4.8.3 The embed element

Flow content.
Phrasing content.
Embedded content.
Interactive content.
Palpable content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where embedded content is expected.
Content model:
Content attributes:
Global attributes
Any other attribute that has no namespace (see prose).
DOM interface:
interface HTMLEmbedElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute DOMString src;
           attribute DOMString type;
           attribute DOMString width;
           attribute DOMString height;
  legacycaller any (any... arguments);

Depending on the type of content instantiated by the embed element, the node may also support other interfaces.

The embed element represents an integration point for an external (typically non-HTML) application or interactive content.

The src attribute gives the address of the resource being embedded. The attribute, if present, must contain a valid non-empty URL potentially surrounded by spaces.

The type attribute, if present, gives the MIME type by which the plugin to instantiate is selected. The value must be a valid MIME type. If both the type attribute and the src attribute are present, then the type attribute must specify the same type as the explicit Content-Type metadata of the resource given by the src attribute.

When the element is created with neither a src attribute nor a type attribute, and when attributes are removed such that neither attribute is present on the element anymore, and when the element has a media element ancestor, and when the element has an ancestor object element that is not showing its fallback content, any plugins instantiated for the element must be removed, and the embed element represents nothing.

An embed element is said to be potentially active when the following conditions are all met simultaneously:

Whenever an embed element that was not potentially active becomes potentially active, and whenever a potentially active embed element that is remaining potentially active and has its src attribute set, changed, or removed or its type attribute set, changed, or removed, the appropriate set of steps from the following list applies:

If the element has a src attribute set

The user agent must resolve the value of the element's src attribute, relative to the element. If that is successful, the user agent should fetch the resulting absolute URL, from the element's browsing context scope origin if it has one. The task that is queued by the networking task source once the resource has been fetched must find and instantiate an appropriate plugin based on the content's type, and hand that plugin the content of the resource, replacing any previously instantiated plugin for the element.

Fetching the resource must delay the load event of the element's document.

If the element has no src attribute set

The user agent should find and instantiate an appropriate plugin based on the value of the type attribute.

Whenever an embed element that was potentially active stops being potentially active, any plugin that had been instantiated for that element must be unloaded.

When a plugin is to be instantiated but it cannot be secured and the sandboxed plugins browsing context flag is set on the embed element's Document's active sandboxing flag set, then the user agent must not instantiate the plugin, and must instead render the embed element in a manner that conveys that the plugin was disabled. The user agent may offer the user the option to override the sandbox and instantiate the plugin anyway; if the user invokes such an option, the user agent must act as if the conditions above did not apply for the purposes of this element.

Plugins that cannot be secured are disabled in sandboxed browsing contexts because they might not honor the restrictions imposed by the sandbox (e.g. they might allow scripting even when scripting in the sandbox is disabled). User agents should convey the danger of overriding the sandbox to the user if an option to do so is provided.

The type of the content being embedded is defined as follows:

  1. If the element has a type attribute, and that attribute's value is a type that a plugin supports, then the value of the type attribute is the content's type.

  2. Otherwise, if the <path> component of the URL of the specified resource (after any redirects) matches a pattern that a plugin supports, then the content's type is the type that that plugin can handle.

    For example, a plugin might say that it can handle resources with <path> components that end with the four character string ".swf".

  3. Otherwise, if the specified resource has explicit Content-Type metadata, then that is the content's type.

  4. Otherwise, the content has no type and there can be no appropriate plugin for it.

The embed element has no fallback content. If the user agent can't find a suitable plugin, then the user agent must use a default plugin. (This default could be as simple as saying "Unsupported Format".)

Whether the resource is fetched successfully or not (e.g. whether the response code was a 2xx code or equivalent) must be ignored when determining the resource's type and when handing the resource to the plugin.

This allows servers to return data for plugins even with error responses (e.g. HTTP 500 Internal Server Error codes can still contain plugin data).

Any namespace-less attribute other than name, align, hspace, and vspace may be specified on the embed element, so long as its name is XML-compatible and contains no characters in the range U+0041 to U+005A (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A to LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Z). These attributes are then passed as parameters to the plugin.

All attributes in HTML documents get lowercased automatically, so the restriction on uppercase letters doesn't affect such documents.

The four exceptions are to exclude legacy attributes that have side-effects beyond just sending parameters to the plugin.

The user agent should pass the names and values of all the attributes of the embed element that have no namespace to the plugin used, when it is instantiated.

The HTMLEmbedElement object representing the element must expose the scriptable interface of the plugin instantiated for the embed element. At a minimum, this interface must implement the legacy caller operation. (It is suggested that the default behavior of this legacy caller operation, e.g. the behavior of the default plugin's legacy caller operation, be to throw a NotSupportedError exception.)

The embed element supports dimension attributes.

The IDL attributes src and type each must reflect the respective content attributes of the same name.

Here's a way to embed a resource that requires a proprietary plugin, like Flash:

<embed src="catgame.swf">

If the user does not have the plugin (for example if the plugin vendor doesn't support the user's platform), then the user will be unable to use the resource.

To pass the plugin a parameter "quality" with the value "high", an attribute can be specified:

<embed src="catgame.swf" quality="high">

This would be equivalent to the following, when using an object element instead:

<object data="catgame.swf">
 <param name="quality" value="high">