Cross-browser HTML5 video tag with fallback for Flash users

Apple’s lack of support for Flash on the iPhone and iPad has forced people to reconsider the value of HTML5 and its video tag. It’s no longer something to put off until the future. However, adding HTML5 video support to your site AND continue to provide a Flash option for older browsers (I.E.) is not as simple as you might expect.

While the video tag has been standardized, there is a lack of consensus for supporting the codecs used to package the videos for distribution and playback. Some browsers are supporting the OGV format, some support the more popular but licensed mp4 format. Others, such as Chrome, will support both. To make it even more exciting, there is a new version under development to make a truly open-sourced format: WebM.

This means your video tag needs to define multiple movie sources to make it playable on all browsers. It sounds complicated because it is. Luckily, Kroc Camen has written a great article and code pattern for adding a cross-browser video tag with fallback to Flash for the older browsers: Video for Everybody!.

The article is full of great advice from a programmer that has learned the stuff the hard way. Here’s an explanation of how you’ll need to adjust your htaccess file.

Ensure your server is using the correct mime-types. Firefox will not
play the OGG video if the mime-type is wrong. Place these lines in your .htaccess
file to send the correct mime-types to browsers

AddType video/ogg  .ogv
AddType video/mp4  .mp4
AddType video/webm .webm

Video for Everybody! – Kroc Camen

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