On Monday Wikimedia announced that the Mozilla Foundation have provided a substantial donation of $100,000 in order to boost development of the OGG video format. This announcement is of special interest to web designers as it could free them from proprietary technology such as Adobe’s Flash when using video on a web site.
Erik MÃ¶ller had this to say in their blog post:
Mozilla has awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation to help coordinate improvements to the development of Ogg Theora and related open video technologies. Mozilla and Wikimedia share a strong commitment to open standards. Version 3.1 of the Mozilla Firefox web browser will include built-in support to play audio and video in the open source Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora formats. All audio and video in Wikipedia is stored in these formats. Mike Shaver, VP of Engineering at Mozilla has blogged about this great news, as has Chris Blizzard, Director of Evangelism for Mozilla.
Whilst it might take a while for these efforts to start showing benefits to users and web developers, it certainly is a great step forward. Currently any presentation of video or audio on the web is primarily powered by proprietary technologies such as Flash, Window’s Media formats, Real Player, and Microsoft’s recently launched Silverlight. Whilst these technologies are “free” for the end user, they require expensive investments for developers and are tied to a single vendor’s decisions on the technology’s capabilities and implementation.
Firefox have already announced their intention to support OGG video and audio in the upcoming Firefox 3.1, and I hope that we’ll see other browser vendors following suit. Whether Microsoft will consider this for future versions of Internet Explorer is unknown, but I can only imagine that they wouldn’t support it.
HTML Standards and Video
Unfortunately it appears that the W3C, who designate web standards, have dropped plans to include a standard “<video>” element in the upcoming HTML 5 specification, so for the time being such use of a <video> element will not be considered a standard, which could well cause a major blow to OGG audio and video implementation.
This announcement enraged many open-source developers, such as Manuel Amador, who wrote:
This compromise on basic values is unacceptable, *whatever* the practical reasons you have deemed to compromise for.Â If you don’t revert, you will be giving us independent authors the shaft.Â And we will remember it forever.
He continues by suggesting that the likely reasons for this turnaround from the W3C is as a result of pressure from Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft who are concerned about “patent” issues with OGG. From the looks of things this is nothing more than mis-information in an attempt to protect their own vested interests.
We can only add our voice to those looking for the W3C to uphold their intentions to be a “vendor-neutral forum for the creation of Web standards” and continue to support open and non-proprietary standards in order to keep pushing the web forward.