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Re: [media] WHATWG started requirements collection for time-aligned text

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 19:02:41 +0000 (UTC)
To: Dick Bulterman <Dick.Bulterman@cwi.nl>, Eric Carlson <eric.carlson@apple.com>, Sean Hayes <Sean.Hayes@microsoft.com>, Frank Olivier <franko@microsoft.com>
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.1004221852130.14147@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>
On Thu, 22 Apr 2010, Dick Bulterman wrote:
> On the timed text tracks, I would (once again) like to suggest that 
> rather than inventing yet another form of timed text, the WHATWG look at 
> the work on smilText.

I'm looking at many existing formats; TTML, smilText, SRT, LRC, SSA, USF, 
etc etc etc. For each one, I'm looking at simplicity, ease of authoring, 
how well it addresses the use cases described here:


...(if you have other use cases from real world videos I should consider, 
let me know!), how well it avoids feature creep (i.e. how few things it 
supports that _aren't_ in the use cases above), how well the community has 
adopted it, what kind of response it got from the various Web communities 
that do captioning, and so on.

> This format can be dropped into HTML-5 with little or no change and
> provides the following advantages:
> 1. It supports absoulte and relative timing of text fragments,

Can you elaborate on this? I haven't come across a use case for that yet. 
What is the need for this feature?

> 2. It allows CSS to be used for styling text objects

Is there a use case for intra-cue (inline) styling of cues? I haven't 
found any examples that do styling at anything more than the per-cue 
level, and even that is rare (most do it at the global per-track level or 
even the per-user-agent level, e.g. TVs just have a single user-set style 
that applies to all captions).

> 3. It is intuitive for hand-authors, but can also be generated

All these formats can be generated. I would say smilText scores amongst 
the worst in terms of hand authoring. Compare it to, for instance, SRT.

> 4. It is structured into a basic module, a styling module and a text motion
> module, so that growth is possbile

Modularity isn't necessary for extensions.

> 5. It can be supported in an external file as a streaming format or in-line.

Are there formats where that is not the case?

> The disadvantages?
> 1. It was not invented by this group.

That's an advantage, actually, not a disadvantage. The less we have to 
invent the better. If we can't reuse an existing format directly, then at 
most I hope we can reuse an existing format in a backwards-compatible way, 
so that existing deployed tracks can be reused. Leverging network effects 
is a big way to ensure adoption -- we don't have a magic wand that causes 
people to automatically do whatever we say! If anyone has examples of 
"real world" usage of various subtitle formats, that would be great.

On Thu, 22 Apr 2010, Sean Hayes wrote:
> It seems to me that we are once again heading towards the impasse that 
> happened when trying to bless a single video and audio codec. It seems 
> likely to me that the solution should focus on how the association is 
> made, where it shows up, and if necessary (which I don't think it is) 
> any API or event model associated, and not get bogged down in which 
> format has the most friends.

I hope that we can avoid that impasse in this case. I am already working 
closely with vendors to get their take on what they will or won't 

I agree with you that whatever we do it should have a format-agnostic 
part. The proposals listed in the bugs:


...are format agnostic. The general approach used by those proposals seems 
sound, and I expect to use that approach.

On Thu, 22 Apr 2010, Frank Olivier wrote:
> I agree with Sean; converting between captioning formats is a trivial 
> problem; the harder (and more pressing) problem is getting some form 
> into support into widespread usage by all browsers.


Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 22 April 2010 19:03:09 UTC

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