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Examining the HTML 5 Video Codec Debate

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the we'll-cooperate-and-do-it-my-way dept.

The Internet 459

Ars Technica has a great breakdown of the codec debate for the HTML 5 video element. Support for the new video element seems to be split into two main camps, Ogg Theora and H.264, and the inability to find a solution has HTML 5 spec editor Ian Hickson throwing in the towel. "Hickson outlined the positions of each major browser vendor and explained how the present impasse will influence the HTML 5 standard. Apple and Google favor H.264 while Mozilla and Opera favor Ogg Theora. Google intends to ship its browser with support for both codecs, which means that Apple is the only vendor that will not be supporting Ogg. 'After an inordinate amount of discussions, both in public and privately, on the situation regarding codecs for and in HTML5, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that there is no suitable codec that all vendors are willing to implement and ship,' Hickson wrote. 'I have therefore removed the two subsections in the HTML5 spec in which codecs would have been required, and have instead left the matter undefined.'"

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It's a toughy (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598535)

Do we use an inferior standard or a closed standard?

Maybe "implementation dependent" is the term we're after.

Re:It's a toughy (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598629)

We could call it a day and use DRM encrusted WMV!

Bet Microsoft is miffed they didn't get in earlier with HTML5 video support, as it is most content providers will use H.264 and thus force it to become the de-facto standard.

Re:It's a toughy (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598701)

I think Microsoft has lost the media wars, and they pretty well know it. (admittedly, just a guess) Expect their products to support H264 and AAC. The bigger fly in their ointment is probably improved web standards in general. They've been gearing up to fight Adobe (Silverlight vs. Flash) for the proprietary "rich web" market, and if HTML/CSS gets rich enough that we don't need a proprietary plugin, that might not end up being a market worth winning.

Re:It's a toughy (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598751)

Oh it will still be worth winning. Even if HTML5 provides a "rich web experience," applet based approaches like Flash are already very well established and will not go away overnight. The desktop application market never vanished even after web apps became popular, so why assume that plugins and applets will not be worth fighting for?

Re:It's a toughy (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598877)

The desktop application market never vanished even after web apps became popular, so why assume that plugins and applets will not be worth fighting for?

...Because desktop applications have some real strengths where Flash/Silverlight have none? For example, I can't exactly work on a web application when the internet is down. On the other hand, Flash seems to be enjoying hogging CPU cycles and crashing browsers, plus ActionScript isn't much easier to use than JavaScript/HTML/CSS. About the only "strength" Flash has is that it is visually based (its easy for an artist to pick up). There is not a single advantage that Flash or Silverlight really have if HTML, JavaScript and CSS can make application-like things in the browser? Flash and Silverlight aren't any faster, easier, more accessible, etc.

Re:It's a toughy (2, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598947)

Applets certainly do have strength. Applets can guarantee a consistent experience for your users (and you can always point the blame at third party runtimes if they cause a problem). Applets can be signed when users want a higher level of security. Applets add support for unusual codecs or features that are not envisioned by a standards committee (features that can be implemented by a web developer instead if a browser developer).

Re:It's a toughy (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599003)

Flash, to my recollection, was pretty much limited to ads and mediocre games before YouTube came along. If YouTube dumped flash, would it still be deemed necessary by the average user? Certainly iPhone users seem to be getting along without it...

Re:It's a toughy (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599037)

Oh, I don't think Flash will go away overnight. On the other hand, a lot of that will be the inertia of people sticking with Flash particularly, which is exactly the force MS has to overcome to spur Silverlight adoption. But absent that inertia, I think people may well move to open standards, assuming sufficiently good standards exist.

Re:It's a toughy (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598961)

I think Microsoft has lost the media wars, and they pretty well know it. (admittedly, just a guess) Expect their products to support H264 and AAC.

It has already been announced a while ago: Silverlight 3 will support H.264 for video, and AAC for audio [on10.net] .

Re:It's a toughy (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599061)

Oh, yeah, I meant, "Expect their products to support H264 and AAC from here on out." I think the Windows 7, Zune, and Xbox already support H264 and AAC. (Though I don't own any of them, so I may be wrong.)

Re:It's a toughy (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598755)

Do we use an inferior standard or a closed standard?

Since it seems pretty likely most web users couldn't care less about open vs. closed software, the answer seems obvious - go with h.264, the superior but closed codec. And do it now before Microsoft wades in and decides to muddy things up with more embrace/extend/extinguish shenanigans.

