Five Book Winners Plus A Consolation Prize

I am happy to announce the five winners of my book. I’ll contact each of you directly to get your mailing address so that my publisher can send you your free copy. I’d really appreciate it if you could post a review on about it when you’ve read it, but that is, of course, not a requirement.

The winners are:

  • Debbie
  • Holly
  • V. Berry
  • Ellen Picard
  • Peggy Shields

Thanks to everyone who participated. As a consolation prize, I have posted another chapter free for you to download (via PDF): Hour 12: Audio and Video in HTML5.

HTML5 Video Codec Wars

One of the reasons many people dislike HTML5 video is because you have to encode the video in multiple codecs to work on multiple browsers. In fact, in an article I just read that was one of the reasons to hate HTML5. He said, if you have to encode it in flash to support IE why bother doing anything else.

Well I’m on an iPad and my answer to that is, if you don’t encode it in something other than flash, I won’t be able to view it. And whether you like it or not, the iPad and other mobile devices are becoming more important.


But that’s not what I want to talk about today. The reason people don’t like HTML5 video is because there are so many codecs. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that you have to encode your video in all of them, to support the majority of browsers. That means webM, ogg Theora, H.264 and flash. And then the Mozilla organization announced they would be supporting H.264.

Does this bother you? Many people see it as Mozilla caving in. After all H.264 still has a patent surrounding it and so Mozilla is no longer supporting their goal of an open web.

I applaud Mozilla for trying to keep that goal of an open web. But ultimately I think they need to change and go with the codec that most people are using, H.264. Because without a video codec that most people use Mozilla and their browser Firefox become less viable in the marketplace. And with fewer browser manufacturers, the remaining ones will feel less and less pressure to go along with consumer needs for the browsers.

In fact, I believe if Firefox had not added support for H.264 they would not succeed on the mobile browsers as a viable alternative.

Using HTML5 Video and Audio

On my site I wrote an 11-page article explaining how to add video using HTML5 with fallback options for Internet Explorer. I also have a similar (although a lot shorter) article on how to add sound with HTML5. And I get a lot of emails about them saying “I tried this in _____ browser and it didn’t work.” And I’m expecting to get the same type of feedback from chapter 12 when the book comes out.

Now, I admit, I am human. I make mistakes and things get munged in publishing and so on. I tested both the articles on About and the chapter code extensively, as did my technical editors. And I’m confident that it works in modern web browsers, even Internet Explorer.

Follow the Steps Precisely

The video article is especially tough because it’s so long. Who wants to wade through 11 pages of stuff just to post a video? Wouldn’t we all rather be shooting our films instead? But none of the pages are in there as fluff. If you want your video to work in modern HTML5 compliant browsers as well as Internet Explorer 8, then you need to read and do them all. And I can tell by my statistics that people aren’t doing that. In fact, while the first most popular page is page 1, the next most popular is page 5. Page 9 (where you make it compliant with IE) is only 1/2 as popular as page 5.

The thing is—this stuff is very picky. You have to follow the steps exactly, or it won’t work. In fact, it took me a long time and many trials and lots of errors before I could get it working well enough to write the articles and chapter. This means that it can be very frustrating.

In my opinion, the frustration is made up for by the benefits you get from using HTML5 for video and audio. You may disagree.

And if You Do Find an Error…

Please let me know. As I said above, I’m human, and I do make mistakes. But I can’t fix them if I don’t know about them, and since I tested it I think it works as I wrote it. So I don’t know about any errors. Please don’t hesitate to let me know about problems with the articles or the book when you find them. I’d really appreciate it and it might even help you get your video and audio working!

Picking the Right Video Player for Your HTML5 Video

HTML5 Video Player Chart - screen shot from
HTML5 Video Player Chart
Unfortunately, while HTML5 brings us a much easier way to embed videos into your web pages, but because of many factors, it still(!) isn’t possible to just drag your video into the video tag and then slap it up on the web. By using a player you can get your HTML5 video up and running quickly.

But which player should you choose?

Philip Bräunlich has you covered! He’s created a chart of (currently) 20 different HTML5 video players, along with details like: what license they are released under, if they have a Flash fallback for non-HTML5 compliant browsers (darn you IE8!), and other features. I especially like that he evaluates how easy or hard they are to implement (for example, OSM Player is “hell no” not easy to integrate).

Right now, none of the players support every feature he’s evaluating, but it certainly is a lot easier to use these players with the features you need or want than it is to roll your own.

What’s your favorite HTML5 video player? Let us know in the comments!