For the last 6 months I’ve concentrated a lot of my personal and professional time into understanding the absolute mess that HTML5 video has become.  The good news?  Right now, HTML5 video can be made pretty much cross-browser without jumping through a TON of hoops and providing only a couple video formats.  The bad news?  Google is now taking us 5 steps back.

On Tuesday Google announced that it would removing H.264 support from it’s popular Chrome browser.  If you ask most of the TechGuys (I stress most), well love Chrome.  It’s a great browser, arguably more stable than Firefox, infinitely more reliable and safe than Internet Explorer.  Scripts that lag in other browsers work with ease and fluidity inside Chrome.  It makes your work look and feel more polished.

So, starting in the next version of Chrome we will no longer have the ability to natively read H.264 encoded videos.  What does that mean and why is it important?  Simple, the vast majority of web encoded videos are encoded using the H.264 codec.  Without the presence of Flash, those videos will currently automatically load in the browser, meaning there’s no extra overhead on the webpage, meaning faster load times and simpler code requirements.  This decision isn’t quite Armageddon for HTML5 video solutions, as most solutions utilize encoding one version of the video with in Ogg Theora format, which Chrome can also read via HTML5.

The problem is that we’ve hoping for, and moving towards getting the browser manufacturers to embrace a single format solution that would only ONE video format.  Right now, you need a minimum of 2 video formats to catch the majority of web users without the need for Flash embedding.  The best case scenario was going to be seeing the embrace of H.264 in a future version of Firefox and Internet Explorer, but now with one of the growing browsers on the market, we’re forced into waiting for more producers to get on board with either the newer WebM format, or supporting Ogg Theora.  H.264 it seems, will be going the way on Betamax.  It’s a shame really, since H.264 is really the best looking and most widely used and support type of video on the web AND can largely be viewed offline as well.  These newer web-only formats require special video players and codecs to be installed, which adds another layer of complexity and annoyance to end users.

So, there’s my rant for the day.  Stay tuned for more posts on the issue of HTML5 video.  It’s going to be important whether we like it or not.  Ipods, iPads and Androids are here to stay, so we best stay ahead of the technology that can best reach the widest audience.

For information about implementing HTML5 video on your website or blog, let Tech Guys help you out! <SHAMELESS PLUG!> :oÞ

– Ninja Tom


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