cover 8 key steps to building a solid conversion strategy to help you with the process. 

What You Need to Do Before Converting Flash to HTML5

In order to ensure the conversion process from Adobe Flash to HTML5 before December 2020 is as smooth as possible, you need to have a clear strategy in place. Depending on the number of assets you have, the length of any courses, their complexity, and the amount of new changes needed, you could be looking at a timeline of anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months per course. Proper planning will make all the difference. 

8-Step Checklist: How to Build a Solid Conversion Strategy

An efficient way to lay out and track your conversion strategy is to conduct a content audit, using a spreadsheet like this one. What information should you record and what process should you follow?.

We’ve put together the following handy, 8-step checklist to help you: 

  1. List your resources and assets
  2. Identify the Flash elements
  3. Locate and document the source files 
  4. Note the length of courses and other assets
  5. Determine the level of interactivity and complexity
  6. Evaluate the level of changes needed
  7. Prioritize conversions by urgency and importance
  8. Map out the conversion project

Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail. 

Step 1: List your resources and assets

Start by making a list of list of all your eLearning resources and other assets that may include Flash Player elements or be published in Flash, such as courses, videos, tutorials, and other digital resources.

Step 2: Identify the Flash elements

Go through each of these resources and figure out which are using Flash. How? There are a few different ways to find out: 

  • Look at the published files; if they have .SWF or .FLV file extensions after the name, then they contain Flash (if you have original or source files for all your courses, these may indicate .FLA file extensions, which will also tell you what’s done in Flash; this isn’t foolproof, though, because some of the source files may have been produced in an authoring tool that publishes to Flash, and you can’t tell until you actually look at the published files).
  • Launch your course or website and right click on the screen; you’ll see a reference to Flash player in the menu that comes up.
  • Open your course or website in your browser and look for any messages like the following:

Adobe Flash Player BlockedClick to Enable Adobe Flash Player

It’s worth remembering that only some of your materials may have been built in something that has Flash elements, so you’ll need to identify if Flash is being used in each particular element (by right clicking on it) and identifying what will need to be converted. 

Step 3: Locate and Document the Source Files 

It’s important to figure out where your original (source) files are, so that it’s easy to access any of these, especially if you’re working in teams or you’re going to include external vendors in the conversion process. You may discover that you only have the published files, not the original files themselves. If you don’t have the originals, then try to contact the vendor who created them, as this will help speed up the process and reduce costs. If you don’t get the source files, some of the resources may still be accessible through the published files; it will just take more time. Note the type of authoring tool used to create the files, e.g., Articulate Storyline with a file extension of .story or Captivate with .cptx file extensions.

Step 4: Note the Length of Courses and Other Assets

Make a note of the length of each course that will need converting to HTML5. This will be very helpful for estimating overall timelines and, of course, budgeting. If you retain storyboards and narration scripts of your courses, the word count can be used to estimate the length of course if you can’t access the course itself or don’t have time to run through the course(s). 

Step 5: Determine the Level of Interactivity and Complexity

Determining the level of interactivity for each course or element, using a clear rating scale, is key to estimating timelines and budgets. For example, you may rate level 1 as being mainly presentation-based, up to level 5, which indicates intricate animations, custom interactions, and more complex gamification. Things like presentations are pretty straightforward to convert to HTML5 from Flash, whereas customized interactions that include game elements like scoring or badge collecting don’t convert as easily and need recreation, not just republishing. 

Step 6: Evaluate the Level of Changes Needed 

You’re already doing a content audit, so now is an excellent opportunity to evaluate your content and decide what you can convert, what you can refresh, and what you can retire. This can be a good time to make substantial changes or updates to your material – whether that’s in the content or the visual design, or both. You may even decide that some courses or elements are not worth converting at all. This is where hiring a vendor might help to make more informed decisions.  

Step 7: Prioritize Conversions by Urgency and Importance 

Once you’ve decided what needs to be converted or redone, next you need to prioritize the order in which to tackle each element. A useful tool to help you decide is an Urgency vs. Importance, or Eisenhower’s, Matrix. You might decide to go for low hanging fruit like quick-to-convert presentations, but it’s best to ask yourself how vital to your organization or business operations each element or course is, and use this to guide your decisions. 

Step 8: Map Out the Conversion Project

Finally, you need to plan out your timelines, assign tasks to relevant team members, and possibly bring in an external vendor to begin the conversion process. 

The better your planning and the more you can stick to a concrete conversion strategy, the more ready you’ll be for the end of Flash in December 2020!