Until recently, Flash was the go-to program to create an interactive experience. While it was never the only program of its kind, it was loved by designers for being intuitive and simple for creating animations and multimedia experiences. In addition, Flash could deliver this material at low bandwidth and allowed for the delivery of audio and video across platforms using a common format.
In the last decade, Adobe and Apple have both made changes affecting Flash Player and plug-in usage for iOS. When compounded with the iOS and Android platform divide, as well as the choice between native and web-based apps, the creation of interactive multimedia and animation can seem like a daunting challenge. To ease this process, we have compiled a list of four specific projects and the solutions we would recommend.
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s get one thing straight
Flash is not dead. Yes, support for Flash was notoriously ceased for Apple’s mobile Safari in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone (but so were all other plug-in related technologies like Silverlight and RealMedia…remember those?). And true, Adobe then decided to discontinue support for all mobile browsers in late 2011. As a result, both Apple and Adobe have been pushing the use of HTML5 for projects that were once completed using Flash. HTML5, in part, attempts to standardize multimedia and animation. However, media authored in Flash can often be exported to other formats using the right program or app, making it a good option for many projects.
Four scenarios for creating iOS-friendly interactive experiences
Project: eLearning courses
Solution: Articulate Storyline
Storyline software by Articulate is specifically tailored for the development of iPad-friendly eLearning applications allowing designers to publish in either Flash or HTML5. Unfortunately, Storyline may not be appropriate for projects requiring custom characters, as you can’t import your own characters to Storyline’s library. Nonetheless, this is a great option for creating a consistent eLearning experience without drastically altering your design method.
Project: Marketing microsites
The easiest way to make marketing microsites accessible on multiple platforms and devices is to develop them in HTML5. One major drawback is that developing in HTML5 may entail a shift in habit for designers who are accustomed to using Flash. Additionally, HTML5 relies on transition-based (rather than linear) animations, meaning that more complex animation sequences will need to be converted to video. However, the multimedia capabilities and the mobile-browser friendly features of this language make development in HTML5 a good toolset to keep in your arsenal.
Project: Online tutorials/demos
Solution: export Flash to video (mp4)
That’s right, exporting Flash demo or tutorial sequences to MP4 will make it compatible on an iPad. This straightforward conversion may limit the rich interactivity afforded by Flash, but we feel the pros of this solution outweigh the cons. By exporting Flash to video, animations may be viewed in a linear format.