8 Steps for Converting Flash eLearning Content to HTML 5

Flash – which has long been at the centre of many interactive learning experiences - will cease at the end of 2020. Organisations across the world are scrambling to migrate legacy interactive content over from Flash to ‘something else’.

The choice for most is straightforward: HTML 5. But with no reliable ‘click to convert’ tool out there that can transform your Flash content into robust HTML5, you’ve got some planning to do before you can re-engineer your Flash learning content for the mind boggling range of mobile and desktop devices our learners expect to use now – and in the future.

Step 1 – Understand the pros – and cons – of HTML 5

HTML 5 is often compared to Adobe Flash, but the two technologies are very different.

Both offer features for playing audio and video within web pages and using Scalable Vector Graphics.

But HTML 5 cannot be used on its own for animation or interactivity – it must be supplemented with CSS3 or JavaScript.

There are many Flash capabilities that have no direct counterpart in HTML 5: check out this useful Comparison of HTML 5 and Flash for detailed information. But here’s a back to basic comparison useful to learning professionals:




Requires a “player” to be installed



Runs on mobile devices



Running speed on different platforms



Supported by iOS



Different experience based on the browser



Future proof




No matter what limitations HTML 5 has when compared to Flash, the overwhelming advantages it offers in terms of accessibility, speed and responsiveness means it’s the winner for learners on any device, wherever they are in the world – now and in the future.

Step 2: Choose your tool (sorry, there’s no magic wand)

There are plenty of tools out there that promise you can ‘convert’ your Flash to HTML 5 at the push of a button. Sadly, that’s far from the truth. There’s a lot you need to take into consideration!

Ensure you carry out analysis on the type of devices and browsers your learners are currently using to try to access your LMS. You may find that it’s possible to automate some areas of content migration (though trust us on that magic wand).

Ensure you have a strong understanding of just how existing content (multimedia, interactions, features) will ‘translate’ using the tool and platform you choose. And make sure your LMS and chosen authoring tool play nicely together!

Step 3 – Audit your existing content

Assign an individual – or team – to conduct an audit of ALL your existing learning across ALL platforms. You don’t just want to know the number of courses and their titles: you need to know the technicalities that will help you MAP your existing content to your new set up.

Base your audit on agreed criteria. You may want to note if a course has multimedia or makes heavy use of Flash interactions. Try to note the basic make up of your learning library. Consider whether content can be directly migrated, requires restructuring or must be completely replaced.

Step 4: Prioritise

Figure out which content you should convert first. Your prioritisation may be influenced by some of the following:

  • Compliance / regulatory requirements
  • Upcoming initiatives / demand
  • Change in strategic direction – editorial review or requirement for new training
  • % Flash content – supplementary Vs core content in the Flash components
  • Availability of multimedia files

TIP Consider assigning a weighting to your criteria.

Step 5: Estimate the time needed

Do a test run on a standard piece of content – ideally choose something that’s mid-range in terms of length, interactivity, and multimedia.

Note any issues that surfaced with the authoring tool you’ve selected.

Here are some common issues we’ve encountered in Storyline:

  • Text rendering
  • Movement of objects
  • Colour
  • Complex interaction functionality
  • Use of bespoke code (JavaScript)
  • Triggers, behaviours and animation
  • Embedding of web objects

You can now use what you’ve learned to estimate the time and effort required to convert your whole library.

Step 6: Rethink and re-prioritise

Following your test/pilot phase, you should analyse the success of your chosen tool or method of conversion. Perhaps the tool you chose didn’t work out as expected? Perhaps it had more potential – or limitations – than you thought. You can choose to try another tool at this point and run another pilot. Or you can use what you’ve learned to reprioritise the conversion of your learning library.

Step 7: Migration

When you’re sure the tool you’ve selected is the right one for your organisation and learners. You are ready to migrate. It’s time to:

  • Ensure all supporting aspects are ready.
  • Check that all assets and prerequisites are in place

Step 8: Test and test again

Using a phased release gives you the opportunity to test and learn and improve on your conversions. Test your new content on as many end users as you can, across as many devices as possible Learn as much as you can.

The bottom line:

Learning now takes place on devices like tablets and smartphones with consumers distributed across the world. But mobile device browsers don’t support the outdated Flash based courses.

The death of Flash gives you the opportunity to revive outdated content and bring your learning library right up to date, making it accessible to more people and devices.

You can use HTML 5 and responsive design to create fast, gorgeous, engaging learning that works on any device - creating more effective learning at every level.

However, converting dated legacy content into a sleek modern programme is a challenge for even the most experienced of learning professionals – we know – we’ve been working with our clients to reengineer and rethink learning content of all shapes and sizes.

So remember we’re here to help - talk to our team about how we can help smooth the path from legacy training to next generation and beyond learning.

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