Adobe has released an embeddable video player that plays HTML5 native video in browsers that support it, and falls back to Flash in browsers that don’t.
It’s cross-browser and cross-platform, so it works on iPhones, iPads and other devices that don’t support Flash. Using Adobe’s new player, these devices can show videos in web pages without the Flash plug-in.
The company has come under fire in the past year over concerns about the stability and performance issues related to its Flash Player browser plug-in, and Flash technology itself. Apple’s iPad ships without support for Flash, and Apple initially disallowed apps created in Flash from being sold in its app store. Apple rescinded after a few months, but the damage was already done — Google began pushing HTML5 video over Flash by releasing WebM, a new open video format, and developers got busy looking at HTML5 as a replacement for Flash, at least when it came to embedding videos.
With its new player, Adobe is responding to their developers’ wishes for solutions that play well on the open web. It comes on the heels of last week’s release from Adobe, which lets artists using Illustrator export their drawings as HTML5 Canvas, and its earlier pack of HTML5 tools for Dreamweaver.
HTML5 video adoption among browsers has gone tremendously so far — Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera all support native video, and baked-in support is coming to Internet Explorer 9 next year. But it’s still a bit of a mess, with different browsers supporting different formats. So developers posting HTML5 video still need to encode their files in at least two of the three major formats — the widely-used H.264, the newer WebM, or the older Ogg Theora — to guarantee all HTML5 capable browsers will be able to see their videos.
With the proper file formats in place, Adobe’s new player will play native web video in all the newest browsers, and will switch to Flash playback mode for all your poor visitors stuck with IE6 or something equally stone-aged.
The new HTML5 video player is incorporated into the workflow of Dreamweaver Creative Suite 5, so if you’re already using Adobe’s tools to build your site, you can drop in a player using Dreamweaver’s “Customize Widget” function.
If you’re not a Dreamweaver person, you can still generate all the code you need using Adobe’s free Widget Browser app. One caveat — the Widget Browser is an AIR app, so you’ll need to have Adobe’s Flash-based runtime to use it, though AIR apps will install AIR for you if you’re lacking.
To develop its video player widget, Adobe used open source code from Kaltura, repurposing a popular library that’s found at the heart of several HTML5 video players.