Facebook’s switch to the HTML5 video player comes almost a year after YouTube’s decision to start using the web markup language (a code which standardizes a website’s display and content) for its own videos. Facebook, which pulls in over eight billion views a day across all its platforms, wrote in a blog post the benefits of HTML5 greatly outweigh the continued use of Flash. For starters, the widespread adoption of HTML5 across most web browsers means the social site doesn’t have to constantly recompile codes to account for various browsing experiences, thus speeding up development times and innovation. Facebook also notes moving to the HTML5 video player provides accessibility tools which will make it easier for visually-impaired users to watch clips on the web-based version of the site.
Up until this point, Facebook had only rolled out HTML5 support to select browsers which didn’t have issues or bugs displaying the video format. A protocol in Chrome, for example, didn’t like how many videos Facebook videos tried to load at once, so the browser simply refused to load or play any clips. Additionally, Facebook also had to get past the hurdles of poor performance on older browsers, as well as slower loading times across the board for the entire social site during its initial HTML5 tests.
As it turns out, Facebook’s decision to ditch Flash has self-reportedly improved users’ overall video experiences. “Not only did launching the HTML5 video player make development easier, but it also improved the video experience for people on Facebook,” wrote Front End Engineer Daniel Baulig in the company’s blog post. “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. Videos are an enriching way to connect with the world around you, and we’re happy we could make the Facebook video experience better.”
Facebook users across the world on major web browsers can now experience the new HTML5 video format, which the social networking site has already been using on its mobile apps. To learn more about Facebook’s HTML5 transition, you can check out the site’s developer blog.