The <Video> Tag

Brendan Eich, the Canada-loving technical leader of the Mozilla project, has written a piece on The Open Web and Its Adversaries and given a presentation on The Open Web. In addition to a general overview of what it means to have an open web, the post mentions work that Opera and Mozilla are doing with the WHAT working group to create new HTML tags for <audio> and <video>.

The basic idea (still in the early stages, I gather), is to create <audio> and <video> tags that would allow audio/video playback in the browsers without relying on a proprietary plugin (like Flash, in the case of YouTube). Browsers implementing the tags would be able to use any video format, but all browsers would support a base format of Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis.

Theora and Vorbis video and audio compression formats that are free, open-source, and unencumbered by patents. I’ve written before about the importance open formats for media.

If Firefox and Opera were able to leverage their combined corner of the market share and force Microsoft to implement such a setup in Internet Explorer (or if they did so eagerly on their own), it would be a great step forward for media on the web.


5 thoughts on “The <Video> Tag

  1. This is indeed a promising development. Just this week I was wishing that there was standard way of video appearing on the web so that I could develop a mechanism that would like me click something like “Send this to my home media player” so that I could queue things for later watching on my home television. This sort of standardization will make this sort of thing a lot easier.

  2. Why invent new elements when the OBJECT tag fits the bill for all embedded media? The “only” issue with OBJECT is that it’s not fully consistent across browsers.

  3. Willem: I believe the idea behind the new elements is that they’ll have specialized javascript events related to the content they’re presenting instead of the generic object tag. So, for example, video would have event handlers for play/pause, ff/rw, etc. The CTO of Opera talks a bit about this on a recent YUI Theater feature: He also mentions that Wikipedia appears to be learning toward standardizing on Ogg/Theora for video content, which would be a very nice boost for the format.

  4. Brad’s right that object is too generic — on that account, it lacks a standard DOM API, resulting in a mess of ActiveX-based scripting and NPRuntime or older alternative APIs. Narrowly typed semantic markup such as the video and audio tags improve usability for end-users and programmers. They also reduce attack surface.


  5. Yes! Yes! Very much agreed. The concept is so simple, and makes so much sense. Implementation on a global scale is another story. But, what do I know?

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