File Streaming

An internet term.

Normally when you visit a web page, all the files that make up the web page need to be downloaded before they can be viewed. For example image files such as .jpg, .gif and so on.

The problem with having video files behave this way is that it may take a long time before the file is fully downloaded. For example a typical BBC iPlayer video is 600MB which will take an age to download fully.

The alternative is 'file streaming'. In this instance, the player will begin to play the video as soon as enough of it has been downloaded. So if you have a good fast link, you can watch the video whilst the rest of it is being downloaded. You can tell the file is streaming by looking at the 'progress' bar in the player - the full colour bit shows what has has been viewed whilst a paler, longer part shows what has been downloaded. As long as the pale part does not meet the full colour part, you will be able to view the video smoothly.

An example of a streaming file technology is the Flash FLV format which is used by Google YouTube and BBC News articles. There are other common formats as well such as 'QuickTime' and Microsoft windows media files..

Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Streaming video


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