Adobe Strikes Back With Flash/HTML 5 Hybrid Widget

| Product News

Adobe announced Thursday the release of HTML 5 Video Player, a widget that Web developers can embed that will use HTML5 to playback video when it is supported, but then use Flash Player when the video is being viewed in a browser or device that doesn’t support it (i.e. some non-iOS mobile devices).

“Limited browser support for the HTML5 <video> tag has forced web designers to scramble for a solution that would work across platforms as well as browsers,” Adobe wrote in a blog entry. “To help customers overcome these challenges, Adobe has released an easy-to-use, totally CSS-customizable solution that shifts gracefully from the HTML5 <video> tag to the Flash Player when the tag is not supported.”

The widget is designed to allow developers to offer video and have the player look the same whether they are viewing it on an iOS device, a computer that supports Flash, or one of the Android devices that supports Flash.

It is customizable with CSS, and it can be used with or without CS5 Dreamweaver. Adobe also said it was fully cross-browser compatible with support for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera.

The widget was built with the use of a subset of Kaltura open source library. The folks at Kaltura posted an announcement through their blog that includes some technical info about the widget.

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash

Popular TMO Stories



Adapting on their feet. Novel concept!!!!


This is an excellent move for consumers, but not necessarily a good one for Adobe.

Let us assume that vast majority of Flash content out there is some form of streaming video (Perhaps up to 90%). Let us further assume that content owners of that streaming video will quickly adopt this new widget and re-code their sites to deliver video using this solution.

All those iOS users (120million and counting) will now have a pretty seamless experience with their devices. They won’t even know that they are missing the Flash plug-in, and the argument in favour of providing Flash on mobile (or any other) devices will be significantly weaker, if majority of Flash content can be accessed without Flash.

If anything, transition away from Flash will be made easier by Adobe, making sure that content works either way. At first, it may work as Adobe intended, gracefully falling back on HTML5 when Flash is not available. However, as HTML5 devices gain traction, and as Flash-free devices spread, content owners may just use the plug in to ‘fall back’ on Flash, when browser doesn’t fully support HTML5.

Apple may be playing dirty in its crusade against Flash, but Adobe clearly is NOT. I was never a big fan of Adobe, but I must admit, this move seems like rather selfless one.


Good move by Adobe.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that.


Realize that this is used by the web-site creator, which means they have to go through their entire website and recode with this widget. How many will actually take the time to do it? Any takers for a test run?

—shifts gracefully from the HTML5 <video> tag to the Flash Player when the tag is not supported.—

The way this is worded could be taken a couple ways. iOS doesn’t support Flash of any kind but it is supported fully on my regular Macs (well, it says it is but it still crashes). If I want to keep Flash only for the non-video portion, something this widget sounds like it handles, will it use HTML5 for the video or seeing Flash, will it still use Flash for everything?


We should take the wording to mean the worst-case scenario. That is, if Flash plug-in exists, then Flash content will be used. If it does NOT exist, attempt at falling-back to HTML5 will be made.

In other words, only iOS devices (and stock new MacBook Air) will ‘fall back’ to HTML5.

If you are a web developer, and want your video content delivered in HTML5 on devices that properly support it, with fall-back to Flash where it isn’t supported, you’ll probably have to code this in your HTML manually.

Even so, this move makes it much easier for Apple to fight its anti-Flash fight. As I said, unless there is some back-channel agreement we don’t know of, this seems rather selfless on behalf of Adobe.


I’ve implemented something like this on several web sites using a variant of Video for Everybody. In order to have it play on an iPad you have to put the html5 video tag in FIRST, then if that fails, it degrades to flash.

I’ve used several of the flash based video players (JWL, FlowPlayer, etc.) and as such I get different controls. You can customize the look and feel of both the HTML5 and the flash players so I suppose they have tweaked them both to appear the same. I never thought that was a big deal, so long as you can play-pause and skip, who cares if it looks the same on an iPod Touch as it does on IE8.

I haven’t read that much about the Adobe tool but so far I haven’t seen anything on the Ogg video format. I guess that leaves out the Linux folks who don’t want flash.


In other words, only iOS devices (and stock new MacBook Air) will ?fall back? to HTML5.

