Friday, July 15, 2011

Flash in eLearning - Seven Traps to Avoid

Flash is a free cross-browser plug-in that allows interactive content to play on most browsers and computers.The sophisticated Flash development environment allows programmers and designers plenty of room for creativity. No wonder then, a lot of e-learning is built using Flash.

If you are considering the on-going use of Flash for developing e-learning, here are seven traps to avoid.  

7. The frame rate trap
Flash files can support multiple frame rates. By itself, your interactive component shockwave file (.SWF) will play okay regardless of the frame rate. The trouble starts when you integrate it with an authoring tool that presumes a different frame rate. You will find output distorted, or simply not showing. Ensure that you match the frame rate of the container application.

6. The de-compiler trap
Reverse engineering experts can start with your .SWF file and get at the source code of the program you have painstakingly developed. If you care for protecting your code from being reverse-engineered, consider the use of code obfuscators.

5. The broken path trap
Often your Flash program refers to external content files (such as a voice-over stored in a sound file, or an image stored in a bitmap file).  When delivering the SWF, make sure to maintain the relative path, or else your content will not play because of broken link.

4. The text formatting trap
When working with text that needs rich formatting, especially when working with foreign languages, you may want to consider using a sophisticated word processor to get the text exactly as you want it to be, and then carry a snapshot of it into the Flash file. This will result in a more pleasing text output.

3. The image distortion trap
Flash objects scale and distort images that do not conform to the presumed size requirements. Better to use an image editor to crop images to recommended size and avoid distortion.

2. The CPU cycles - battery life trap
If you are delivering a mobile learning application, be aware that Flash code is CPU-intensive and can drain batteries sooner than the end-user would like to.

1. The iPad trap
If you wish to deliver your interactive eLearning on iPad (or iPhone or iTouch) then you will need to consider HTML5 in the place of Flash.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. A few thoughts...

    1. If you want to deliver a Flash course, slap it in an AIR container and publish as an app in the iTunes App Store

    2. True, but so does video

    3. Its easy to round trip an image in Flash to Photoshop for editing

    4. I definitely agree about your foreign language point, the new TLF text component in Flash it much better than the regular old text boxes

    5. Broken file paths can happen with pretty much any software out there when using external assets

    6. Obfuscators are the key solution here

    7. I've ran into this issue once before. This is a great point for developers to remember