Re:It's a toughy (1, Flamebait)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599147)

Browser developers do care! It's not just a political thing. Website developers and users would prefer h.264 (even if they don't know it) because it provides higher quality or lower bandwidth requirements. Several browser developers prefer Theora because their income is too small for the expense of licensing h.264.

Re:It's a toughy (4, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598813)

Inferior standard. Judging from HTML4, by the time we could safely drop HTML5 support from our web browsers there'll be at least a dozen codecs that perform far, *far* better than H.264 does today so alleged superiority buys us very little, there'll still be a time where people interested in performance ignore the standard altogether. On the other hand, H.264's patent concerns will be with us for the next ~20 years, so Theora's advantage in ease of implementation will likely hold up for a much longer time.

Re:It's a toughy (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598887)

I wish I knew enough about this stuff to make a good guess. From a time perspective though I can see where you are going in that there will be replacements to H264 and possibly Ogg will still be around by then, at a later time of implementation.

Really, by not forcing a codec on HTML5, what does that do/what impact? I don't really understand. Can someone clarify?

Re:It's a toughy (5, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599081)

It matters very little. If Microsoft and Apple fail to implement Theora, the fact that the standard calls for it will not matter (because it will not be practical as a universal fallback).

Mozilla can't license H.264 in a way that lets downstream packagers use it, so they don't want to put it in the standard either.

The previous /. story discussing the email Hickson sent out covered this stuff pretty well.

It isn't particularly hard to do things like put a flash fallback inside of a video tag, so people that want to use the standard but still have wide reach have lots of options (flash is the de facto way to play 'web' video today, so I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that this may continue).

Re:It's a toughy (3, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598989)

Why the false dichotomy? The market had already voted long before W3C threw in the towel. Apple wasn't going to budge simply because its hardware platform was geared for h.264. It would render the hardware obsolete because now you have to run a software decoder for Theora, sapping the battery for processing that a dedicated, low power h.264 chip already does.

The problem with the 'open standard' is not necessarily its inferiority, per se, but its complete, utter lack of general market acceptance.

Like Capitalism (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598551)

Let the market decide. Too bad we've already been down that road and it wasn't pretty at all...

Re:Like Capitalism (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598867)

Letting the Federal Reserve and Congress decide the winners and losers really isn't a free market system. Having central planning of money since 1913 hasn't helped much either.

Privatizing profits and socializing losses (of your friends) isn't capitalism, it is piracy.

Keep spouting the idiocy you hear on TV every night, its cute.

Re:Like Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28599119)

Does it hurt?

Re:Like Capitalism (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599001)

People use Wikipedia. In order to see it, sysadmins in companies and schools will support it. Firefox will support it. Linux distro's will support it. So OGG video support will enter the Windows world. H.264 will not be available on all platforms.

Not all Linux distro's will support h.264. Firefox will not support it. So In order for Google to get the widest audience it either needs to continue flash (check Gnash progress; the future looks good) or go for OGG.

I think people should fight for OGG, but I am confident OGG will win if the specs remains undifined. Even if it doesn't then it will in the future.

YouTube will not offer both h.264, flash and OGG at the same time; too expensive.

Re:Like Capitalism (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599067)

All I can say is "Fuck Apple".

Re:Like Capitalism (3, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599051)

The market has already decided. But it wasn't decided because of software, it was decided on hardware. Theora does not have a dedicated hardware decoder that hardware makers can pull off the shelf and incorporate into their devices. h.264 does. And, when you take into consideration the sheer number of devices that have that chip installed (virtually every 5th generation iPod and forward from Apple) it becomes very easy to tell that h.264 was going to be the winner.

Translation (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598561)

I hope you like shitty looking, processor hogging, absurdly terrible flash video, because we are stuck with it until someone (I'm looking at you, Apple) takes their head out of their ass.

Fucking Apple. You can't trust those turtleneck wearing fascists.

Re:Translation (1)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598639)

Fucking Apple. You can't trust those turtleneck wearing fascists.

At least they're supporting something, unlike Microsoft which isn't supporting any HTML video element.

I know that "lesser of two evils" isn't exactly a good argument, but it's not nothing..

Microsoft are "waiting" (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598703)

To see who wins.......

No sense spending money obfuscating, perverting "standards" or extending, if they can halve the amount, just with a few days/weeks waiting...

Re:Translation (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598685)

Not fascists, but it is frustrating to see them so stubborn about such a Good Idea when they've been the leaders of innovation for over a decade.

I guess the problem is that they won't be making tons of money off an obscure and clever design.

