Following Google’s decision to stop using Adobe’s outdated Flash technology for video delivery on YouTube in favor of an HTML5-based video player, Facebook last week announced a similar move of its own.
“We recently switched to HTML5 from a Flash-based video player for all Facebook web video surfaces, including videos in News Feed, on Pages and in the Facebook embedded video player,” reads a post by Daniel Baulig on the company’s Code blog.
They will continue to use Flash for Facebook games. In addition to testability and development velocity, other benefits of an HTML5-based video player on Facebook include accessibility features in terms of 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,” reads the post.
Baulk says they didn’t drag their feet with the HTML5 player because they first had to ensure that video logs and view counts were captured correctly and that support for HTML5 video didn’t degrade user experience for users on older browsers.
“We noticed that a lot of the older browsers would simply perform worse using the HTML5 player than they had with the old Flash player,” he argued. “We saw more errors, longer loading times, and a generally worse experience.”
That’s why they ran HTML5 and a Flash-based video player in parallel while they ironed out bugs and waited until recently to ship the HTML5 player to all browsers by default, “with the exception of a small set of them.”
With the new HTML5 video player, videos on Facebook now start playing faster.
“People like, comment, and share more on videos after the switch, and users have been reporting fewer bugs,” according to Facebook. Best of all, users appear to be spending “more time with video because of it.”
Facebook’s lead security engineer recently called for the death of Flash, writing in a pair of tweets that Adobe should pick a date to end support for Flash and called for web browser makers to drop support the same day.
Flash technology has been destined for the technology graveyard ever since Steve Jobs put out his open letter titled ”Thoughts on Flash,” which can still be found on Apple’s website.
Citing Flash’s resource-intensive code prone to exploits and not optimized for mobile, Apple never supported Flash on iOS devices. In addition to YouTube and Facebook, Amazon stopped accepting Flash ads due security-related issues while BBC recently rolls out an HTML5 version of its iPlayer television service.