Headline: "Adobe is telling people to stop using Flash"

Dec 02, 2015

This morning, my boss sent us a link to an article with a very headliney headline: "Adobe is telling people to stop using Flash."

Perhaps you saw Adobe’s announcement on Nov 30 about changing the name of Flash to Animate and a refocus of efforts to improve the security of Flash content. Bloggers have been announcing (and actively calling for) the extinction of Flash for quite some time ("A world without Flash," "Flash closer to extinction," etc.) while others admit that you just can't kill the beast ("Adobe Flash Is Dead in Name Only").

It's a little difficult to discern signal from noise in all this. What does this mean for Articulate Storyline and other leading authoring tools whose output is Flash? Does this change anything for us as designers/developers now? in the near future?

27 Replies
Brian Allen

Great articles Greg.  Hopefully at this point most people are developing with mobile and touch devices in mind, and publishing for both Flash and HTML5 content.  Even though Flash is still "alive" at this point my guess is we have more users every day on non-flash enabled devices accessing our content, so for all intents and purposes "the future is here"...

Bill Kelleher

There has also been plenty of response from third parties as well as Adobe itself to allow Flash content to continue on, with things like publishing to Canvas (https://helpx.adobe.com/flash/using/creating-publishing-html5-canvas-document.html) or even Swiffy for less complicated animations. (https://developers.google.com/swiffy/?hl=en

It definitely looks as if for now, Flash will at least have a place side by side with HTML5, but it's up to the developers of the authoring tools as to whether they will move on from Flash or Not. It seems like so far many products are staying right where they are.

Brian Gil

As you might know, Articulate software outputs not only to Flash but to HTML5, iOS, and Android as well. For several years now, we’ve been investing heavily in HTML5 development, believing that it’s the future for e-learning. We’re well-prepared for a Flash-free world, from both an authoring and output perspective.

For now, we urge you to always check the HTML5 option when you publish an Articulate Storyline or Studio course. That way, your learners should have no trouble viewing it in any modern browser.

And with all the current media hype, we suggest having internal conversations about whether your organization will move away from Flash. We’ve heard some customers plan to do so, and would love to hear specifics from more of you on this.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi June,

I just wanted to link this back to the other thread where we were discussing the issues with Flash and the go forward. As I shared there and Brian shared above, we're unable to respond to specifics regarding our road map or product ideas, but we want to hear your thoughts and ideas to ensure we're continuing to keep the customer focus that is important to all of us. 

If there is anything else we can do to help, please don't hesitate to reach out. 


I have a major client who has moved away from Flash. They have started unstalling flash plug-ins from their staff's PCs. 

I have tried working around by removing all all .swf files from my published packages but after doing that I realised the the audio does not play. Also I noticed that in the Results page (of Asessments) for Print to allow learners to print their results as hard copy proof of completion for their personal records purposes, the button does not seem to do anything after the .swf files are deleted from the package too.

Someone mentioned to me that it may be possible to actually modify some codes to change the audio player to play mp3 using other players like windows media player by changing some scripts in the package. I am not sure how this can be done. Also the advise was also to tweak the scripts in the scripts to allow Print to work without any .swf files in the published package.

I was wondering if you could offer any advise on these two matters,

Thank you.


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard


We're unable to offer assistance in terms of modifying the published output - so perhaps the community will be able to weigh in and assist you. As far as removing the Flash elements, you could look instead at pointing directly to the HTML5 output by using the story_html5.html link (that's how it will look published for web) and that way your users are able to view the HTML5 out put directly and you'll want to confirm that they're viewing it on one of the supported browsers here. 

Dave Howard

Our company (a global IT security provider) will be eliminating ALL Flash content from our servers and blocking all Flash content in employee browsers. Essentially we MUST find an HTML5-only solution for on-demand learning beginning in 2017. All of the suggested "just point to the HTML5 file" posts are not solutions for LMS hosted content. You need a manifest and JS files that do not rely on the folders with an Flash references. If you are simply taking the Web-published files and FTP-ing them to a server then you are just fine renaming and editing files. As long as you also have no need for registration, tracking, reporting or other LMS functionality.