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598697)

Apple has been a leader at finding innovative ways of pounding you in the ass for a long time...

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598809)

It would be nice if Apple would go ahead and support OGG Vorbis and OGG Theora. Can any lawyerly folk give an idea of the worst possible scenario here? Someone steps forward claiming to have patented something in OGG, and Apple is forced to either strip support or pay a licensing fee?

On the other hand, their method of supporting the video tag seems somewhat reasonable. It looks like any format that Quicktime supports, Safari will support in the "video" tag. It's not hard to go download the OGG Theora codec online, and then Quicktime will support it. Same with DivX and Xvid and anything else.

No, it doesn't really solve the problem of having a single video format that you can assume everyone can play, but it's sort of a reasonable way of approaching the problem IMO. Too bad the government can't just take patents as eminent domain with some kind of pre-set compensation for the inventors. I kind of feel like we'd all be better off if the issues surrounding H264 could just be settled once and for all, without waiting for the patents to run out.

Re:Translation (3, Informative)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599079)

Well, with a "submarine" patent, the patent holder will typically wait until the "invention" is in common use, THEN sue for retroactive damages. Those sorts of awards can get very expensive.

Re:Translation (1, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599093)

We're stuck with Flash video because Apple's iPhone doesn't support Flash? Is that right?

I agree that someone needs to take his head out of his ass.

Seriously? Lolcats? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598577)

Ars Technica has a great breakdown

Oh, I totally agree. The best articles always insert two lolcats into their page so that we get a better idea of what's going on.

Did I miss something or is it still 2006?

Re:Seriously? Lolcats? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598693)

O rly?

This is what made me click the link to TFA.

Lolcats are still in, dude. They'll never go away. They'll enter the lexicon and become so ingrained that you only need the text, not the picture.

(Ya rly)

why does the codec have to be in the spec? (5, Insightful)

ibookdb (1199357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598583)

<video codec="blah"> and let the content providers decide.

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (3, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598689)

Because otherwise you end up with the case that no one codec works in all browsers, so websites will have to support both formats by encoding all their videos twice. Instead, I suspect most website owners would just say "yeah....OR I could just keep doing it in flash and only worry about 1 format that can work in all browsers."

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599035)

Instead, I suspect most website owners would just say "yeah....OR I could just keep doing it in flash and only worry about 1 format that can work in all browsers."

Except that most browsers don't include Flash support, and browsers do exist on platforms for which there is no Flash.

Browsers don't just exist in desktop OS's anymore -- that's one of the big reasons for HTML5.

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (1)

greatica (1586137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598735)

I think you're absolutely right. The clue is right in the article as well... "Google intends to ship its browser with support for both codecs, which means that Apple is the only vendor that will not be supporting Ogg." I wouldn't be surprised if a few years from now you can post a slew of different video types on your site, without even the need to specify the codec in your code (browser could detect it).

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (1)

xOneca (1271886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598819)

Why not <video type="mime/type"> like other embedded things (text/css, etc)?

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (1)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598917)

<video codec="blah"> and let the content providers decide.

You fail to grasp the concept. The browser can only decode video for formats that it has decoder software for. If the content provider sends video in XYZZY format, which no one on Earth has ever heard of before, it's worthless. More to the point, if a content provider sends H.264 (or Theora) to a browser that doesn't support it, it's also worthless. The whole point of the <video> element is to allow content providers to choose one of the always supported formats and therefore know a-priori that it will work in the user's browser. A "choose one from this list" strategy, or creating a new plugin-hell for codecs doesn't accomplish this end.

Re:why does the codec have to be in the spec? (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598931)

Because people shouldn't have to be prompted to install codecs in order to view in-browser videos.

So you include the codecs with the browser. Since you don't want to include every codec known to man, you pick one. Or several, as the case may be...

Apple and Xiph (4, Interesting)

_Hiro_ (151911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598587)

It seems like Apple has something against implementing any Xiph codec... FLAC and Vorbis support in iTunes is nonexistent, and even with the QuickTime plugin, iTunes still doesn't have proper tagging support. And now refusing to add Theora support in Safari?

Perhaps someone on the Xiph board did something to one of Apple's Media guys when they were kids or something?

Re:Apple and Xiph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598745)

Apple have their own Lossless Codec. The ipod hardware chips don't do Vorbis.

Re:Apple and Xiph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598967)

The "official" reason per FTA is:

Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape.

My emphasis. That's some balls to claim that you can't implement Theora because of patent concerns.

Re:Apple and Xiph (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598777)

Perhaps someone on the Xiph board did something to one of Apple's Media guys when they were kids or something?

