SGML: Rationale behind SMSL

SGML: Rationale behind SMSL

Article: 7517 of comp.text.sgml
Newsgroups: comp.text.sgml
Date: 20 Jan 1995 01:32:12 UT
From: Ralph Ferris <>
Organization: Fujitsu Open Systems Solutions, Inc.
Message-ID: <3fn3qs$>
Summary: Rationale behind SMSL
Subject: Standard Multimedia Scripting Language (SMSL)

Some people have commented on my original posting that it contained many
technical details but omitted to discuss the reasons behind SMSL's
development.  The following is intended to give an idea of the larger

Ralph E. Ferris
Project Manager, Electronic Publications
Fujitsu Open Systems Solutions, Inc. (FOSSI), Engineering Services
Phone: (408) 456-7806 Fax: (408) 456-7050

A Davenport Group sponsor.  For information on the Davenport 
  Group see


    Rationale for the Standard Multimedia Scripting Language (SMSL)

    The rationale behind developing the Standard Multimedia Scripting
    Language (SMSL) is to support the same kinds of capabilities in SGML
    authoring tools that are now available to users of multimedia authoring
    tools, and to do so within the SGML environment.  Currently, SGML
    authoring tools support the creation of documents in SGML markup,
    including the addition of hyperlinks to entities containing graphics,
    audio, and video.  However, unlike the user of multimedia authoring
    tools, the SGML tool user has no control over the placement of graphics
    and video or the duration of their display and the playing of any
    accompanying audio.  SGML itself does not define the semantics for
    specifying the required parameters; HyTime, through its scheduling,
    measurement, and rendition modules, does.  SMSL will provide the means
    for building applications that exploit these features of HyTime by
    providing an object oriented interface between any programming language
    that can support the services required by SMSL and SGML/HyTime
    documents.  Through the use of these applications, authors will be able
    to specify how an anchor is rendered when a link is selected; for
    example, authors could specify when and where a graphic is displayed.

    Authors will also be able to specify an individual segment or segments
    of an audio or video file that is to be played.  This capability will
    be extremely valuable in saving both the author's time and disk space,
    since otherwise separate entities with the appropriate audio or video
    fragments have to be created, and the author has to keep track of which
    ones to link to for what purpose.

    An important use for these applications will be in developing
    interactive tutorials and maintenace manuals where different
    information is presented for different skill levels.  For example, the
    video of an installation procedure would be played in full for the
    novice, while only selected segments would be played for intermediate
    users; yet other segments would be played for experts.  The video would
    only have to be recorded and stored once, however, instead of being
    edited and stored multiple times; the required segments would be
    accessed through HyTime pointers.  Other examples could be given that
    make use of other HyTime features.

    To sum up then, SMSL will provide a key ingrediant in allowing SGML
    authors to go from writing "text with links to audio/visual add-ons" to
    creating true multimedia.