Opera was the first browser to demonstrate the <video> element. Back in 2007, it released a special labs build to demonstrate the concept. Since then a lot has happened. The video element was added to HTML5 standards specification, although the codec itself was not specified due to a lack of agreement between major browser manufacturers. Safari, Firefox and Chrome got around to adding support for the video element in public builds. And with today’s release, Opera finally catches up with the rest.
As expected Opera will be using the open source Ogg formats: the Vorbis audio codec and the Theora video codec. This means that Safari will remain the only browser which is backing the proprietary H.264 codec. The implementation itself has improved a lot and includes support for native controls, scripted controls and cover art. Opera hopes to include full screen playback, subtitles and media fragment URLs in the future.
Opera will be using the GStreamer media framework to improve playback performance. On platforms where GStreamer is natively supported (e.g. Linux and FreeBSD) Opera will be using the system-implemented version. On platforms like Windows and Mac where GStreamer is not natively supported, Opera will be using its own implementation of GStreamer. This means that Opera will be able to play video out of the box in Windows and Mac, however on Linux you will need to have at least the GStreamer “base” and “good” plugins installed.
The New Year build is the first opportunity for UNIX users to try out Evenes (Opera 10.5). The previous release didn’t ship a UNIX build since it wasn’t’ quite ready. Opera Software has been working on a substantial overhaul of the UNIX build. It has ditched the QT framework.Evenes is capable of using just the X11 drawing primitives. It will however, support any toolkit provided by the desktop environment. The current build supports GTK and integrates with GNOME fairly well. However, KDE integration is still incomplete and hence not included in this release.
Also missing from this release are features like print and drag-and-drop. Mac users will also miss out on the video goodness, since GStreamer for Mac isn’t yet ready.
This is build is intended only for testing. It may be prone to crashes and behave in an unexpected manner.