Apple simply does not like free codecs because if customers are allowed to use them, then the corporation loses some control over the customers. That's the reason why people should refuse to buy anything from Apple and other companies with similar attitude towards their customers.

Re:Apple and Xiph (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599043)

Apple uses open standards in their MobileMe / .Mac implementation. They also write standards-based server components, like CalDAV. Their platforms' preferred 3d library is OpenGL, another open standard.

Clearly they support many open standards, so it's not just about control over their customers.

Re:Apple and Xiph (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598815)

Regardless of why they have some hatred for Xiph who cares what Apple's doing? Just specify Ogg. Apple will either lose market share as people switch to a browser that doesn't suck or they'll cave and use Ogg. If you can get 3 of them to agree I'd say that's pretty good. Are we just going to stop bothering to innovate because Apple won't give us its blessing? Let's just rename Apple to "Microsoft" and call it a day.

We (developers) are the ones that determine who wins the browser battles. We make the sites and we tell people what browser to use. FireFox didn't install itself on grandma's computer - that was us.

Re:Apple and Xiph (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599007)

Regardless of why they have some hatred for Xiph who cares what Apple's doing?

Ipod and iPhone owners care. Content providers looking to target iPod and iPhone owners care.

Apple will either lose market share as people switch to a browser that doesn't suck or they'll cave and use Ogg.

You're oversimplifying. This about more than just Web browsers. It is also about content services. When you don't have Google's Youtube on board with Ogg and you don't have iTunes on board with Ogg and it won't play on iPhones or iPods and you have little likelihood of that changing, specifying Ogg in the spec results in the spec not gaining widespread implementation and failing.

Are we just going to stop bothering to innovate because Apple won't give us its blessing?

Apple is one of the companies pushing HTML5 and already implements it in Safari. They aren't holding back progress so much as trying to push it in a different way than what Mozilla and Opera want.

We (developers) are the ones that determine who wins the browser battles.

I'd say the content providers have as much or more influence than browser developers. If the video element is implemented in a way content providers like iTunes and YouTube are not happy with, then it will be ignored by them and we''ll be stuck without any progress and a Web still locked into a fragmented mix and dominated by Flash video and Silverlight.

Re:Apple and Xiph (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599049)

You misunderstand the nature of HTML5 standardization process. Unlike previous HTML iterations, which were designed by W3C committee which largely did not intersect with people who actually implemented it, HTML5 is a vendor-driven effort that had only recently came under the aegis of W3C (after the latter's XHTML 2.0 died a quick and painless death). Since it's vendor-driven, it's going to be exactly what the vendors can agree upon - no more, and no less.

irrelevant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598591)

"Apple is the only vendor that will not be supporting Ogg"

Except IE, which doesn't support, and has not announced plans to support, anything. Until they decide what they're going to do, it really doesn't matter what everyone else is doing.

Re:irrelevant (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598991)

"Except IE, which doesn't support, and has not announced plans to support, anything."

Including HTML.

Re:irrelevant (2, Interesting)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599133)

Just watch. Once IE's market share hits 50%, suddenly Microsoft will start playing ball. The search revenue from all the IE users who don't bother to change the default search is too nice to simply give up.

What about Microsoft? (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598595)

Doesn't Microsoft feel a need to push WMV? being slow to adopt HTML5 is not in their best interest. Favoring Silverlight and ignoring HTML5 will comeback to haunt them. For all we know Silverlight might end up a failure!
Plus according to at least one report, IE is becoming less significant.
http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-US-monthly-200807-200907 [statcounter.com] *
*Stats are US-centeric.

Major browser vendors (4, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598599)

Apple and Google favor H.264 while Mozilla and Opera favor Ogg Theora.

Right, while convenient, that doesn't strike me as a very comprehensive list of "major browser vendors".

Re:Major browser vendors (2, Funny)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598753)

It doesn't have to be an exhaustive list, it just has to have a few big names in support to mitigate the toppling effects of change.

Because Mozilla are obviously the good guys because they're the ones I like, personally, Apple and Google need to cave into the will of the commons. The commons, of course, being myself.

Re:Major browser vendors (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598781)

Microsoft supports neither, so there's no point in including them. With the addition of Microsoft, you have all the major browsers covered.

Re:Major browser vendors (4, Informative)

sam31415 (558641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598791)

If you click through to Hickson's actual summary [whatwg.org] , you can see why Microsoft is being largely omitted from the discussion:

"Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support <video> at all."

