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13. The object element: Embedded multimedia and applet objects

Use XHTML's object element to embed images, multimedia objects, and applets (applications that are intended to be displayed in a rectangular area of your document). The object element is an inline element.

Here is the content model:

element object
{ attribute classid { xsd:anyURI }?,
  attribute codebase { xsd:anyURI }?,
  attribute data { xsd: anyURI }?,
  attribute type { text }?,
  attribute codetype { text }?,
  attribute standby { text }?,
  attribute declare { "declare" }?,
  attribute height { text }?,
  attribute width { text }?,
  attribute name { text }?,
  attribute tabindex { xsd:nonNegativeInteger }?,

This URI points to an application to be run. The application will supply the content to be displayed in the document.


If supplied, this attribute gives the base URI used to expand any relative URI references in the classid and data attributes.


If your application needs to know where its data lives, you can supply the URI of that data in this attribute.


Use this attribute to specify the MIME type of the data specified by the data attribute. See Section 6.7, “MIME types: Defining a resource's format”.


Use this attribute to specify the MIME type of the application specified in the classid attribute. See Section 6.7, “MIME types: Defining a resource's format”.


If you think your application might take more than a fraction of a second to load, you may want to set the standby attribute to some text that will be displayed while your application is loading. For example: standby="Loading...".


Normally, the browser will execute your application as soon as your page is loaded. However, if you use the declare="declare" attribute, the browser will remember the id of the object and defer execution until some other object refers to that id later. See Section 13.2, “How to delay instantiation of an object”.

height, width

You can override the inherent dimensions of the object by supplying the height and width of the object's area in these attributes. These attributes are deprecated. Use CSS instead; see Section 5, “Separating content and presentation with CSS”.


If this object is part of a form, use the name attribute to give a “control name” to the object on the form. See Section 14, “Forms: The form element”.


You can use this attribute to specify when the object will get focus when the user uses the tab key. See Section 15.7, “The tabindex attribute: Specifying tab traversal order”.


You can use any of the attributes from Section 15.3, “The common attributes: Common.attrib.


You can pass arguments to the application by supplying one or more param elements. See Section 13.1, “The param element: Passing arguments to applications”.


The content of an object element can be any mixture of text, inline objects, and block objects. See Section 12, “Flow.model: Arbitrary content”.

For a single, static object such as a GIF image, simply use a classid attribute that points to the image. For blind readers, supply some plain text content inside the element that will be displayed when images can't be rendered. Here's an example:

  <object data="grundoon.png" type="image/png">
    A drawing of Grundoon Groundchuck.

In general, the content of an object will often be another object element. The rule here is that the browser will try to render the outer object first; if that fails, it will render the content.

When you are including embedded applications in your Web page, keep in mind that not all applications will work in all environments. Hence, it is good practice to use a nested series of object elements, with each inner element more likely to render correctly. Here's an example: the browser will try first to run the Python application If it can't do that, it tries to display an animation in MPEG format. If that isn't possible either, it tries to display a PNG image. Finally, if even displaying an image is impossible (as for a blind reader), it displays the text “A picture of Zoot”.

  <object classid="">
    <object data="zoot.mpeg" type="application/mpeg">
      <object data="zoot.png" type="image/png" >
        A picture of Zoot.

13.1. The param element: Passing arguments to applications

The purpose of the param element is to pass parameter values to an object element. This is necessary only when the object is a script that expects those values to be supplied to it. Any number of named values may be passed to the object, one in each param element.

Here is the content model:

element param
{ attribute name { text },
  attribute value { text }?,
  attribute valuetype { 'data' | 'ref' | 'object' }?,
  attribute type { text }?,
  attribute id { xsd:ID }?,

Set this attribute to the name of the parameter you want to pass to the object.


Use this attribute for the value that you are passing to the object.


This attribute specifies what kind of value you are passing. It must be one of these:

data The value attribute is a string that will be passed to the application.
ref The value is a URI to be passed to the application as a string.

Use this form to pass a reference to an object element as a parameter. For an explanation of this technique, see Section 13.2, “How to delay instantiation of an object”.


When you use valuetype='ref', set the type attribute to the MIME type of the resource at the URI specified by the value attribute. See Section 6.7, “MIME types: Defining a resource's format” for permissible values.


Use this attribute to attach a unique identifier to the object. This is required when you are passing an object to an object: see Section 13.2, “How to delay instantiation of an object”.


No content is allowed in a param element.

Here's an example. Suppose you have a map-viewer applet named that displays a topographic map. Further suppose that it is expecting a variable named start-quad to contain the name of the map where it starts. This example would pass the string “Water Canyon, NM” to the applet:

  <object classid="">
    <param name='start-quad' value='Water Canyon, NM'/>
    [text to be displayed if the map viewer cannot be rendered]