Discussing HTML5 video and audio with author Steve Heffernan

Published by | Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

As part of our series of courses on HTML5, we’ve released a new course called HTML5: Video and Audio in Depth. I had a chance to catch up with new author Steve Heffernan to talk to him about this topic. Steve Heffernan is a web front-end developer with 12 years of experience, and an HTML5 video enthusiast. He has spoken on HTML5 video at the Open Video Conference, and is the creator of the popular HTML5 video player, VideoJS. He is also co-founder of Zencoder, a cloud-based video encoding service.

Q: What got you interested in HTML5 video and audio?
A: Years ago I built a Flash video player for the university I was working for. I enjoyed that project a lot, and learned a ton about web video in the process. While Flash is a great platform, I’ve always preferred browser-native technologies (HTML/CSS/JS), so when the opportunity came to use an HTML-based player I jumped on it. I was on a team in the ’09 Rails Rumble, and we were attempting to build a video platform in 48 hours. HTML5 video was still very young at the time and so probably not the best choice for such a time-sensitive project, but we got it working, and I’ve been working with it ever since.

Q: What foundation skills would people need to get the most out of your course, HTML5: Video and Audio in Depth?
A: To go through the course you really just need experience working with HTML. There is a section where I’ll show you how to create your own player controls with CSS and Javascript, but you should still be able to follow along even if you don’t have a lot of experience with those technologies.

Q: What are some of the main issues for developers as they develop their HTML5 skill set?
A: The biggest issue for developers when using HTML5 is understanding browser support. Not all browsers support all HTML5 features, so often you need to provide a fallback to an older, more supported technology, or just understand that many of your users won’t experience that specific feature. Luckily, HTML5 has been around long enough now that many libraries and techniques have been developed to help you do that. So a lot of working with HTML5 is knowing what’s out there to help you.

Q: What is the most recent HTML5 project you’ve built?
A: My ongoing HTML5 project is VideoJS , an HTML5 video player a framework. It helps create a standard interface for HTML5 video and get around many of the bugs you find on mobile devices today. The VideoJS website itself is built on the HTML5 Boilerplate, which is a pretty amazing package of advanced techniques for HTML5 and other web technologies.

Q: Where do you get your information about HTML5?
A: There are some pretty great HTML5 resources out there depending on what specific features you’re working with, but I often end up at the HTML spec to see how things are supposed to work. It’s pretty technical though if you’re just getting started. I also have some Google alerts set up to get the latest news.

Q: What’s one thing you’d love to see in future web technologies?
A: A smell tag. <smell src=”cows.sml”>Driving from LA to San Fran.</smell> :)

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One Response to “Discussing HTML5 video and audio with author Steve Heffernan”

  1. Oliver Giving says:

    Two years later and HTML5 has arrived in terms of audio and video. And not a moment too soon.

    Browser problems are much more rare now and this leads to a smoother end user experience.

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