Why 2020 was a significant year

Why has 2020 been a significant year? 

Is that a silly question?!! Everyone will remember 2020. It will be talked about for the next few years, taught in schools in years to come. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will ask us about it, in the same way that we asked our grandparents about life in WW2. 

That is not why I will remember 2020 though. For me, 2020 was Flash-pocalypse year. We knew it was coming... or maybe more accurately, we knew it was going, but about this time last year, it hit me that it was actually going to happen. Not only that, but one of our main clients had literally hundreds of essential software training packages on our LMS that only run in Flash.

How do you know if it needs Flash?

The most obvious way to tell that a product needs Flash to run, is to open it. Most browsers now disable Flash by default and you have to enable it to make it work. Most... no, all of our new eLearning just opens and you don't have to do anything. These software training packages, which, I hasten to add, were not of our making, need you to enable Flash before they will open. 

Bye bye Flash

At or just after the end of 2020, Adobe are discontinuing Flash. All the major browsers will cease to support it. This is a good thing. Flash has security issues and as fast as they plug one hole, another opens. HTML5 now does everything that we once needed Flash for. Flash is not needed and we should really be using HTML5 for everything. The last Flash update was 9th December and after 31st December, it will cease to run without some serious techie knowledge for workarounds.

What did 2020 mean to me?

This year began with discussions with my client about transforming all their old software training into a more modern format, that crucially does NOT require Flash. They were onto it quite quickly, aware of how many modules were out there and knowing that a gap in training would not be okay for them. 

I work with Articulate Storyline 360, which allows you to record processes on screen and then create a series of modules where the user watches you, then has a go with hints, and finally proves they can do it without help. That is all very well, but you need access to the software first... and the software and Storyline both need to be on the same computer. 

We were just getting all that sorted, whitelisting IP addresses and enabling me to start work when BANG! Covid hit and we all had to work at home. All those whitelisted IP address were now irrelevant and we had to start again. Working from home, with a residential BT connection meant it wasn't possible to have a static IP address, which made whitelisting quite tricky. So then we started the process of getting a VPN, which was also tricky as everyone was working from home so nobody knew how to pay for anything.

Fast forward a month or two and eventually I was able to start work, but by then, we had a good year's work to do and only a matter of months to do it. My junior designer dropped everything and the pair of us did nothing but Flash-pocalypse work for the best part of 2020. Just as lockdown was being relaxed and everyone was eating out to help out, we were frantically recording software simulations in every waking moment!

We did it

In theory, the absolute deadline for completing this work would be 31st December, however, I like to have time for testing, ensuring that everything is going to work properly, etc before declaring a job done. So I was over the moon to complete this project at the end of November. The client tested it and was happy. All previous Flash modules were archived and Flash-pocalypse was averted. 

All felt good until I went into our Career Development app to update my performance objectives, and realised that Flash-pocalypse had demanded a year of my professional life that I wouldn't get back. I had planned to become proficient with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud, produce a range of products for clients and for promotional purposes, and ensure the ongoing development of my team. 

I imagine many performance reviews will blame 2020 for a lack of progress, but most will be thinking about Covid and lockdown, cancelled events and conferences, and a lack of face-to-face contact with clients and teams. For me and my junior designer, there will be just one reason for what we didn't get done - Flash-pocalypse. 

We didn't get done so much of we hoped to get done but we did avert a disaster for our client. Training for their essential software systems will continue uninterrupted. For the most part, nobody will even know what happened in 2020, other than a global pandemic. But we will know. And we will feel proud that we did what needed to be done. We did it well. We did it with team work. We did it in spite of the difficulties we faced. We did it!

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