Building a Video Element into Newer Versions of HTML

Will the future of HTML (HTML 5 or Web Applications 1.0) include a video tag? Maybe. Imagine if you can just surround a link to a video file with a couple of video tags?

A new Google Tech Talk discusses the introduction of a video element (video). Hakon Wium Lee, the CTO of Opera, gives a presentation on how this might work. He is introduced by Ian Hickson, who works in the open source program office at Google.

The presentation provides a little history about the Web, including a look at the buildings and room where the Web was born at CERN, and an announcement that Opera has released an experimental brower that uses this element.

Opera has browsers for desktop computers, for mobile computers, and for devices. One of those devices is the Wii. According to Hakon Wium Lee, the numbers of people usiing Opera on the Wii may eclipse some other uses of Opera. They are noticing that people who use the browser on the Wii often use it to go to YouTube and other video sites.

Opera is talking with the Mozilla group to see if they can get them to support a video element by the end of the year. To learn more about the video element, Opera has more information here:

http://people.opera.com/howcome/2007/video/

One of the compelling reasons why this might work and be effective is that it would enable anyone who takes video with their own cameras or phones to convert it to an open source software format like ogg for free, put it on their own server where their pages are hosted, and use a video tag to enable browsers to play those videos. There would be no need to use something like Flash to show these videos, or for people to watch them. Of course, browsers would need to adopt the standard.

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10 thoughts on “Building a Video Element into Newer Versions of HTML”

  1. I really like this idea, the current way of running video on sites involves too many parts put together. There is no reason we can’t have something like this, the problem would be Microsoft and it’s adoption of the tag.

    BTW, this is my first comment on your blog though I have been reading it for the last 9 months. Your blog is a treasure trove of useful information, keep doing it!

  2. I like the idea a lot, too. It makes using video on web pages much easier. I’m not sure how easily it would be to get Microsoft to adopt it, but hopefully since they are trying to get support for it as part of standards for HTML, that might help.

    Thanks for your kind words, John, and I appreciate your deciding to leave a comment.

  3. Make it three liking the idea. Tags for video are more confusing than they need to be at the moment and having a simple standard would benefit everyone.

    I also agree it would be great for the average person to be able to more easily add their own videos to web pages.

    I wouldn’t count on Microsoft being quick to adopt the tag, though. Who knows when we’ll see the next version of IE and the current version is still lacking in support for a number of standards.

  4. Ease of use would be wonderful.

    I do wonder if it’s been bandwidth issues that kept video from becoming simplified enough for most people to easily insert it upon their pages. With bandwidth becoming less of an issue for a lot of people using the Web, it seems to make sense to make it easier for people to present videos on their pages.

    If Microsoft were to adopt a standard like this quickly, that could help make a lot of people feel more positive about them. I don’t know that they have to rebuild the entire browser to add support for a video element.

  5. This would be a bad idea! I wonder what attributes would be used to change a objects characteristics.

    Not only will provide ease of use but validation will also become easier! How many times have you validated flash embedded code and returned a number of errors? In my experience loads!

    Great post!

  6. Hi Simon,

    It would be great if we had a standard that was thoughtfully written, easy to follow, and enabled us to validate code. Would people use it? I’m not sure. I’d like to think that they would.

    Thanks.

  7. I see a big problem about such a “radical” change in the standard. If you design a website using it (simply putting videos like this) only very few people will be able to see it. As a web designer I can’t rely on the fact that most of my readers will have the latest web browser version. What if they don’t? I loose them? What if the standard is new and only a handful of people have it? As long as having a flash player in it is a very easy solution why take the risk?

  8. Hi Bitstar,

    Backwards compatibility has always been a serious issue when it comes to the development of new web standards, and new standards should be considered carefully for the very reasons that you cite.

    I’m all for standards that make sense, and make it easier for designers and developers to create great web sites. I think that there is merit in the use of a video element like this, but there does need to be a way to address older browsers if a standard like this is adopted.

    I do think that the proposed standard makes it easier for people publishing to the web to include videos on their sites. The description of the video tag does indicate that alternative content can be placed within the tag so that older technology/plugins can be tried with older browsers, or so that textual information can be included on how to download newer versions of plugins that might be able to work with the video tag:

    http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#video

    I think that is a reasonable and responsible approach, but it would require designers to use the video element wisely, so that people with older browsers and plugins can still access the videos.

  9. I’m sure this will become a standard of HTML one day due to the fact that embedding video into dynamic webpages is becoming evermore popular. To ensure that users don’t get left behind as Bitstar said – all browsers should automatically follow a mandatory update to support the new standards. I don’t really see why this isn’t the case.

  10. Hi Adam,

    It has been a long time since html 4.01 was released as a standard. I could see this becoming a part of HTML 5.0, and would hope that browsers do consider including it, especially as you note because of the increasing popularity of embedded video. I guess we wait and see…

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