SublimeVideo Hopes to Simplify HTML5 Web Video

Flash might not be disappearing overnight, but there’s no denying that HTML5 is gaining momentum every day, particularly when it comes to web video. YouTube and Vimeo both recently announced support for browser-native video through HTML5, joining other, smaller web video sites that already supported HTML5.

But while HTML5 video is here, it isn’t quite ready for prime time. There are the codec issues, but even without considering those, the unfortunate fact is that even just watching HTML5 video isn’t as nice as it is with Flash. Full-screen support isn’t universal, some browsers autoplay video while some don’t, and the players themselves lack features you’ll find in most Flash video players.

In short, the experience of HTML5 video hasn’t quite caught up to the promise. That’s where SublimeVideo hopes to come in and sharpen the picture. SublimeVideo is a software product from Swiss startup Jilion. The company wants to create a uniform, cross-browser, multiple-codec compatible, HTML5 video-embedding solution.

As we mentioned in our Flash-isn’t-dead-yet piece, smart web developers are going to use both HTML5 and Flash for some time and that’s exactly what SublimeVideo plans to do.

SublimeVideo’s working demo movie currently only supports WebKit browsers (Safari, Chrome and IE with Chrome Frame), but before the public release arrives, SublimeVideo’s developers plan to add support for Firefox (via .ogg videos), Opera and a way to fall back to Flash video in older browsers and IE8.

At the moment, SublimeVideo supports basic features like live resizing, keyboard shortcuts for play/pause, advanced buffering and full-screen mode (full screen only works if you’re using a nightly build of WebKit). Obviously, it’s no match for a Flash video player, but it’s an impressive start and much nicer than the native video controls in most browsers. Unfortunately, the reality is a bit more of a mixed bag.

The player worked just fine in the latest version of Safari, though load times were bit slow particularly when jumping around in the timeline. Only the developer version of Chrome for Mac supports HTML5 video and it has quite a few bugs, making SublimeVideo’s demo video a jittery, stuttering affair (not SublimeVideo’s fault).

If SublimeVideo is able to deliver on all its goals, the end results just might make for a very slick HTML5 video solution — deliver web-standards video where you can and fall back to Flash where you can’t. Solutions like this are what the web needs in the short term.

It’s unclear from the limited information available, but it would be nice to see SublimeVideo fall back in the opposite direction as well. In other words, sites that use features HTML5 video doesn’t support — for example, in-video queue points, like user comments — start with the Flash video embed and then fall back to HTML5 for mobile devices that don’t support Flash.

SublimeVideo has not announced a release date beyond “soon,” but does say the code will be available for free so long as it’s for noncommercial use.

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