Everything you need to know about HTML5 Video

The HTML5 built-in video support has come to a state where it starts to be adopted by the big players on a large scale(Youtube, Netflix). In this article i'll provide some details of HTML5 video element so you can start using it.

Chromium HTML5 Video player

here is a basic declaration of HTML5 video player :

<video src="videofile.ogg">
Sorry, your browser doesn't support embedded videos,
but don't worry, you can <a href="videofile.ogg">download it</a>
and watch it with your favorite video player!


The video element provides a boolean attribute control that makes the controls visible or not to the user.

<video src="videofile.ogg" controls>





When you want to watch a video on the Web, normally a single frame of the video will display in order to provide a preview of its content. The poster attribute makes it easy to specify an image file.

<video src="videofile.ogg" poster="poster.jpg" controls>


The browser needs allowed to download a small chunk of the media to get the duration & the first frame, the preload attribute has the tree states to tell the browser what to do :

  • "none" does not buffer the file
  • "auto" buffers the media file
  • "metadata" loads enough to determine duration & the first fame


When present, this attribute will tell the browser to seek back to the start of the media resource once the end is reached.

<video src="videofile.ogg" poster="poster.jpg" controls loop>


Multiple source files can be specified using the <source> element in order to provide video in different formats for different browsers. If you're providing source elements, there’s no need to specify a src for your video.

<video controls>
<source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
<source src="video.webm" type="video/webm">
<source src="video.ogv" type="video/ogg">

More details about codecs & video type for each browser can be found here


The video element allows you set subtitles in different languages using the track element.

<video controls>
<source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
<source src="video.webm" type="video/webm">
<source src="video.ogv" type="video/ogg">
<track label="English" src="captions-en.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="en"></track>
<track label="Deutsch" src="captions-de.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="de"></track>
<track label="한국어 (Korean)" src="captions-ko.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="ko"></track>
<track label="Português" src="captions-pt.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="pt"></track>
<track label="Türkçe (Turkish)" src="captions-tr.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="tr"></track>

A detailed docs on the track element can be found on MDN


The oncanplay attribute is very useful, it can be used to serve a fallback if the browser doesn't have capability to play HTML5 video

<video controls oncanplay="handler()">
<source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
<source src="video.webm" type="video/webm">
<source src="video.ogv" type="video/ogg">

JavaScript API

The video element can be controlled via a JavaScript API to do all kind of stuf that can be done via the GUI, here are some examples :

var video = document.getElementsByTagName("video")[0];
/* Play the video */
/* Set the volume to 50% */
video.volume = 0.5;
/* Pause the video */
/* Restart the video */
video.currentTime = 0;

Sure the list of APIs is long that can help you build your HTML5 video player, finally i hope that this small introduction will be helpfull for you.