YouTube: HTML5 "does not yet meet all of our needs"

YouTube: HTML5 "does not yet meet all of our needs"

Summary: There are those who believe that Adobe's Flash format is being handed its hat, especially since Steve Jobs has banished it from the iPhone and iPad platform. But according to YouTube, HTML5 is not yet ready to meet all of its needs.


There are those who believe that Adobe's Flash format is being handed its hat, especially since Steve Jobs has banished it from the iPhone and iPad platform. But according to YouTube, HTML5 is not yet ready to meet all of its needs.

John Harding, software engineer at YouTube, highlights six areas where HTML5 is lacking compared to Flash. There are:

  • Standard Video Format - Not all browsers support H.264 because of licensing concerns, holding back HTML5.
  • Robust video streaming - There's more to video that just pointing to a file. People want control to be able to stream live video or go to a particular spot in a video.
  • Content Protection - DRM! No matter how you feel about it, some content providers love it.
  • Encapsulation + Embedding - There's a lot more to a YouTube videos than the video. There's stuff such as captions, annotations, and advertising.
  • Fullscreen Video - Still a pain for HTML5 to handle fullscreen video.
  • Camera and Microphone access - Some folks record their YouTube videos using YouTube, something that's not possible with HTML5.

Bottom line is that YouTube is, for now at least, dependant on the Adobe Flash platform for some elements of its business. This means that Flash isn't going to go away overnight, no matter how much Steve Jobs wants that to happen.

Topics: Software Development, Social Enterprise

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  • A very pragmatic approach by Google. They are also of course making sure

    that Flash stays around a lot longer with the support for Flash on Chrome. The anti-Flash stance at Apple will hurt them in the long run.

    But, I have to admit, I HATE sites that use Flash to try to impress.
    • RE: YouTube: HTML5

      As an Iphone and Ipad user, I'm extremely angry with Apple for denying access to about half the news videos on the web. Worse, it's a constant reminder that my user experience is subject to the whims of Mr Jobs, who doesn't give a rats a@@ about the users of his products. What happened to Microsoft, don't they know how to develop an operating system anymore?
    • You hate ANYTHING that involves paying someone, admit it . .


      Your problem has more to do with it being proprietary, and you'd be willing to go back to the stone age in order to do away with it . . .
  • How about

    HTML5 doesn't exist as a standard yet?
    Building your house on a foundation that is guaranteed to shift and move isn't a good idea.
    • They noted the problem of browser support in the article. Of course MS does

      not want HTML5 to work or work the same across pletforms, to keep it from being adopted. But, if all browser makers would implement the first parts of HTML5, including the video tag, it would really help.
      • RE: YouTube: HTML5

        @DonnieBoy What?? Microsoft is supporting HTML 5

        "Did we mention that 2010 would be a big year for HTML5? Apple and Google are pushing it big time, and now so is Microsoft. When Internet Explorer 9 comes out, it will support HTML5 and help make it more common across the Web.

        ?The future of the web is HTML5,? writes Dean Hachamovitch, the general manager for IE at Microsoft in a blog post talking about Web video. Microsoft still supports Flash as well, but HTML5 and Flash are at loggerheads. By throwing its weight behind HTML5, Microsoft giving Website designers one more reason to abandon Flash."

      • Laughable statement

        [i]They noted the problem of browser support in the article. Of course MS does
        not want HTML5 to work or work the same across pletforms[/i]

        And yet MS's HTML5 demo page works on Chrome (and presumably Safari) while Apple's HTML5 demo page doesn't work on anything but Safari. It would appear that MS is [b]much[/b] more interested in cross platform HTML5 support than Apple is.
      • Donnie . . .


        Google owns Youtube, not MS . . . And MS DOES support HTML5 . . .
  • Can HTML5 video be made to meet their needs?

    Clearly, Flash video supports functionality that HTML5 video does not. However, not all video on the web needs this functionality. With both options available, web developers can make their choice, on a case by case basis.

