SMIL Standards and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8

Published: May 25, 2007

Since the draft of the SMIL standard in 1995 many organizations implement one of the available versions of the W3C SMIL standard in there end-user products. Macromedia, RealNetworks and Microsoft have some products supporting the SMIL standards, but especially Microsoft with the more dominant role in the browser market have failed to support SMIL fully in the in the past. With Internet Explorer 6 many functions of SMIL did work, but will this be the same for Internet Explorer 7 and even 8 is something that we look at in this review of SMIL and Micosoft Internet Explorer.

SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) pronounced (SMILE) was designed to be a web-based tool like PowerPoint and the ability to run audio, video, and documentation for company presentations of multimedia. Companies like RealNetworks wholeheartedly support this multimedia and of other vendors adopting the standard. “The value of SMIL is that it completely complements important Web components like these [DHTML, CSS, and XML],” said Peter Zaballos, director, systems marketing at RealNetworks. On the other hand some companies think SMIL cannot compete with proprietary products, Macromedia was one of them. Norm Meyrowitz president, Macromedia Products explains “We don’t feel that SMIL integrates well with HTML and the current evolution of the DOM, SMIL is a decent standard for synchronizing audio and video, but isn’t really a multimedia standard. And it does not enable an author to create a rich, interactive multimedia presentation with any kind of sophistication.”

What is SMIL?

The W3C, which stands for the World Wide Web Consortium, develops interoperable technologies that will let people use the Internet to it’s fullest. The W3C is the standard body for HTTP and HTML. In today’s world many new technologies are introduced and one that has shown great promise is SMIL. The proper pronunciation for SMIL is “smile” SMIL actually stands for Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language and it’s a language for describing audiovisual presentations.

SMIL has many advantages; it is also an easy to learn language that functions for many applications. For that reason alone SMIL will be with us for a very long time. Some of the things that SMIL is used for are to create slide-show presentations, which in recent years have gained popularity on the Internet. Internet and Intranet presentations are also soaring and SMIL makes this all possible. One of the most important things about SMIL is the ability of it to display multiple file types like text, video, and audio. With the ability of this software you can give great presentations to clients anywhere in the world.

SMIL is similar to an HTML like language that is written in XML and can be written using something as simple as a text editor. SMIL was development in 1997 and has been improving ever since. SMIL is a language that makes multimedia presentations stand out. If you were doing a media presentation you probably already used SMIL and haven’t realized you were doing so. SMIL has many options like containing links to other SMIL presentations, it also contains features that have buttons such as stop, start and next.

With SMIL you can take your multi-presentations into a new level of appearance with enhancements that help you present your presentation to a higher level of composition. One of the things that SMIL presentations also let you do is display files from multiple web servers. This let’s you display multiple files even if you don’t have them all in one place. This can be valuable especially if you travel frequently and have business presentations to do. The W3C main purpose is to have the Web evolve in one direction so you don’t have many applications being splintered among competing factions. This can be a problem especially if everyone is trying to create something different. Having everyone on the same page is very important. SMIL is the future of the Internet and looks to be around for a very long time.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6 and SMIL

SMIL is that of open faced XML Language similar to that of HTML. Currently SMIL is still developing its software and upgrading towards implementing to work with other innovative Web Browsers, but it ran into major problems when Internet Explorer 7 was launched, we will take a closer in- depth look on why this was. SMIL version 2.0 was developed as integrated software capable of running all media formats, and all audio formats, like that of flash players, with the ability of adding dynamic text script to it. No other player has ever been able to do this all in one by simply using a text editor, and when they upgraded SMIL 2.0 version into version 2.1, they made it a static dynamic conversion capable of handling screening online video and audio as a multimedia application.  As when SMIL came out in the first version SMIL version 1.0 and later to the developing of the 2.0 they released it as a static dynamic platform.

SMIL version 2.0 and version 2.1 worked well with Internet Explorer 6.0 and its upgrades this is probably thank to the fact that when SMIL was being developed it had the full schematic of Internet Explorer 6.0; Internet Explorer 6.0 was developed and released on August 27, 2001 one month before Windows XP was released. SMIL was first drafted and presented to the W3C in 1995, it then was developed into a Beta draft in 1997. Before it was completed it had to be modified and formatted many times to integrate with many Net Providers Netscape, Java, Internet Explorer, AOL etc along with applications of Hotmail and DOM.

