[whatwg] cue points in media elements

Caution:  cross-posted to whatwg and htmlwg;  be careful with follow-ups!

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We've been looking into both semantic and implementation 
considerations of cue points.  We wonder whether cue ranges might not 
make more sense.

Cues might often be used to establish appropriate parallel state. 
For example, cues could be used to show 'chapter names', or to 
provide commentary in an HTML pane on the display.  Under these 
circumstances, the question arises as to what the right behavior is 
when seeking.  Should any of the cue-points preceding the seek point 
be activated (in order to establish the right context), and if so, 
how many?  Should any of the cue-points after the previous play point 
be activated to tear-down any state at that point?

There is also an implementation question.  What should happen if 
cue-points are more dense than the playback software can process in 
real-time?  In video, this would cause catch-up techniques (e.g. 
frame-dropping).  But dropping cue-points is problematic.  If it's 
permitted, any cue-points that depend on previous ones having also 
fired (when playing linearly) cannot assume that they have, in fact, 
fired.  They have to re-establish state without any regard for 
context, which may complicate them.  (Though it's true that to an 
extent they have to do this anyway, if seeking can happen).  Worse, 
if the event to set a parallel state (e.g. a parental warning on a 
blue passage) is executed, and the event to remove it is not, the 
resulting display may be misleading or semantically incorrect or 

These questions seem to resolve much better with cue ranges.  For a 
cue range, events are executed on either both entry and exit, or 
neither, much in the way that mouse events are generated for cursor 
movement, giving either both mouseEnter and mouseExit or neither. 
Similarly, fast mouse movements might tunnel right across a region 
with neither an entry nor exit event.  Formally, the logical 
definition of a cue range event would be that the time is 
periodically sampled (as densely as possible).  At each sampling 
instant, a cue event is dispatched:
  * for every range for which the previous sampling instant was in 
that range, and the current sampling instant is not;
  * for every range for which the previous sampling instant was not in 
that range, and the current sampling instant is.

Note that
* this formal definition is amenable to optimization, by looking 
ahead to the 'next interesting time' when a cue rang starts or ends, 
when playing.
* for any range for which you get an entry, you are assured you will 
get an exit eventually.
* you are not guaranteed to get the events *at* their defined times; 
they might be 'late', though the system should be implemented in such 
a way as to minimize lateness.
* short ranges might experience no sampling instant within them, and 
might be skipped, posting no events, though this also should be 
avoided if possible by implementations.
* on a seek, you will get exit events for the time seeked from, if 
appropriate, as well as entry events for the time seeked to.

I would suggest that the cue-range interval includes its start time 
but excludes its end-time.  Therefore seeking to the exact start time 
of a cue-range, even before playback is started, fires its entry 
event (if we were previously outside the range), whereas seeking to 
the end-time of a range, even before playback started, fires its exit 
event (if we were previously inside it).

If reverse playback is started after such seeks, then you get 
immediately another event (exit or entry), but I think that's OK as 
reverse playback is unusual.  I guess the algorithm could be 
sensitive to the sign of the default playback rate, but that seems 
both excessively complicated, and also raises questions of what 
happens if the sign is changed while paused.

If a cue-range end time is the same as its start time, one merely 
gets two events (enter and exit) dispatched at the same time, or 
nothing at all (if it gets 'tunneled over').

Does this ease both the semantic and implementation considerations?

David Singer

Received on Tuesday, 23 October 2007 10:10:35 UTC