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Re: Generalities and the SYMM Charter

From: Destry Wion <destry@wion.com>
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 23:57:14 +0200
Message-ID: <466C73BA.5000806@wion.com>
To: SMIL List <www-smil@w3.org>

Thanks for the reply, Daniel, and for the insight. I was aware of the 
MMS and SVG relationships, but not the other two. The Daisy standard for 
talking books is particularly interesting, I'll try and keep an eye on 
it. My interests for the time being are mainly with web use.

I guess it's safe to say that open standards and Web benefits are in the 
minds of the W3C/SYMM group. That still leaves the question...why is 
SMIL not adopted in the web?

I think you're certainly right that Flash has been a factor, for 
whatever reason. I suspect as well that since delivering a SMIL 
presentation in a site currently relies on proprietary plugins and code, 
potential SMIL adopters that care about usability are not bothering. 
Especially the army of creative types in the web standards crowd (think 
CSS Zen Garden here), who in my opinion are exactly the crowd SMIL needs 
right now, but who will never buy into it under the sketchy support and 
proprietary differences that exist.

I guess what we really need to see is native support of the standards 
spec (not wayward formats like HTML + Time) in leading web browsers. I'm 
pretty sure there isn't much native SMIL support right now outside of 
what little Opera has implemented.

Flash isn't particularly liked by many standards professionals, but SMIL 
has to fit in with the standardista's idea of fair play or they simply 
won't take it seriously. I think it's a valid user-centered design 
perspective too, because when you tell a web visitor they have to use 
this plugin or that browser to see the presentation, then you have 
already failed the user; the user shouldn't have to do any such thing, 
and they probably won't if they're not a power web surfer. In fact, the 
presentation should just work natively in the browser (regardless of 
which one) and be fully accessible (assuming it was created correctly to 
begin with). Standards designers understand that well, and thus won't go 
down that road at all until browsers start meeting them halfway, or better.

At any rate, SMIL seems healthy enough in other arenas and that's good 
to know. As well there is increasing web chit chat for having native 
SMIL support in browsers[1], so who knows, maybe we'll see more moves in 
that direction now. Even a few modules at a time would be good step.


Daniel Weck wrote:
> Hi !
> You are right in saying that full-blown SMIL presentations are rare. In 
> that respect, SMIL adoption has been slow.
> However, SMIL is often used for part of its functionality in other host 
> formats, rather than as a stand-alone fully-featured multimedia 
> language. This was the main motivation for modularizing the standard. 
>  From this perspective, SMIL is being relatively successful.
> To name a few:
> - The Daisy standard[1] for digital talking books relies extensively on 
> SMIL (fine-grained synchronization of audio and text content). Tens of 
> thousands of books are published in this format. Playback software is 
> available in the traditional desktop-based form, there are also mobile 
> implementations, and there are quite a few hardware players as well.
> - Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) uses SMIL to synchronize graphics, 
> text. video and audio clips on mobile platforms. Most modern mobile 
> phones include a basic SMIL implementation.
> - The animation part of Scalable Vector Graphics[2] (SVG) is based on 
> SMIL animation.
> - Although not technically a use of SMIL as an XML language, the Java 
> "timing framework" [3] provides SMIL-like declarative animations (it was 
> openly inspired by SMIL).
> - etc.
> Like you, I am somewhat disappointed though. I generally think that the 
> state of the art is defined not only by the technology itself, but more 
> importantly by its level of adoption.
> In that sense, there many advanced SMIL features that I would like 
> mainstream multimedia to use. Realistically, this will happen when 
> publishers, consumers and playback+authoring software implementors have 
> enough incentive to move forward with SMIL.
> So far, the demand has been slow, maybe because because of strong 
> "competitors" like Flash (I guess SVG is in a similar position). However 
> I think that open-standards (and open-source) have different strengths 
> to offer, and this is something to capitalize on for the next version of 
> Kind regards, Daniel WECK.
> (Daisy-for-all.org)
> [1] http://www.daisy.org/z3986/
> [2] http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/
> [3] https://timingframework.dev.java.net/
> On 10 Jun 2007, at 03:00, Destry Wion wrote:
>> Hello,
>> First time poster here. I've been watching the list topics for about a 
>> month now and dialog is pretty technical, so forgive me for the base 
>> questions.
>> I've had an interest in SMIL since around 2001. I'm a web standards 
>> buff, a technical communicator, and a user interaction specialist by 
>> trade so my interest is more with the product interface side of SMIL 
>> as opposed to the programming. I think I'm reasonably well-oriented to 
>> SMIL; I've read the only two books fully focusing on SMIL that are 
>> worth reading (Kennedy's and Bulterman's) as well as Steve Mack's 
>> Streaming Media which had some interesting ideas for front-end folks 
>> like me, and lately I've been poking through the 3.0 draft, when I 
>> find the time (what a whopper).
>> My own interests aside, and as much as I would like to see SMIL get 
>> some traction online, that just doesn't appear to be happening. It 
>> seems it made a little headway years ago and then just disappeared, 
>> and along with it went what few SMIL presentations I once knew about 
>> that were worth bookmarking (only about 15, mostly academic stuff, but 
>> a few documentary and art pieces that were quite good and creative). 
>> Today, I can't find a decent SMIL presentation to save my life...old, 
>> new or otherwise. Any reference that comes up in Google always leads 
>> to a broken link or a proprietary format that I can't even try to play 
>> (I use a Mac).
>> I'd like to turn it to you now: As people with direct hands-on, I'd be 
>> curious and thankful for any comments you might give about why SMIL is 
>> rare (seemingly extinct) online at this point (whether communication 
>> reasons, technology, whatever), what needs to be overcome to turn that 
>> around, and/or any predictions you might have for the future of web SMIL.
>> Also, I notice it's been a year to this month that the SYMM Charter 
>> hasn't been updated 
>> (http://www.w3.org/AudioVideo/2004/symm-wg-charter20060601.html), 
>> which is also evident in section 12, where it says SMIL 2.0 is the 
>> latest recommendation. Since the document is clearly dated, maybe 
>> someone can clarify a couple of things. First, I find the reference 
>> "Next Generation" (NG) curious, and can only guess it means to 
>> indicate SMIL 3.0, is that right? Second, how accurate are the 
>> milestones now that it's been a year? Is NG (3.0) still expected to be 
>> a CR this month?
>> Thanks for your time and thoughts.
>> Destry Wion
>> wion.com
Received on Sunday, 10 June 2007 21:58:19 UTC

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