ViewTube adds HTML5 Video support to popular websites

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 14, 2012
Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, userscripts

Adobe Flash is the preferred option to play video on today's Internet. Some sites like Vimeo or YouTube have started to offer videos in HTML5 format as well, but generally speaking, Flash is the program you need right now for maximum compatibility.  One of the issues associated with HTML5 video, besides the slow adoption rate on the Internet, is that there are two competing formats, WebM and h.264.  It is like Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD all over again, but this time on the web and fought out by companies that develop web browsers and Internet giants like YouTube or Facebook.

ViewTube is a userscript compatible with various web browsers that replaces Adobe Flash Player with a HTML5 video player on popular websites. Sites that it supports include YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, Break, MetaCafe,Veoh, Videojug and IMDBVideos among a handful of others.

Depending on the site you are on and the browser you are using you may need to install a third party media player plugin to watch videos using the combination. The userscript ships with an HTML video player but that works only if the browser supports the video format the site makes available. I suggest you try out the browser without plugin first to see if it works out of the box. There is still enough time to install a plugin if the out of the box option does not work.

I have tested the userscript in Firefox and Google Chrome and it worked in both browsers well. According to the author, it should also work in Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari and various Linux browsers.

youtube html5 video

The script displays a small bar on top of the video frame that you can - and sometimes need to - use to select an appropriate format from the available options. On YouTube for instance, selecting a WebM format and either Auto or HTML5 as the player should get videos playing right away in the majority of browsers.

Depending on your browser, you may need to use a plugin on some sites. On Vimeo for instance, videos are only available in mp4 format which you can't play using Firefox's native HTML5 capabilities. To play videos on the site using Firefox, you need to install a media player plugin like VLC Web Player to play videos on the site.

You can make changes to the default configuration, the one that the program tries to play automatically. A click on Mp4 for instance changes the default format that is picked from the list of videos the server makes available to webm, then flv, then 3gp and finally any before you get back to mp4. You can also switch from playing HD videos by default to other video quality settings.

ViewTube may help you get rid of the Adobe Flash plugin in your web browser if you use it exclusively to watch videos on sites it supports. You may trade the plugin against another one, which is far from ideal, but since the "other" plugin is usually not as prone to attacks it may still work out for you.


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  1. SCBright said on November 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    No way to install in IE9

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Did you read the instructions? For IE9, you need to download and install IE7 Pro first. Did you do that?

  2. Jim said on November 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been having problems getting Flash to play on Linux, so I’ve been looking for options. This might do the trick.

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