    What I don't hear discussed often is HOW or IF HTML5 can be enhanced to support this functionality. Is it just a matter of time, or are there technical limitations that would make such support difficult/impossible?
    • RE: YouTube: HTML5


      I love your comment in many regards. I happen to believe that we don't need a one-size-fits-all tool and look forward to seeing what the future will bring if we let the market decide (instead of pushing a choice on the market). Personally, I think you are right. At first here, there will be those who will need the standards of HTML5 for the best website they can make, while Flash will give others all the tools they need. And maybe in time HTML5 will be adjusted so that HTML6, 7, 8, or 9 someday will give it the abilities it lacks (but then if it becomes bloated there will probably some new standard that presents another clean and simple option and thus the cycle will continue...).
  • RE: YouTube: HTML5

    Hmm. <br>Video Format: I don't really think that's true anymore - H.264 has been endorsed by just about everyone, has it not? If not, Google's WebM could take over. Support the video tag and allow the codec to be replaceable. Not so hard.<br><br>Robust video streaming: Is this not a function of the browser's built in video tool? Not sure why this is a concern. Seems to be pretty well understood.<br><br>DRM: Not sure how Flash fixes this vs. HTML5? Is the concern that the browser now has to do this versus a piece of Flash code? Someone needs to explain this to me...<br><br>Encapsulation/Embedding: What about HTML overlays or floating windows or whatever they're called... Would that not work in a similar fashion?<br><br>Fullscreen video: Again why would the browser not be able to handle this? Why does Flash make this easier?<br><br>Camera/Microphone: It's true this is not well supported right now. Again, the browser will need to be able to access the hardware - which historically has been a bad thing.<br>On the other hand, I don't see a lot of people needing this. At least a Flash version.<br><br>Having said all that, I think Apple was silly to cut Flash off completely. I think HTML5 will handle playing video just fine, but Flash does more than play video. Not a big fan of the content I've seen with Flash, but it exists now - Apple should have at least tried to make it accessible.
    • DRM

      @rossdav@... The point of DRM is to allow you to view the item (video in this discussion), but not permit copying to the PC. Like every other thing in HTML, the web page design can obfuscate details of the specific video files, but there's no way to actually prevent download of the file. And no encryption possible.

      Flash has a DRM, so it can prevent copying, since "plain" video need never exist on the web. This can be used for pay video, of course, but there are other reasons. Its common for TV networks to put their content online, free.. but perhaps for a limited time,

      Apple is pushing for HTML5 for video, and fighting Flash.. not because they value open video. Rather, they want to be lone provider of DRMed content on the Apple devices. If you can watch that episode of your favorite TV show on for free, you're not going to buy it from iTunes.
      • RE: YouTube: HTML5


        <i>Apple should have at least tried to make it accessible.</i>

        They did try, they still try. Adobe fails to deliver.

        On the other points I agree - where exactly do you need the camera/microphone for web content? I have not seen a single case of a flash based website needing this!!!

        As for robust streaming, well Flash was not the first format to offer this either.

        As far as I can see Flash just provided an easy way to do a cross platform player, and YouTube jumped at it.

        I can understand this as I have done the same in the past, for the same reasons.

        Now the platforms are changing, Adobe is failing to follow the technology and is instead trying to dictate that platforms should hang back with their desired change - this is monopolistic practice by Adobe and they should be investigated for their anti-competitive behaviour, lies and bully-boy tactics to force the use of their product.


        <i>.. not because they value open video. Rather, they want to be lone provider of DRMed content on the Apple devices</i>


        Apple pushes for non DRMed content from the content providers. Apple also pushes for lower prices for content from the big players.

        <i> If you can watch that episode of your favorite TV show on for free, you're not going to buy it from iTunes</i>

        If you can watch free content on YouTube on all Apple devices, you can watch free CBS content also as long as CBS lets you, Apple isn't stopping you.

        There is nothing to stop anyone from developing an App that provides a DRMed front end to content on the iPad/iPhone/iPod/Mac platforms. This app could be distributed through the App store, or hosted on any web server.

