Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Prettifying embedded YouTube

In late January 2009, YouTube decided to change the default look of their embedded videos. They silently added an informative header which includes the video title and rating. Some time before then, a default search bar appeared at the top of the video. Thanks to these changes, most haphazardly embedded YouTube videos on the internet sport a repulsive new look.

What, you might ask, can be done about this excessive ugliness? Well, you could switch to Vimeo, which has a much nicer set of defaults, but that would mean bidding the YouTube community farewell -- and what a tragedy that would be! A better alternative is to learn the YouTube Embedding API, but there are still problems:

  1. Embedding code for YouTube videos is ugly.
  2. The YouTube embedding scheme often silently changes.
  3. If you embed multiple videos, there is no way to specify a default set of embedding preferences.

If you are a wordpress user, all of these issues are resolved by the most excellent Smart YouTube plugin. With it you can embed videos by simply inserting the URL to any YouTube video into your wordpress page or post and replacing http with httpv. Through a settings page, you can modify the way all of your embedded videos look with one fell swoop.