Problems with HTML5 video codec detection

In case you haven’t heard yet, Microsoft released a new preview release of Internet Explorer 9 with all kinds of great goodies we have been waiting for, including HTML5 video support. I did notice that this new preview didn’t score any bonus points on the HTML5 test for its video and audio support. This was pretty strange, because it should have scored bonus points for the H.264 codec. The article below is the result of a little investigation about why IE9 doesn’t pass the H.264 codec test and the problems I found in other browsers.
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HTML5 test updated: how well does your browser support HTML5 now?

Earlier today I’ve released a new version of the HTML5 test. The goal is still the same: to show an indication of how well your browser supports the upcoming HTML5 standard and related specifications.

It was clearly time for an updated test, because browsers were starting to get very close to the original maximum score of 160 points. If you disregard the codecs for a bit: a current nightly of Safari scores 95 out of 106. That is very close and demands a new challenge. The maximum of 160 was always intended to be a moving goalpost. The original test suite did not test for all of the new HTML5 features and I always intended to keep adding tests until the specification is stable and all features are properly tested.

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The HTML5 Test

Want to know how well your browser supports HTML5? Try the HTML5 test and find out. Points are awarded for every HTML5 feature that is supported. Added together these points give a total score between 0 and 160. Compare multiple browsers or different versions of the same browser and find out which vendor is slacking off and which vendor is pushing the web forward.

Apart from the total score, the test also shows exactly which feature is supported and groups the results into easy to compare sections. Ideal for developers wanting to keep track of the capabilities of the browsers they develop for. In fact, the whole test started out just as a small internal tool for doing just that.

Of course there are some inherent problems with doing automated tests. The tests are only trying to detect if a feature is offered by the browser. It does not test the actual functionality of each feature. Also, the HTML5 standard and other related specifications are still in development. As the specification matures I hope to add new tests to test for these new features. The upper limit of 160 is a moving goalpost. Despite these shortcomings we hope that by quantifying the level of support users and web developers will get an idea of how hard the browser manufacturers work on improving their browsers and the web as a development platform.

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