Earlier today, I received a link to the Flash Plugin roadmap. A lot of elearning content today was designed and developed using Flash and that will continue in the foreseeable future. The roadmap was interesting because it points to some items that could possibly impact how we use Flash for delivering eLearning. Mainly, the roadmap states quite clearly that Gaming and Video are two areas Adobe will increasingly focus on. This possibly implies that the platform will move away from catering to the authoring/publishing developers. Also, given the onslaught from HTML5 in the authoring area, it makes sense for Adobe to focus on gaming and DRM video. Few changes planned to further the game development cause include support for keyboard input, middle/right buttons, faster script and plugin performance. So for learning designers, Flash will continue to make sense for games on the desktop or if you are delivering video in some form. But what about the increasing number of mobile devices that we’d like to deliver learning to? Not much from Flash there, Adobe is abandoning supporting mobile browsers altogether; we wrote about this last year.
Lastly, most desktops will see (perhaps) a gradual migration to Windows 8; the roadmap states “Adobe is currently working closely with Microsoft to finalize details around supported configurations for Flash Player and Adobe AIR on Windows 8.” That sounds quite strange, given that the Metro Touch version of IE will not support the Flash plugin. Given its memory intensive nature it isn’t surprising that Tablet OS developers aren’t keen on having it; iOS made that choice a long time ago.
I’d hazard a guess Android will be abandoning Flash mobile too.
So where are we going with Flash? And will it remain the authoring/development environment of choice for eLearning developers/designers? It’s a tough question to answer. I want to be able to develop once and run on both desktop, mobile and ‘in-between’ devices. Without a stable and feature-rich HTML5 development environment that matches the depth of Flash, eLearning developers are faced with a dual development approach – develop with full media rich functionality (easily) using Flash for desktop delivery, and a more technically intensive HTML5 approach for devices. Who knows, in the future maybe workplace learning will ONLY be driven by mobile devices, with desktop based elearning turning into an archaic remnant of a bygone age.