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Will Flash support WebM video?

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Last night, Remy Sharp and I did our first ever co-presentation about HTML5 for London Geek Night (and thanks to the organisers: we had a blast. Beer in the fridge for all—that rocks!). For the second time this week, I heard the misconception that the Flash Player will support unencumbered WebM video.

Adobe has announced that it will support the VP8 video codec. WebM, however, is an umbrella term that means VP8 video, with Vorbis audio (the one that Spotify uses, and which is supported by Opera, Firefox and Chrome) packaged up in a profile of the Matroska container format (MKV).

As far as I can tell, from Adobe’s Matt Rozen’s blogpost Flash Player Will Support VP8, there is not yet planned support for Vorbis or MKV:

Can Flash play .ogg audio like it plays .mp3 now?

We carefully consider the technologies we add to the Flash Player runtime based on customer needs. We haven’t announced support for other codecs at this time.

It’s great that Adobe will support VP8. But we shouldn’t yet assume that we can let browsers that don’t natively support unencumbered WebM fall back to the Flash Player.

I’d love it if an Adobean would comment and clarify the situation, as that blogpost is from May 24 so there might be newer information that I haven’t seen.

(There’s a similar situation with IE9. IE9 will support VP8 if the codec is previously installed on the machine—that is, it’s not inside IE9 out-of-the-box. But note this is VP8, with no mention of WebM. However, as Microsoft already uses Vorbis for the audio in Microsoft Halo, we can assume that they have no ideological problem with the audio format).

Opera 10.60 is the first shipping browser with WebM support; Firefox and Chrome have committed to support and have it built into nightlies.

Added 15 Jan 2011: I’ve just noticed that the Flash logo is listed on the webM site as “RSS feed. Comment.

5 Responses to “ Will Flash support WebM video? ”

Comment by Julien Portalier

Playing OGG Vorbis within OGG container is doable in Flash. Thought it’s CPU intencive, so you won’t be able to decode audio & video at the same time on slow computers like netbooks. There is also the problem of the Matroska container, and sending the video stream out of it to the Flash VP8 decoder.

I’m not sure playing WebM videos will be possible with Flash if it doesn’t support the OGG Vorbis codec and the Matroska container natively 🙁

Comment by Daniel

I love it when you see someone asked a question with a simple “yes” or “no” answer, and they reply with something like “We carefully consider the technologies we add to the Flash Player runtime based on customer needs.”

You really need the follow-on question, that goes: “I’m a customer: try and guess why I’m asking?”

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