By Troy Dreier
Rewritten from the ground up, the player is now smaller and faster loading, with one unified version for both HTML5 and Flash video playback.
It’s a big day for JW Player (the company) as it’s releasing a major new version of JW Player (the video player). Version 7 of the popular player includes MPEG-DASH support, completely rewritten code that loads 35 percent faster than the previous version, and CSS skinning.
“We’re the first to deploy MPEG-DASH,” says Jeroen Wijering, company co-founder. “We’re the first one to put it in the market as technology to buy at scale.”
For version 7, the player’s code was cleaned up so that it loads faster and displays the first frame of a video in under one second. Prior to this, the company had two player versions, one for Flash and one for HTML5. With version 7 there’s only an HTML5 version: everything is HTML5 except for the video frame. To compress the code, the company combined scripts, removed bottlenecks, and trimmed the footprint, Wijering says, resulting in code that’s two-thirds the size it used to be.
“Instead of building in more technology, we’re tweaking the technologies and making them fast and fluid,” Wijering says. “JW7 is really our release that focuses on performance. We took it a step further and tried to make it as efficient and fast as possible.”
Providing digital rights management (DRM) for DASH is also part of JW Player 7, although it gets a little help from the DRM specialist Vualto. The player can provide DASH with DRM in HTML5 for Chrome and IE, and in Flash for Safari and Firefox. For a full solution, JW passes customers to Vualto for the necessary license key servers.
While previous generations offered player skinning, doing so required learning a custom format. Now, skinning is done by CSS so anyone who knows CSS can create a custom look for their site or brand.
JW Player has also improved the HTML5 video experience by adding full interactive media ads (IMA) support. Google’s IMA platform is used by upmarket publishers, Wijering says, and this player supports version 3, which is the latest release. That brings ad skipping and ad podding (adding a sequence of video ads in a mid-roll spot) to both desktop and mobile. Flash video already had IMA support.