SMIL 3.0 Advances Standard for Synchronized Multimedia

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W3C Integrates Industry and User Experience into Feature Set

Testimonials -- 1 December 2008 -- Today W3C announced a new standard to make it easier to author interactive multimedia presentations. Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) 3.0 allows video, audio, images, text, and hypertext links to be combined into interactive presentations, with fine-grain control of layout and timing.

"The importance of SMIL 3.0 is that it contains a set of user-requested features that provide exciting new functionality, while retaining all the advantages of a declarative (that is, without scripting) approach to building a multimedia presentation," said Dick Bulterman, chair of the Synchronized Multimedia Working Group, which published the specification.

The new features in SMIL (pronounced, "smile") are a direct response to user and industry demand. For instance, the standard allows full-motion, timed captions and labels to be directly inserted in the presentation (called smilText). And SMIL's media pan-zoom control allows people to create "Ken Burns"-style animations easily for photos and visual content. SMIL 3.0 also allows authors to embed timed metadata in presentations, making SMIL a useful descriptive language for the development of Semantic Web resources that evolve over time.

These new features enable end-users to enhance video and image sites with captions, subtitles and other annotations, even if the video or images were created by somebody else. SMIL provides a standard and flexible way to accompany media with links, captions, metadata, and other information that requires timing coordination.

SMIL 3.0 also integrates a number of industry extensions to previous versions of the standard. "By integrating extensions such as those developed at RealNetworks," said Eric Hyche, Principal Engineer at RealNetworks, "SMIL 3.0 will boost wider acceptance and interoperability of multimedia on the Web."

Developers and users alike are invited to consult the collection of tools, demonstrators, and book that accompany the SMIL 3.0 release.

SMIL 3.0 Primed for XML Applications, Mobile Web

SMIL 3.0 is designed so that people may build multimedia applications for an increasing number of platforms that support Web standards. For instance, people can now safely add multimedia presentations to other XML applications, including HTML and SVG. SMIL 3.0 also makes it easier to develop multimedia applications on mobile platforms. "SMIL Tiny" is a minimal profile of SMIL 3.0 perfect for embedded systems and light-weight applications such as media playlists.

According to Luiz Fernando Gomes Soares, who coordinates the development of the Ginga/NCL reference implementation for the Brazilian DTV standard, "The simple declarative structure of SMIL Tiny makes it an interesting candidate for augmenting interaction in future set-top boxes. This could stimulate new forms of end-user interaction with content in a safe and localized manner."

SMIL 3.0 Integrates Features for Accessibility

SMIL 3.0 benefits users with disabilities through integration of features requested by the DAISY Consortium. The Daisy Consortium uses SMIL for its Talking Books, an open format designed to meet the needs of blind and visually challenged Web users.

"SMIL 3.0 includes several new accessibility features and, for the first time, a fully-conforming language profile has been defined for DAISY books," said Dr. George Kerscher, Secretary-General of the Daisy Consortium. "As the Consortium moves forward with revisions to the DAISY Standard, we will build on SMIL 3.0 and extend the functionality in the DAISY Standard to support the production and consumption of rich media publications that are accessible to all."

The participants in the Synchronized Multimedia Working Group involved in the publication were: Access Technologies (worldwide), CWI - Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (Netherlands), the Daisy Consortium (Worldwide), the Helsinki University of Technology (Finland), the International Webmasters Association/HTML Writers Guild (Italy), Loria/INRIA Lorraine (France), the National Center for Research on Disabilities (Japan), Nokia (worldwide), the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), RealNetworks (USA) and La Universidad de Oviedo (Spain).

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 440 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see


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Testimonials for SMIL 3.0 Recommendation

English: ACCESS Co., Ltd. | CWI | Daisy Consortium | IBM| INRIA | IWA/HWG | Nokia | PUC-Rio | RealNetworks

Español: University of Oviedo


As a co-editor of the SMIL 3.0 specification, we are very pleased that SMIL 3.0 has been approved by W3C as Proposed Recommendation. ACCESS is committed to further contributing to leading global standards organizations like W3C to ensure the successful development of open Internet standards. Rich media services are the future of the Internet and we believe that SMIL will play a substantial role in the furtherevolution of the content world. ACCESS has already shipped its own NetFront SMIL Player to more than 40 million mobile phones and we will promote broader adoption of this standard.

— Marcin Hanclik, R&D, ACCESS Co., Ltd.

Centrum voor Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI)

Centrum voor Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has contributed extensively to the development of the new SMIL 3.0 recommendation. SMIL 3.0 extends the popular SMIL language in several important dimensions. The introduction of the SMIL Tiny profile will allow implementations of SMIL to be deployed in target areas such as playlists and set-top boxes in a quick and efficient manner. The development of SMIL Text and SMIL State will provide a host of new creation and manipulation possibilities for SMIL content. The new panZoom facility allows simple animations to be added to SMIL content that help focus attention on the presentation message. Each of these areas will enable users of new media applications to build more personalized and customized presentations without losing the benefit of the declarative, XML-based SMIL language.

— Dr Dick Bulterman, Head of Distributed Multimedia Languages and Infrastructure research, CWI, Amsterdam.

