Standard format for audio is MP3, for video is MPEG 4, Flash format may be used under special circumstances.
Multimedia refers to the combination of the different types of media (texts, fixed or animated images, drawings and graphs, sounds, video) in a common numerical format, assembled together by a data-processing program, and made available to a reader allowing their exploitation.
Multimedia files need different plug-ins to be displayed. Depending on the user's PC configuration, the browser can prompt users to save the file to their hard drive or use a plug-in to display or execute the file within the browser window/environment.
Sound can be used on EUROPA with certain restrictions.
Sound adds to the richness of EUROPA pages but use of inappropriate files can overload the server and/or the user's connection, and result in an unacceptably long download time. Sound clips should be reasonably short to keep the attention of the user.
Sound files are treated differently by different browsers and different versions of the browsers. Some users may have a particular plug-in installed, while others have a different one, use the default system sound player, or have no sound capability at all. The objective of the following restrictions is to remain completely independent of these factors.
Use on EUROPA websites
- Preference must be given to downloadable sound files of fixed length, not streaming sound. Streaming sound should only be used in case of live events
- The standard format to be used for downloadable files is MP3. Other formats can be added for user convenience, but the standard format must always be offered
- The standard format to be used for streaming is RealAudio, the format supported by the streaming server of the Data Centre
- Specify the file size and format and the duration of the clip
- Be aware of copyright restrictions on sound files
Video can be used on EUROPA, yet some guidelines have to be taken into consideration.
Video files are treated differently by different browsers and different versions of the browsers. Users may have different plug-ins installed, might use the default system video player provided by their operating system, or their devices might have no video capabilities at all. The objective of the following guidelines is to remain completely independent of these factors.
Use on EUROPA websites
- The length of video should keep the attention of the user. Therefore preference should be given to videos not longer than 5 minutes.
- The size of the video file should be small to prevent excessive overload of the server and unacceptably long download time.
- When streaming video is used, an alternative to download the video should be provided.
- The standard format to be used for downloadable files is MPEG 4. Other formats (Windows Media, Quicktime) can be added for user convenience, but the standard format must always be offered.
- Make sure your file is encoded by means of a codec that is recognised by all standard players. The codec H.264/AVC - 720×576 @ 25.0 with AAC is recommended. Please check compatibility with the the audio/video table.
- DG COMM in cooperation with DG DIGIT created the EUROPA video player that supports playback of any format the Adobe Flash Player can handle (FLV, MP4, MP3, AAC, JPG, PNG and GIF). It also supports RTMP, HTTP and live streaming, various playlists formats. DG COMM recommends using this player on EUROPA sites.
- Currently DG COMM (Europa and Audiovisual Services) is working on a “Video Player Corporate Project”. This project aims to have one single video player for the whole EC’s website, with a set of functionalities corresponding to the global user needs. The AV portal is equipped with the first version of this corporate player, compatible with non-flash player devices, smartphones and tablets, thanks to the HTML5 video tag. For those cases where neither Flash nor HTML5 is available, a link to the video will be provided.
- Use either 4:3 or 16:9 image size.
- Specify the file size and format and the duration of the clip.
- Do not start a video player automatically, give the user the possibility to by-pass.
- Be aware of copyright restrictions on video files, in particular for the downloadable files.
The Flash format may be used under special circumstances providing that an alternative and/or a by-pass is provided for users not having the Flash Player or using assistive technology.
The Flash technology has some disadvantages which result in its use not being recommended:
- Flash content remains inaccessible to most search engines,
- Flash allows animation to keep playing on web page adverts even when the user has turned off the animation display in the browser,
- Flash ignores browser settings for font size, etc, so text may too small for the visually impaired or those people with high resolution screens,
- Due to Flash's graphical nature, it does not degrade gracefully for disabled users,
- Flash requires significant CPU power to display.