Web Multimedia

Sound and Video files are handled similarly by HTML through the following three approaches:

  1. As External media files downloaded via an <A HREF> tag and then played with a helper application.
  2. As Inline media played within a Web page using new html tags.
  3. Played during download via a streaming media.

Let's look at these different approaches independantly.


Downloading External Media Files

Standard audio file types include .au, .aiff, .aif, .wav, .mp2.

Standard video types include .mpeg, .mpg, .mov, .avi.

These types of files can be referenced with the <A HREF> command. When the user clicks the link, the file will be downloaded and then played by a helper application. For example, here's the result of the command

<a href="jungle.wav">Click here for Jungle Sounds</a>

Click here for Jungle Sounds

When you click this link, your browser looks to see what helper application is asigned to .wav files, downloads jungle.wav, and then plays it with the helper application. You can assign helper applications to file types in the options menu of your browser.


New Tags for Inline Media

Some new HTML extensions handle multimedia but only on specific browsers. The following three examples work with MS Internet Explorer 4.0 but not with Netscape:

Example 1:

This command plays the song stored in the MIDI file canyon.mid twice through as background music while your page is being viewed (Internet Explorer 4.0 Only).

<BGSOUND SRC="canyon.mid" LOOP="2">

Example 2:

This command plays the video stored in columbia.mov over and over again infinately (Internet Explorer 4.0 Only).

<IMG DYNSRC="columbia.mov" SRC="fsuseal.gif" ALT="Columbia" LOOP="INFINITE">

Example 3:

The following creates the scrolling marquee (Internet Explorer 4.0 Only):

<h1><marquee border="0" direction="LEFT" loop="INFINITE">Scrolling Marquee Text</marquee></h1>

Example 4:

This example works with both Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape 4. It plays backgroung music and lets the user control the music with a special Java music controller.

<embed src="canyon.mid" width="146" height="64" autostart="TRUE" repeat="TRUE">

Click here to experience some of these new tags


Streaming Audio and Video

There are several programs available that allow media to begin playing while its being downloaded. This technique is called streaming and is a great advantage considering the size of most media files. The catch is that you need to install special server software (you'll need to be administering your own Web server) to supply the streaming technology ($$) and the users that wish to use streaming need to have the client software installed as a helper application (usually free to download).

Check out the following Streaming Media Vendors:

Real Audio& Real Video: The most popular streaming audio program and its related video program.

Shockwave: Allows for streaming audio and video and various multimedia interfaces

Quicktime: Most popular Video streaming program


For more on this topic check out the Multimedia section of Hotwired's WebMonkey.

You can also learn a lot by doing Web searcshes on "Web Sound", "Web Audio", "Web Video", "Web Multimedia", "Streaming Audio" and "Streaming Video".