Re:Major browser vendors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598799)

Okay then, let me fill in the blank: Microsoft favours sitting in the corner, drooling.

Re:Major browser vendors (2, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598891)

Right, while convenient, that doesn't strike me as a very comprehensive list of "major browser vendors".

Good point. Let me fix that: "Hickson outlined the positions of each major browser vendor that is likely to get off their ass and release something relevant to this issue within the decade". Does that about cover it?

Re:Major browser vendors (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598943)

Sure it is. MS doesn't vend IE, it's bundled.

Re:Major browser vendors (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598999)

Right, while convenient, that doesn't strike me as a very comprehensive list of "major browser vendors".

Its a pretty comprehensive list of "major browser vendors" committed to any substantial support of HTML5; sure, it misses Microsoft, but given that Microsoft has pretty much said they don't care about HTML5 at all in any case, they aren't really part of the conversation.

Re:Major browser vendors (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599059)

Yeah, what about IceWeasel?

There was a simple solution... (5, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598601)

They could have simply specified that a browser must support ONE of the two options, h.264 or Theora. This would have at least provided a reference to websites, such that they can guarantee that they need support no more than two codecs. Without a standard, they can't necessarily guarantee that a browser will support either. A third party browser may come by and decide to implement nothing but MJPEG since it isn't specified.

I mean, there are legitimate concerns in both camps. Theora's hardware support is non-existent, and h.264 has expensive licensing fees. So why not allow browser manufactuerers to pick the one that best suits their position, rather than leaving it undefined entirely?

A guarantee of at least one of two being supported is better than no guarantee at all.

Re:There was a simple solution... (0)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598723)

[...]and h.264 has expensive licensing fees.

A solution to this is to get rid of software patents - or live somewhere they aren't valid.

As has been discussed before, it's also possible (even likely) that some content of the Theora codec is covered by some other software patents, given the huge number of patents granted. It's simply not known if/what patents could apply to it. That's not a reason to *not* use it, but it is a reason to be concerned for the same reason as concern about H.264.

Re:There was a simple solution... (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598811)

HTML doesn't specify what image format must be supported (PNG, GIF, JPG, etc); why is video any different? If HTML had specified GIF explicitly up-front, we'd all be in trouble when UniSys became dicks about it.

Let the market decide. If h.264 succeeds despite the extra cost, it means folks found enough value to justify the cost. If DivX or VC1 come out of nowhere to take over the web we won't be left with an out-dated standard. If a sleeper patent hits Theora hard we'll be glad we didn't lock ourselves down.

Re:There was a simple solution... (2, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598861)

Theora's hardware support is non-existent

Huh? Theora would have hardware support fired up within three blinks of its ratification as part of HTML5 and the release of browsers supporting it. For many (most? all?) instances, such "hardware" support is often implemented on DSP core(s), not a dedicated ASIC just for a specific codec, making the update just a matter of new firmware for existing systems.

Allowing a "pick one" scenario means that third-party content providers have no freaking clue what format they can present their data in for their users. The worst of all worlds: everyone has to transcode and store video into N different formats, because the industry can't get their ducks aligned...

Re:There was a simple solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28599073)

"Theora's hardware support is non-existent..."

For now. By the time any device is actually using HTML5, they'll have had a chance to add it. Could have done so already if they had decided to do things right instead of bitching about it, and trying to make everyone else do the work instead of them. Way not to be evil, Google!

Re:There was a simple solution... (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599099)

It's definitely a better option, but there is a catch - it means that content providers who want to reach the widest possible audience will need to encode video in H.264. And that means that they will need H.264 encoders, which are by definition non-free (since license fees must be payed for those).

Now consider something like Wikipedia. Since videos are uploaded by the users, it would effectively require all of them to have licensed H.264 codecs to contribute - which is an unacceptable burden for a Free encyclopedia. Though I guess automatic transcoding of uploaded Theora videos to H.264 would be an option, but it would likely be very detrimental to quality.

Hardware Encoders (5, Insightful)

Nate53085 (782588) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598607)

The best reason I have seen so far as to why Apple/Google favor H.264 is because their current products have H.264 hardware encoders in them. Switching to ogg/theora would hit battery life hard in these devices since it would have to be done in software. While I agree that its a selfish reason, its a reason better then "cause we want it". I would really like to see Theora succeed though, an open standard for web would be a beautiful thing

Re:Hardware Encoders (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598949)

The idea, I would think, for having Theora would be as a least-common denominator. So what if it wastes battery life? You can still view the content if there isn't an H.264 version

I know that's not acceptable to Apple, because they get the blame from those customers of theirs who don't understand the that they would have to be able to play the content to be compliant. I don't know, maybe they can put a small warning when first playing content lacking HW-accelerated playback.

