[whatwg] <video> element error handling

Nathanael Ritz nathanritz at gmail.com
Tue Mar 17 22:58:46 PDT 2009

Hi there,

When I was playing around with the <video> element today I noticed my
browser didn't seem to handle errors in a way that was very useful.
Specifically, I am using the Safari 4 beta on Windows Vista. When I tried
putting the page together, my markup was coded in this way:

<video src="firefox.ogv" autoplay><embed id="VideoPlayback"

style="width:344px;height:285px;" allowFullScreen="true"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" /></video>

I was trying to grab the video from the WHATWG demo page but I forgot that I
copied a relative link. So without knowing that the video would not work in
the first place, I tried opening up a valid HTML 5 page with this particular
set of markup. It didn't play. But not only did it not play, Safari refused
to do anything to tell me something was wrong. Instead I just saw a blank

When I tried a random mp4 file, I got a green box, but no playback. When I
finally learned I was using a relative link and put in the full URI for the
firefox.ogv video, it still didn't work.

My observation is that if it is not already recommended in the spec,
browsers should offer some sort of indication it could not use whatever file
format it was supplied or received something like a 404 from the server.
Whether it's a broken video box icon, or automatically reverting to the
fallback content within the <video> element (if it exists), I think there
should be some sort of warning or indication of a failure.

What kind of error handling does the <video> element have?


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