I hope developers of Mac OS Flashblocking apps/extensions such as ClicktoFlash will leap into this breach and quickly modify their apps so as to offer the options of either blocking the Flash item, rendering it as ?fall back HTML5’ or playing it as Flash, because I’d like to continue blocking at least 99% of all the Flash content I browse to by default (i.e. - I don’t want it to all be automatically rendered into HTML5).


I take it from the wording that it’s looking for html 5 support first, then falling back to flash from there. As ctopher points out, existing solutions to this issue do exactly that. It’s nice of Adobe to invent another wheel for it, I’ll certainly take a look and compare to what I’m using currently. But lots of people are already doing this. CDN partners already have plug and play customizable code to play in HTML5 and then default to Flash if HTML5 isn’t supported.


And is it a “strike back”? or a “Knuckle Under”?

I think it a “We better support HTML5 video in our tools, but lets make sure it uses our technology wherever possible. We want to be the tool of choice!”

And why shouldn’t they?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I?ve implemented something like this on several web sites using a variant of Video for Everybody. In order to have it play on an iPad you have to put the html5 video tag in FIRST, then if that fails, it degrades to flash.


I haven?t read that much about the Adobe tool but so far I haven?t seen anything on the Ogg video format. I guess that leaves out the Linux folks who don?t want flash.

Also incorrect. It’s easy to add an Ogg source to an HTML5 <video> tag. For an example, see one of my web pages that uses a very similar fall-back technique to what Adobe is using. H.264 is the preferred encoding (Chrome, Safari), followed by Ogg (Firefox), then Flash (playing H.264 version) as a fallback (IE). View source and search for <video> if you’d like to see how easily it’s done.

My patented Mom-test, though, tells me that the HTML5 video player controls (provided by the browser) are inconsistent and are unclear versus the typical Flash player. But this is the future, so consistency and clarity be damned.


@bosco - So if you put the flash as the first element in the video tag, the iPad will fall back to the embedded video?


But you already new that. Your page puts the mp4 as the very first item in the <video> tag. I guess I was technically incorrect in that you put everything into the <video> tag and let the browser do what it wants, including ignore it. BUT, if you put the flash player in first, mobile Safari will ignore it and the rest of the contents of the tag, thus it will not “fail over” to the .mp4.

Next you say I’m incorrect when I admit to not having used the Adobe widget thingy. Did you use it to make your site? Is that how you included the ogg video?

Your code is not that much different than the “video for eveybody” solution. There are different controls depending on your browser/plug-in situation. When I went to your site in IE5, it used Quicktime to play the video. What happens if I don’t have Quicktime?

Oh, and I guess I have a smarter Mom! smile

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

The Adobe widget is a more complicated Javascript solution that determines the browser and spits out inline code to do the right thing, customize the look of the player, and add some consistent looking controls. It’s nice of them to step up, especially since this problem was basically already solved for everyone (i.e. not a problem) before Apple banned Flash from iOS. The HTML5 video controls are not obvious in some browser, especially after you start playing and they disappear unless you mouse over.

Coding the page is separate from encoding the video. I build the preso with Keynote, export QuickTime with a lossless codec at the desired dimensions, then export from that to mp4 and ogg with QuickTime and a free ogg encoder.

The biggest mistake anyone here makes is to assign motivation to Adobe, like “knuckle under” or “strike back”. Ultimately, they sell developer tools. Near ubiquity of the Flash player is a valuable selling point. Failing that, tools that allow for ubiquitous deployment by filling in the gaps are a valuable selling point.

Of course, in Apple circles since the beginning of this year, it’s been stylish to blame Adobe for all sorts of ills—real, perceived, and imagined. It’s very weird to me that the success that Apple has enjoyed and the validation that long time supporters seem to feel ends up driving such hatred. So feel free to resume the Adobe bashing… You’ve earned the right.


In all fairness to Adobe, though, one must say that they have most certainly earned a reprieve with this tool. Their primary motivation here was most likely the goal to deliver tools for content creation with universal (or as universal as possible) deployment. It has nothing to do with caving in, or exerting any revenge (I can’t imagine how to perceive this move as such). It is just sound business practice for a company that has, for decades, delivered more tools for the Mac platform than probably anyone else outside of Cupertino.

In picking the bad guy(s) in this game, Apple fans surely have much better candidates in MS and Google.


It’s still Flash.
It hangs it crashes not to mention the sound and video quality is not all that good.

Quicktime works and sounds good on any platform.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account