We spoke to 3P Learning’s Chief Technology Officer, Mitch Nicholls, about why the company has announced that it will no longer be supporting some older web browsers – and why it has signalled the beginning of the end for its long term relationship with Flash…

Tell us about 3P’s love affair with Adobe Flash…

Mathletics in particular has always relied very heavily on Adobe Flash. The technology has many flaws, but its strength has always been that it gave the same experience across platforms. Whether you accessed on Windows with Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome – or via a Mac OS with Safari – as long as the browser supported Flash, the experience was the same. That is really important to us. However with the trend towards HTML5 this is no longer guaranteed, and different browsers now have different capabilities and the way they function can give a different experience for the users.

In recent years, the web has moved away from relying on Flash to make interactive content. Why is 3P Learning only now making the move?

The amount – and speed – that technology has changed over the years is a phenomenal thing. It now allows us to do so much, and help so many, with the web resources we provide. We have watched the growing trend towards web applications using a mixture of JavaScript, CSS and HTML to deliver rich and engaging experiences for their users. For many years I have heard our customers questioning when we would move away from Flash. From the outside it might appear that we have ignored this question, however the reason is simply that technology has just not quite been ready to be used without us removing functionality for our schools.

With growing JavaScript standards, and improved features available through the more modern browsers, we can finally start making the switch. The engineering teams at 3P have been working hard on removing our reliance on Flash to deliver Mathletics and Spellodrome using JavaScript, CSS and HTML and we will soon start rolling this out across our platform. This hugely increases the range of devices we can bring our resources too. It’s an exciting time.

What does this mean for the millions of students and teachers who use 3P Learning resources?

We always encourage our users to use the latest version of their chosen browser. Not only so that they get the best experience, but also so they can use the latest features of our products. In order to begin releasing all the amazing, innovative new features our team are designing, we are updating our minimum requirements for all 3P products.

Internet Explorer is a very widely used browser, especially in schools – though many users are using versions that are three or even four years old.  The older versions of Internet Explorer just don’t have the capabilities to handle the evolution of technology and the high quality, rich and engaging content in our products. We will no longer be supporting browsers older than Internet Explorer 10. For the latest details, please see our Tech Support portal at www.3plearning.com/tech.

How are things going now that development has fully switched to new HTML features?

It’s going great! Most recently we have deployed a new HTML version of Live Mathletics within our tablet app in the Windows app store. This was our first major HTML release, and will be deployed to desktop Mathletics in the near future. One of the cool things about the new HTML version of Live Mathletics is that it is faster and more responsive than our existing Flash version one. I have personally been able to beat my previous high score on Level 1 by five points!

The upcoming return of the World Education Games in October 2015 sees a huge rollout of new HTML-based content – and, perhaps most excitingly, we will soon be completely relaunching Spellodrome fully in HTML, meaning more students than ever will be able to access that resource. We look forward to having our resources available across devices in a responsive and engaging format in the years to come.

Visit the 3P Learning Tech Portal