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vendredi 18 avril 2008

Challenge to the Flash community : Quicktime is better than Flash ! Prove me wrong if you can !

The title was provocative enough, as a catch, let's now go to the more reasonable part of this post.
The state of the video viewers on the web is quite dull : flash, flash and flash again. If at least flash was The perfect viewer. Or if there were no alternative to it. But it is not the case. Let's start with a list of possible options :
  • Quicktime : you can see it, of course on Apple web site, and any good movie web site propose trailers in that format (hint ?).
  • Realplayer (yes, it looks like it is still alive, mainly thanks to historical reason).
  • Windows Media plugin for windows only (on the mac, you read the associated media file from within the QuickTime plugin).
  • VLC plugin : the real multiplateform solution... if you find and understand the information on how to install it. And it is open source too ! Great, but still miss some polishing.
  • DivX, a future RealPlayer ? Will they be strong enough ? The recent shutdown of Stage6 is not a good sign.
  • the expected HTML5 <video> tag ? Soon, or right now if you are a lucky Safari 3 user, but I guess the market share of Safari is not (yet ?) large enough to follow that path. Bug that solution, with its common javascript API, looks like a great dream.
  • Vivo... well that used to be a promising one, from a prehistoric time :-)
  • Java... ok, it is just because i am trying not to forget anybody, like for instance espresolutions
I guess there must be other solutions, especially on the Linux side, but this is not the subject of this note.
Another path is definitely to go away from the web browser to deal with video. And the way we consume video, in a stream, even if a forking stream, as opposed to the hypermedia navigation, may validate that move. A good sign is that after Miro and Joost, Adobe is following that path too... but again, this could be the subject of another note.
So, plenty of possibility, and yet, any new and "trendy" web2.57 site will just follow up the previous one and adopt ... Flash ! How an innovative behaviour this is ! That player which until the end of last year was not even able to display good quality video. Adobe was then so proud to announce H264 support, when it had been fully available in Quicktime for more than 3 years at that time.
So, you will say, now that Flash is ready to display high quality video format, stop complaining about it and adopt Flash. But the issue is that Flash is not that good yet, at least from what I have seen so far. And I am indeed very curious to see if any flash developer can prove me wrong...

So, here is the challenge : Can Flash do any of the following ?

And of course, I would be happy to hear about other challengers from the previous list.
Expected capacity Quicktime Flash
Fast forward (a clean one, not a clumsy jump every 5 seconds) Y You tube ??? no thanks !
Fast Rewind Y N
Jog Shuttle (let's speed it up !) YES ! Forget about it
Frame by frame step forward and backward YES N
More generally, direct access to any frame already downloaded Y N (sevenload is almost there)
Precise information about the currently displayed frame Y N
Precise information about the amount of already downloaded data (in progressive download) Y ?
Selection control (constraint the navigation within the video) Y N
Can read any format YES ! (and install Perian and flip4mac if you miss any) NO MPEG1, NO MPEG2, NO ...
Encrypted cache, no easy way to pirate the video, even in progressive download Good enough if you don't have to deal with hackers NO : if you want a secure solution, you have to stream the video AND adopt and pay for the full Adobe system (server) : No way to use apache for instance
Addition of a transparent logo Y Y (but I haven't yet seen the effect on the full screen display with such a logo)
Full Screen Almost there : maximising the browser window. YES !
Multiplatform Mac/PC IE/FF/Saf and various option on Linux, but no official release. As a result the following demo will probably not work on Linux YES!
I could add other concerns like the performance (energy, cpu usage) of flash when reading h264 compared to quicktime one, or the fact that having everybody using exactly the same tool produced by an unique company is an hacker dream world (windows ?), but these point are more subjective so I will let them out, but they should be taken into account. For instance, there is an area where you don't see flash for the video : every time somebody is paying for the content (VOD, or replayTV)

In conclusion, apart from the two last points form the table, QuickTime is much better than Flash. And to avoid just talking about it here is a snapshot of a demo based only on the Apple Quicktime plugin and Javascript, with the help of Prototype and Scriptaculous (and a link to the live version).
And the question : can anybody propose the same sort of interaction that what can be done with Quicktime + Javascript ?

OraoWeb - QuickTime is Better than Flash - Demo1

And from here you can get to :

vendredi 21 juillet 2006

Un début de célèbrité :-)

Puisque je vais avoir à me mettre en valeur dans le cadre de ma recherche d'emploi, autant commencer par faire confiance aux journalistes ... Le mois dernier, j'ai eu le droit à un encart dans The Age, l'un des journaux les plus important d'Australie, dans sa section IT. Puisque l'accès aux archives du journal sont payantes, je vous propose une version pdf de l'article au titre geeky : "Blade runner rolls to new realities". Et oui, un des critères qui m'a valu une sélection est que je vais (de temps en temps... 20 km, c'est quand même une petite trotte) de temps en temps au boulot en roller.
Pour la petite histoire, ce n'est pas la première fois que je croise la plume d'un journaleux, et cette fois ci, l'expérience était plutôt correcte, même si les propos ont quand même été légèrement transformagrifés.
La première fois, c'était il y environ dix ans, à l'époque de la préhistoire du web francophone et l'expérience fut certainement plus surprenante.
Un patron de cybercafé, Philippe Barbraud, avait décidé de mettre sur le net, à disposition de tous, un livre scandale et censuré par la justice : « le Grand secret » du Dr Gubler, qui dévoile comment Mitterrand avait caché sa maladie durant des années. Un journaliste de l'Humanité m'appelle directement et me demande quelques explications.  Je les lui donne volontiers en détaillant pendant 3/4 d'heure le net, le web, l'age du capitaine et surtout le fait que le patron du cybercafé était en fait principalement intéressé par le coup de pub, car s'il avait vraiment voulu contourner la censure, il n'aurait pas mis le livre sur un site web, mais plutôt sur usenet (pour simplifier, le Peer 2 Peer de l'époque). A la fin de toutes ces explications très pédagogiques, la discussion se poursuit pendant 5 minutes sur un ton plus "tchat de comptoir". Et voici l'article  de l'époque, et plus précisemment le commentaire centrale qui devient  : C’est notamment l’opinion de Pascal Vuylsteker, responsable du serveur Internet de
l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA). Pour cet ingénieur, "la justice peut se tromper"...

Vous pouvez oublier le reste de l'interview :-)