Introducing Our New HTML5 Player

Alyce Currier


Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our own HTML5 video player, code name Romulus. Wistia videos have been HTML5 compatible for years, but now we’ll be using our new and improved HTML5 player by default. On the surface, Romulus looks and behaves identically to the Flash player (retroactively dubbed Remus), but behind the scenes, it allows for some cool extra benefits.

What’s new?

Romulus has a few new superpowers. For example … 

When you’re logged into Wistia, you can right click on your video embeds to jump right to that video in your account.

When the video is paused, you can use the arrow keys to move forward or backward by a single frame. This is really handy for choosing a thumbnail in Customize, taking a screenshot, or linking to an exact time in the video.

Scrubbing through your video is now smoother: you can see where you’re going to land before you get there.

Customizations and Labs (such as mid-roll links, captions, and beyond) work in fullscreen mode! (With one exception being Turnstile, for now.)

Will anything break?

Romulus looks and feels exactly like the Flash player, so most viewers will be blissfully unaware of the switch. While we’ll now be serving most videos in HTML5, there’s a custom algorithm behind the scenes that will switch to Flash when it will produce a better viewer experience.

A few factors that influence this algorithm are your browser, device, and the length of the video. Due to limitations on mobile devices, we continue to use the native HTML5 player there.

We’ve been extensively beta testing our HTML5 experience for many months now, so we’re confident that it’ll be a smooth transition!

Read the technical story behind Romulus

Why now?

In 2010, Steve Jobs famously declared, “Flash is no longer necessary to watch video,” and that “new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win.” Since then, HTML5 has steadily gained ground on Flash, but we are only now reaching the critical tipping point where HTML5 is supported across most web browsers.

While we’re always excited to try boundary-pushing video experiments, we also want to make sure that we’re supporting every browser, device, and situation. These two goals are often at odds, and that was very much the case in the Flash to HTML5 transition. We’ve been itching to make HTML5 the star of the show, but we held off until now to ensure widespread compatibility. Of course, we will be updating our algorithms as the remaining browsers slowly add complete HTML5 support.

Special thanks to:

Big hugs to all of our Romulus beta testers! Unless you don’t like hugs. In which case, we will simply say, “Thank you.”

Alyce Currier


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