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Simplicity vs. Versatility: Deciding Between HTML5 and Video.js for Video Solutions

Front-end Development

What are my options for video playback?

Video playback is an essential aspect of modern web development, and a powerful tool for using multimedia to engage audiences. When it comes to integrating video in to web applications, developers must choose between leveraging the native HTML video element, or utilizing a specialized library like Video.js. In this article, we'll dive into the nuances of each approach, comparing and contrasting Video.js with standard HTML for video playback. By exploring their features, performance, and customization options, we aim to provide developers with insights to help them make informed decisions when implementing video solutions in their web projects.

When should I choose Video.js over standard HTML?

When developing applications for different browsers or use cases consistency and customizability are top priorities. Video.js delivers a collection of tools that improve upon HTML5, contributing to a better developer experience.

One compelling reason to switch to Video.js is the styling tools that they offer. Different browsers have slightly different video players, some more minimalist or compact than others. For projects where appearance is imperative, such as a heavily branded site, these variations between browsers may become disorienting or unattractive. To combat this inconsistency, Video.js provides CSS skins that appear identical across different browsers and are customizable.

Another important factor to consider is adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming helps smooth out video playback when network conditions vary. Native HTML does not provide adaptive streaming in all browsers, and Video.js solves this by providing both HLS and DASH capability in all browsers. 

The last factor I'll consider in this article is streaming from social video platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo. In the case of my project, this was the deciding factor. Our application streams video from multiple platforms, and trying to keep various types of video resources and their specific players straight was getting out of hand. In order to combat the growing list of project dependencies and frontend complexity, we transitioned to using Video.js across the board.

When should I choose standard HTML over Video.js?

For some projects all you need is the HTML5 video player. Despite not providing all the bells and whistles that Video.js and other players offer, HTML5 provides a very capable video player.

For projects where performance and minimalism are more preferable than customization and consistency Video.js might be undesirable. Video.js provides a lot of options for customization, but each comes at a cost. On some devices, the computation required to perform these customizations may increase latency and detract from the overall customer experience.

Some developers may prefer to use the standard HTML5 video tag for the simplicity. Projects with simple requirements may not require the extensive customizability that Video.js offers. Similarly, developers who prefer minimalism and a lean code base may want to avoid a library for playing video. Introducing a library for adds complexity, and requires more resources. If the improvements that Video.js offers aren't absolutely necessary, you might want to consider sticking with standard HTML.


While standard HTML offers simplicity and efficiency for basic video needs, Video.js enhances customization and advanced features. The choice between them hinges on project requirements: simplicity and performance favor standard HTML, while advanced customization leans towards Video.js. Understanding these distinctions empowers developers to choose the best fit for their specific needs and priorities.