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Embedded video

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 11:42 UK time, Friday, 14 March 2008

A graphic of the BBC News websiteEagle-eyed users of the BBC News website today might spot what is quite a significant moment for us - the start of widescale use on this site of video embedded into a story page.

We ran a trial of this last year, but this is the first stage in a roll-out which will soon include the whole site. I'll write more about this when we make a few other changes to the site later in the month, but in the meantime you can read some technical details about how it's done from John O'Donovan on the BBC Internet Blog.


I was nearly impressed, until I followed the link and saw that you have locked your video into a closed, single-vendor format. (Rather, I had to work this out, as for this reason the video didn't display for me.)

As a small, independent content producer it's important to me that the data I generate is under my control, and not Adobe's or Microsoft's. That's why I use open formats for which more than one piece of editing software is available. It's just the same as when designing a piece of machinery or electronics: you choose components made and sold by several companies. The alternative is to lock yourself in to one company, who can later choose to raise the price or stop selling the component in question.

For a huge organisation like the BBC, I would have thought that keeping control of their interaction with customers was a very important thing. But after the BBC iPlayer, which for home computers is locked into a single OS vendor, the News website is next to relinquish the decisions of which users to support and which to ignore to an unrelated third-party, in this case Adobe.

For a corporation whose charter and remit have always been to remain independent of commercial interests, and who have an association with advances in home computer use and technology that reaches back as far as the computer industry itself, to commit itself in this way to certain companies instead of encouraging innovation and diversity, is deeply disappointing.

The first Google Zurich example has certainly failed to ever play over the last few days on a Mac/Firefox (which happily consumes the iPlayer stream) but always works ok over on an XP PC/IE ...

  • 3.
  • At 09:52 PM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • PeeVeeAh wrote:

Aargh! Embedded video! Just what I need to interrupt my screen reading application :-/ Sounds worse than Flash - and that is horribly disruptive to people who use access applications (screen readers, magnifiers etc) to extract information from web-based media. I trust the BBC did do research on the accessibility front?

  • 4.
  • At 11:33 AM on 16 Mar 2008,
  • Ian Bowie wrote:

Embedded video? It does not work very well. It takes forever to load. Most of the time all I see is a circle of white dots, rotating clockwise on the screen. Very frustrating. You may be excited about this, I am very unimpressed. By contrast, clips amd live streams on Real or Windows Media Player, load very quickly, and in the vast majority of cases play very smoothly, without buffering. So, as far as I am concerned, I would be very grateful, if you continue to use both Real and Windows Media Player on your website.

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