Facebook announced that it has altered its video player to embrace HTML5 instead of Adobe Flash Player.
Daniel Baulig, a front-end engineer at Facebook, broke the news late last week on the social network’s blog.
“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,” he explains. “From development velocity to accessibility features, HTML5 offers a lot of benefits. Moving to HTML5 best enables us to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs.”
Specifically, Baulig notes how the change to HTML5 allows Facebook to take advantage of tooling among web browsers, the open-source community, and its own resources.
HTML5 also opens the social network’s video player to testing using a number of tools that all ready exist in Facebook’s infrastructure, like jest and WebDriver, not to mention enables full access to screen readers and keyboard input.
Even so, Facebook needed to overcome a number of obstacles in implementing HTML5, including fixing a number of bugs in the newer browsers, addressing poor performance in older browsers, correcting a slow load time of the social media’s main site, and figuring out video logging.
“Our video logs help us understand how people use the video player and how it performs. We share some of that data, like view count, with video owners, and we use other data to determine how many and which videos to show to people,” Baulig writes. “We had to make sure the new video player logs the equivalent data and events in the same scenarios as the old player. Implementation differences and details can make this surprisingly hard. To ensure logging correctness, we created a test suite that performs the same user-interaction scenarios against both video players and then validates that the logs are equivalent. This way we had high confidence in the data that our new HTML5 video player reports.”
Facebook has not completely ditched Flash, however, as it said it is committed to working with Adobe to “deliver a reliable and secure experience for games on our platform.”
This news follows Adobe’s recent re-branding of Flash Professional to Animate earlier this month.