[theora] WebM killed Theora project?

Basil Mohamed Gohar abu_hurayrah at hidayahonline.org
Thu Jun 3 09:27:18 PDT 2010

On 06/03/2010 12:14 PM, vectorsigma wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm little newbie, but it seems to me that coming of WebM project makes quite useless the developing of theora codec.
> I mean, the aim of theora is to provide a good, free of patents codec for streaming compression for the new coming HTML5 video tag. 
> Now there is this WebM supported by google, intel, firefox and mozilla that promises to do exactly the same thing.
> So, tell me, please, why the world still needs theora?
> thanks for answer
> ale
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're not a

We've actually had this discussion several times, not only when WebM
came out, but also when H.264 was getting popular on the web, and I'm
sure even other times before that.  I recommend you read through the
archives here:


But, to put it short, GIF survives until today despite PNG's
superiority.  The presence of another technology doesn't exclude the

More practically, libtheora is much faster at both encoding & decoding
than anything currently available for VP8 (the video portion of WebM). 
Theora has a much wider reach and support in other areas that WebM has
not yet reached, and that will take some time to change.

Theora is a *much* more mature codebase than libvpx (VP8's encoding &
decoding library).  Just visit #VP8 on Freenode to see all the issues
that keep coming-up with it.

Having said that, I am not dogging VP8 or WebM.  Every single person I
know that cares about Theora is *absolutely thrilled* about WebM and the
initiative.  It is pushing forward the cause that supporters of Theora
have been fighting for a decade or more faster than anything else.  We
all love WebM and many of us are working on it or with it already.

All of that is orthogonal to Theora's existence, though.  Since Webkit
was released, does that mean we should all stop using Mozilla's Gecko
engine, used in Firefox and elsewhere because of Webkit's advantages? 
It also has lots of industry support.  The same line of reasoning
doesn't work anywhere else, so why do you think it applies to Theora?

Even the MPEG-1 video codec *is still being used* in places, despite
being many generations behind modern day codecs for a variety of
reasons.  Likewise, it would be a disservice to everyone that has
invested time & money into Theora, including building support for it
into software & hardware, to just *drop* all form of support for it. 
It's a free software project - there's no logical reason for it to die.

Another, even more important issue is that WebM and, especially, the VP8
spec, are still in their public infancy.  Although it is almost
certainly FUD, VP8 has not had the time to be cleared from patent
worries nearly as long as Theora has.  Despite being around for a decade
and supported by many software & hardware developers, the spec for
Theora has not been shown to violate any software patents.  VP8 will
need some time before such assurances can be made for it (assurances
which should never have needed to be made in the first place, in my

In the unlikely case that VP8 is shown to be covered by enforceable
software patents belonging to hostile entities, Theora will remain as a
vetted fallback option.  It is in this case that the true reason behind
Theora's existence become apparent.  It's a codec that is, and always
will be, God-willing, a viable fallback that will remain free forever.

More information about the theora mailing list