[whatwg] The issue of interoperability of the <video> element

On 6/26/07, Maik Merten <maikmerten at gmx.net> wrote:

> Opera and Mozilla already have implemented (early) Ogg Vorbis and Ogg
> Theora support.

And (if this thread is any indication) are likely to be the only ones.
Internet Explorer still holds the majority of the market, and Safari is
still the predominant browser in the Mac market.

Plus "what is lack of support"? Encoding apps for Ogg Theora are
> available on basically every platforms, as are players (yes, even
> Windows Media Player and QuickTime player can play it with the fitting
> components installed, same goes for RealPlayer). It's absolutely trivial
> to encode content for it.

The same can be said for H.263 and MPEG4. Linux machines can play these
codecs with no issues as long as the codecs are installed separate from the
distro itself. The question that I hate to ask (because it goes against my
own grain to ask it) is, which is more useful to the web market: Asking
Windows users to install Ogg/Theora codecs or asking Linux users to install
H.263 codecs? Given that Linux has an extremely small desktop share
consisting of expert users, I'm forced to answer that they would be far less
impacted by a baseline support of H.263 than Windows users will be impacted
by a baseline support of Theora.

Free Software like Mozilla cannot implement MPEG4 or H.263 and still
> stay free. The "tax" *is* an issue because you can't buy a "community
> license" that is valid for all uses.

Indeed. That's why I asked how feasible it is for these browsers to plug
into underlying media players? On windows that would be WMP, Quicktime on
Macs, and libavcodec on Linux/Unix.

Plus even if you implement H.263 or MPEG4 video - what audio codec
> should be used with that? Creating valid MPEG streams would mean using a
> MPEG audio codec - that'd be e.g. MP3 or AAC. Additional licensing costs
> and additional un-freeness.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that depends on the container format, doesn't
it? If we use the MPEG container format, then yeah. MP3 is pretty much a
guaranteed necessity. However, I am not aware of any encumbrances (*grits
teeth again*) with the AVI container format. Which would allow for a
less-performant baseline like an ADPCM format, which is at least an open

Of course, I'm probably going to have to bow to my own argument and agree
that the market would never accept such a low audio baseline. Which means
that something like MP3 or AAC would indeed be a requirement.

Don't get me wrong: MPEG technology is nice and well performing - but
> the licensing makes implementations in free software impossible (or at
> least prevents distribution in e.g. Europe or North America).

It is a difficult conundrum. If the WHATWG specifies theora, then it runs
the risk of being ignored. If it specifies an existing format then it runs
the risk of locking out some small cross-section of users. My argument is
based around the "devil you know" approach that the WHATWG has otherwise
adopted in its standards. It rubs me the wrong way to suggest it, but I
don't see any other way of ensuring that HTML5 video would become as
ubiquitous as FLV video has become.

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Received on Tuesday, 26 June 2007 10:42:22 UTC