[whatwg] video element not ready for prime time

Francis Boumphrey boumphreyfr at gmail.com
Thu Jan 12 09:46:08 PST 2012

A few comments about the <video> element from the point of view of an HTML
author. Currently it is not particularly useful, and there is nothing to
encourage me to use it rather than <embed>

Firstly if I use a video with the src attribute

e.g. <video src='myvideo.mp4' controls>

and my user agent does not support the format, all I get (in my versions of
Opera and Firefox) is a blank screen. No message (as I would get with
<embed>) and as far as I can see there is no way for me as an author to
know that the video is not being played so I cannot code a 'write around'.

The option is to make several formats of the same video, e.g. myvideo.mp3,
myvideo.mp4, myvideo.ogg etc. and place them in child <source> elements in
the hope that one of the formats will be displayed.

Even here I have a problem. In which order does the user-agent check the
source files (in Chrome it seems to be in the order in which they are
written, but there is no guidance here in the spec.

Also will my user agent down-load the file that it cannot play, thus using
up band-width?

I think these questions need to be resolved before authors will start using
<video> for regular pages.

The same comments go for the <audio> element.

Frank Boumphrey

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