March 30, 2010

HTML5 and Web Video


Hostway Team

By Meredith Barnhill

HTML5 (HyperText Markup Language) is the next version of the language used most commonly to create Web pages and content on the Internet. One of the biggest changes in this version is how the code will handle playing video and audio elements on a Web site. By adding a new standardized video tag to the language, videos can be embedded in the same way as images on a page and controls and sizing can be customized without the need for another company's plug-in like QuickTime or Flash.


Web designers will have a much easier time featuring video on Web sites using HTML5. Instead of using complicated embed codes, a simple video tag adds video to a Web site. This keeps the source coding clean and easy to read and edit. Customization is almost completely unrestricted giving designers free reign to customize their own elements using HTML, JavaScript or any other Web language. You can see an example of a simple video embedded using HTML5 with the Sublime Video Player.


Using other Web languages, like JavaScript, designers can create dynamic elements to go along with the elements in HTML5's video tag. An example of this is Ambilight, which displays ambient lighting around a video, giving it the appearance of being a television. Through extensions like Canvas, which creates an interactive region within an object, you can allow users to choose or include their own content in your video using JavaScript. This enables designers to be a lot more creative and to write their own features for video rather than restricting interactivity to volume control, time line control and window sizing.


HTML5 is a work in progress and accessibility is one of the major components still being discussed. One downside to this new version is that not all browsers play the same video codecs. This means that designers will have to offer video in a few different formats to make sure that all online browsers can see the video. If a standard codec is adopted by the design community, easily viewing multimedia elements on a Web site will become universal for users. Today, without the proper upgrades to personal computers, some users may still require separate players to view video, which can alter the display of a Web site and render some features unavailable.

About the Author

Meredith Barnhill is a multimedia journalist specializing in Web multimedia including audio and video.

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