The technology behind web-documentary

28 October 2012. Published by Benoît Labourdette.

What is a web documentary?

A web documentary is an interactive audio-visual object, consisting of photographs, sounds, text, video ... which is accessed with a computer, tablet, phone ...

  • In the case of a tablet or phone consultation with the webdoc will be an application to download.
  • In the case of a consultation with computer, webdoc be seen through the web browser on the computer.
  • So, we can also, in theory, see webdoc on tablet or phone from the built-in browser.

But things are not so simple ...

On the one hand, nowadays, usually users phones and tablets is rather download an application to view the content on the other hand, the interactive design is not the same for a user with a mouse and a user on a touch screen, and finally web browsers tablets and phones do not display any web browsers that allow computers. And beyond the size of the screen ...

Why are technical differences between computers and mobile devices?

The display language web pages is called HTML. In 2012, still mainly HTML version 4, which dates from 1998, is used to design websites. This version of the language does not play the video, or make multimedia animations, it is confined to the layout of text and pictures, as well as hyperlinks. But yet in the websites, there are animations and video! How is this possible?

Flash, ancestor ...

This is possible because our browsers are equipped with an additional module (or plugin), named “Flash” (formerly published by the company Macromedia, now acquired by Adobe), which adds multimedia features. This plugin has been installed in the early 2000s, to our knowledge, automatically, on virtually any computer, through trade agreements. All video sites (youtube, dailymotion, vimeo ...) go through this plugin to view their videos.

Almost all web documentaries made between 2008 and 2012 also go through this plugin to work. More ... Apple does not allow the installation of the Flash plugin on iphone and ipad ... a trade war ...

By cons, good news, the new version of HTML, called “HTML 5”, adds in his language, multimedia capabilities and video playback as powerful as Flash.

HTML 5, the successor ...

And also, HTML 5 is fully read by the iPhone and iPad. This is great! Except ... although already existing, HTML 5 is not a standard fully completed in 2012, and technical standardization of the format of the video is not yet decided.

So for a web documentary with video works on all platforms, we must “encode” the video in various formats .... short, HTML 5 is now much more technically complex to implement than the Flash.

And as, on mobile platforms, users prefer to download applications, which are computer programs (that have nothing to do with either Flash or with HTML 5), it is necessary for these platforms, anyway develop these software parallel to the web documentary on the web ...

That is why HTML 5 is not yet heavily used for web documentaries.

But it will certainly. In some time, we can not develop a single web documentary, which work either on a computer, tablet and mobile (people will install a shortcut on their screen, instead of the application, which works fine). That day has not arrived yet, but everyone is working ...

The heritage?

Today, the web is already seen half from mobile terminals, tomorrow it will be even more. Flash plugin will gradually disappear.

This means that relatively average maturity, almost all web documentaries made with Flash technology become unreadable: a simple inert gray rectangle on the web page ... Paradoxes of new technologies, which, because of their rapid evolution, condemn heritage.

For the “old” web documentaries remain readable in the future, they should be converted to the new format, which on one hand would be very expensive, and the other could be very difficult (if not impossible in some cases) to achieve, without having to remake all ...

The “web-documentary” is a kind of interactive audiovisual object, named in 2008. In summary, to be a little harsh, it’s just a CDROM available online on the Internet... Lift the veil of technology, content and strategies, synthetically, to better understand the challenges and opportunities.