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Native Video and Audio dropped from HTML 5 spec

Native Video and Audio dropped from HTML 5 spec

The Editor of the HTML 5 specification has announced that it has dropped native video and audio support from the spec.

Despite efforts from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the World Wide Web, it's looking like HTML 5 will not specify a video and audio codec in the specification for using with the new <video> and <audio> tags.

"There is no suitable codec that all vendors are willing to implement and ship," wrote Ian Hickson, Editor of the HTML 5 specification for W3C, in an email.

The original draft specification for HTML 5 included <video> and <audio> tags that would enable browsers to natively support this content without needing to install separate plug-ins. Unfortunately though, the major browser makers have not agreed on which codecs should be supported by the new HTML spec.

The only decision, then, was for W3C to drop the feature. "I have therefore removed the two subsections in the HTML 5 spec in which codecs would have been required, and have instead left the matter undefined, as has in the past been done with other features like <img> and
image formats, <embed> and plugin APIs, or Web fonts and font formats,
" Hickson continued.

The disagreement is over the use of the open source Ogg Vorbis codec for audio and Ogg Theora for video, which are both license-free unlike the MP3 and H.264 formats also under consideration.

Hickson outlined why each of the major browser vendors won't implement common video and audio codecs in their browsers. Apple refuses to back Ogg Theora in QuickTime because of a "lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape," while Mozilla and Opera refuse to implement H.264 because of the "obscene" licensing costs.

Google has implemented both codecs into Chrome, but said it "cannot provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of Chromium" and that "Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube," which currently uses the H.264 codec.

Finally, Microsoft is yet to outline its intentions to support the <video> tag in Internet Explorer.

"I considered requiring Ogg Theora support in the spec, since we do have three implementations that are willing to implement it, but it wouldn't help get us true interoperability, since the people who are willing to implement it are willing to do so regardless of the spec, and the people who aren't are not going to be swayed by what the spec says," Hickson added. "[That] seems like a bad precedent to set. . . . there's not much point having the spec require [Ogg Theora] if it's not going to be followed by everyone."

As for audio codecs, the situation "is similar, but less critical," said Hickson. "Since audio has a much lower profile than video, I propose to observe the audio feature and see if any common codecs surface, instead of specifically requiring any."

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27 Comments

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mjm25 6th July 2009, 16:27 Quote
"uncertian patent landscape" ? ...but it's open sauce! (sic)

Apple don't like their free stuff do they... the only thing i don't like about iTunes is the lack of any open sauce goodness (FLAC et al) :(
BentAnat 6th July 2009, 16:29 Quote
Hmm.
I hate to admit this, but I think the W3C made the right decision here... With vendors not agreeing, there's no point in implementing. We've all seen that vendors ignore spec anyway or interpret it in their own way. No Common browser manages 100% in the Acid3 Test (which, by no means should be the alpha and omega here, but according to spec, all 100% compatible browsers should do it right).
I'd say rather stick to more important factors in the spec (rounded corners are nice, since they'd drastically decrease loading times over using images, for example).
Countries with enough bandwidth to really enjoy streaming video have a big spread of Flash/Shockwave/Silverlight at any rate....
will. 6th July 2009, 16:36 Quote
Bit of a shame, I've seen some nice demos over the last few months...

I know they would feel like a complete sell-out, but I wish someone big in the Firefox team would go work for Microsoft and fix internet explorer. Just bin what they have and start fresh.
UncertainGod 6th July 2009, 16:36 Quote
Very misleading title you have there, all they have done is drop the bit about which codec should be used and personally I think that is fine and we should let the net (see whatever Google goes with long term) decide which codec wins out.
BentAnat 6th July 2009, 16:48 Quote
the issue is, that this is gonna take forever to sort itself out.
Look at how many people still use GIF's when PNG would be perfectly suitable and look better. in the same way, it's gonna stick forever that people embed flash/silverlight/shockwave for Video...
KoenVdd 6th July 2009, 16:56 Quote
Google has got a point on the Theora quality. Other alternative would be dirac which is better and also open spec, but still nowhere near h264 with a good encode (x264). Shame about Vorbis though, since it can hold itself very well against other contemporary audio codecs.
boogerlad 6th July 2009, 17:04 Quote
apple can go screw themselves and their "superior"ness
boggsi 6th July 2009, 17:27 Quote
Just me that is sick of flash lock in for multimedia content on the net?