Re:Hardware Encoders (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598953)

> why Apple/Google favor H.264 is because their current products have H.264 hardware encoders

I think we can ignore the gPhone so that only leaves Apple. They have never supported an open standard until they had to or could use it for a tactical advantage. They are, if anything, worse than Microsoft with their closed tech silo. So why do they, with their single digit share of the browser market[1], get to veto standards? Standardize on Theora and anyone who wants to watch a video has a free browser available to watch it with. Go with H264 and that isn't true. Sounds like a no brainer if the point of standards is to make content widely available.

[1] Remember that Apple can never have >10% of the market for long and that a good number of those Apple users ditch Safari for Firefox anyway.

Re:Hardware Encoders (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599125)

Remember that Apple can never have >10% of the market for long and that a good number of those Apple users ditch Safari for Firefox anyway.

Mac users might, but I suspect that very few iPhone users "ditch Safari for Firefox", and phones and similar devices are a pretty compelling focus of the drive for HTML5 (its a big part of the reason you want a plug-in free common standard that supports richer UI's than HTML4, audio/video, and local storage.)

Re:Hardware Encoders (4, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599013)

Hardware encoders/decoders would come pretty fast if Theora was made the HTML5 standard.

Why does it care? (4, Insightful)

kindbud (90044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598613)

Really? Why does the HTML5 spec care what codecs are used? Why doesn't it just provide a way to specify which codec the author used to encode the media file, and let the browser prompt the user to get it if needed?

Re:Why does it care? (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598667)

There can be only one!

Re:Why does it care? (3, Insightful)

Curate (783077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598715)

Indeed, as was done for pictures using the tag. HTML didn't specify a particular file format. You could use .bmp, .ico, .gif, .jpg, etc. Why on Earth would you WANT to standardize on a particular file format and lose that flexibility? Better file formats will show up over time and certainly you'd like to be able to use tem. The good formats will stick and become de facto standards. The not so good formats will fall by the wayside.

Re:Why does it care? (3, Informative)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598911)

Because you end up with the craptastic situation like IE6 where they sort of support PNG but not really because they don't support transparency. If there isn't universal browser support for a format it might as well not even exist / be an option because you can't use it. If you have to code for IE6 you can't use transparent PNGs can you? So what difference does it make that you can "use any format?"

If we go this route with video what options are left? Stick with flash? Encode everything in two different codecs and *hope* that the browsers all support one of the two? I don't know about you but I think those options suck.

Re:Why does it care? (2, Interesting)

weicco (645927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599153)

Img-tag doesn't specify which image formats you must or must not use so I really don't understand why video-tag should be any different. Video-tag could just instruct the browser that "put the video in here and fetch stream from here or if user has no ability to play the video display whatever is inside the alt-attribute".

So when browser sees video-tag it renders it by using which ever video plugin or built-in mechanism is in use, be it Flash, Silverlight, Windows Media Player or whatever. Then it is up to browser vendors to offer mechanism to download, install and/or configure video player and/or codec to the browser. No need to force the whole world behind a single format.

Just my uneducated opinion. I don't know much about video codecs.

Re:Why does it care? (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599111)

The fear is that the "good format" in this case will be H.264, and once it will stick and become de facto standard, we'll have the same mess as with GIF all over again - since FOSS browsers won't be able to support it legally (at least in U.S.), nor free content creation/editing tools.

Re:Why does it care? (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598765)

Really? Why does the HTML5 spec care what codecs are used? Why doesn't it just provide a way to specify which codec the author used to encode the media file, and let the browser prompt the user to get it if needed?

I get the feeling there is a growing trend towards never needing to ask user input on anything. User interfaces are expected to be completely intuitive and perfectly accessible. There is no room for requiring people to read instructions of any kind.

I do some UI design at work, and I frequently find myself in a tug-of-war with a colleague because he thinks users should be able to do anything and that everything they need to do should be completely intuitive. Ask five random people and you'd be lucky to have less than three different opinions regarding a given site's usability.

Car analogy time! You don't need to know how to shift to drive an automatic transmission. Now, extend that (quite) a bit until you don't need to know the speed limit because the road you are on limits the top speed of your car. Further, and you don't need to worry about steering because the car steers for you. Collision prevention, anyone?

