World Wide Web Consortium Issues SMIL 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation

XML Meets Synchronized Multimedia; Accessible and Rich Web Experiences Result

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http://www.w3.org/ -- 9 August 2001 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today released the SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) 2.0 specification as a W3C Recommendation, representing cross-industry agreement on an XML-based language that allows authors to write interactive multimedia presentations. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who favor its adoption by the industry.

SMIL 2.0 Uses XML to Deliver Synchronized Multimedia to the Web

Web authors are in search of ways to deliver rich content, including video, audio, and text, and to synchronize those components as they see fit. It's no longer simply television on the Web that end users are seeking; people are looking for information and experiences that take full advantage of the Web's technical capabilities - interoperability, flexibility, device choice, and searchability.

"SMIL 2.0 enables authors to bring rich content to the Web in a format that is easily written and reused," explained Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "SMIL 2.0 avoids the limitations of traditional television and lowers the bandwidth requirements for delivering multimedia content over the Internet."

With SMIL 2.0, producing reusable audio-visual presentations is easy; as SMIL 2.0 is an XML application, one may use a simple text editor to create engaging multimedia experiences for the Web. SMIL allows the author to incorporate a wide range of data (audio, video, or text), which may be locally or remotely stored.

SMIL 2.0 Built and Tested with Developers, Users in Mind

SMIL 1.0, produced by W3C in 1998, brought powerful XML based multimedia presentations to the Web, and content developers began work on presentations, authoring tools and players. As a result, the W3C Synchronized Multimedia (SYMM) Working Group received suggestions and requests from developers on new features they would like to see. Over 600 test cases were developed to ensure that SMIL 2.0 would meet the needs of developers for new features and interoperability with SMIL 1.0.

SMIL 2.0 Brings Greater Authoring Flexibility

SMIL 2.0 has been produced as a set of modules which, individually or in combinations, may meet the needs of a Web author, and build on the guiding principles of interoperability at the core of W3C work. In addition to full incorporation of the successful SMIL 1.0 features, SMIL 2.0 Modules provide functionalities including animation; content control; layout; linking; media objects; metainformation; structure; timing and synchronization; time manipulations; and transition effects. This gives authors the ability to create sophisticated animation, event-based interaction with a presentation, and graceful transition effects based on nearly 100 predefined options.

SMIL 2.0 Profiles Work with Diverse Devices

By combining individual modules together, the W3C SYMM Working Group defines two SMIL 2.0 profiles. Profiling introduces the ability to tailor an XML-based language to specific needs, e.g. to optimize presentation and interaction for the client's capabilities. One profile is for comprehensive SMIL 2.0 presentations, and another suited to handheld/mobile devices, called SMIL Basic. This gives authors the ability to create presentations which are adaptable to different environments, whether limitations are due to bandwidth or device.

Profiling also adds the ability for integrating functionality from other markup languages. The work done to combine Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) with SMIL 2.0 Modules has proven successful, and the early work with combining XHTML modules is promising.

SMIL 2.0 Makes Searchable and Accessible Multimedia Possible

Multimedia presentations can sometimes be a bit of a black box to those searching for information on the Web. Because a SMIL presentation is written as a text file, it can include metadata components, which make a SMIL presentation searchable.

The SYMM Working Group worked closely with W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative to develop a format that supported accessible media. Accessibility Features of SMIL are described in a separate document, and show how authors and software developers may create presentations and software that make SMIL work for the widest possible audience.

International Cross-Industry Participation Key to SMIL 2.0 Development

The SMIL 2.0 specification was written and developed by the SYMM Working Group, a unique mix of experts from many divergent industries - CD-ROM manufacturers, Interactive Television, Web, Mobile Communications, and audio/video streaming - all interested in bringing synchronized multimedia to the Web. The W3C SYMM Working Group is comprised of key industry players including Glocomm, IBM, Intel, Macromedia, Microsoft, Netscape/AOL, Nokia, Oratrix, Panasonic, Philips, RealNetworks and WGBH; as well as research and government organizations such as CWI (Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science, the Netherlands), INRIA (Institut National De Recherce en Informatique et en Automatique, France), and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA). Manufacturers of both SMIL Players and SMIL authoring tools are committed to supporting SMIL 2.0, as evidenced in their testimonials.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 520 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/