Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
The YouTube API blog put their point of view on HTML5 video on the table. I would love to know why they felt like this was the right time, and what their angle is. I find myself often confused with the Google strategy. On one hand they are doing amazing things for the Open Web (Chrome, tools, Steve Souders and Web performance work), but on the other we see an alignment with Adobe and Flash (a differentiator to Apple).
Man, I am torn. The pragmatist totally gets it. But the guy who realizes that it was the Web openness that allowed the likes of Google come from nothing to the powerhouse that it is today in a decade, gets confused.
If you are a Flash fan you see this as “see! Flash is here to stay!” As someone who wants to see the Web standards get better fast, we see some of the momentum (fact that we have audio and video, and the WebM codec) and features that we need to get in:
Robust video streaming
Closely related to the need for a standard format is the need for an effective and reliable means of delivering the video to the browser. Simply pointing the browser at a URL is not good enough, as that doesn’t allow users to easily get to the part of the video they want. As we’ve been expanding into serving full-length movies and live events, it also becomes important to have fine control over buffering and dynamic quality control. Flash Player addresses these needs by letting applications manage the downloading and playback of video via Actionscript in conjunction with either HTTP or the RTMP video streaming protocol. The HTML5 standard itself does not address video streaming protocols, but a number of vendors and organizations are working to improve the experience of delivering video over HTTP. We are beginning to contribute to these efforts and hope to see a single standard emerge.
YouTube doesn’t own the videos that you watch – they’re owned by their respective creators, who control how those videos are distributed through YouTube. For YouTube Rentals, video owners require us to use secure streaming technology, such as the Flash Platform’s RTMPE protocol, to ensure their videos are not redistributed. Without content protection, we would not be able to offer videos like this.
Encapsulation + Embedding
Flash Player’s ability to combine application code and resources into a secure, efficient package has been instrumental in allowing YouTube videos to be embedded in other web sites. Web site owners need to ensure that embedded content is not able to access private user information on the containing page, and we need to ensure that our video player logic travels with the video (for features like captions, annotations, and advertising). While HTML5 adds sandboxing and message-passing functionality, Flash is the only mechanism most web sites allow for embedded content from other sites.
Camera and Microphone access
Video is not just a one-way medium. Every day, thousands of users record videos directly to YouTube from within their browser using webcams, which would not be possible without Flash technology. Camera access is also needed for features like video chat and live broadcasting – extremely important on mobile phones which practically all have a built-in camera. Flash Player has provided rich camera and microphone access for several years now, while HTML5 is just getting started.
Time to knuckle down and deliver great new video features in the browsers!
Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:16 am