Re:Why does it care? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598823)

Why doesn't it just provide a way to specify which codec the author used to encode the media file, and let the browser prompt the user to get it if needed?

"Mozilla strongly opposes this approach because it would heighten the risk of fragmentation. Allowing content providers to use any codec that is available on the user's computer might undermine the advantages of the HTML 5 media element because there would be no consistency guarantee and content would not be able to work everywhere."

You'll NEVER GUESS where that quote came from...

Re:Why does it care? (2, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598827)

> Why does the HTML5 spec care what codecs are used?

You somehow missed the whole discussion, didnt you? If a spec shouldnt care in what way content is encoded it is trying to show, what _should_ it actually care about?

> Why doesn't it just provide a way to specify which codec the author used to encode the
> media file, and let the browser prompt the user to get it if needed?

And where should a free browser get a patented and thus non-free codec from? Or did you actually mean that a free browser should serve as a sales vehicle for proprietary content codecs? Do you imagine what a mess the web would be if for example, browsers wouldnt have a few standardized image formats built in, and would ask you every time you go to a new site to purchase some other proprietary format the images on the site happen to be encoded in?

One basic codec you as a developer can rely on, that everyone has installed, is a good thing (tm). If you want better quality, better compression, whatever, you can always bog your user to install your proprietary pay-for stuff, but whats so fundamentally wrong with a free codec everybody can use, that so many sides are opposing it?

Re:Why does it care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598957)

Being a "non-free" codec wasn't much of a problem for gif, was it?

Re:Why does it care? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599055)

> And where should a free browser get a patented and thus non-free codec from?

The same place you would expect it to get ANY decoder capability from: the operating system.

Either the OS would provide it directly or some 3rd party would.

The idea that the "burden" of dealing with h264 is on Mozilla is just a big red herring.
Decoding a video mime type today doesn't create that burden so there's no good reason to
expect it to in the future.

The people behind Mozilla just want to manufacture a "need" to push Ogg.

Video has changed considerably since the web has been around. It would be very
foolish to standardize on anything really.

Re:Why does it care? (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599115)

> Why does the HTML5 spec care what codecs are used?

You somehow missed the whole discussion, didnt you? If a spec shouldnt care in what way content is encoded it is trying to show, what _should_ it actually care about?

Provide means to play and interact with the content? How is this any different from the IMG tag and multiple image formats? The only difference here is that video a degree of interaction a fixed image does not have (controls, position slider, etc).

Why does the standart limits to one video format is completely beyond me. Even more, this effectively ties the video format to the web standart... which means that if tomorrow someone comes with a much better video codec (think DVD MPEG2 vs HiDef H.264) we're stuck with the old one until the next HTML revision.

Re:Why does it care? (3, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598979)

At present, any time I'm surfing the Web and I get a popup telling me "You need to install 'X' to view this video", I assume it's a virus. I'd actually prefer to keep it that way... it's simple, at least.

XiphQT Components (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598643)

http://xiph.org/quicktime/ [xiph.org]

Adds support for Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora to QuickTime (which is used for nearly all media playback on OSX). Easy to install (but could be made easier easily - such as making into a .pkg), and makes Safari 4 work with <video> and Theora.

Also, can we please stop whining about this in relation to the HTML5 spec? HTML has never specified file formats for media/objects (<img>, <object>) and it should *not* start now.

Worst Thing He Could Do (0, Redundant)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598661)

Leaving anything in the spec undefined is retarded.
It's a spec.

If Apple doesn't want to be up to spec, fuck 'em.
(Same for MS, who has, as far as I know, no plans to support &lt:video>.)

Luckily we can specify multiple codecs and let the browser pick. All this really does is create more browser incompatibility. All major sites will be using some H.264 codec, and browsers can determine which stream to play if there are multiple it can decode.

It would be nice if there was a standard set in the HTML 5 spec to list several codecs that must be supported by the browser.

H.264 - very good

Ogg - good, free

MPEG /1/2/3/4 - I dunno, why not. Lots of content exists that's mpeg 1 or 2 or 4(pre-PART 10/H.264) (and sometimes the audio is mp3). This would be easier for a lot of machines to decode, too, even though it's not nearly as bandwidth efficient.

Re:Worst Thing He Could Do (1)

rawr_one (1474675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598855)

I completely agree that they need to specify this in the HTML5 specifications. The thing is, and I can almost absolutely guarantee that Google, Mozilla, and Opera will cooperate here, if they specify a format, the three will eventually conform to it. Apple and Microsoft are the outliers here, but Microsoft doesn't seem to care very much about W3C's specifications to begin with, and Apple has been steadily moving toward being incredibly W3C-compliant over the past several years, so I don't really see where the problem is.

