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Killing Adobe Flash on Mobile Devices: We Saw This Coming

HTML5In his November 9, 2011 article titled “Jobs was Right: Adobe Abandons Mobile Flash, Backs HTML5,” Mike Isaac of Wired.com wrote about Adobe’s decision to stop developing its Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers, and shift its focus to Adobe Air and HTML5. The decision to abandon Flash and embrace rival HTML5 may be controversial to some folks in the industry, but here at TechProse, we saw it coming. That’s why we have a production-ready HTML5 help solution for DITA-based content. (For details, see the September 2011 posting in this blog.)

There are many reasons why Flash and even Adobe Air are not the best solution for delivering content. Mobile devices need stealthy, small footprint apps, and the Flash footprint is just too large to manage on mobile devices. And, search engines can’t index content in Flash or Adobe Air. Search engines cannot penetrate Flash content, and Air uses frame sets that cause indexing to fail. What good is comprehensive help content if users can’t find it on the Internet or access it from their tablets and smart phones?

Many help authors think that by putting their help systems on the Internet, or on a corporate Intranet or Extranet, they have made help topics available to users. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Now that Amazon has released Fire, its new tablet that costs under $200, tablets are more accessible to more people and the market will continue to grow. With technology advances like this, readers will expect more from content delivery systems. They will want to use powerful search engines to fetch precise answers that can be found within the top search results. To make that possible, help authors need to understand what impedes devices from accessing content and search engines from indexing it. Authors also need to know how to use metadata and manage it to enhance search results, how translation can be managed for help topics, what types of help systems support these tasks, and how to convert from what they have now to something that is capable of delivering content when and where it is needed.

It is time to trade in CHMs, RoboHelp, MadCap Flare, Adobe Air, Eclipse Help, and some WebWorks Help in favor of systems built using straight HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, and other open technologies that can provide access to content from any device or search engine.

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