html5 audio problems

For my last few sketches now I’ve used HTML5’s built in “<audio>” tag to handle embedded streaming of my audio files, rather than using a Flash component. It’s a convoluted solution right now, due to a lack of ubiquitous support — I need to post Ogg Vorbis files for Firefox and Chrome, MP3s for Safari, and then a Flash-based MP3 fallback for other browsers — but it’s worked pretty well for the most part.

Unfortunately, it came a little unstuck today, when I checked my web server logs and saw that there’d been more than 100 downloads of my latest sketch — far more than I expected from seven minutes of abstract wank. I did some testing, and saw that every time I opened the page, it was downloading the entire track, rather than downloading just the headers. As it turns out, it looks like the transparent proxy at the office is to blame; I guess it has problems with partial content downloads.

For now, I’m just gonna fall back to ye olde Flash player for my audio posts — it’s not pretty, or elegant, but it works, and it doesn’t have these kinds of problems. I’ll keep an eye on HTML5 though, and on the office proxy. Here’s hoping for a future where I can post just a single audio file and have it streamed seamlessly everywhere without a need for plugins!

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