The examples here should work with Safari 4, Firefox 3.5 and IE using a flash fallback. If you’re looking for a complete example that includes support for the video element, quicktime, windows media, iPhone support, and finally flash support you might try checking out Video for Everybody. It’s been tested with a huge pile of browsers in different configurations and is a good start point if you’re looking for support for everything under the universe.
You might also check out Michael Verdi’s video tags with fallbacks article where he uses a much simpler, but somewhat easier to understand method.
A simple example
The video tag looks something like this in a web page:
What this does is insert a video element into your page. Firefox 3.5 will load the video, determine its size and re-size the element to the natural size of the video.
Firefox 3.5 supports the Ogg Theora video format, a free and open standard for video. Opera and Google Chrome will also include support for Theora in later versions. Safari 4 can also support the same format when using the Xiph Quicktime component but is not guaranteed to be present. Apple has licensed the mpeg4 format for use in Safari 4 and it is supported by default.
If you want to support both formats you need to be able to provide more than one type of format. You also need to change the markup to tell the browser about the types of the files, which order they are preferred and then let the browser choose which one it should use to display the video element. For our example the code would look something like this:
In this case the browser will first check to see if it supports the video/ogg video type. If it does, it will use that and load it. If it doesn’t it will move on to the next entry, the mp4 file and use it if it’s supported.
While most modern browsers have specific plans to support the video element, Microsoft has not made their intentions clear. So in order to support IE users into the near future you should provide fallbacks until Microsoft adopts this part of the new HTML5 standard. For our example we’ll use a simple flash fallback.
One nice thing about the video element is how easily it degrades to older browsers. If in the above example your browser doesn’t support the video tag and doesn’t support the source tag it will simple fall back to whatever happened to be included inside them. This makes it very easy to support fallbacks in a very easy way. Here’s what a flash fallback would look like that uses blip.tv:
And that’s it. This example supports all browsers, degrades nicely and helps to move the web forward all in one blow. HTML5 isn’t finished, but web developers can certainly start taking advantage of the features that it provides in modern browsers today.
The full example is embedded below.