Watching YouTube without a browser

The other day I was curious about how many streaming video sites among those I usually visit had made the move from flash to HTML5.

The main reason is that my virtual Richard Stallman keeps telling me that I am evil, so I wanted to remove the flash plug-in from my machine.

An the fact is that many sites have not switched yet. As far as I understand, YouTube has, at least partially. Therefore, the title of this post is somewhat misleading.

I have been using youtube-dl for a while now in order to download videos from many sites as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. My first idea was therefore to pipe the output of youtube-dl to a video player supporting the appropriate format. Since I usually use vlc I just tried:

youtube-dl  -o - <url of the video> | vlc -

This works fine, but has the drawback of needing to manually type (or copy-paste) the URL of the video. So the command line on a terminal emulator is not what I find convenient.

Most of the video URLs I access come to me via e-mail, and I read e-mail with Gnus inside Emacs, I decided that an Emacs command would do the trick. So I put this inside my .emacs:

(defun play-youtube-video (url)  
  (interactive "sURL: ")  
   (concat "youtube-dl  -o - " url " | vlc -")))

This way, M-x play-youtube-video, asks me for an URL and plays the video. So, when I have an URL for a video on an e-mail (or any other text document on Emacs) I just copy the URL with the appropriate Emacs key stroke and call this command. For convenience, I have mapped it to key binding:

(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> Y") 'play-youtube-video)

So this is good, though not yet frictionless.

Sometimes, the video URL will appear on an HTML buffer, either when I am browsing the web inside Emacs with w3m or when the e-mail I am reading is sent in HTML1. In this case, I don’t need to manually copy the URL and I just can ask w3m to do the work.

(defun w3m-play-youtube-video ()  
      (w3m-print-this-url (point))))
(global-set-key (kbd "<f9> y") 'w3m-play-youtube-video)

So far, this has been working fine for me and I don’t have the ugly non-free flash plug-in installed, and VRMS is happier than before.



I use w3m as HTML renderer for Gnus with (setq mm-text-html-renderer 'w3m).