W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > March 2007

Re: [whatwg] Video proposals

From: Robert Brodrecht <w3c@robertdot.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 13:04:24 -0600 (CST)
Message-ID: <49851.>
To: <lholst@students.cs.uu.nl>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>, <whatwg@whatwg.org>

Laurens Holst said:
> You do need a plugin for SVG. So you’re saying that whether or not a
> file qualifies for <img> or <video> does not depend on the file type but
>  on whether it is supported natively by the browser? That is some
> strange  semantics. Maybe you should rename it to
> <video-that-we-natively-support>, would be more accurate.

Or it could just be called <video>.  I wouldn't expect a PhotoShop file to
display in an <img> tag, for example.  That is no reason to call it
<img-that-we-natively-support>.  That said, I'm quite certainly not
speaking on behalf of the WHATWG.  I'm simply stating my understanding of
how it would work from recent mailing list discussions.

> Anyway, I find it doubtful that you can get browsers to agree.

I think it'd be sad if the implementors couldn't step out of their
respective companies long enough to do something good for humanity.  If
not, I'm sure enough e-mail campaigns or having someone from
WebStandards.org, like Molly who has been working with Microsoft to
promote web standards, to intervene could be fruitful.

> Especially since two of them have say, a special interest in certain
> non-open formats. In addition to that, I think it's important to not
> make innovating people or companies second-class citizens by not
> allowing them to plug into the browser here. That's a step backwards,
> not forwards.

The common thought on this was that the vendors were welcome to include
their own proprietary / supported codecs.  They wouldn't need an
author-exposed plugin architecture to play video that the OS can already
play (through Windows Media Player and associated libs on Windows or
Quicktime and CoreVideo on Mac).  However, this is the video element, not
to be confused with the object element.

> Also, a plugin system would allow adoption of a new video
> format (take SVG and the IE SVG plugin for example) in one browser
> without having to depend on the other's willingness to do so as well.

It's not really different than IE's PNG support in IE 6- vs IE 7.  They
have better support now than they did then.  As the version numbers grow
(both HTML versions and browser version), more codecs may be implemented
(e.g. I can open certain SVG files in FireFox and as FireFox gets better,
I'll be able to open more and more complex ones).  But I think you are
missing something.  The object tag is still available.  Use it if you want
to or have to.  <video> is just to provide an easier interface.  You don't
*have* to use it.  No one will make you just because you are using some
video format (supported or not).

> If it's supposed to be de facto I definitely don't see the browsers
> having a common subset of supported video formats.
> I can see the browser support list already:
> Apple - Quicktime
> IE - Windows Media
> Mozilla - Theora and MPEG4
> Opera - Theora
> Playstation browser - MPEG4

All they need is one common format to make the video tag really useful. 
If there were two formats supported by different browsers, even then
nesting <video> would be useful (even though I'd have to encode 2 versions
of one file).  Even if they all support something different, the video
element would be useful.  But we want it to be really useful.  So, we have
to hope for one common format.

I would suggest MPEG 4, myself.  Apple is already verbally supporting
H.264 and .  If Windows Media Player can play it, then we should be ok.  I
don't see why Opera couldn't support it.  Microsoft would be where I'd
expect problems to come from, but I'm trying to give the IE Team the
benefit of the doubt.  I think they could be impartial enough to fight to
get out of their internal biases and support MPEG 4 (or Ogg if discussions
lead there) in addition to MWV.

When I joined the WHATWG mailing list, Theora was already being discussed.
 So, I have stuck to discussing it.

> Btw, Theora is nice an all, but for music MP3 is the de facto
> standard,  so playing MP3 makes the most sense for audio. Why, then,
> take Theora  and not MPEG4, which is the de facto standard in video (at
> least outside  the web)? I know you guys like openness, but I'm sure
> all hell would  break loose if the browser wouldn't support MP3 but
> Ogg Vorbis instead.  MPEG4 is a codec that's superior to Theora, and
> as far as I know MPEG4  can - just like MP3 - be implemented on a
> royalty-free basis; the patent  holder only charges for encoding? Maybe
> I'm wrong on that last point,  but anyway.

The idea was that an open, free codec would have the fewest monetary
strings attached.  That may be wrong.  I'd be perfectly fine if MPEG4 were
the format implemented.  To me, it has a better chance of being supported
across all browsers.  I still rip my music to MP3 and did even in college
when all my OSS zealot friends were pushing OGG.  However, the community
was looking for an "unencumbered" video format.  Theora is one.  I think
we also have to abide by the royalty-free clause of W3C for W3C's HTML 5. 
Ogg might let us get there where MPEG 4 may not. (I'm ignorant about this
policy, though)

As far as free licensing of MPEG4, we might want to talk to Microsoft
about that now that Alcatel won a suit against them for MP3.[1]

[1] http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070222-8910.html

Robert <http://robertdot.org>
Received on Monday, 19 March 2007 18:50:43 UTC

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