If the companies can't agree, that's their problem. W3C isn't supposed to be an intermediary between the browser developers, it's supposed to be pushing each of them to support better standards. Apparently they need to be reminded what their mission statement is.

To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.

Making a specification for a standard video codec does that. Being indecisive doesn't.

Re:Worst Thing He Could Do (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599069)

The HTML spec is as much documentation of how things are currently done as it is a prescription for how they should be done. It has almost always lagged implementations by several years.

If anybody wants to win this one, they should use video on their own sites, or upload videos to other sites, that use their preferred codec. Better yet, put in a trouble ticket that the browser is broken. They'll fix it.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598669)

I am sure Apple would agree to include it in Webkit if the XiphQT and SchroQT components were merged into a codec which can do Ogg Dirac.

Ogg Dirac has a better PSNR than Ogg Theora.

why not both or more? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598719)

I'm not sure why we can't implement support for both or even more codecs. Can anyone tell me why this isn't possible?

The way I figure it, if both is supported, and agreement to assist in implementing support for the other can be reached and as long as the spec is documented, adding the functionality to the browsers should be trivial to any group capable of creating and maintaining a modern browser. We could actually implement a plug in scheme that allows functionality to be snapped in on the fly.

What am I missing with this?

Also, I'm not sure I like the idea of video in my HTML. First, most of the player implementations so far seem to lack significant things like volume controls, pause, start and stop buttons. That or you are stuck with a small screen developed for some other resolution and there is no way to resize it even if just enough to read the credits in the video. Do both and do it right.

Re:why not both or more? (2, Insightful)

rawr_one (1474675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598903)

They need to implement one codec and one alone because that leaves no room for varying support for codecs. If they define multiple, Microsoft will implement whichever codec they want, Google will do the same, Mozilla will do the same, et cetera, and content providers will have to make that content available in all of those different formats just so that they can guarantee that people will have access to it.

Re:why not both or more? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599127)

It's like you're saying that all of the various users out there don't
already have access to all of these different "standards". Even Linux
users can "legitimately" use WMV if they want.

In truth, rolling your own codec is a lot of work. If anything it's
the container format that's going to change (the real problem here
that everyone seems to have forgotten) because there is a lot of
hardware out there that needs to be cheap and well optimized.

an alternate solution: (2, Funny)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598743)

apple, go fuck yourself.

</flamebait>

Re:an alternate solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598921)

WIN!

Pick one and market forces will encourage support (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28598771)

If they can pick one that 80% of browsers will support, say Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, then all the small players like apple and opera will support it eventually or their users will start to complain.

I only see the real problem is if the two largest vendors cannot agree. Let the small players go jump in a lake.

Argument moot, just use both (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28598985)

You can use a single block of HTML below to provide video for everyone using the new tag:

Video For Everybody [camendesign.com]

It works on older browsers too, falling back on built in players or even flash if it has to. You simply provide it one .mp4, and one .ogg file and it uses which is best.

Don't let this bickering stop everyone from moving to the video tag as soon as possible, which may then see further solution on a final standard.

I have to say though, the hardware support aspect to me makes h.264 support a must. I also think Apple should support ogg too, but Mozilla really needs to support this de-facto standard for video (it's not just Apple using this in hardware).

Google please finish SNOW (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599017)

The Snow codec is still unfinished, however if Google could put some effort into it perhaps we'd have an unencumbered standard that has as good quality as H.264. Why Google? Because the have the resources, are interested in open standards and open source, and would benefit from the lower bandwidth required. Also, whatever they convert YouTube to will become supported by everyone one way or another. ATM is looks like they're going 264 because Theora doesn't have the same quality per bit.

flip a damn coin already (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599033)

Pick one. Anything is better than insert-proprietary-vendor-lockin-format-here.

Whats the big issue? (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28599135)

Make OGG required as part of the spec and 264 as optional.
If you want people to use your browser, implement both.
For those running websites... if you can afford the licensing fees for H.264 you can afford the storage of OGG as a fallback should 264 not be available in that browser.

H.264 is a non-starter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28599149)

Unless it's an open and completely freely relicensable patent.

Otherwise if I were to write a Web Browser I *would NOT* be able to do so.

And if there's a standard I am unable to comply with, it cannot be a standard, can it.

So if they can release the codec for free without patent limitation, THEN we can talk about it Apple/Google.

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