World Wide Web Consortium Issues SMIL 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation

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XML Meets Synchronized Multimedia; Accessible and Rich Web Experiences Result

Testimonials -- 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


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SMIL 2.0 Testimonials

CWI | Daisy Consortium | IBM | INRIA | Intel | Microsoft | Nokia, Inc. | Oratrix | Panasonic | RealNetworks


CWI is proud to have contributed to all phases of SMIL development. SMIL 2.0 is a major step forward in not only presenting advanced multimedia on the Web but also in truly incorporating multimedia into the Web infrastructure. SMIL 2.0 provides all the engaging multimedia features that until now were only available on the Web through programming languages and proprietary formats. It also introduces new features such as rich adaptivity to different market groups, user abilities, system configurations and run-time system delays.

-- Gerard van Oortmerssen, Director, CWI - The National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in the Netherlands

The DAISY Consortium highly commends and warmly welcomes the SMIL 2.0 Recommendation, a key development for information acces by people who are blind or print-disabled. "We created the worldwide standard for digital talking-books as one of the first applications of SMIL 1.0, and now we will move quickly to implement SMIL 2.0." Digital talking-books are beneficial to blind and print-disabled readers, enabling them to easily navigate through the book to find chapters, subsections and pages. The DAISY standard uses XML for text markup and SMIL for text and audio synchronisation.

-- William Jolley, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium

IBM wishes to congratulate the SYMM working group of the W3C in bringing SMIL 2.0 successfully to a Recommendation. SMIL 2.0 has been chosen as the basis for an MPEG standard, the XMT (eXtensible MPEG-4 Textual Format), a textual format for MPEG-4. IBM has led the standardization activity of XMT, a specification designed to provide interoperability between SMIL 2.0 and MPEG-4, as well as between X3D and MPEG-4.

-- Dr. Robert S. Sutor, Director, e-Business Standards Strategy, IBM

INRIA welcomes the release of SMIL 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation. Multimedia and telecommunications are high priority application domains among research directions at INRIA. With the new features introduced in SMIL 2.0, W3C makes a significant contribution to these domains. Modularization of SMIL 2.0 is a means to extending multimedia functionality onto newer platforms such as mobiles devices and allows SMIL 2.0 to target a wider range of Web clients with different capabilities. Furthermore, the introduction of a better support for interactivity and additional functionality such as animations and transitions will significantly increase the range of multimedia Web applications. INRIA is proud of its contribution to SMIL 2.0 as an open standard that will increase new interoperable applications design for the Web.

-- Gérard Giraudon, Director for Development and Industrial Relations, INRIA

Today's increasingly powerful processors are making possible compelling new multimedia web experiences. By making it much easier for developers to create sophisticated interactive multimedia applications, SMIL 2.0 will play an important role in making these experiences a reality. With the broad industry support that has emerged behind this standard in the Web and wireless community, we expect that SMIL 2.0-based content will very soon be delivering great web experiences to millions of Internet subscribers.

-- Steve Spina, Director of Marketing, Intel Architecture Labs

Microsoft is pleased to have actively participated in the development of SMIL 2.0, providing valuable support and feedback gained through early implementations of this technology. In June of 2000, Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 was the first product to support SMIL 2.0 technology, based on working drafts. Internet Explorer 6, which is currently available as a Public Preview and will be released as part of Windows XP later this year, expands on that support. Version 2.0 of SMIL addresses two important needs of the Web community: modularity and integration. The modularity of SMIL 2.0 allows relevant modules to be plugged together as needed. Integrating the powerful SMIL 2.0 multimedia capabilities, such as media, timing, animation, and transitions with XHTML enables content creators to leverage new developments from other W3C working groups.

-- Chris Jones, Vice President, Windows Client Group, Microsoft Corporation

Nokia welcomes the release of SMIL 2.0 as a W3C Recommendation. We believe that SMIL 2.0 will play a significant role in future mobile multimedia applications such as Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and mobile streaming. Nokia has demonstrated its committment to W3C open standards by contributing to the adoption of the mobile-friendly SMIL 2.0 Basic profile for mobile streaming applications, as specified in the 3GPP consortium. By allowing the integration and synchronization of different media, such as text, voice, audio and eventually video clips, SMIL 2.0 and its "Basic" profile will bring new exciting possibilities to mobile terminals.

-- Janne Juhola, Senior Technology Manager, Multimedia - Nokia Mobile Phones, Nokia, Inc.

Oratrix Development in Amsterdam is the maker of the successful GRiNS editor for SMIL 1.0, and a major participant in the SMIL 2.0 process. We feel confident that SMIL 2.0 will provide a major step forward for streaming media on the Web. SMIL 2.0 will allow all sorts of users, from individuals to broadcast professionals, to create compelling, interactive content. The beta users of our SMIL 2.0-based GRiNS editor have given us rave feedback on the easy integration of transitions, animation, and especially adaptive content from a single source base. And all of this without scripting or a back room full of IT staff! The ability to produce single presentations that target wireless, web and broadband is also a strong suit of SMIL 2.0.

-- Dick Bulterman, CEO, Oratrix

Panasonic is delighted that SMIL 2.0 has been approved as a W3C Recommendation. In coming 3G wireless internet services, we expect that SMIL Basic will become the common and scalable platform of mobile communications, and serve for customers with a wide range of home appliances.

-- Yasunori Tanaka, General Manager, Core Software Development Center, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.

RealNetworks believes that SMIL is a vital component of the Internet media delivery architecture. We're thrilled that through hard work and perseverance, a broad community of industry leaders brought this powerful next generation of SMIL to reality. The W3C continues to drive the evolution of multimedia on the Web by providing outstanding leadership in promoting interoperability and standards.

-- Martin Plaehn, Senior Vice President, Media Systems, RealNetworks, Inc.

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