Why Facebook Moved Web Video to HTML5 From Flash

By David Cohen Comment

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Facebook recently switched all of its Web video from Adobe Flash to HTML5, and front-end engineer Daniel Baulig explained why in a blog post.

Baulig wrote that the benefits of moving to HTML5 included quicker development, a better testing infrastructure and far greater accessibility for impaired users.

He added that Facebook had to overcome challenges including proper logging, bugs within browsers, poor performance in older browsers and a regression in page load time.

Highlights from Baulig’s post follow:

We are continuing to work together with Adobe to deliver a reliable and secure Flash experience for games on our platform, but have shipped the change for video to all browsers by default.

Using Web technologies allows us to tap into the excellent tooling that exists in browsers, among the open-source community, and at Facebook in general. Not having to recompile code and being able to apply changes directly in the browser allow us to move fast.

HTML5 made it possible for us to build a player that is fully accessible to screen readers and keyboard input. We can leverage the accessibility tools that HTML5 provides to make it easier for people with visual impairments to use our products. Making Facebook accessible to everyone is an important part of our mission to make the world more open and connected.

Not only did launching the HTML5 video player make development easier, but it also improved the video experience for people on Facebook. Videos now start playing faster. People like, comment and share more on videos after the switch, and users have been reporting fewer bugs. People appear to be spending more time with video because of it. Videos are an enriching way to connect with the world around you, and we’re happy we could make the Facebook video experience better.

Readers: What did you think of Baulig’s explanation?

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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