Web standards compliant Javascript Quicktime detect and embed

Due to the popularity of my FlashObject embed, I decided to create a helpful little Javascript file for doing detection and embedding QuickTime movies.

Embedding QuickTime movies in websites presents many of the same problems as embedding Flash. Since QuickTime relies on a third party plugin, your users will need to have this plugin installed before they can view your content. If they don’t have the plugin, they will be greeted by either an AcitveX install window (Internet Explorer) or an ugly ‘broken plugin’ image on other browsers. I prefer using Javascript to detect the presence of plugins because it gives you more control over what your users see when they visit your site. Most web browsers handle plugin installs terribly, often giving the user cryptic looking placeholders (broken puzzle pieces) or strange sounding legal notices on ActiveX install dialogs (of which people may have been trained to always say ‘no’ to since the same dialog box will often install spyware).

Anyway, enough chit-chat. On to the Javascript:

To use the QTObject embed, you simply create a new QTObject, add the parameters you want, and then write it to the page. The script will check to see whether the QuickTime plugin is available and write the embed code to the page or the alternate content if the user doesn’t have the required plugin. Here is an example of what a simple movie embed would look like (I used a fun little video I found floating around the Internet as a sample movie, but it can be any .jpg, .gif, .png, or even another .mov file.): (View Example)

var myQTObject = new QTObject("bushuncensored.mov", "bushfinger", "320", "255");
myQTObject.addParam("autostart", "false");

In this example the ‘myQTObject.addParam()‘ isn’t needed, but it’s a nice addition that will keep the movie from starting before the user figures out what they are looking at.

The parameters from left to right are the path to the mov file, the ID of the mov file, the width, and then the height of the file. If you are showing the QuickTime controls, you need to add 15 pixels or so to the height of the movie or the controls will be pushed down and the user won’t be able to see them.

If you want to do some more advanced embedding, such as the method Apple uses on their QuickTime site, your code would look something like this: (View Example)

var myQTObject = new QTObject("bushplaceholder.jpg", "bushfinger", "320", "255");
myQTObject.addParam("href", "bushuncensored.mov");
myQTObject.addParam("target", "myself");
myQTObject.addParam("controller", "false");

This uses a few extra parameters that allow you to use a placeholder image that will load in the place of your movie until the user clicks on it. Your movie would then load in the place of the image and start when it has loaded enough to start playing. You simply replace the mov source from the first example with your placeholder image (you remembered to add 15 pixels to the height of the image to account for the QuickTime controls, right?) and then an extra few parameters to tell the QuickTime embed where to find the real movie, the target QuickTime object, and finally telling it to hide the controls before the real movie loads.

There is also the option of redirecting the user to another page if there is no QuickTime plugin found by using this code: myQTObject.redirect = "upgradepage.html";, and there is a built in bypass of the detect script by including detectqt=false in the query string when you request the page. This link is included in the ‘upgrade’ notice so if for some reason a user has QuickTime installed but the Javascript detect fails, they can still attempt to view the QuickTime content.

Also, be sure you use this in combination with <noscript> tags just in case some of your users have Javascript disabled.

That’s it! Since it uses Javascript to create the embed and object tags, it will validate as XHTML 1.0 (strict or transitional). Please note that it will not work with pages sent as application/xhtml+xml since it uses innerHTML and document.write(). Another note: I’m not checking for the version of the QuickTime plugin installed, and I couldn’t find any older QuickTime players for testing, so I’m not sure how this will treat users who are using QuickTime 4 to view content that requires QuickTime 6. I seem to remember QuickTime having an auto-update feature or some built in notification if you need to upgrade, so I’m not too worried about it, but if anyone has some experience in this area, I’d love to hear how this embed method behaves under those circumstances.

I’ve tested this on IE 6, 5.0, 5.5 on PC, Firefox on Mac and PC, and Opera and Safari on Mac. It has worked great every time, but everyone knows there can always be little bugs that pop up, so if anyone finds something wrong with the code, let me know.

Download source and example files (1.09MB)

UPDATE (02-11-2005): Just fixed a few bugs – one that was giving problems if the user didin’t have QuickTime installed on Internet Explorer for PC, and adjusted the default Alternate text.

UPDATE (02-16-2005): Not sure how something like this slipped past, but Thiago found a little bug in the VB Script that was giving some problems in IE on a PC. The files have all been updated.

54 thoughts on “Web standards compliant Javascript Quicktime detect and embed

  1. Hi there, I’m using the advanced embed on my website and it works great, apart from if someone right-clicks on a placeholder image expecting to download the movie to their computer – it currently downloads the placeholder image file not the movie file. Is there a simple way of rectifying this? I’m just using the standard parameters in the advanced script supplied on this site.
    Any help would be great! Thanks.

  2. Just want to say that if there is any other content(blog post, article etc) on the page, make sure that the video downloading doesn’t start automatically (Eats bandwidth and can cause slowdowns to user who may have already seen the video and/or wants only read the text) Therefore always use href param and placeholder movier or standard image link which executes myQTObject.write();

    I’m currently using plain imagelink list + custom js which replaces link with qtobject when user clicks (and removes old qtobject when user clicks to next link) I think this is the cleanest approach if you have lots of videos that can use same params.

    Also automatic download link generation should be added to this script. People want to download videos and they have every legal right to do so.
    If there is no important business reasons, make sure that there is download link.
    It’s quite common question in ‘newbie’ forums how to download embedded videos.

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