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Questioning Mozilla's Plans For HTML5 Video 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-that-your-final-answer dept.
AberBeta writes with this excerpt from OSNews: "We're on the verge of a serious evolution on the web. Right now, the common way to include video on the web is by use of Flash, a closed-source technology. The answer to this is the HTML5 video tag, which allows you to embed video into HTML pages without the use of Flash or any other non-HTML technology; combined with open video codecs, this could provide the perfect opportunity to further open up and standardize the web. Sadly, not even Mozilla itself really seems to understand what it is supposed to do with the video tag, and actually advocates the use of JavaScript to implement it. Kroc Camen, OSNews editor, is very involved in making/keeping the web open, and has written an open letter to Mozilla in which he urges them not to use JavaScript for HTML video."
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Questioning Mozilla's Plans For HTML5 Video

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  • Eyes wide shut (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    The last time Mozilla added support for a tag that had some automatic animated behavior, the browser was still called Netscape and the tag was universally reviled. I hope they don't blink again.

    But that said, does anyone really think video is a good idea? It's hard enough to get users to install the correct codecs to play back movies now. At least with FLV you've got a pretty standard platform which almost everyone already has installed. Adobe, for all their fuckups, has done a good job with Flash. Quicktim

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      Is the video tag supported in Gecko in a way that would make the video automatically start? I would assume that the user must click a Play button first.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sephr (1356341)
        By default the user needs to initiate playing the video, but there is an optional autoplay attribute which can be used to auto-buffer and auto-play the video.
      • by asa (33102)
        You can read the specification here [whatwg.org]. The spec provides for and browser vendors are implement the autoplay attribute.
    • Re:Eyes wide shut (Score:5, Informative)

      by Simon (S2) (600188) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @12:50PM (#28411505) Homepage

      So are we going to require browsers to install with codec packs?

      No. The idea is to include the codec in the browser. But to allow that at reasonable conditions, the codec should be Free. The codec proposed for this purpose is Ogg Theora/Vorbis, an OSS codec build specifically trying not to use any patented technology. As you can imagine, Apple, MS and Adobe are not really happy about this, as they obviously would like their patented technology to be used in HTML 5, and because Apple and MS are not only video-codec-makers but browser-makers too, and not small ones, we can not just ignore them and go ahead with Theora. Implement the HTML 5 video tag in Mozilla with Theora looked like a good chance to get the open codec though, but this Javascript stuff post by Mozilla now makes it look like they have other plans.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If we can get Google to go along with Theora, we'd be all set.

        Youtube is the only reason I have Flash. I avoid "Porntube" type sites because of the security vulnerabilities found in Flash.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by asa (33102)

          If we can get Google to go along with Theora, we'd be all set.

          Google is going along with Theora. Chrome will (does in test builds) support Theora+Vorbis in Ogg.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Check out http://youtube.com/html5

          I'm pretty sure that's vorbis/theora.

    • Re:Eyes wide shut (Score:5, Informative)

      by nyctopterus (717502) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @12:51PM (#28411509) Homepage

      Flash Video is unbelievably processor intensive (especially given it's pretty crappy quality), surely you've noticed that? Even on modern dual processor machines it can stutter and slow down other processes. If video could settle down like image formats, the web would be a better place for it.

      • by asa (33102)

        Flash Video is unbelievably processor intensive (especially given it's pretty crappy quality), surely you've noticed that?

        Yes. Flash, and its implementation of H264 can be very processor intensive. Theora can actually beat H264 in CPU usage under many circumstances.

    • Personally, is not need, is already there.

      But I like the idea that not loading Abode is good thing one less thing to do. I like the idea that browser will "bring" in the "accepted" codecs, maybe just import some of VLC. This will make installations easier and standardized, versus the load from here, then go here and download some more, and do not forget the PTFs on top of all of this. Last Window box I did - brand new system with system already preloaded [xp sp3], 7 1/2 hours to get it working will all t

    • by QuoteMstr (55051)

      The last time Mozilla added support for a tag that had some automatic animated behavior

      Err, <script>? Still going strong today. Essential, even. Don't pretend this is a revolutionary change when in reality we're taking about an evolutionary tweak.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      What about <img src="animated.gif"> ?

    • Re:Eyes wide shut (Score:4, Insightful)

      by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:04PM (#28412149)

      The point of the video tag is that it should contain some (as yet undecided thanks to infighting) standard codec, in the same way as an img tag should always contain jpeg, png or gif data, a video tag should always contain xyz, abc or nml data. Exactly what xyz, abc or nml should be is yet to be figured out.

      Google and apple would like them to be h264/aac, because everyone uses that already, even more recent people using flash.
      Mozilla would like them to be ogg theora/vorbis, because they're open, even though nothing actually supports them.

      Neither side can agree.

