W3C Issues SMIL as Proposed Recommendation

The World Wide Web Consortium today announced it released the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) specification as a W3C Recommendation.

The move indicates that the SMIL specification is stable, that it contributes to Web interoperability, and that it has been reviewed and approved by the W3C Membership.

SMIL, a language that allows developers to create television-like content for the Web, has been getting a lot of attention lately from the online press. It enables designers to avoid the limitations of traditional television while at the same time lowering the bandwidth requirements for transmitting streaming multimedia content over the Internet.

The technical requirements of SMIL make the production of audio-visual content very simple, without requiring the knowledge of a programming language. SMIL pages are–in the SGML tradition–simply ASCII text, and can be created using a standard text editor.

The Web has already been used as a multimedia environment, but until now there has not been a simple method to express synchronization. Television programs such as newscasts or training programs utilize many multimedia components, but key to their presentation is the need to synchronize the display of image, text and animation elements over a period of time. In this fashion, you can “schedule” an audio file to play in parallel with a video file, or show a different image after the audio file is finished playing.

The SMIL language enables this type of “timeline” to be created, allowing developers to create TV-like content that can then be seen and appreciated on the Web.

SMIL documents can be developed using a simple text editor such as Microsoft WordPad. As SMIL is a “subset” or derivative of XML, authors are able to create a presentation using a few XML elements, and there is no need to learn a complex programming language.

SMIL will bring the world of synchronized multimedia to the general Web-surfing public. It will finally allow content providers to develop Web presentations that live up to public expectations and Internet hype. SMIL contains or supports the standard components of the Web, including URLs, CSS-based layout, HTML-based hyperlinking and an XML-based syntax.

For additional information on SMIL, visit the W3C’s SMIL pages, or the JustSMIL Web site.

Internet.com users may also want to read WebDeveloper.com’s SMIL/RealPix Tutorial and SMIL/RealText Tutorial.

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