We have started looking at other authoring tools as it seems we will still need to support Flash in order to remain Articulate customers. Unfortunately this is not an option



June Dunlap

I will be more than happy to share. Right now I am testing Raptivity and we are using it with Presenter '13, which seems to work very well. They have 190+ interactions and play very nice with Studio '13. I am publishing them to Flash at the present time so they will work with Presenter, but there is an option to create an entire course and publish directly to HTML5. It is a standalone software. I am trying to do an entire pilot and test it in our LMS to see how the HTML5 is handled.

Miguel PM


I downloaded storyteller recently and have been worried about it using flash ever since. However, after deleting all my swf files in the project, and pointing to the story_html5 html, it works absolutely fine and does not have any compatibility problems on any of the browsers i´ve tried. The sound files are in mp3, maybe this could be one of the reasons. 

Sim Khoon Huat, what sound issues where you refering to?



Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Miguel,

I'm happy to hear that set up works for you, but I did want to offer a reminder that removing the files from your published output would not be something we would advise as then the course may not function as expected. You will also want to ensure you're viewing the content in the supported browsers detailed here for HTML5 output. 


Essentially when deployed on Saba Cloud LMS, the mp3 embedded does not work on Saba Anywhere, the offline player for Saba LMS. I was informed subsequently informed by my clients LMS vendor that this was because the package for html5 was still calling the swf plugin to play mp3.

I am not a programmer and hence cannot resolve this.

In addition, if you use the Print Results function, that button also will not work if you remove all the swf files after publishing.

The reason why the swf files had to be removed from the published package is because my clients' IT department has enforced the policy to disallow all swf files. I have also been informed that they will be removing all swf player and plug in from all their staff's machines.



Dave Howard


Storyline has no option to publish to HTML5-only. Unfortunately, right now the only way to "force" the LMS to launch the HTML5 version is to have a Flash-incompatible browser. Storyline is completely dependent on Flash for compiling, previewing and structuring the output files and the SCORM/AICC instruction set.

We are looking at other authoring tools for the same reasons as your IT department, Hundreds of swf files represent hundreds of vectors for all manner of threats including APTs and ransomware not to mention good old botnets.

Right now we are experimenting with how to misidentify the browser to the LMS so that it appears to be a Flash-incompatible browser OR misidentify every device as a Flash-incompatible (mobile) device. This is the only way that the LMS can call the Storyline-generated HTML5 file set and this instruction set is buried in script files (with references to them in the HTML files themselves).

We still haven't figured out all the places where these instructions live and as Ashley said, deleting or renaming files is not only guessing but it also creates additional risk. Pretty much, anyone who is telling you to rename or delete files is not using an LMS, just hosting the "Web" published file set on a server. If you can live without tracking, reporting, bookmarking, assessments, certification paths and approval workflows, well, no problem!

Sorry I don't have a better answer for you.

Brian Allen
Dave Howard

Unfortunately, right now the only way to "force" the LMS to launch the HTML5 version is to have a Flash-incompatible browser.

Dave, was this solution not successful in your LMS?


Dave Howard


"Adobe desperately patches more holes in the sinking ship that is Flash"

"Once again, Adobe has identified a slew of vulnerabilities in the latest version of Flash, one of which is already being used by attackers. When will we learn our lesson and ditch the old platform forever?"

C. L. Norman

A belated comment from the field, since Bill mentioned Google Swiffy—we explored that as a pure HTML5 option for banner ads, but the problem we ran into was size.  Swiffy output, while able to recreate Adobe Flash content in an (almost) visually-identical form and with surprisingly good performance, can be monstrous.  While the IAB guidelines of 2015 relaxed the size restrictions considerably, even 200K can be a difficult size for Swiffy to meet with even the most basic Flash ads.

And I agree with Bill that Flash won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.  HTML5 can’t yet provide the full range of interactivity and functionality that Flash can.  And as far as security, the only issues we’ve ever found are when using Flash as an intermediary to invoke other things, like ActiveX.  Poor computer safeguarding (not firewalling, failure to run an up-to-date antivirus 24/7, lack of user protocols for safe usage) puts you much more at risk than Flash ever will.

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