[whatwg] Chipset support is a good argument

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Sun Jul 5 21:06:25 PDT 2009

On Mon, 6 Jul 2009, Kartikaya Gupta wrote:
> 1) Do you agree with my view that specifying Theora for the video 
> element would result in a self-fulfilling prophecy?

No. I don't think it would make any difference to what browsers implement, 
and as far as I can tell, what browsers implement is the only thing that 
affects what authors adopt.

> 2) Do you think that it is better to sit on the fence and not specify 
> anything, thereby forcing authors to either (a) be incompatible with 
> some browsers or (b) re-encode their content in multiple formats?

I don't think it makes any difference whether we specify something or not; 
if the browsers aren't all going to implement the same thing, then that is 
what is going to force authors to either (a) be incompatible with some 
browsers or (b) re-encode their content in multiple formats.

> Or do you think it is better to pick a side that has a good shot at 
> winning, even if it means that some vendors may be non-compliant with 
> the spec?

I think it would be harmful to spec something that is actively different 
than what a browser vendor will implement. This is why HTML5 started -- 
because the W3C wrote specs that were idealistic and did not match 

> My view with regards to question (2) above is that one way or another, 
> the web will settle on a single encoding format. This can be done the 
> easy way or the hard way. The hard way is to not specify anything, and 
> let authors and vendors battle it out for years at everybody's expense, 
> leaving a trail of carnage and cruft behind that will then need to 
> supported for decades. The easy way is to specify something and cross 
> your fingers. Even if it doesn't work, at worst it will just prolong an 
> already long and bloody battle. The benefits from the best-case scenario 
> make the risk more than worth it.

We already know what Apple will do if we put Theora in the spec. They'll 
ignore it. So it will not make any difference one way or the other as far 
as <video> is concerned. It will, however, mean that HTML5 is less in line 
with what authors can actually rely on.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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