[theora] This is a sad day for interoperability in the Web

Mihai Balea mihai at hates.ms
Tue Aug 21 10:53:13 PDT 2007

On Aug 21, 2007, at 10:48 AM, Ivo Emanuel Gonçalves wrote:

> Today, Adobe Systems Incorporated announced[1] that they will extend
> their Flash platform to support the proprietary H.264 and HE-AAC
> formats.
> The Xiph.Org Foundation has previously contacted Adobe to consider
> extending Flash to support the Open Media formats Vorbis, Theora, and
> Speex.  Adobe developers replied by stating it would be unwise as it
> would increase the file size of the Flash Player, and yet, that is
> what will happen now, with the unfair procedure by Adobe to ignore the
> backing of our formats by the W3C through SVG and SMIL, by the WHATWG
> through HTML 5, and by the XMPP Standards Foundation through Jabber's
> Jingle.

Hi all,

I've been following this thread with great interest and I would like  
to add my $0.02.

A lot of possible reasons for Adobe's decision have been suggested  
and some are undoubtedly true.  Especially Adobe's penchant for  
closed technologies and the fact that Theora seems to be in an  
eternal alpha state (I know it's stable, but it matters how it looks  
to outside people).  However, I am wondering if the real reason not  
something more down to earth and practical: the simple fact that H. 
264 is technically superior to Theora.

Let me explain what I mean by that.  Theora is great for video  
storage and playback, but when it comes to video streaming and video  
conferences, it is, to put it mildly, less than stellar.  Without  
going into a lot of technical details, the problem is two-fold: the  
need to send large chunks of header data out of band and the lack of  
a frame slicing mechanism.  H.264 does not suffer from these  
limitations.  It also seems that Adobe is targeting Flash towards  
these kinds of applications, which means that H.264 is a good fit for  
them, while Theora is not.

Now, before I get flamed, let me tell you a bit about where I'm  
coming from.  We have developed a video conferencing solution based  
on Theora, as well as other open source technologies.  The reason we  
chose to go with Theora had mostly to do with licensing issues rather  
than technical merits.  Basically, we decided it would be less  
painful to work around Theora's limitations than to go through the  
hoops and license H.264.  Obviously Adobe decided otherwise.

Anyways, that's just my guess.  I believe that Theora has great  
potential and that open source, patent free media codecs are sorely  
needed in today's restrictive world.  I also believe in constructive  
criticism :)



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