Question about Flash? (Sort of unrelated to TechSmith but...)

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I know this isn't too related to TechSmith but in a way it really is. (Is there a general video making/e-learning design area on your forums? Consider that my bright idea for the day!) 

I'm asking this here because:
  1. I'm responsible for the development and implementation of e-learning for my organization and Flash's end of life could significantly affect when I begin training our training team on Camtasia and what our top priorities will be.
  2. Because many of you likely do similar work with e-learning and are in the same boat.
  3. Hopefully one of the TechSmith people will have a better idea than I do about how this post-flash world will function. 

A couple years ago, I started selling my organization on Camtasia and one of my primary arguments was that Adobe was going to end support for Flash in 2020. They finally got on board a few months ago and agreed to phase out Captivate.

Before I can determine what to do with hundreds of .swf training modules, I would love for someone(s) to confirm my understanding of the situation: Does end of support for Flash in Edge, Explorer, and Chrome, mean there will be no functionality and .swf will be unplayable?  

I'm trying to explain this situation to a group of execs who know very little about digital media or e-learning (that is why they hired me after all haha). I have a meeting scheduled in the near future and if all of our .swf e-learning becomes unusable next year, I want to be able to bluntly tell them that. That's my current understanding but I'd love to hear it from someone else!

A lot of people seem to have problems playing HTML5 generated in Captivate at my organization so if we have to completely convert our fleet of .swf courses, then I'm going to have to beg them for more Camtasia licenses and people I can train. 

Any insights from fellow e-learning people or the Techsmith team about how you've been dealing with this or how you would deal with it are greatly appreciated! 
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dmey503

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Posted 9 months ago

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Rick Stone

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Hi there

First off, unless a TechSmith rep pops in here to advise differently, Camtasia has nothing to do with Flash. Although, I do understand there are some tiny bits of the "Smart Player" that reference Flash under certain conditions. So any concerns about that are likely moot. But it's possible you are using a really super old version of Camtasia that still outputs Flash? Only learning more will tell. But my own understanding is that you are perfectly safe with Camtasia.

Over on the Adobe side of things, it's interesting that you abandoned Captivate. But it sounds as if you did. Not that overall I think Captivate is a superior product, just noting the event. (I'm retired now, but earned a pretty decent living for a number of years teaching folks how to use Captivate.)

Captivate overcomes the Flash stuff by creating HTML 5 output. So unless you were hard core desiring some of the features that only the Flash output would provide (I think some of the widgets were only Flash and many of the Text Animations were only Flash) then there really was no need to jump ship pulling your hair out.

During my career of teaching, I regularly advised folks that if possible, they wanted both Captivate AND Camtasia in their toolbox.

Captivate is hard to beat and what I would strongly recommend over Camtasia if you are wanting to create software simulations. They are horrible to try and create using Camtasia. And, you are forced to use the full output set of files with the Smart Player.

But Camtasia totally rocks for pure demonstrations where no interactivity is required. They have improved, but Captivate has always sucked eggs when it comes to recording and editing full motion video clips. This is where Camtasia really shines and blows Captivate's doors off.

Both do quizzing, but Camtasia is really weak in this area while Captivate is totally robust and allows near infinite freedom in designing questions. Camtasia only offers a few question types while Captivate has several to choose from.

I'm sure others will pop in with their own advice and this thread will be interesting to follow.

Hopefully my own insights help here in some small way.

Cheers... Rick :)
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dmey503

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Sorry, let me clarify: I know Camtasia doesn't create Flash files and that it will not impact existing Camtasia-created e-learning. 

I'm trying to determine my future Camtasia workflow and if Flash going away means all of our existing .swf e-learning, created in captivate, will be unplayable.

If that's the case, and if anyone else is in the same boat, I would love to know if they came up with any creative methods for taking a Flash (.swf) e-learning and converting it to Camtasia. I've considered doing a quick and dirty fix of screen recording the old Captivate-created e-learnings in Camtasia and rebuilding the buttons with hotspots...if someone has attempted that, I'd be interested in knowing issues they ran into or if they'd recommend completely rebuilding in Camtasia.  
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Rick Stone

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Are you not able to use a version of Captivate to open those projects and output as HTML 5? 

That would seem the simplest approach. Definitely worth a try!
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Rick Stone

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Note that I have nothing to gain or lose by suggesting that workflow. It just seems logical.
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dmey503

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It does but we have issues with HTML5 created in Captivate on our computer network. We have 1,000 people at 50 different locations and for some reason, HTML5 generated in Captivate doesn't seem to load for many users. At least that's why I'm told they've stuck with .swf (although I suspect it has more to do with their own habits and resistance to chance).

Assuming they have the Captivate project files  (another big concern of mine is that they don't), converting to HTML5 will be our first choice. I'm certain they lack the project files for many of the trainings, however.

Of course before I can really figure any of this out, I need to know for certain if .swf will be completely unusable or if it will exist as some sort of legacy feature in these browsers beyond 2020.  

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Rick Stone

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I need to know for certain if .swf will be completely unusable or if it will exist as some sort of legacy feature in these browsers beyond 2020.  

Indeed, that's always the million dollar question, no? Where's that darned crystal ball? ;)
Only the browser manufacturers know for sure. But given the fact that many have abandoned it, I'm not sure I'd count on it.

I'm all too familiar with folks and being resistant to change. I once had to coax about 350 users to begin using a new "on-line" information repository I constructed. Those users clung to those old paper manuals like a monkey clings to a dead baby. But eventually they saw the light and loved it once they got over the initial shock.

As for any "conversion", of Captivate or SWF or whatever by Camtasia, I would be shocked to hear anything was in the works for that by TechSmith. My own guess is that if you want it all in Camtasia, you will end up using some SWF to MP4 conversion tool that's out there (assuming it's just demonstration type stuff) or you will have to carefully re-create things in Camtasia if there is any quizzing or interactivity involved.

My own guess is that if that's the case, it's not going to be painless!
(Edited)
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dmey503

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Haha oh yeah, I know how that goes. I just offboarded from a system project after a three-year tour, upgrading a COBOL based system built in the early 90s with a slick web-based system. We completely changed the way people approached their work and it blew their minds--not always in a good way. 

I still consult with them off and on and at the moment, they've decided to completely sunset the old system because people are still using it because "it's what we know."

I don't expect any sort of easy conversion to Camtasia format. Captivate has a lot of what I call "cutesy crap" that people put into e-learning solely because they can, even though it's awkward and adds nothing to the learning experience. I'm guessing, at best, it would be a screen recording with heavy modification.

Honestly, I hope I can use Flash's end of life to thin the herd of all these old e-learning modules they have floating around, or at least do some major consolidation. 

It sounds like we're both on a mission to civilize!