Moving Beyond Flash: The Yahoo HTML5 Video Player…

Adobe Flash, once the de-facto standard for media playback on the web, has lost favor in the industry due to increasing concerns over security and performance. At the same time, requiring a plugin for video playback in browsers is losing favor among users as well. As a result, the industry is moving toward HTML5 for video playback.

HTML5 video playback development is still nascent, and it was initially supported by browsers in its simplest form. Only recently has support been expanded to include capabilities for adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming offers two key benefits:

  • Adaptive Bitrate (ABR): An algorithm that detects a user’s bandwidth, CPU capacity, player size, etc. in real time and accordingly adjusts the bits downloaded to stream video.
  • Variable buffer sizing: A capability that allows us to control the time it takes for the playback to start.

Without ABR and variable buffer sizing, users have a poor viewing experience, as video playback cannot adapt to changing conditions on a user’s device.

These new capabilities have enabled a shift in the video-streaming industry from Flash to HTML5 and JavaScript.

At Yahoo, our video player uses HTML5 across all modern browsers for video playback. In this post we have described our journey to providing an industry-leading playback experience using HTML5, lay out some of the challenges we faced, and discuss opportunities we see going forward. Read on here!

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