Best Video Players for Developers
This article covers some of the best video players on the web. Note that these are not standalone players, such as VLC, though some are offered on some of the sites below. These are mainly actual controls that can be embedded in a page for video playback, similar to YouTube, etc.
Personally, I think Microsoft Silverlight offers the best options in video playback (Netflix agrees), but unfortunately it does not (yet) support playback of flv/f4v files, which is the majority of content I have worked with.
The List (See references below for links):
ESA Flash Player
Open Video Player
Open Source Media Framework
Complexity: Intermediate to Advanced
The Silverlight native and SLVideo player on Codeplex, as well as other Silverlight players available by other vendors such as Telerik are excellent choices in re-usability, functionality, performance and customization. If you have control over the source video format or only have a few videos you can easily convert over, I would recommend going with Silverlight.
Moyea offers a powerful suite of tools which can be used to customize the look and feel of the player right out of the box with alot of different skin options available for additional as well.
Price: $49 – $299
Complexity: Novice – Intermediate
ESA HD flash player is a surprisingly not well known player, that is pretty awesome in terms of functionality and skins. The fact that I rate it above JW Player should be a statement in itself if you’re familiar with the latter. Their customer support is also awesome. They can help you get started quickly, and make you feel like you paid for something high quality when you actually get to speak to someone who knows what actionscript is :). They also cost much less than other players when you consider multiple sites and even offer a new distributor license so you could resell the player itself with your own branding!
Price: $89 (1 site) – $200 (50 sites)
JW Player is one of the most popular players out there. Though a free version is available, it is watermarked, and depending on how many sites you are going to be using it on, licensing can get pricy very quickly. This player does have a large following however, and community support, as well as skins and other resources are very easy to get and allow you to deploy something custom very quickly.
Open Video Player is a very powerful flash player which has all the features you could ever need, HD streaming, etc. Complexity is advanced however, and although a generic implementation is quick to whip up, you will likely need to do customization for your needs which means opening up CS5/Flash Studio and cracking open a red bull. Their documentation and “starter” tutorials are also not for novices, but if you are an intermediate flash developer or advanced video/media specialist this is the way to go.
Open Source Media Framework is also utilized in Open Video Player, but if you’d like to try your hand at creating your own player, I would recommend reading the documentation on OSMF and plugging it in directly, and using Open Video Player only for side by side comparison. If you’re trying to get something out quickly, this is probably not the way to go.
Price:$95 (1 site) – $395 (100 sites)
FlowPlayer is actually pretty awesome, easy to use and probably underrated by many. It is free to use with watermark, but one of the major downsides is commercial licensing is very expensive (similar to JW Player). JW Player’s community size and skin archive are probably the only reason I would rate it above Flow Player.
JCPlayer is a nice little no fuss easy to deploy solution, similar to JW Player or FlowPlayer, for about the same cost. Their licensing is a little confusing however, and overall turned me away. Another downside is the player is developed in CS3/CS4, so any customization would have to be done in legacy Adobe systems (current version as of this article is CS5).
Complexity: Novice – Intermediate
FLV Player can get the job done, and best of all – it’s free. Unfortunately, it doesn’t compare as much visually to some of the other players above. If you don’t mind the watermark or paying a bit of cash, I would recommend one of the paid alternatives above, however, if your wallet is thin and you don’t mind getting dirty customizing the looks a bit, this might be a good solution for you.
SLVideo Player (Silverlight), http://slvideoplayer.codeplex.com/
JW Player (LongTailVideo), http://www.longtailvideo.com/players/jw-flv-player/
Open Video Player, http://openvideoplayer.sourceforge.net/, http://openvideoplayer.sourceforge.net/ovpfl/akamai_multi_player/Konfigurator.html
Open Source Media Framework, http://osmf.org/
FLV Player, http://flv-player.net/
ESA Flash Player, http://components.earthscienceagency.com/flash_media_player/