Native video support would have rocked, gutted they are taking it out of the spec!
DragunovHUN 6th July 2009, 17:28 Quote
That's a shame, it would have simplified things.
Tim S 6th July 2009, 17:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncertainGod
Very misleading title you have there, all they have done is drop the bit about which codec should be used and personally I think that is fine and we should let the net (see whatever Google goes with long term) decide which codec wins out.

The key word in the headline is Native. If you need to install a plug-in, it is not native support.
billysielu 6th July 2009, 17:46 Quote
Users won't update their browsers for years anyway, so this feature won't be usable by accessible websites until at least 2015.
DarkLord7854 6th July 2009, 17:54 Quote
Wow misleading title, I thought they had completely removed audio & video tags from HTML5, turns out they just made it where you have to specify a codec which is, IMO, a much better implementation than forcing a codec by default.
UncertainGod 6th July 2009, 17:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
The key word in the headline is Native. If you need to install a plug-in, it is not native support.

You won't have to install a plugin, the browsers will have the video & audio codec(s) built into them as FF & chrome already do. The whole point of this is to free us from flash & silverlight which it will still do rather nicely.
TreeDude 6th July 2009, 19:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by billysielu
Users won't update their browsers for years anyway, so this feature won't be usable by accessible websites until at least 2015.

Browser market share worldwide as of today:

IE8: 10.7%
IE7: 27.7%
IE6: 22.4%
FF3: 24.1%

I would say people are slow to adopt, but faster than 6 years. People don't update right away because everything still works. Break it and they will update.
DarkLord7854 6th July 2009, 19:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude
Browser market share worldwide as of today:

IE8: 10.7%
IE7: 27.7%
IE6: 22.4%
FF3: 24.1%

I would say people are slow to adopt, but faster than 6 years. People don't update right away because everything still works. Break it and they will update.

No they'll just b*tch and whine and complain as they always do and demand a fix for the old version.


Perfect example are people b*tching about Windows 7 not looking like XP
Jenny_Y8S 6th July 2009, 20:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
"uncertian patent landscape" ? ...but it's open sauce! (sic)(

Yes! And that's what makes it uncertain.

If ogg becomes mainstream, how many companies are going to crawl out of the wood work and claim they own some of the techniques and code because they bought a company which bought a patent from a guy who once coded a solution for a friend of a friend and although it only rotated 8bit binary digits and has nothing to do with compression, they still claim they have got a rock solid patent !
Aracos 6th July 2009, 22:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord7854


No they'll just b*tch and whine and complain as they always do and demand a fix for the old version.


Perfect example are people b*tching about Windows 7 not looking like XP

Just give me windows classic and I won't care :)

On topic, why should Apple get the final say? I'm almost starting to think they are bigger dictators than Microsoft now! Just because Apple won't implement OGG doesn't mean native support should be dropped.
UncertainGod 6th July 2009, 22:51 Quote
It's not just Apple, Google are going with h.264 for YouTube because Theora simply isn't good enough yet to handle the levels of compression necessary to run such a massive site without raping the entire worlds bandwidth although that might change with time as open source alternatives mature although whether any codec can get to as high a level of compression while still maintaining excellent quality without stepping on a load of patents is doubtful at best.
Aracos 6th July 2009, 23:31 Quote
Quote:
Google has implemented both codecs into Chrome

Why can't Apple do the same is what I'm getting at.
DarkLord7854 6th July 2009, 23:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by storm20200
Why can't Apple do the same is what I'm getting at.

Because they're self-righteous bast*rds who walk around with their noses in the air? j/k


Apple is Apple and always do w/e they want /shrug
will. 6th July 2009, 23:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeDude

IE8: 10.7%
IE7: 27.7%
IE6: 22.4%
FF3: 24.1%

Those stats are a little misleading. There are an enormous number of machines out there in large offices and schools that use IE6 simply because they have no need for anything else.

