Facebook video players now run on HTML5, continuing Flash’s impending extinction

Facebook video players now run on HTML5, continuing Flash’s impending extinction
Credit: Based on image from Shutterstock

Many tech giants are working to finally kill off Adobe Flash — largely due to the format’s vast bugs and security flaws. And, less than six months after Facebook Chief Security Officer called for Flash to get an end-date, the company announced today that all of its videos will load through HTML5 by default.

“We are continuing to work together with Adobe to deliver a reliable and secure Flash experience for games on our platform,” Facebook front-end engineer Daniel Baulig wrote in a blog post, “but have shipped the change for video to all browsers by default.”

Formerly, HTML5 handled the heavy lifting for Web video surfaces, including video for Newsfeed and various Pages, but didn’t work optimally on older browsers — thus, some of Facebook’s content had to load in Flash. However, the company has done extensive debugging to officially make HTML5 the default across the board.

“We decided to initially launch the HTML5 player to only a small set of browsers, and continuously roll out to more browsers, versions, and operating systems as we improved it and fixed small bugs,” Baulig said.

In the long term, Baulig explains that the switch has made videos faster, more reliable, and prone to less complaints. On the development side, the switch allows the team to take advantage of Facebook’s HTML5 tools, like jest and WebDriver.

Not only did launching the HTML5 video player make development easier, but it also improved the video experience for people on Facebook. Videos now start playing faster. People like, comment, and share more on videos after the switch, and users have been reporting fewer bugs. People appear to be spending more time with video because of it.

So the slow death of Flash continues, and more people get access to less buggy video content.

Why we chose to move to HTML5 video [Facebook]

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