Hello everyone and welcome to the Cognixia podcast! Hope you had a great time during the festive season last week. We are still hung over from all the sweets we had and all the celebrations. But we are back to working full-swing with a renewed zest and energy. Thank you for tuning in today to listen to this episode of the Cognixia podcast.
In today’s episode, we discuss how open-source is transforming videos and making them friendlier for developers everywhere. For decades, developers were heavily reliant on proprietary stovepipes for media players and back-end video infrastructures when it came to handling and inserting video content in what they were building. However, there is a new wave of open-source abstraction that is liberating developers from this dependency. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Before we tell you how open-source is transforming the video domain, let us take a quick flashback ride, shall we?
In recent years, open source has transformed everything from server-side infrastructure to programming languages and frameworks to developer concerns. But some areas had very stringent proprietary dependencies and vendor locks that have been around for like, forever. One such domain was videos. Over time, the plug-ins used by developers changed but the dependencies remained. There were Windows Media Player plug-ins, RealPlayer plug-ins QuickTime plug-ins, and many more. On the user side, users would need to regularly download updates for the latest version of these plug-ins to be able to use the plug-in and view the video content. You sure would remember those notifications asking you to download the updates that came in those dialog boxes that you sometimes just couldn’t close, then you had a long, long download, then restarting the system, before you could watch one video. Needless to say, it was very tedious and messy on the front end as well as the back end.
Then came the era of Adobe Flash that most of us would remember for sure from not so long ago. Adobe Flash helped unify everything under one common plug-in standard which could be functional across a wide range of browsers. Earlier plug-ins were often browser-specific or had restricted functionalities for some browsers and would work best with only some. This eased out the role of the developers to some extent – they now had to code only for a single plug-in and not for tens of different things.
After the era of Flash, slowly fizzled out with the arrival of HTML5. What HTML did was that it brought video natively to browsers as built-in functionality. It became so important and popular that Apple mandated HTML5 for iOS. Eventually, the entire industry embraced HTML5 as the de facto standard for media playbacks in browsers.
But even in 2022, videos are often a stove-piped domain for developers. Streaming videos comes with a couple of challenges and technical issues. On the back end, there’s transcoding, trade-offs between file sizes, and computing when encoding as well as compression. For developers, making it possible to just playback videos on devices can bring unique challenges across platforms like Android, iOS, and web browsers. This also explains why there are so many video infrastructure providers and video player providers in the market.
This is where open-source video ecosystems are coming to the rescue. They are rather very few in number, but they are there, and they are changing the video domain, one developer at a time. Open-source video ecosystems are helping unify three major video formats –on-demand video streaming, real-time video streaming, and live video streaming into just one API abstraction. Now, if you are a developer who has dealt with videos, you know what a huge thing that is. Simply put, this reduces a developer’s burdens and efforts significantly.
One of the chief players that are helping accomplish this is Mux. Mux has open-sourced its Media Chrome offering and has even built a Mux Player to go with it. Media Chrome is a front-end system that enables the usage of HTML and CSS to build media player UIs on the web. The biggest advantage of Media Chrome is that it abstracts the media player UI from the back-end playback infrastructure. It also gives the developers an easy-to-use components-style workflow using which they can add both audio and video format media to their builds using a simple DOM HTML without being chained to just one specific playback architecture. This is a gigantic game-changer for handling video media.
This is the power of the open source, which not just gives developers freedom but also makes things easier for them as well as the users. We talk more about what is open-source in one of our other podcast episodes, so if you would like to learn more about this, do check out the episode, we will leave the link to the same in the description box, or just explore our previous podcast episodes, it was the one from the week of <date>.
Video as a web medium has been shackling up developers and applications letting highly specialized video engineers who have kept all the understanding of the back-end considerations for handling the media content close to their hearts. But open-source is helping developers break these shackles and making things easier as well as efficient for everybody. We can be quite confident about saying that times are changing and open-source will usher in a massive transformation similar to how the other API-driven ecosystems have undergone in the bygone times.
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With that, we come to the end of this week’s Cognixia podcast episode. Thank you for listening to us. See you all again next week for a fresh new episode of the Cognixia podcast.
Until then, happy learning!