HTML5 Video: Still not there yet, but making headway

Update: JW7 is now available. Check it out here.

Last year, we declared that HTML5 video was not quite there yet. Well, it’s nearly 18 months since that post, so what’s happened in the intervening time?

Let’s start off with the positive: compared to 18 months ago, the browsers’ implementations of the <video> tag have become much more stable. They also all have built-in support for pseudo-streaming(i.e. the ability to seek to an unbuffered position in the video file). The tools surrounding HTML5 video — streaming servers, transcoders, etc. — have also improved.

On the other hand, many of the issues we pointed to in our last post have not yet been resolved. HTML5 video is still “not quite there yet”, but we’ll take a look at the developments over the past year and make some predictions on where this is all headed.

HD Video Everywhere!

These days, HD quality video is no longer an option – it is essentially a requirement. On the other hand, there are still quite a few viewers out there that are unable to play high quality video, due to connection or device constraints. A simple way to fix this is by offering an HD toggle in your player. Viewers that want the full experience select the high quality option, while viewers that don’t have the capabilities (or interest) stick to the standard quality default.

With some smart encoding, creating such a setup is very easy. This post explains how to encode for and embed a player with an HD toggle that works on the desktop, as well as on the iPadiPhone and Android devices.

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Optimize Your Video for Mobile Playback

With the Android and iOS platforms growing like weeds, online publishers are scrambling to mobilize their video players and profit from these additional viewers. Since Apple’s iOS doesn't run Flash, most of these publishers turn to the HTML5 <video> tag for delivering their clips to mobile devices.

While this is a critical first step (better to have your videos play than not), it is also just the start. The mobile user experience (UX) model is vastly different from that of the desktop computer, which means additional work is needed in areas such as interface, streaming and advertising. These UX differences have several implications for video players.

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Touch Versus Mouse

Introducing: Bits on the Run Free

We're excited today to announce the introduction of Bits on the Run Free, a new type of Bits on the Run account which provides a zero cost way for publishers to get started with video. Instead of our previous 30-day Trial Membership, customers can now sign up for Bits on the Run and keep a Free Account... forever.

Bits on the Run Free

Our new Bits on the Run Free Account is recommended for bloggers, individuals and sites just getting started with video. Bits on the Run Free allows users to store and stream their videos at no cost, with full access to the Bits on the Run dashboard - including its player customization options, transcoding system, JW Player plugin support, API and rich video analytics.

Our Tips for Shooting Web Friendly Video that Compresses Well

When it comes to bringing an attractive video experience to your website, the real star is of course the video itself. If your videos look attractive, viewers will be more engaged, and less likely to navigate away. Not only do quality videos look better, they will also compress better, which helps with two important factors - you save on video delivery costs, and smaller files mean your viewers need less bandwidth to watch the videos smoothly.

Here are a few tricks for making your videos look and sound as good as possible. Web friendly video should be easy to compress, and continue to look good even after it has been encoded to a low bitrate.

JW Player 5.7: All about HTML5 Playlists

This release of the JW Player 5.7 focuses heavily on lifting HTML5 support closer to parity with Flash. The most glaring gap had been the lack of support for XML playlists and for a visual playlist UI component. We're happy to announce that those features are now available. Read more to find out what's new.

Using a Web Proxy to Test and Debug the JW Player or: Why Charles is our Best Friend

One of the tools that we've come to rely on quite heavily over the past several years is a web proxy. Frequently, we see support requests come in where a publisher has misconfigured the player by pointing it at a video file or skin which does not exist on their server. Using a web proxy, it's possible to log all requests, making it quite easy to see when requests are failing because the file they're trying to load isn't there. Additionally, since some web proxies allow you to modify requests, publishers can test out new player versions, plugins, or skins without modifying any code on their live site. In this blog post, we'll show you how to use a web proxy called Charles to help you debug your current JW Player configuration and test out new configurations.