[Foundation-l] Freedom, standards, and file formats

Brion Vibber brion at wikimedia.org
Thu Oct 2 22:25:27 UTC 2008

Hash: SHA1

Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> ...and If display format support is so easy, why can't I watch most
> content on archive.org without proprietary codecs? even though they
> have a transcoding infrastructure?

Because they're not as pathologically ideological about patented vs
patent-free formats as we are. :)

Archive.org transcodes videos to Flash for their inline player,
presumably because it's most convenient for them and it gets the job done.

We're not always as interested in what's most convenient, though we do
like to at least consider it.

Given that the Java player in addition to increasing native browser
support gives us a pretty wide "install-free player" base, we don't have
a _huge_ incentive at this time to jump through hoops to add Flash

It wouldn't hurt to have some more current hard figures, though, as we
don't really have a good idea of how wide that base really is.

We'd _like_ to know:

1) What % of readers have a browser configuration that already works
with our Theora players (either Java or native)

2) What % of readers have a browser configuration that would play Flash
video without additional effort

3) What % of those who *don't* have a Theora- or Java-ready browser *do*
have a Flash-ready browser (this fraction would be the only one to get a
clear, hard benefit from additional Flash support -- not having to
install anything else to play videos)

I'd also really like to know:

4) How often do the various Theora players encounter failures? (Eg, the
Java player loads but then breaks -- we've seen platform-specific issues
before). This may be harder to measure in an automated fashion; can we
distinguish a browser crash or a failure to buffer from just navigating
away from the page?


5) How easy are the players to use, and what should we do to improve them?

For these last it'd be more helpful to do a survey. This doesn't
necessarily have to focus on potential Flash adoption -- simply making
our existing tools better is important and will benefit from having a
better idea of how people are being served than just the occasional bug
reports we get.

- -- brion
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