Debating HTML 5 and Flash? Get educated first!

You’ve probably heard a lot of noise in the press, blogs, twitter, etc. about HTML 5.  You’ve probably also heard how this new video and animation capabilities combined with other cool HTML 5 features is going to be the death of Flash, right?  As a technical evangelist for Adobe, I obviously know a lot about […]

HTML 5 and Flash – A reality check

If you are reading this, you are probably a fairly technical person that understands the complexities of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Flash, and other web technologies.  Like me, you probably have more than one web browser installed on your systems and enjoy the very latest technology every day.  I bet you have already viewed the latest […]

Some more Adobe HTML5 love!

Today at the Google I/O conference, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch gave a strong speech pumping up our support and excitement around HTML5. The video is online here – This is an awesome conference and great announcements continue to pour out.

In parallel, Adobe is now offering a new Dreamweaver CS5 HTML5 Extension. This pack brings enhanced capabilities for HTML5 and CSS3 to web designers and developers using Dreamweaver CS5. The update and more information is now available on Adobe at

HTML5 is going to be huge for everyone!

Some questions about HTML 5 video

Now before I even start this post let me make something clear. I am trying to do some research on HTML 5 video and have some questions that I’m hoping someone can help me with. I’m planning on doing some demos as I am genuinely interested in trying to build some players. Any comments that try to rekindle the flame war from the last post will be deleted. Let’s keep this one about the technology, not whether HTML 5 video is better than Flash, etc. OK so here are my questions. Any help would be much appreciated.

  1. Is there a definitive reference for both the video tag and the JS API used to communicate with it?
  2. My assumption is that each browser provides a default set of controls. Can these be modified or do you need to start from scratch?
  3. How do you do true streaming with the video tag (i.e. not progressive download)?
  4. Is it possible to provide some form of DRM protection for video in HTML 5?
  5. Is there a tool that is optimal for encoding Ogg videos for Firefox?
  6. I remember reading that you can seek to any part of a video even if it hasn’t been downloaded yet. Is that true and if so, how is that achieved?
  7. Is there no hope for IE ever supporting the video tag?

Thanks in advance for the respectful commenting :)

HTML 5 and Flash video

There seems to be a lot of talk going on lately about this so I wanted to give my thoughts. This topic is actually quite a confusing one to think about. Let me first address the iPhone side of this so we can get to the real meat of the issue.

The iPhone does not support Flash video, or any other type of Flash for that matter, so you obviously need an alternative. In my last post I showed one approach for providing alternative videos for iPhone users. But this really doesn’t relate to HTML 5 at all. The iPhone plays video in its standalone player so you will not be able to view video embedded in the page. So for the iPhone, unless something changes, you need to provide an iPhone-compatible video file for your users to watch.

Now with the iPhone out of the way, we can now look at the real issue. YouTube released an HTML 5 demo of its player quite a while ago and are now testing this on their site. Vimeo, which is a lesser known video site, also launched a beta HTML 5 player as well. This should not come as a surprise to anyone as it is in their best interest to get ahead of the curve with HTML 5. If you are in a supported browser, HTML 5 video playback can be very smooth and less CPU-intensive than Flash. For basic video playback, I see HTML 5 as a great option down the road. Of course, the issue for me always comes down to browser compatibility.

The video tag works in Safari and Google Chrome. You can get it to work in IE if users install Chrome Frame. This is fine for developers, but the masses more than likely won’t be willing to do that just yet. So in reality, Firefox and IE both do not support HTML 5 video. Firefox seems to be doing its own thing, requiring you to use the Ogg video format, while Safari and Chrome support H.264. Go over an read this great write-up on HTML 5 video to see the splintering of the various video formats and browser support. If you want to deliver video to every browser without having to encode multiple video formats and creating alternative markup, then Flash is the way to go.

Now this is not to say that in the future, maybe they will all agree on an implementation. If that happens and it performs better than Flash, then that is how I will be delivering my videos as well. But another thing to point out is that Flash video is used for a lot of things beyond basic playback. Flash supports embedded cue points and alpha channels and is often used in ways beyond the traditional YouTube playback scenario. So while HTML 5 video looks promising, it is clearly way too early for people to be writing an eulogy for Flash video. Remember also that while the browsers get their acts together, Flash video will continue to evolve as well.

Lastly, I would like to dispel the notion that Adobe is somehow against HTML 5. On the contrary, we see it as an exciting development for the web and have our own plans for tooling surrounding it as well. I have always preached to people that they should only use Flash for things that are appropriate. Sites that overuse Flash and provide poor experiences are worse for us than sites that don’t use it at all. Of course there are plenty of JavaScript nightmare sites out there as well.