A long time ago, in a galaxy that feels a very long way away, multimedia on the Web was limited to tinkling MIDI tunes and animated GIFs. As bandwidth got faster and compression technologies improved, MP3 music supplanted MIDI and real video began to gain ground. All sorts of proprietary players battled it out—Real Player, Windows Media, and so on—until one emerged as the victor in 2005: Adobe Flash, largely because of the ubiquity of its plugin and the fact that it was the delivery mechanism of choice for YouTube.
HTML5 provides a competing, open standard for delivery of multimedia on the Web with its native video and audio elements and APIs. This article largely discusses the <video> element, as that’s sexier, but most of the markup and scripting are applicable for both types of media.