HTML5 Video Trumps Plugins. Here’s Why...

HTML5 Video Trumps Plugins. Here’s Why...

The humble video element has come a long way since its proposal in 2007. Before the video element, video on the Internet was delivered via plugins, the most popular of which being Flash. While Flash is still a dominant method of delivering video to browsers, it's only a matter of time before it's completely replaced by HTML5 video. Utilizing HTML5, and an HTML5-first video player, present many advantages. But before we jump into those, let's first take a quick look at how we got here and where we're going.

The Problem with Plugins
If Flash works well, why do we need an alternative?

Prior to the video element, plugins were the only way to deliver video. Some of the plugins were purpose-based - Quicktime and Real provided for media playback but not much else. Flash, on the other hand, provided support for various media types and also complete app frameworks. As a result, web developers began using Flash not only to deliver media, but also to build rich websites featuring games, animations and sounds. While the websites worked great on the majority of desktops, the early signs of issues were present since some desktops were not able to deliver a good Flash experience.

Flash eventually grew to power a huge number of websites. At the same time, the number of devices that could access the web began to grow exponentially. Out of the growing popularity of these devices grew the idea of responsive design -- the creation of websites that could adapt their interface to the screen and user interface of any device. Responsive design was an attempt to break out of the rigidity imposed by developing sites using Flash. A new movement was formed that was developer centric, with standard web technologies at its core - HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. (And of course, we can’t forget Apple’s bold stance against Flash, not allowing it across its mobile devices).

As iOS and Android continue to grow their overall share of web traffic, responsive design and core browser technology like the video element have grown to become indispensable. So, what are the other advantages to HTML5-first video?

Device Support
People watch video everywhere. Any device with a screen is a potential target for video, so making your video compatible with those devices is critical for success. HTML5 video gives device manufacturers a standardized way to easily include video support into their devices. With HTML5 player technology like Video JS, it's easy to deploy a single player that works everywhere.

Developer Friendly
HTML5 video and HTML5-based video players allow developers to build rich experiences across every screen using core web technologies like HTML, CSS and Javascript. The same developer that creates and styles the website can now do the same with the player.

Power Consumption
HTML5 video plugs into a device’s core software rather than running on plugins. For example, Netflix running on OS X using HTML5 in Safari is capable of lasting 2 hours longer than through Silverlight. By leveraging the OS, hardware acceleration is used, dramatically lowering power consumption.

Open Technology
By leveraging open technology standards, more people can contribute to software, accelerating the development of better experiences. Video JS is a great example of a huge open source community coming together to build the world's best player.

HTML5 has had a huge impact on the delivery of Internet video and it will continue to do so in years to come. As one of the largest online video companies in the world, Brightcove is in the driver's seat pushing the world towards an open, standardized approach to video delivery.