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Video.js 4.0 Released

High fives are in order for Video.js creator  Steve Heffernan, and the Brightcove player team for the release of Video.js 4.0.  Since Brightcove acquired Zencoder, they've invested heavily in Video.js, and according to Steve, it's "the most solid, lightweight, and I dare say prettiest version" of the player yet. You can read the entire blog post here.

4.0 Major Feature Summary:

Improved performance through an 18% size reduction using Google Closure Compiler in advanced mode
  • Greater stability through an automated cross-browser/device test suite using TravisCI, Bunyip, and Browserstack.
  • New plugin interface and plugin listing for extending Video.js
  • New default skin design that uses font icons for greater customization
  • Responsive design and retina display support
  • Improved accessibility through better ARIA support
  • Moved to Apache 2.0 license
  • 100% JavaScript development tool set including Grunt

Improved Performance

With version 4.0, performance was our top priority, and a major factor of performance is the time it takes to load the library. What would seem to be minor size reductions can have a big impact, especially when a library will be loaded millions of times a month all over the world. We chose to use Google’s Closure Compiler because its “advanced mode” currently provides the most aggressive options for code minification, and so far we’ve seen an 18% reduction in code size, with the potential for more. Closure Compiler also claims to rewrite code for better runtime performance, though we haven’t had a chance to benchmark this yet. Some preliminary load-time benchmarking* shows:
  • Player load times in under 50 milliseconds
  • Playback start times in under 150 milliseconds
  • Actual video playback seen in under 0.5 seconds (using a CDN hosted MP4)
*Initial tests used Chrome with an empty cache on a modern MacBook Pro with a Wi-Fi connection. More formal testing to follow.

Greater Stability

Automated cross-browser, cross-device testing is the Holy Grail of testing for a JavaScript library. While building version 4.0, we’ve been able to reach that goal through the use of a number of tools, including:
  • TravisCI - Automatically runs unit tests through PhantomJS on every pull request made to the Video.js source code
  • BunyipBrowserstack - Allows us to run tests in cloud-hosted instances of any browser from IE6 to the latest Chrome, and also a wide range of iOS and Android devices.
This ability to easily run tests across environments before any new release will give us more protection against regressions, and can allow for a faster feature release cycle.

New Plugin Interface

The new plugins API allows developers to more easily add custom features to Video.js. The API works similarly to the jQuery plugin interface, giving developers access to add to or overwrite any piece of Video.js. Once a plugin has been created, it can be shared on the Video.js plugin list page on the wiki.

New Default Skin

With help from the Brightcove UX team, we’ve created a new default skin that’s simpler, more polished, and more customizable. One of the most interesting features is that we’ve moved from using images for icons to font icons. The use of font icons allows you to change the color and size of the icons simply by changing a CSS value. You can see an example of this on the Video.js homepage.

Improved Accessibility

Greg Kraus, a Video.js community member from, did some great work testing and improving Video.js accessibility through better use of ARIA roles. The changes make it so keyboard-only users, screen reader users, and voice-interface users will be able to interact with the video player.

Moved to Apache 2.0 License

Earlier versions of Video.js were released under the LGPLv3 license. LGPL often gets confused with its stricter sibling, GPL, which requires that all code the software touches must also be open source. Video.js is meant to be open and free to use in all contexts, and we want that to be clear, so version 4.0 is now released under Apache 2.0, the same license Twitter Bootstrap is released under.

100% JavaScript Tool Set

Previously Video.js used Ruby for development tools, including Rake for deployment tasks, and zenflow–an internal Zencoder tool that builds on gitflow for development process workflow. With 4.0 we’ve moved to Grunt for tasks and we’re building out a tool similar to zenflow in Node.js. Now Open Source

As part of this release we’ve also made the website open source. So if you see something that should be added or fixed, fork it.