Thursday, 19 August 2010

The WebM Problem

Well, lots of people are hyped about the WebM format (which is basically some kind of matroska based [btw. can be (de)muxed properly with new matroska tools] container, VP8 video codec [which was recently opensourced by google and thus is available in fedora] and Vorbis audio codec) which is understandable as it brings open standards to the web and you can play it even with a fresh install of fedora (well, since it was introduced only recently, this is true since the now-soon-to-be-released F14 Alpha).

And to lead the way, youtube is supporting it. But there's a huge but. On youtube it's available only if you enable html5 beta testing, by far not all videos on youtube can be played without flash and out of this subset only even a smaller number of them have been transcoded to WebM, so as a result if you are lucky, you'll play almost anything, and if you're unlucky, you'll either keep getting messages about missing flashplayer or missing h264 codec :( And to add to that, google is being ass and instead of querying the browsers for support, it uses user agent sniffing and thus effectivelly bans all other browsers than opera/firefox/chrome/safari/internet explorer from html5.

Someone should tell the web developers that there are zillion browsers out there that have support for advanced web features comparable to that in opera/firefox/chrome and that user agent spoofing is broken by design (unless you target it the otherway round &ndash send some quirks to browsers that are known to be broken). It's not a hard thing to masquerade my midori as firefox or safari, but I would prefer if I hadn't have to do that…

9 comments:

jnalley said...

You have an error in the first paragraph. The audio codec is Vorbis. Theora is a video codec.

Martin said...

jnalley: what a blunder… Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

Looks like there is resistance to getting rid of User-Agent too:

http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-wg/2010JulSep/thread.html

Pepsiman said...

> it uses user agent spoofing

Youtube uses user agent sniffing.

You use user agent spoofing to get around the sniffing.

http://www.walkernews.net/2009/10/20/user-agent-spoofing-vs-user-agent-sniffing/

Martin said...

Oops, it never fails to amaze me, how perfect I am at misusing English words... Thanks for pointing it out Pepsiman.

John (J5) Palmieri said...

Adobe has said flash will support WebM so while that doesn't get rid of the flash dependency it does mean that the format will be ubiquitous. One step at a time.

Benjamin Otte said...

Isn't Midori webkit-gtk based? And if so, why do I not have any problems on Youtube/HTML5 with Epiphany at all?

I've been using it fine on F13 since pretty much the day WebM came out...

Martin said...

Benjamin, It might be because epiphany isn't actually telling anyone it's epiphany -- my user agent in ephy seems to send:
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.2+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/531.2+

Martin said...

Urm, come to think of it, that's not precise... It works because it says the world that it's safari. My midori, which is set to identify as Safari in order to work with pages that use user agent sniffing, has very similar user agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux; en-us) AppleWebKit/531+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/531.2+ Midori/0.2