[whatwg] <video> element proposal
jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Mon Mar 5 14:13:02 PST 2007
Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
> The main arguments against specifying formats is that the market
> will sort it out, and the standards would easily be outdated if
> they required specific formats.
Arguably this is irrelevant. If a video element gets any significant
adoption it will be impossible for any future browser to drop support
for whatever format is widely deployed, even with the advent of superior
technology. Indeed, the multi-client nature of the web means that in
general it is quite conservative in what formats are adopted; for
example JPEG2000 and MNG have failed to make any impact whatsoever
despite the latter having had a major implementation -- they simply
don't offer enough benefits over the existing technologies.
Therefore, once a <video> element is widespread enough to be important
there are likely to be a small group of "good enough" formats which will
have to be supported in perpetuity, even if better ones come along.
Accepting this hypothesis, we should not worry about the possibility of
the spec being outdated but the possibility of the spec being unadopted.
What do we need to be adopted? A minimal criterion is to be as good as
the market leader (currently Flash video, IMHO). A more realistic
criterion would be "a significant advantage over the market leader" but
let's focus on the easier case first. To be as good as flash we need:
Widespread deployment (despite not working in many situations Flash has
close enough to 100% of the desktop market for content producers to
ignore the rest). In practice this means at least two things. Firstly,
browser manufacturers without significant in-house video expertise
should be able to implement the spec using an external library. Secondly
it means that we should be able to implement it in existing versions of
Interoperability between all implementations. If different
implementations support different formats it's easier for everyone just
to use Flash which works the same everywhere.
The same level of functionality for authors as Flash offers. This
includes e.g. scripting interfaces for custom players. I don't know the
details of this so I'll stop here.
IMHO, specifying a baseline format in the spec will make these meeting
these first two requirements significantly easier. However the second
requirement means the format has to be royalty free and preferably have
a open source implementation available. This seems to imply that the
spec should mandate support for at least Ogg Theora.
"The universe doesn't care what you believe. The wonderful thing about
science is that it doesn't ask for your faith, it just asks for your
eyes" --- http://xkcd.com/c154.html
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