        Yes, that's right - host a DRM system for the iPad/iPhone on any web server, without Apple control, Apple will not stop you, and this requires no jailbreaking.

        Enough of the great lie about iOS devices, and enough of the ill informed and popular lie about Apple controlling everything. They just don't - about time the IT press woke up to themselves.
  • What about RIA?

    To add to that list, video playback is only a small part of so-called "Flash."

    What about RIA?

    "Flash" isn't going away anytime soon....
    • RE: YouTube: HTML5

      @livingegg and video playback is a tiny part of HTML5. RIA is what HTML5 is all about. People just seemed focused on video playback because that's what the majority of people use Flash for. What people don't realize is that HTML5 use to be the Web Application 1.0 specification from the W3C. RIA is what HTML5 is all about, providing a framework to do RIA. HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript = Flash in every aspect. The only thing you don't get with HTML5 is the RMTP protocol which is an Adobe proprietary protocol used in Flash.
    • RE: YouTube: HTML5


      Video playback is only a small part of HTML 5 also.

      Have a look at iAd JS - no wonder Adobe is upset. All the things you might need Flash for to produce interactive advertising done better and without requiring you to spend a small fortune on Adobe software.

      Also look at the way webkit handles CSS transforms - makes the sort of flash websites that used to be built look pretty ordinary.

      And I say that as someone who once impressed Macromedia so much with my Flash website they asked me to present for them.
  • RE: YouTube: HTML5

    Hrmmm...maybe John Harding hasn't taken a close enough look at what's being done in the realm of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to really know what he's talking about.

    Standard Video Format - This is not holding back HTML5 because HTML5 is codec independent. It's up to the browsers to support a given codec. Right now there are 3 codecs vying for browser support. H.264, Ogg-Thera, and VP8. H.264 is the format the majority of content creators are supporting. Not only that but it's not that difficult to support all three and change the encoded file based on browser. In fact, there are already JavaScript libraries built that will do that for you.

    Robust video streaming - Again something that's controlled at the browser level and FYI, there are already HTML5 video players out there that allow for choosing the location in the video and skipping ahead.

    Content Protection - This is sort of an issue, but really if someone is that concerned about DRM but wants to use HTML5 then they just need to create a plug in for the browser, or they develop a different codec and get browser support for it. Honestly, though what's to stop me from hooking my video recorder up to my computer and record what I'm viewing in full screen mode. or just do a screen capture while in full screen mode. DRM is not viable.

    Encapsulation + Embedding - All of which can be handled via JavaScript. Again another non-issue.

    Fullscreen Video - I have yet to see a HTML5 video player NOT handle full screen. Has he not seen any HTML5 video player? They all seem to do a good job handling full screen video just fine.

    Camera and Microphone access - This seems like a pretty petty issue. Using a website to record videos seems like a terrible idea and I doubt there's a lot of users who really need this functionality. Not only that but I don't think I want HTML5 to have the need to access hardware resources deep within my computer that just seems like a terrible idea. Which is also one of the many reasons why Flash is the vector of choice for many malware folks. It's just a bad idea.
  • Flash vs HTML5

    Reading through those issues, nearly all of them can be addressed with tweaks to the HTML5 spec, which is still being tweaked anyway. So YouTube should get more involved in the tweaking if these are real-world issues that need to be addressed.

    The one exception I see is the Camera/Microphone access, which should really be a client-side operation anyway. If it is really needed, implement it as a browser plug-in or a small client application. Web servers interacting directly with client hardware seems like a bad idea in general.
    • But isn't that . . .


      What thin cliensts, and the CHROME OS are supposed to be about? EVERYTHING going through the Browser. I think what you're seeing here is the bleed over of concerns from Chrome OS more than anything else. . . .
  • It's not just Steve Jobs...

    "The web has not seen this level of transformation, this level of acceleration, in the past ten years? we're betting big on HTML5."

    (Vic Gundotra, VP of Engineering at Google)