[whatwg] The issue of interoperability of the <video> element

Silvia Pfeiffer silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com
Sun Jun 24 04:04:31 PDT 2007

On 6/24/07, Spartanicus <mk98762 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Allan Sandfeld Jensen <kde at carewolf.com> wrote:
> >> Thus, I suggest to change the wording to "User agents must support
> >> Theora video and Vorbis audio, as well as the Ogg container format".
> >>
> >Or a clear sign that the video tag was doomed to failure anyway. I really
> >can't imagine Microsoft or even Apple to let a multi-billion industry go, for
> >the sake of implementing HTML5.
> I've been struggling with the question what purpose the <video> element
> serves if interop isn't going to be achieved, which is the current state
> of affairs.
> Afaics as it stands the following codec support is likely:
> IE: Windows Media and possibly MPEG4
> Apple: Quicktime and MPEG4
> Opera: uncertain, but not likely to support Quicktime or Windows Media
> Mozilla: uncertain, but not likely to support Quicktime or Windows Media
> Afaics the currently most used way to serve video is through Flash. From
> a content provider's point of view Flash has very good client support,
> but the quality vs bitrate ratio isn't great. Flash is likely to improve
> on that latter point long before browser support for the <video> element
> will reach a level for content providers to consider using it.
> I understand the desire amongst browser manufacturers to support video
> content natively regardless of the above, but afaics native browser
> support will be irrelevant since content providers are unlikely to start
> serving content using the <video> element and continue using Flash.
> >Keeping it, or changing to wording will not
> >change the behavior of Microsoft and Apple, but will only ensure that HTML5
> >will never become fully supported in the major browsers.
> Support for the <video> element without a common codec may well become
> fully supported, but pointless. Consequently and with regret I favour
> removing <video> from the spec.

A <video> element that is natively part of html and has a standard set
of API functions will enable applications that are impossible today,
even with embedded elements such as flash.

Imagine e.g. a mash-up of video extracts from several video hosting
sites where you take an offset from each and put them together in a
new video without having to manually edit that content. Only if all
videos are in the same format and all hosting sites provide the same
API will such a mashup be possible.

I for one see the <video> and <audio> elements as one of the main
novelties that make html5 important.

If we put a requirement into the spec for a common baseline codec and
the value of that can be demonstrated through several hosting sites -
e.g. wikipedia, archive.org - and new applications will be
demonstrated with the new <video> element - then I think there is a
reason to go forward.

In any case: plugins can be written for IE and for Safari that make
them support Ogg Theora and the <video> tag, even if neither Microsoft
nor Apple will be distributing them. And as a work-around at the
beginning, java applets such as cortado enable Ogg Theora support even
without a need for native support.

Where there's a will, there's a way. We have to do what is right, not
what is politically acceptable.


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