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Getting Started

Introduction

Overview of the player library and all of it's features.

Vidstack Player is a framework and collection of UI components for building and managing custom media players on the web. You can use this library to build your own player (see our examples), or use our production-ready Default Layout and customize it to match your brand and site. See the installation guide to get setup with either option.

Why should I use this library?

Creating a media player is a complex journey that may appear deceptively simple. It involves much more than just a few pieces of state and some basic UI components. To develop a production-grade media player, you need to address a variety of challenges:

  • State Management: Managing the reading and updating of state across different providers, browsers, stream types, and connecting it to the user interface is a demanding and tedious task. Each piece of state may extend across various objects or events. For instance, consider tracking simple things like ‘playing’ or ‘buffering.’ Doing this by mapping numerous states across multiple events and resetting them upon source or provider changes is a fragile and error-prone process. In React applications, this can quickly devolve into spaghetti code and lead to performance issues.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring accessibility at minimum involves setting correct ARIA roles and labels, managing focus, adding keyboard controls and shortcuts, defining touch target zones, positioning tooltips and menus, and rendering/styling captions consistently. Native captions often fall short, as highlighted in our motivation for not relying on native captions.
  • Styling: Styling can be a challenge, primarily due to the need to manage and expose media state in the DOM as attributes for CSS styling. Furthermore, some UI components may not always be supported so they have to be hidden. Finally, each stream type (VOD/Live/Live DVR) requires slightly varied styles and layouts.
  • Provider Management: Media providers offer distinct APIs. This includes the basic API of the native media element and embedded media, as well as handling tracks and playback quality for native HLS, HLS libraries, and DASH libraries. Furthermore, determining when to load each provider can become a complex task. Questions like, “Is hls.js supported in this environment? Is HLS natively supported? Can I seamlessly switch between MP4 and HLS as needed?” can quickly become challenging to address.
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility: Ensuring that your media player functions consistently across different web browsers adds another layer of complexity. Various browsers may have varying levels of support or distinct APIs for certain media features such as fullscreen, picture-in-picture, rendering captions, and streaming support.
  • Tracking: Implementing analytics and tracking functionalities to monitor user interactions, video performance, and other relevant metrics is another crucial component of a robust media player. We’ve carefully designed the right architecture and rich event system with triggers to differentiate system/user events and to track internal state.

Just as you wouldn’t attempt to build an accessibility library like Radix UI from scratch, creating a media player from the ground up is not advisable. There are numerous areas where things can and will go wrong. It’s far more efficient to leverage Vidstack Player to address the mentioned challenges for you.

Who is it for?

Whether you’re an individual developer creating a blog, podcast, or video-on-demand site, or you’re working on an enterprise-level application like Reddit (where Vidstack Player was originally developed), Vidstack Player is a valuable tool for building rich media experiences. The library is designed for scalability, featuring a minimal core and the ability to selectively include components in your final bundle. It offers broad framework support through our Web Component (server-side rendering friendly) and a dedicated React library, compatible with Next.js 13 and ready for React Server Components (RSC).

The following is a comprehensive list of all features you will have access to when using Vidstack Player:

  • First-class TypeScript support for all frameworks.
  • Multiple framework support via our Web Component and React libraries. JSX types included out of the box for Vue, Svelte, and Solid.
  • Multiple styling options: CSS, Tailwind CSS, and extending our Default Theme.
  • Multiple media provider support: Audio, Video, HLS, DASH, YouTube, Vimeo, and Remotion.
  • Single standard API across all providers.
  • Mature and battle-tested architecture which we integrated into Reddit at scale and used for analytics.
  • Production-ready layouts for when you don’t have time to build your own UI.
  • Streaming support via HLS.
  • Live streaming support.
  • Keyboard shortcuts.
  • Next.js 13 and RSC ready.
  • SSR-friendly for all frameworks.
  • Completely customizable headless components.
  • 30+ components for you to build with and configure.
  • 18+ React hooks for managing state and building UI.
  • Simple automatic setup via our bundler plugins.
  • State management solutions for reading and updating media state.
  • Rich event system.
  • Comprehensive player API: autoplay, audio tracks, fullscreen, picture-in-picture, live, keyboard, text tracks, and video quality.
  • Resolve cross-browser differences for native APIs such as fullscreen, picture-in-picture, tracks, streaming, and rendering/styling captions.
  • AirPlay and Google Cast support.
  • Screen orientation support.
  • Clipping media start and end times.
  • Easily add async local or database storage.
  • Tons of styling hooks for components via data attributes.
  • Accessible. Following the WCAG 2.1 specification and adhering to FCC and CVAA guidelines.
  • Custom media captions library with support for VTT, SRT, and SSA. We also include a plugin to support libass via jassub.
  • Tooltips and menus with animation support.
  • Support for media chapters inside sliders and menus.
  • Thumbnails/previews when user is interacting with time slider.
  • JSON suppot for text tracks and thumbnails.
  • Gesture-support for handling direct user interaction with media such as tapping to seek and more.
  • Load strategies for determining when to load media and posters (lazy by default).
  • Lightweight at 54kB gzip for all core features and components. The library is also treeshakeable to bring that down further.
  • Internationalization (i18n) support on all components and our production-ready layouts.

You might be curious about how this library stacks up against other well-known players like JW Player or Video.js. Here’s how we’re different:

  • TypeScript: Enjoy robust first-class TypeScript support for type-safe development. Everything is typed including the player itself, core features, component props, state, events, and hooks. All exported from our NPM package.
  • Reactivity: Our library is built with Signals which enable tracking and subscribing to individual media state internally and externally. We take advantage of this to expose a variety of props to configure components, manage tricky internal state, design a complex production-ready default layout, and hooks such as useMediaState and useMediaStore in React.
  • Components: Our library offers a wide range of declarative components to enhance your media player’s functionality and appearance.
  • Custom UI: The other players are not built well for building a custom player UI. The lack of any hooks and components makes it hard to do so.
  • Production-ready UI: The other players offer a limited player experience out of the box that’s not easy to customize. We provide a much higher-quality UI experience that supports a variety features and stream types out of the box with props and over 150+ CSS variables to easily customize it all.
  • Framework Support: We support many JS frameworks, environments (Browser/SSR), and styling options, making it easier to integrate and build with our player.
  • Rich Events: We include more events out of the box and include triggers to track where and how they originated.
  • Modernized: We provide up-to-date APIs for the library, player, and all of our components. Some examples include not supporting old and outdated browsers, providing ESM bundles and TS types, and using ReadableStream to handle processing large captions.
  • Features: In general, you’ll find we support many more features out of the box such as: frameworks, hooks, providers, styling options, state management solutions, UI components, chapters, thumbnails, tooltips, menus, animations, caption file types, customization options, and much more.
  • Bundle Size: We’ve optimized our library to keep the bundle size minimal, ensuring faster loading times. To compare, Video.js base size is 656kB (195kB gzipped), whilst Vidstack Player is 173kB (53.4kB gzipped). In addition, our library can treeshake unused code to further reduce the size, and most heavier parts are lazy loaded such as providers and captions.
  • Licensing: JW Player requires purchasing licenses for each individual player based on the number of content plays. It’s paid for above 100K plays. Vidstack Player is MIT licensed and free to use without any limits.

See our player demo to play with our default layouts. You can also find a comprehensive set of player examples on GitHub. Find the specific example you’re interested in and click the “Open in StackBlitz” button in the respective README. This will launch the project on StackBlitz in a remote development environment for you to start playing.

If you have questions or need help, reach out to the community on Discord or GitHub Discussions.