[whatwg] Some <video> questions

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Tue Jan 29 12:01:29 PST 2008

On Jan 29, 2008, at 11:30 AM, Charles wrote:

>> Also, as Henri has already said, QuickTime supports plugins itself.
> Right, but not more than 0% (rounded) of users know about or install  
> these.
> This is why it's difficult to see the relevance.

Actually, many QuickTime codec plugins are quite popular, including  
the "Flip4Mac" codec for Windows Media, the DivX codec, and to a  
lesser extent the Ogg codec. Enough that we get Safari bug reports  
when these extensions don't work or cause problems. Extending  
QuickTime is these days a more popular way to provide support for  
specific video formats on the Mac than writing a browser plugin.

>> There is a _huge_ amount of content on the web that uses MPEG-4...
> There's some MPEG-4 content available on the internet, but it's  
> primarily
> restricted to video podcasts designed for iPods, and then is  
> generally only
> available in feeds.

Here's some interesting MPEG content served without flash wrappers: <http://www.apple.com/trailers/ 

> When that same content is made available on the web, it's generally  
> encoded
> as Flash.  Most MPEG-4 content available on the web per se is  
> generally
> designed for mobile (i.e. m.youtube.com).

Flash isn't a video codec, there's no such thing as encoding video "as  
Flash". What people actually do is embed a video *player* that's  
implemented in Flash, and which loads video content in a format Flash  
can handle. Older versions of Flash used a proprietary codec for this  
but newer versions of Flash support H.264/MPEG-4. Thus, it's likely  
that a lot of web video content will be playable in QuickTime without  
its Flash wrapper. Whether anyone will choose to do this is an open  

> <deep breath>
> I think my point's getting lost.  I'm a huge fan of MPEG-4, and am  
> glad I
> was around as Apple's QuickTime Evangelist during its birth.
> The problem is that the <video> element doesn't appear solve the  
> problem of
> how to embed content in a player-agnostic fashion.  It should unify  
> video
> embedding, but as designed, it doesn't.

Flash is not a video format. It's more of an "applet" format like Java  
that supports general programming of interactive content. You can use  
it to play video, but that doesn't make it a video format any more  
than Java is. It's true that using Flash to play video is very popular  
on the web these days. That is part of why we want to create a viable  
alternative that doesn't rely on proprietary single-vendor technologies.


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