Time to Say Goodbye

Preparing for the End of Adobe Flash in December 2020

In July of 2017, Adobe announced that they would stop distributing and updating Adobe Flash products and the official end-of-life (EOL) for Adobe Flash would be December 31, 2020. Since that announcement, many Internet browsers (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge) have either already stopped or plan to stop supporting Flash playback by the end of 2020.

If you are currently relying on Flash presentations, animations or other Flash-based multimedia content in your teaching or other communications, you will need to find an alternative approach or format to replace that content.

During the 2000s and early 2010s, Flash was often the format of choice for video, interactive media, and animations. It scaled well, was powerful, and enabled interesting interactivity. In addition to editing using the Macromedia/Adobe Flash development tools, several other popular authoring packages such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline/Presenter, and Adobe Presenter often published to Flash format, which could be embedded in websites or learning management systems like Blackboard.

However, partially because of its architecture and system-level access, Flash became a conduit for viruses and other malware to target users’ computers. Adobe worked hard to patch and upgrade Flash to protect users but eventually announced that it would phase out its support of Flash as other technologies, such as streaming video and HTML5, emerged with many of the same capabilities and fewer security issues.

What should I do if I have Flash content on my webpages or in my Blackboard course?

Flash content will no longer play in any modern web browser after December 2020. If you no longer use nor need the content, no action is necessary. If you are still using content that is in Flash format, you will need to recreate or capture the content in another format such as video or HTML5. The exact strategy depends on the nature of the content and the tools to which you have access. For example, for slide-based presentations created in an authoring program like Adobe Presenter and published in Flash format, there are at least three strategies for replacing the content: create a presentation with new slides and narration, reconstruct and republish with existing narration, or capture recording using Kaltura Capture or another screencasting tool. Learn more about these options in our Migrating Flash-based Presentations to Video guide.

If you have another type of Flash content and need advice on how to proceed or any other questions about Flash End of Life, you are welcome to email us at citl@niu.edu for guidance.

How do I know if I may have Flash content that needs to be replaced?

You will need to replace or discontinue using any materials that are Flash-based, whether you created them or are using content created by another individual or entity (e.g. open educational resources [OER]). There are multiple ways to determine whether your material is Flash-based.

Be sure to check materials that you created as well as those that you are using from a publisher, professional association, or other web-based sources.

You were contacted by CITL or DoIT indicating you have Flash content in Blackboard.

In August 2020, the Division of IT (DoIT) scanned all files that have been uploaded to Blackboard to identify courses that appeared to have Flash content. The CITL team and DoIT worked together to  notify affected faculty, providing instructions and support resources. If you received this notification, you should examine the courses included in the email to determine if you still need the referenced content.

Your content does not play in Firefox or you are required to enable Flash in Chrome to view any of your content.

Most popular browsers, including Firefox and Safari, no longer support Flash playback. As one of the last browsers supporting Flash playback, Chrome has been requiring users to “Click to Enable Flash” for the past 6 months (see image below). If you and your students must click this message to enable playback, that content is in Flash format and will need to be replaced if you still need to access it.

Enable Adobe Flash image

You created content using Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline/Presenter, or Adobe Presenter, and you or your users have had playback issues.

If you used any of these authoring tools, particularly if your content is more than a few years old, there is a good chance it may be published in Flash format. Test playback using Chrome or the right-click test described below to determine if the content is in Flash format. Newer versions of these tools no longer rely on Flash and instead publish to HTML5, which is supported by all web browsers.

You right click your content and the Flash context menu appears.

If you suspect your content may be Flash, you can use your mouse to right click the video or animation while it is on screen to see if the Flash context menu appears. If a menu similar to the one depicted below materializes with an “About Adobe Flash…” menu option, the content was created using Flash technology.

Flash context menu

Moving Forward without Flash

Flash has been a powerful tool for a long time, but there are plenty of options now for authoring content that doesn’t rely on it. For slide-based materials, PowerPoint has the ability to incorporate audio and publish to a video format that can be hosted in Kaltura or YouTube for mobile-friendly playback. For interactive materials, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline are great choices that can publish to HTML5, which is supported by the most common browsers and is mobile-compatible.

If you have any questions about converting Flash content to another format or creating your own course materials, reach out to us at citl@niu.edu.


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