DAISY Consortium

The DAISY Consortium's technical team and leadership are pleased to endorse SMIL 3.0. Each new version of SMIL has proven invaluable in DAISY's efforts to synchronize text and audio, making information both accessible and navigable for people with print disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia, cognitive or physical impairments. SMIL 3.0 includes several new accessibility features and, for the first time, a fully-conforming language profile has been defined for DAISY books. As the Consortium moves forward with revisions to the DAISY Standard (officially the ANSI-NISO Z39.86 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book), we will build on SMIL 3.0 and extend the functionality in the DAISY Standard to support the production and consumption of rich media publications that are accessible to all.

— George Kerscher, PhD, Secretary-General of the DAISY Consortium.


SMIL 3.0 is an important advancement in open client technologies for the web. Particularly impressive is the addition of SMIL State, which provides new capabilities for improving interactivity and reusability of video content. In addition to generating business value through new monetization and market intelligence potential for multimedia content, this standard will enhance multimedia content flow and reuse in collaborative and educative contexts. As such, SMIL 3.0 supports the W3C's mandate to lead the web to its full potential by advancing the cause of making multimedia content a first class citizen on the web.

— Dr. John Boyer, Senior Technical Staff Member for Interactive Documents and Web 2.0 Applications, IBM


INRIA is pleased to welcome the release of SMIL 3.0 as a W3C Recommendation. From the beginning, INRIA has actively participated to the development of SMIL because multimedia, in the broadest possible sense, is a high priority domain within INRIA’s main research activities. Within SMIL 3.0 the introduction of new modules as smilText, State and DOM will certainly allow to build richer and more advanced multimedia presentations. SMIL 3.0 successfully extends the functionalities contained in SMIL 2.1 into new or revised modules that incorporate several interesting, up-to-date, and powerful features for the multimedia industry.

— Pierre Paradinas, Director of Technology Developpement , INRIA

International Webmasters Association / The HTML Writers Guild

SMIL has always had a far-seeing vision since it was conceived, over ten years ago: the actual World Wide Web needs multimedia acts a fundamental and dynamic role, and many social networks couldn't do without it. SMIL has constantly evolved as a powerful, modular and scalable standard that helps to build multimedia Webapps reaching essential goals (like visual, audio and textual elements aggregation, captions and audio description association, and so on) supporting multiculturality and accessibility. IWA/HWG is very proud to give an active contribution - also inside its "IWALabs" initiative- in order to develop and promote a new "smiling" Web.

— Alessio Cartocci, International Webmasters Association / The HTML Writers Guild.


Having served as a driving force for SMIL 2.1, Nokia is pleased now to be part of the release of SMIL 3.0. Especially useful in this release is SMIL State, SMIL Text, and incorporation into the public standard features that were previously only vendor-specific. With SMIL 3.0, we are pleased to see the continued trend for multimedia to be treated as a first-class citizen for the Web and its family of technologies.

— Jari Alvinen, Director, Compatibility & Industry Collaboration

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC)

As part of the development effort of the Ginga/NCL reference implementation for the Brazilian DTV standard, PUC-Rio has developed and integrated an implementation of the new SMIL-TINY profile to Ginga-NCL. The simple declarative structure of SMIL Tiny makes it an interesting candidate for augmenting interaction in future set-top boxes. This could stimulate new forms of end-user interaction with content in a safe and localized manner. This could be applied to both commercial content, and content that is geared to support social inclusion. Together with the new facilities for SMIL State, these features provide a significant increase in packaging and functionality over previous releases of SMIL.
PUC-Rio is the main technical coordinator of the Middleware Working Group for the Brazilian terrestrial DTV standard. Reaching more than 98% of all Brazilian home -- compared with 21% of homes with conventional internet access -- the Brazilian system is focused on informing and serving the total scope of the national population. In addition to its work with on Interactive Television, PUC-Rio, together with, also hosts the Brazilian office of W3C.

— Prof. Luiz Fernando Gomes Soares, Departamento de Informática, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro.


RealNetworks is pleased to see SMIL 3 become a Recommendation. We are gratified that our opacity extensions to SMIL 2 have been incorporated into the SMIL 3 Recommendation. Also, the smilText inline text feature should make text authoring in SMIL much easier, and the panZoom feature adds to SMIL's ability to create visually appealing presentations.

— Eric Hyche, Principal Engineer, RealNetworks.

La Universidad de Oviedo

La Universidad de Oviedo se congratula de la adopción de la versión 3.0 de SMIL como Recomendación del W3C. Creemos que la incorporación de contenidos multimedia en la educación superior facilita en gran medida el proceso de aprendizaje. Se trata sin duda, de un mecanismo cercano a los estudiantes que contribuye a aumentar la calidad de la docencia. En este momento la Universidad de Oviedo está muy interesada en la incorporación de este tipo de contenidos en sus materiales de estudio y considera que la nueva versión del lenguaje SMIL le ayudará en el proceso actualmente abierto de elaboración de material multimedia complejo que requiera la sincronización de múltiples contenidos. Esta institución también desea manifestar su apoyo total a la actividad llevada a cabo por el W3C, cuya contribución ha sido fundamental para el desarrollo de Internet.

— Marcos García Viñuela, W3C Advisory Committee representative, University of Oviedo, Spain

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