      • Google and apple would like them to be h264/aac, because everyone uses that already, even more recent people using flash. Mozilla would like them to be ogg theora/vorbis, because they're open, even though nothing actually supports them.

        Google Chrome supports OGG out of the box, as well as H.264. I don't think it's correct to cast them as opponents of OGG.

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          Google have published articles stating that they could not use ogg for YouTube because it would double their bandwidth costs to maintain the quality they get from h264. They want the standard to include h264 video.

          What I did miss out is ofc that MS would love it to include VC/1, but I think we're reasonably safe that no one will chose that option.

      • I think the problem is simple. Open h264 and aac. The internet was opened up for the benefit of civilized society. These codecs have had a good few years to make money, and our government is the one "securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" in order to benefit society.

        Seems fair to me that if one such 'discovery' would benefit the 'sciences and useful arts' (or society as a whole) in a much more dramatic way by being 'opened' af
    • by asa (33102)

      The last time Mozilla added support for a tag that had some automatic animated behavior, the browser was still called Netscape and the tag was universally reviled.

      Um. Wrong. That wasn't Mozilla (the organization) that added that. That was Netscape (both the organization and the product).

      So are we going to require browsers to install with codec packs?

      No. Ideally the major browser vendors will all ship baseline codecs -- hopefully Theora+Vorbis in Ogg. Some vendors will (also) ship H.264+AAC in mp4.

      I'm tempted to let it alone.

      I'm sure you're not alone. If you're a content producer or a content distributor, I hope you'll change your mind when you see video as a first-class citizen on the Web rather than an afterthought trapped inside of plug-ins.

    • When I decided to try video element with Safari 4, it failed miserably because I forgot to install Xiph plugins this time. It is what the ordinary user will live and trust me, they would have no clue/care what Xiph plugins are. I really don't know about Windows land although I believe there must be some windows media framework codecs like quicktime one.

      The reason of rejection of Quicktime, Real, WMV was basic. They were huge compared to Flash and in case of Windows Media, the vendor company had childish pol

    • The last time Mozilla added support for a tag that had some automatic animated behavior, the browser was still called Netscape and the tag was universally reviled. I hope they don't blink again.

      The one major downfall of the blink tag was that it did not have support for an interval attribute.

  • Our browsers are javascript virtual machines. The web is now being delivered through javascript and not in any meaningful way through HTML.

     

    • by Repossessed (1117929) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:16PM (#28411763)

      That would be the entire point of HTML 5. To bring HTML back to the forefront.

      • Try using those HTLM5 features w/o JS:

        • local storage
        • DND
        • Cross-document messaging
        • Canvas tag
        • Unequal standards (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          These days, flash is basically a VM for JS plus a bunch of drawing and playback APIs. Why would you demand that firefox does things without JS that flash does with JS? That simply makes no sense.

          Video in Firefox works with absolutely zero JS. If you want to create fancy dancing interactive controls, yes you'll need JS, but basic playback doesn't require it... Meanwhile flash needs actionscript3 to do anything at all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      HTML is the content, CSS is the way to display the HTML content and Javascript is the way to interact with it all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lannocc (568669)

        HTML is the content, CSS is the way to display the HTML content and Javascript is the way to interact with it all.

        My buzzwordy description for this is Data-Presentation-Mechanics. It's much like the programmer model of Model-View-Controller only applied at a different abstraction level. I believe HTML is near a dead-end now anyways. A proper browser supporting XML (and the related XLink, XForms, etc.) could accomplish anything HTML currently can do, with the added benefit that your (XML) data can speak fo

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Our browsers are javascript virtual machines.

      No they aren't, there is no such thing as a javascript virtual machine, the language isn't built that way. What our browsers do is act as a javascript interpreter, which is entirely different. You wouldn't say web browsers are HTML virtual machines, because they aren't. They are HTML interpreters. Javascript is much more closely related to HTML than either of them are to Java. The two have more in common with a language like Python, which is also an interpreted language.

      Java is more like a bastardized h

  • Video tag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @12:49PM (#28411499) Homepage

    A lot of video producers like to rely on the fact that Flash makes it difficult to download videos to your hard drive. I wonder how they'd react if a major online video provider were to provide its content through a less restrictive method such as the video tag.

    • Re:Video tag (Score:5, Interesting)

      by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:07PM (#28411667) Journal

      A lot of video producers like to rely on the fact that Flash makes it difficult to download videos to your hard drive. I wonder how they'd react if a major online video provider were to provide its content through a less restrictive method such as the video tag.

      I think that's rather simple. The video tag would only be popular with free and amateur content. Flash (or Silverlight) solutions will continue to dominate the more popular commercial comment that needs to be protected. If videos were trapped behind theora playlists with commercials in-between, advocates would make solutions to circumvent the commercials and demonetize the model of the very companies who took the risk to support it.

