[whatwg] Codecs for <audio> and <video>

On Tue, 30 Jun 2009 06:50:31 +0200, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:

> <video> itself supports multiple sources, so there's no need for
> JavaScript to do this. But it does mean we end up with exactly the
> situation we're in now, with different implementations supporting
> different codecs and the spec not having any power over this.

Not really. Having the <video> element, even without a baseline codec,  
we're better off than today where a horrible mix of JavaScript, <object>,  
<embed>, and/or conditional comments is the only way to get a  
cross-browser video solution working.

That is, of course, if Microsoft decides to implement <video>. If they  
don't, I assume <object> wrapped in <video> works just as well as nested  
<video> elements.

>> The next-best option is Ogg, that favors small independent content
>> producers.
> That seems to be what Opera, Mozilla, and Chrome are implementing.

Then, isn't it better to have 3 out of 5 browsers adhering to the standard  
(requiring Ogg Theora support) than to have no requirement to adhere to at  
all? To have the standard as a backing when pushing Microsoft and Apple to  
come to their senses, does give more leverage than to have nothing at all.

While neither Microsoft nor Apple will launch browsers that immediately  
support Ogg Theora after HTML5 reaches TR status, they might after a while  
of good old fashioned bitching and nagging.

Seeing how just about all states on the planet is moving towards open  
standard support and implementation into national government law, I  
actually think HTML5 requiring Ogg Theora support will make a difference  
some years from now. If HTML5 requires support for Ogg Theora and  
Microsoft and Apple don't support it, it's likely that great forces like  
the EU Commission will react and force them into submission. If HTML5  
doesn't require support of any codec, there's not much the EU Commission  
or any other government can do.

As a little PS to all of this: On January 1st 2009 the Norwegian  
government made it mandatory that all video published on the web, by  
government-funded projects and agencies in Norway, to be in the Ogg Theora  
format. You're allowed to publish other formats as well, but Ogg Theora is  
the common baseline format everyone must publish.

For audio, the required format is Ogg Vorbis, and for text it's HTML, ODT  
or PDF depending on the type of document and interaction requirements.

>> The W3C is not only about web standards. It's also the road map. Right
>> now, that road map, where video is concerned, says the following: "User
>> agents may support any video and audio codecs and container formats." It
>> might as well say "Here be dragons." I think it's time, at the very
>> least, to say goodbye to single-company proprietary dreck. To say both
>> that existing international standards are OK for now, but the ideal as
>> currently expressed in the boxed copy under is still not met.
> Why is this the case for video but not images? We don't require a
> particular image format for <img> either, but people know you can just  
> PNG and JPEG.

It is indeed the case for images as well, but the situation is, and was,  
different. None of the browser vendors had or have invested any  
considerable amount of time or money on any image format. That's not the  
case with video, where both Microsoft and Apple have invested a great deal.

> MPEG-1 is nowhere near good enough at this point to be a serious
> contender. There have been suggestions that even Theora isn't good enough
> yet (for example, YouTube won't use Theora with the current state of
> encoders), an it _far_ outperforms MPEG-1.


Asbj?rn Ulsberg         -=|=-          asbjorn at ulsberg.no
?He's a loathsome offensive brute, yet I can't look away?

Received on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:30:18 UTC