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Part IX: XML and Related Technologies Ov... > Synchronized Multimedia Integration ...

Chapter 38. Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL)

by Derrick Story

In this chapter

SMIL Is an XML-Based Language

Basic SMIL Code Guidelines

SMIL History

Building a SMIL Document

Tools for Creating and Playing SMIL Documents

Designing for the Real World

SMIL, the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, can be considered the masterful conductor leading an orchestra of musicians. Or maybe it's the traffic cop who tells you when to go and when to stop. And in the right hands, it can be the loom that allows the artist to weave a tapestry of sight and sound.

You don't create music with SMIL, but you can use it to start the first note at precisely the right moment. You can't create a compelling picture with SMIL, but you can bring an image to life by adding music and text to it. If you learn nothing else in this chapter, remember this: SMIL is the synchronization of sight and sound.

This prodigy of the W3C allows you to easily position various multimedia elements within a player window, synchronize them, and allow users to play back those elements according to their bandwidth, language choice, and other individual preferences.

Even though we don't currently have browsers that can play SMIL presentations directly without some sort of plug-in, RealNetworks, Apple QuickTime, and a handful of others have begun to integrate aspects of the SMIL initiative into their players and plug-ins. RealNetworks in particular, has embraced SMIL as the tool of choice for synchronizing its various streaming formats such as RealAudio and RealPix to produce compelling multimedia presentations on the Web (see Figure 38.1).

Figure 38.1. RealPlayer G2 supports SMIL. It's easy to synchronize imagery, text, and music for playback on a G2 player.


At the moment, SMIL's potential still remains largely untapped. But the language shows the promise of a gifted child musician. And even though we enjoy the music now, we can't help but wonder what the future might bring.


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