      Basically, any major media company that buys into HTML 5 video tag will be strangled by the advocates who pushed it on them in the first place, monetarily. When the production studios offering the content find out that a free video application that plays their content without commercials (hypothetically) exists, they will pull out and said video site will collapse. Colloquially, it's a trap. Commercial content needs protection because those watching it on the web do not own it.

      Furthermore, there will be a minor codec war. Firefox will probably only support theora, Safari will only use h.264 (Apple will flatly refuse to use theora), same for google chrome, perhaps. Then, Microsoft will support the tag in IE, but provide support for WMV in the video tag (and possibly h.264 if we're lucky, since it's now licensed in Windows 7). So, the video tag will slowly become just as crazy as the plugin-based video players of Web 1.0... except they will be written in slow javascript instead of the fast native code of the past. Primarily, because no one has agreed on how to do it so it isn't a standard.

      • Basically, any major media company that buys into HTML 5 video tag will be strangled by the advocates who pushed it on them in the first place, monetarily. When the production studios offering the content find out that a free video application that plays their content without commercials (hypothetically) exists, they will pull out and said video site will collapse.

        Such an app could be written for Flash video too, and probably has been.

        Furthermore, there will be a minor codec war. Firefox will probably only support theora, Safari will only use h.264 (Apple will flatly refuse to use theora), same for google chrome, perhaps. Then, Microsoft will support the tag in IE, but provide support for WMV in the video tag (and possibly h.264 if we're lucky, since it's now licensed in Windows 7).

        Google already supports Theora and Vorbis in Chrome (as well as H.264). Apple doesn't, but has previously claimed this is because of the risk of getting sued, and that's getting flimsier every day Google doesn't get sued, so we'll have to see how that plays out. God only knows what Microsoft will do; but hopefully the worst will be that you provide one type of content to IE, and one type to everyone else . . . just as with the rest of

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      A lot of video producers like to rely on the fact that Flash makes it difficult to download videos to your hard drive.

      A lot of video producers don't know about FlashGot [flashgot.net].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by asa (33102)

      A lot of video producers like to rely on the fact that Flash makes it difficult to download videos to your hard drive.

      They aren't relying on this and if they are, they're just plain silly. You can either grab a Firefox extension to download Flash files or you can just do a Tools->Page Info and Save from the Media tab.

  • My understanding is that the reason that people use flash and silverlight for video is so that people cannot save, reuse, and redistribute the content. Even if these are not used for DRM consideration, flash is often a much smaller file than the other codecs.

    I am unclear on how the video tag is going to make things better. It seems I can already play most codecs in my browser, using, for instance, quicktime. Alternatively I can download the file and play it trough VLC, an open source solution.Of cour

    • by blincoln (592401) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:10PM (#28411699) Homepage Journal

      My understanding is that the reason that people use flash and silverlight for video is so that people cannot save, reuse, and redistribute the content.

      I've run across very few streamed videos that can't be downloaded. In the olden days I'd use something like WireShark or Network Monitor to get the URL of the content. Nowadays it's much easier with various Firefox extensions.
      As far as I know, the reason most sites use Flash or whatnot is because they want the video to be streamable and start more or less instantly. In modern Western society, if you can't start watching the video immediately, how likely are you going to be to remember to watch it after it's downloaded 15-30 minutes (or more) later? The whole (business) idea is to keep peoples' attention, like with television. If they "switch channels", you've lost your advertising opportunity.

    • My understanding is that the reason that people use flash and silverlight for video is so that people cannot save, reuse, and redistribute the content.

      People use Flash because there's no easier and more widely-supported way to embed video into pages.

      Even if these are not used for DRM consideration, flash is often a much smaller file than the other codecs.

      Flash is not a codec. <video> can support any codec just as well as Flash can.

      I can download the file and play it trough VLC, an open source solution.

      People want to embed videos in a page, not just make them available for download. Compare how convenient PDF and HTML are: HTML is right there in your browser, integrated and customizable without having to use another app.

  • by Glonk (103787) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:02PM (#28411609) Homepage

    Some random Mozilla Hacks (note the word Hacks) blogger posts some code that web developers can use to implement HTML5 video (which does not use javascript, contrary to the implications in this article and summary?) and also provide a fallback path for non-HTML5 Video browsers (IE, Opera, etc). Their particular method of providing the fallback code uses javascript to determine browser capability, and uses Flash if HTML5 Video is not there.

    Why is this upsetting to anyone? The implication from the summary is this is a less "open" way to do it, but last I checked Javascript/ECMAScript is a standard that all browsers implement already.

    I cannot fathom why anyone would be so upset by some blogger providing JS-implemented video fallback implementations.

    • Good news, someone wrote up a letter pointing out the drawbacks [camendesign.com]... it's the last link in the summary.

