[whatwg] Video with MIME type application/octet-stream

Zachary Ozer zach at longtailvideo.com
Wed Sep 1 09:07:20 PDT 2010

On Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM, Adrian Sutton <adrian.sutton at ephox.com> wrote:
> Given that there is a very limited set of video formats that are supported
> anyway, wouldn't it be reasonable to just identify or define the "standard"
> file extensions then work with server vendors to update their standard file
> extension to mime type definitions to include that.  While adoption and
> upgrading to the new versions would obviously take time, that applies to the
> video tag itself anyway and is just a temporary source of pain.

At first glance, my eyes almost popped out of my sockets when I saw
this suggestion. "Using the file extension?! He must be mad!"

Then I remembered that our Flash player *has* to use file extension
since the MIME type isn't available in Flash. Turns out that file
extension is a pretty good indicator, but it doesn't work for custom
server configurations where videos don't have extensions, ala YouTube.
For that reason, we allow users to override whatever we detect with a
"type" configuration parameter.

Ultimately, the question is, "What are we trying to accomplish?"

I think we're trying to make it easy for content creators to guarantee
that their content is available to all viewers regardless of their

If that's the case, I'd actually suggest that the browsers *strictly*
follow the MIME type, with the <source> type as a override, and
eliminating all sniffing (assuming that the file container format
contains the codec meta-data). If a publisher notices that their video
isn't working, they can either update their server's MIME type
mapping, or just hard code the type in the HTML. Neither is that time
consuming / difficult.

Moreover, as Adrian suggested, it's probably quite easy to get the big
HTTP servers (Apache, IIS, nginx, lighttpd) to add the new extensions
(if they haven't already), so this would gradually become less and
less of an issue.


Zachary Ozer
Developer, LongTail Video

w: longtailvideo.com • e: zach at longtailvideo.com • p: 212.244.0140 •
f: 212.656.1335
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