What’s Involved in Converting Legacy Flash Courses to HTML5?
Converting Legacy Flash Courses to HTML5

Businesses are starting to get alarmed – panicked even. They know they need to convert their legacy Flash courses to HTML5, but either don’t have the bandwidth, know-how, or have simply put it off… until now.

As most of you are becoming acutely aware, the end of Adobe Flash is imminent – but its death has been predicted for some time now. According to some sources, its impending death was prophesied as far back as 2011 — shortly after Abobe announced it would no longer be distributing Flash Player updates for mobile browsers.

“Flash” forward (obvious pun intended) to 2019 and we’re just months away from Flash’s execution date which is slated for the end of 2020.

Flash has been plagued by ongoing security issues and has been an easy target for hackers to launch cyber attacks and malware – even allowing hackers to take over entire systems. Despite Adobe’s attempts to patch security loopholes, most browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox, and Apple Safari have moved away from the technology in favor of HTML5.

Getting Your Ducks in a Row

Frankly, it doesn’t matter if you knew about the expected end of Flash back in 2011, or are just figuring it out now. We’re not here to judge. The point is, if your company has built its legacy eLearning courses using Flash or Flash elements, you’re going to have to get your ducks in a row PDQ. That means figuring out a migration plan.

What Will Happen If You Don’t Migrate Your Courses to HTML5?

Simply put, your existing eLearning content built using Flash or Flash elements is going to start to fail. At first, you may see minor functionality issues as components stop loading properly. You may ultimately end up with error messages which render the content useless for many of your company’s learners.

Why Use HTML5 to Convert Your Flash eLearning Content?

  • Browser Friendliness: When it comes to migrating Flash content, HTML5 is far and away the choice of most content conversion experts and eLearning developers as it supports all browser types, including mobile browsers. With so many people accessing their learning “on-the-go,” this significant feature is not to be overlooked.
  • Easily Customizable: Where Flash was once exceedingly praised because of its high interactivity, graphics, and animation capabilities, HTML5 is being hailed as its successor due to its ability to produce fully customizable, immersive, dynamic content and graphics without the use of a plug-in or third-party platform.
  • Multi-media Integrations: Ever get that annoying black box where a video or other multi-media element is supposed to be? These issues are eliminated with HTML5 which makes the user experience a more pleasant one.
  • Everyone Else is Doing It: No, we’re not talking about peer-pressure here. What we’re speaking of is the fact that HTML5 is now considered the new industry standard of eLearning professionals and others (like web developers) across the globe. There’s a reason for its popularity; namely, it can essentially do everything that Flash does without all the security vulnerabilities of Flash.

What’s Involved in Planning for the Migration of Flash Courses to HTML5?

There’s a fair amount to consider when converting your legacy Flash courses to HTML5. If you’re a large organization with an equally large library of courses in your LMS, you have a significant job ahead of you. Before you go off half-baked, here are a few things you’ll need to consider:

Perform a Content Audit of Flash Courses:

Conducting a content audit will help you understand the quantity, quality, categories, usage, age, lifespan, interactivity, and viability of your existing courses.

  • Take inventory of your existing courses that contain Flash or Flash elements.
  • Identify legacy courses that you want to keep and those that can be discarded.
  • In the keep column, identify courses that are good to convert “as is,” as well as those that are somewhat outdated but where the content could be fairly easily updated or repurposed to bring them up to the current state/standards of the business. These types of changes could include new policies, procedures, branding guidelines (look/feel/tone), imagery, timelines, interactivity, and other factors.
  • Make a list of changes to be made to any courses that are in the keep column.
  • Keep watch for common themes of changes and create a template based on your findings.
  • In the discard column, place courses into the recycle bin where the content is either completely outdated, no longer relevant to the business, or where building the course from scratch would be easier.
Prioritize Flash Content for Conversion:

Your company’s courses likely do not have equal weight. It’s important that stakeholders of the company (and business units) prioritize which courses get converted first. There will be some courses that are critical to the business that must be converted right away, while others can wait. Use a weighted scoring system to easily identify the top courses to be converted.

The following categories are often seen as higher priority conversion needs:

  • Regulatory and compliance training needs
  • General HR onboarding courses
  • High-demand courses
Sort through the Content Rubble:

Determining the content you want to retain in your new HTML5 courses will give you a good understanding of content gaps that will need to be filled as well as any new assets that will need to be acquired in order to complete the course.

  • Identify all the assets contained in your legacy courses (that you intend to reuse) such as content, video, audio, and images and extract them from the existing files using a swf/Flash decompiler.
  • Keep all supporting files in a centrally located place prior to conversion for easy access.
  • Make a list of any gaps in content (new multi-media, video, images, etc.).
Conduct Proper HTML5 Conversion Tool Research:

Enough can’t be said about this crucial aspect of the process. Make sure you select the right tools to convert your content so that your courses will perform as expected on your LMS for all users across all devices. This will save your company both time and money.

  • Identify/research the authoring tool you plan to use in the HTML5 conversion process. Some popular choices are Articulate Storyline, Camtasia, Lectora Inspire, and Adobe Captivate, among others.
  • Understand the types of devices and browsers your learners are using to access your Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Learn how your authoring tool will translate legacy content as you expect (copy, interactivity, video, and multimedia).
  • Understand how your authoring tool and LMS platform will perform together and the limitations of each.
Conduct a Pilot Phase of Flash to HTML5 Conversions:

The pilot phase will provide you with a good baseline from which to measure future content conversion projects as well as shine a light on any potential issues that may arise with compatibility, user access, etc.

  • Develop sample courses based on the original projects to understand how the courses will work on a variety of devices.
  • Identify the estimated conversion time needed per course. We recommend running a test on a sample piece of content that has a median-range in terms of length, interactivity and use of multi-media. You can then base future development times from that mid-point range.
  • Make use of the test content piece to understand any issues that arise during the conversion process with things such as text rendering, object movement, functionality, interactivity, animations, etc.
  • Select/create applicable templates to use for development.
Migrating Your Content to HTML5:

Once you’ve determined that your authoring tool is working properly, is playing nicely with your LMS, and that all your assets are in place, it’s time to begin the migration of your content.

Note: Don’t try to convert and release all your legacy courses at once. By phasing in your releases, you’ll be afforded the opportunity to really understand how your content is performing for users across all devices and be able to make the necessary adjustments.


It’s obvious that learners aren’t going back to a single method of learning. Your company’s learning programs need to keep pace with advances in technologies and needs of the business and learners alike. Re-engineering your legacy Flash content to an HTML5 format will ensure it is accessible, consumable, interactive, and engaging for learners across all devices ̶ when and where they want to learn. That, my friends, is the new name of the game.

Need Help with Your Content Conversion Projects?

There’s no need to panic. We’ve got your back!

Clarity Consultants is the world’s leading provider of Learning & Development talent and solutions. We have a network of over 35,000 fully-vetted L&D professionals who are experts in content conversion, learning strategy, instructional design, content development, and training delivery.

Whether you need course conversion from Flash to HTML5, ILT to eLearning, Legacy content to Microlearning… or any other format ̶ we’ll make sure your courses are beautiful, engaging, and accessible for your learners.


Contact Clarity

For over 30 years, we’ve managed projects touching every element of learning and talent development.