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Use of Ogg formats in HTML5

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Title: Use of Ogg formats in HTML5  
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Subject: HTML5 Audio, Ogg, Continuous Media Markup Language, HTML5, CELT
Collection: Html, Html5, Markup Languages, World Wide Web Consortium Standards, Xml-Based Standards
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Use of Ogg formats in HTML5

The HTML5 draft specification adds video and audio elements for embedding video and audio in HTML documents. The specification had formerly recommended support for playback of Theora video and Vorbis audio encapsulated in Ogg containers to provide for easier distribution of audio and video over the internet by using open standards, but the recommendation was soon after dropped.


  • Motivation 1
  • Support 2
  • Opposition 3
  • Recommendation retracted 4
  • Adoption 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Because some visitors and publishers choose not to take part in the use of proprietary software, web content has been made available through freely implementable open standards in order to reach these users. As multimedia is already mainstream on the web through proprietary data formats (such as Windows Media Video and MP4) and browser plugins (such as Adobe Flash Player), developers had hoped Theora and Vorbis would become part of the HTML5 specification.[1]

Users affiliated with the free software movement claimed the following advantages:

  • The potential for universal adoption of Theora and Vorbis, no matter the computer or the user, would ease "codec hell" by eliminating an unnecessary amount of codecs required to view and publish videos to a select few.
  • Browser plugins needed to accommodate the many different codecs would then become a thing of the past:
    • Browsers could handle the playback of Theora and Vorbis and allow the user to customize the manner in which that was done.
    • Bugs and exploits in obsolete versions of those plugins would affect the user less, as they are phased out; the loss of multiple attack vectors would happen once browser plugins were ultimately removed.
    • The HTML5-conformant player, not having to be coded for compatibility with different browsers, could make bugs and exploits easier to find during browser development, and any exploits found would only be able to target that one browser.
  • Free software encoders would compete with rival proprietary encoders, increasing encoder quality through competition.
  • Embedding of multimedia by the use of clear and straightforward video and audio elements would require less effort than mastering the object element or learning ActionScript as required by Adobe Flash.

CTO at Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie explained in a Google tech talk entitled "The

I believe very strongly, that we need to agree on some kind of baseline video format if [the video element] is going to succeed. [...] We want a freely implementable open standard to hold the content we put out. That's why we developed the PNG image format. [...] PNG [...] came late to the party. Therefore I think it's important that from the beginning we think about this.

After the presentation, Lie was asked whether Opera will support other formats than Ogg:

My opinion is that browsers shouldn't support other codecs, at least not in the beginning, until we have established a baseline format. [...] We don't want to contaminate


Opera Software and Mozilla have been advocates for including the Ogg formats into the HTML standard.[3] Support has been available in experimental builds of Opera 9.5 since 2007,[4] and Ogg Theora is fully supported since Opera 10.50.[5] Gecko 1.9.1 (browsers based on this engine include Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and SeaMonkey 2.0[6]), released on June 30, 2009, was the first non-experimental layout engine to support Ogg formats. Google Chrome included support in their 3.0 release (September 2009),[7] along with support for H.264. However, they did not support MPEG-1 (the parts patents on which are thought to have expired), citing concerns over performance.[8]


On October 17, 2007, the Apple Inc., a member of the MPEG LA, has also opposed the inclusion of Ogg formats in the HTML standard on the grounds that H.264 performs better and is already more widely supported, citing patents on their codec's efficiency and the lack of precedents of "Placing requirements on format support", even at the "SHOULD" level, in HTML specifications.[12]

Recommendation retracted

On December 10, 2007, the HTML 5 specification was updated,[13] replacing the reference to Theora and Vorbis with a placeholder:[14]

It would be helpful for interoperability if all browsers could support the same codecs. However, there are no known codecs that satisfy all the current players: we need a codec that is known to not require per-unit or per-distributor licensing, that is compatible with the open source development model, that is of sufficient quality as to be usable, and that is not an additional submarine patent risk for large companies. This is an ongoing issue and this section will be updated once more information is available.[15]

The removal of the Ogg formats from the specification made it completely file format neutral, like previous versions of HTML. The decision was criticized by a number of Web developers. A follow-up discussion also occurred on the W3C questions and answers blog.[16]

In response to criticism, the WHATWG has cited concerns over the Ogg formats still being within patent lifetime and thus vulnerable to unknown patents.[17] Such submarine patents may also exist for formats like MP3. Also, the AVC patent licensing policy is subject to change in a not-yet-clear manner.[18]


As of May 2010, HTML5 video is not currently as widespread as Flash videos, though of recent rollouts of experimental HTML5-based video players on websites, DailyMotion is so far the only one to use Ogg Theora and Vorbis formats,[19] which suggests an increasing early interest in adopting HTML5 video.


See also


  1. ^ RoughlyDrafted Magazine (6 July 2009). "Ogg Theora, H.264 and the HTML 5 Browser Squabble". RoughlyDrafted Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "Håkon Wium Lie on the video element in HTML 5". Google Video. 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  3. ^ "Mozilla, Opera Want to Make Video on the Web Easier". PC World. 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Opera release on Labs - Opera Developer Community". 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  5. ^ Jägenstedt, Philip (2009-12-31). "(re-)Introducing  
  6. ^ Kaiser, Robert (2009-10-28), SeaMonkey 2.0 - What's New in SeaMonkey 2.0,, retrieved 2009-10-31 
  7. ^ Laforge, Anthony (September 15, 2009). "Google Chrome after a year: Sporting a new stable release".  
  8. ^ Fette, Ian (May 29, 2009). "whatwg MPEG-1 subset proposal for HTML5 video codec".  
  9. ^ "W3C Video on the Web Workshop". Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  10. ^ "Workshop Papers".  
  11. ^ Wenger, Stephan (28 November 2007). "W3C Workshop on Video on the Web, December 12–13, 2007". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  12. ^ Stachowiak, Maciej (21 March 2007). "[whatwg] Codecs (was Re: Apple Proposal for Timed Media Elements)". whatwg mailing list mailing list. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  13. ^ Hickson, Ian (10 December 2007). "[whatwg] Video codec requirements changed". whatwg mailing list mailing list. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  14. ^ "(X)HTML5 Tracking".  
  15. ^ "[whatwg] Removal of Ogg is *preposterous*". . Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  16. ^ Connolly, Dan (December 18, 2007). "When will HTML 5 support
  17. ^ Hickson, Ian (11 December 2007). "Re: [whatwg] Removal of Ogg is *preposterous*". whatwg mailing list mailing list. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  18. ^ Paul, Ryan (2009-07-05). "Decoding the HTML 5 video codec debate". Infinite Loop / The Apple Ecosystem. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  19. ^ "Watch Video…without Flash". Dailymotion. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2010-05-18. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  • Codecs for
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