      • by Glonk (103787)

        I understand why they don't agree with the practice, but this is hardly front-page Slashdot news. The summary is, if anything, very misleading. This has NOTHING to do with Mozilla's plans for HTML5 or web openness, it's everything to do with some nameless blogger disagreeing with another nameless blogger's implementation of video fallback.

        This is non-news, to say the least.

    • Some random Mozilla Hacks (note the word Hacks) blogger posts some code that web developers can use to implement HTML5 video (which does not use javascript, contrary to the implications in this article and summary?)

      HTML5 video does provide a rich JavaScript API [w3.org] to allow programmatic manipulation of the video by script. This is, in fact, potentially a great advantage it has over Flash and other solutions. So it can use JavaScript, although it doesn't require it for basic functionality (e.g., "when the page loads, download and display a video with controls to allow the user to play and pause it").

  • The video tag should be run by plugins, they would need to conform to a single standard interface. PLay/Stop/Pause/etc. The key would be having two mechanisms for display, a method which returns a pixmap (so that it would work with X Forwarding) and a version that was accelerated.

    the PLay/Stop/Pause interface would be entirely part of the DOM.

    • by asa (33102)

      The video tag should be run by plugins,

      The whole point of the video tag is that it is an HTML tag and not a plug-in solution. The plug-in solutions already exist today and web developers and browser vendors think that's sub-optimal.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        That is ignoring the basic problem though. There are many video formats. Does it make any sense that the browser only supports a single one as firefox 3.5 is doing?

        • by Draek (916851)

          Yes. Every other format can work as a separate codec, but only one is needed as a baseline.

        • by asa (33102)

          That is ignoring the basic problem though. There are many video formats. Does it make any sense that the browser only supports a single one as firefox 3.5 is doing?

          Firefox currently only supports one video decoder, Theora, and one audio decoder, Vorbis, but there's no reason it won't include additional decoders. Dirac is being talked about and there are others. Think about images on the Web. There are jpegs, gifs, and pngs. Gifs are going away and we're basically seeing jpegs and pngs. There are many image formats. Does it make sense that browsers are only focusing on 3?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 21, 2009 @01:20PM (#28411793)

    Demo of video and SVG support in Firefox 3.5 [mozilla.com]. That's why video being built-in to HTML5 is important.

    • So web developers can cause motion sickness?

      Don't get me wrong, that is really impressive, and if it's easy to do, great. But who decided that making a video spin was a good idea?

  • this could provide the perfect opportunity to further open up and standardize the web.

    Innovation and standards often pull in opposite directions.

    There are always cracks in the façade. Opportunities for the entrepreneur. The committee moves too damn slow.

    I don't think the geek imagined the web evolving as it has - into communities like MySpace, Twitter, and so on.

    It would be easy to imagine Windows media and gaming coalescing around portals like Windows Live! and Steam.

    By the time the geek standardizes

  • "We're on the verge of a serious evolution on the web. Right now, the common way to include video on the web is by use of Flash, a closed-source technology"

    What you're saying is HTML is going to add the ability to do what people have been doing for 5 yrs with Flash.

    I am sorry if I have serious doubts. I am still waiting for CSS/DOM to be fully and uniformly supported across all browsers. And fear that HTML 5 spec has the potential to become a nightmare if it suffers from a lack of uniformity.

    Open Source is

    • Re:Really... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @03:11PM (#28412673) Homepage

      What you're saying is HTML is going to add the ability to do what people have been doing for 5 yrs with Flash.

      No, what we're saying is that video is going to become a first-class Web citizen that can interact with the rest of Web content in ways that Web developers want. Flash's video is locked inside the plug-in prison and cannot be well integrated with non-flash (real Web) content. Bringing video (and audio) to HTML means that real Web content like other HTML, JavaScript, SVG, CSS, etc. can interact with video and improve on what people have been doing for 5 years with Flash.

  • Misinterpretation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @02:47PM (#28412541)

    and actually advocates the use of JavaScript to implement it.

    The writer of that linked piece makes it pretty obvious his goal is for the video to work for everyone - and the javascript code is therefore used to basically find a method the current user's browser can support without it being obvious to the user (e.g. not forcing the end user to download the video and view it in a separate player, which the OSNews letter seems to want to push on the user).

    In other words, he's thinking about the user's experience first.

    The author of the submitted story, on the other hand - as with the one from a few days ago that lamented Chrome's lack of purity regarding HTML5 video support - is more interested in Ogg zealotry. That's fine, if it floats your boat - but let's not dance around and obfuscate this. Make it very clear you want the Ogg format used - and ONLY the Ogg format used. Then the rest of the world (outside of Slashdot) can choose to continue ignoring you, just like it's been doing for the past few years.
     

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