For example, O2 use ie6 in every shop, every office, every call centre. That's a lot of machines that register as IE6 but are actually irrelevant.

My view on it all is that you should build a website based on your target demographic. A bar website aimed at 20 something uni students can pretty much ignore IE6 because the vast majority of visitors will have some kind of cheapy £300 laptop with ie7+ on it and everything enabled because they can't use Facebook otherwise. A major restaurant chain in London though will need to support every browser under the sun.
DarkLord7854 7th July 2009, 01:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will.
Those stats are a little misleading. There are an enormous number of machines out there in large offices and schools that use IE6 simply because they have no need for anything else.

For example, O2 use ie6 in every shop, every office, every call centre. That's a lot of machines that register as IE6 but are actually irrelevant.

My view on it all is that you should build a website based on your target demographic. A bar website aimed at 20 something uni students can pretty much ignore IE6 because the vast majority of visitors will have some kind of cheapy £300 laptop with ie7+ on it and everything enabled because they can't use Facebook otherwise. A major restaurant chain in London though will need to support every browser under the sun.


I don't know... I monitor the different versions of browsers that browse the sites we build at the company I work at and IE6 is a very small minority even though some of the clients are large businesses and organizations..

I hate IE6.
perplekks45 7th July 2009, 08:46 Quote
Shame about dropping what seemed to be a very interesting feature.
Er-El 7th July 2009, 13:33 Quote
In the end I hope the WHATWG/W3C go with Ogg. Using a patented and closed codec like h.264 just opens a whole can of worms for everyone in the long run. Besides, Ogg Theora's efficiency is being improved as we speak, and I hope that when they return to the matter on audio and video tags when the codec is more mature Apple and Google can be more enthusiastic about implementing it, and the MPEG LA can go sc**w themselves. Then when it becomes the HTML standard we'll even get hardware acceleration.
Phil Rhodes 7th July 2009, 14:15 Quote
Quote:
Using a patented and closed codec like h.264 just opens a whole can of worms for everyone in the long run.

Except for the fact that it actually works.

I find myself saying this sort of thing all the time in response to open-source people tweeting on about how important it is that things are "open" and "free", as if that's more important than "functional". Now, it's a bit harsh to claim that Theora doesn't work, because it does, but it certainly doesn't work anything like as well as 264 and, as usual, when the chips are down, the freeware solution is being overlooked for serious work because it quite simply isn't up to scratch. The irony is that I suspect, even excluding youtube, the vast majority of online video is encoded using open code (cf ffmpeg, mencoder). The idea that 264 is "closed" is ludicrous. The techniques are common knowledge.

That said I'd be the first to decry the influence of software patents in this case, and what's more, I think it'll be very hard for Theora to approach the standard of 264 without infringing on any. The MPEG-LA is, as far as I can see, a protection racket, and I'm not aware of the enforceability of their claims since I haven't read about the outcome of any court case in which a potential licensee has told them to stick it. Anyway, the real monster here is the patent problem not the choice of codec, because I don't see that Theora can remain free of exactly the same issues as 264 and approach its quality. I suspect what will happen is that some open source geeks will attempt, misguidedly, to be patent lawyers, and write an implementation they think is non-infringing, and they'll be wrong; that will, at least, make it clear how much real firepower outfits like MPEG-LA actually have.

P
UncertainGod 7th July 2009, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
Shame about dropping what seemed to be a very interesting feature.

They are not dropping anything instead they are just not defineing which codec you have to use with the <video> & <audio> tags, although it is understandable why you might get confused with such a sensationalist title and choice of words in the article. I remember when I used to come here for balanced and informed reviews, seems these days most of the stuff is twisted beyond all recognition 2 day old news stories.
perplekks45 7th July 2009, 18:25 Quote
I know they didn't drop the functionality itself but they don't have a codec that all the big or not-so-big parties could agree on so they just took out the paragraphs dealing with the codecs.
Still, this means we'll have to wait longer for a general solution/codec.

Oh, and I don't know what you're trying to say according BT but I thought the article and title were not misleading, you just have to actually turn your brain on BEFORE reading. :p
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