November 19, 2012

ViewTube Lets Users Try Out HTML5 Video with Popular Streaming Sites

While Adobe Flash is still the most popular option for playing videos on the Internet today, many sites — including YouTube (NewsAlert) —have begun offering videos in HTML5 format as well. While many see HTML5 eventually taking over for Flash as the reigning champion of Internet video streaming, there are a few hurdles still in the way for HTML5 going forward.

Most notably, there are two competing formats — WebM and h.264 — fighting to take the place as the video streaming format of choice currently on popular websites. This happens at almost every new evolutionary step for most technologies — Betamax versus VHS, Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD —but this a little different than past examples as the choice is up to sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo (NewsAlert) MetaCafe and many more rather than the consumer.

During this transition period, however, users can still check out each of these formats with the help of a userscript called ViewTube. Depending on the site being visit and the browser being used, some may have to install a third party media player plugin to watch videos with ViewTube.

ViewTube apparently works quite well with Firefox, Google (News Alert) Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari and a handful of Linux browsers. The userscript simply displays a small bar on the top of the video frame that allows users to select a format from the available options. The options include HTML5, WebM and h.264 if available.

Of course, since this functionality isn’t officially offered, there will be some hiccups. For example, Vimeo only makes videos available in mp4 format, which Firefox can’t handle with its native HTML5 capabilities. In this instance, one must the install a media player plugin like VLC Web Player to access ViewTube’s full functionality on that site.

ViewTube is also an ideal solution for those looking to do away with Flash early as the plugin is prone to attacks since it is still so widely used.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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