IE 6 and its compatibility with SMIL 2.0 and 2.1

Internet Explorer 6 supports inline transitions, which are based on Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language’s (SMIL) latest specifications.  Throughout the HTML+TIME environment, these specifications are put into place through the aid of a transition filter element.  The new frame of transitions is designed to add more power to the HTML system.  Internet Explorer 6 allows continued support for SMIL 2.0 and 2.1 the developing framework in progress at W3C.  The most notable support is in the area of transitions, which allows for effect and filter applications, which can include image and text fades, and application of graduated color backgrounds to elements.  This is accomplished at precisely designated times and without the added need for script.

SMIL’s current version (2.1) is fairly complete and comprehensive enough to use efficiently.  Broken up into modules, each section describes various aspects of the entire presentation.  There is a module that describes the documentation of the SMIL structure itself, and a metadata module that more clearly defines this SMIL document. SMIL schematics benefit from this modularity by allowing them to extend on a module-to-module basis as needed.  This is all accomplished without causing unwanted element interactions in other modules.

As the end of Internet Explorer 6’s Beta testing was drawing to a close, the browser was found to be still not fully supportive of SMIL 2.0.  There were still too many bugs and necessary updates that had not been put into its structural platform.  It took many more tests to incorporate the SMIL platform before the browser could be released to the world.  Few Internet Explorer platform systems support SMIL because of their XHTML+TIME frameworks that Microsoft use’s in all Internet Explorer Software.  There was a definite need however that the browser support systems such as interactive media, which at the time it did not.

Internet Explorer 7 why was it not compatible with SMIL 2.0 and 2.1

Compatibility issues are a major problem for Internet Explorer 7.  The designers failed when they did not add support for SMIL 2.0 and 2.1 versions.  This was a considerable complication for web masters and individuals who explore the internet.  XHTML+TIME was introduced into Internet Explorer 7, which went beyond the functions of SMIL.  When the work was started on Internet Explorer 7, it was officially approved within a couple of months.  The design for this software was in development for a substantial period of time which added new features that was conflicting with numerous end-users and website innovators. Which made Internet Explorer 7 not a prime choice for integrating SMIL.

The Internet Explorer platform’s has always used the HTML+TIME function. As always this method will still be in place for Microsoft’s existing clients.  The developers do not remove pieces of the software unless a major problem has occurred.  However, XHTML+TIME have been newly incorporated into this software.  The SMIL 2.0 and 2.1 versions are similar to the new technique.  In addition to what this tool can do, but may not be able to use this software with current IE 6 platform incorporated into their software. IE 7 can accomplish even more tasks. Compared to SMIL, the XML Timing language can be seen as a different approach to the timing of XML documents. It reuses a subset of timing primitives from the Timing and Synchronization module of SMIL 2.0. It allows separating content, styling and timing for authoring and maintenance of multimedia documents.

The issues that surfaced were mainly the web masters having to change some of their codes for people to view their web page properly.  This increased individuals to seek out other forms of browsers to be able to observe the websites they choose.  The developers of Internet Explorer 7 stood by this method.  They chose not to support SMIL 2.0 and 2.1 because they felt that XHTML was a more productive measure because of their own software like SMIL that they developed called SAMI (Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange) which works with Microsoft software only.  Although SMIL only had to include a patch given to be able to be supported by Internet Explorer 7 which later on they gave out to SMIL so they could run properly 2.0 and 2.1 after a report Microsoft said Quote we will support SMIL versions 2.0 and 2.1.
    
Microsoft felt there product was better suited and sophisticated version of SMIL.  This is important in a new era of internet browsing.  The developers believe that people will see a massive difference in their online experience.  This method will assist in videos and other multimedia ventures in loading more quickly like SMIL.  The bandwidth will be increasingly slower which will assist in more products being placed on one page.  This new technique will be helpful in enhancing the way different multimedia objects are offered.  With a new time frame motion, add-ons will not be needed to show various videos and displays.  The web masters will be able to locate these items quickly and they could relocate them just as easy.  This is a new method of bringing the internet to a more active environment.  The designers of Internet Explorer 7 have chosen to implement their new HTML as an extended version of SMIL for Microsoft launch of SAMI a perfect clone of SMIL.  This technique has all the functions of SMIL plus additional performance; however it will be more user friendly.

Internet Explorer 7 implementing SMIL is simply because Internet Explorer 7 replaced their HTML+TIME with a new ID enhanced Script now known as XHTML+TIME. This is because Internet explorer 7 was implementing their software development Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI) into their script software similar to SMIL. A Feature added to Microsoft Internet Explorer 7. While SMIL kept saying to end-users to ask Microsoft for updates, to be able to run SMIL versions 2.0 and 2.1 like the latest version of IE 6. Microsoft did state they would be supporting SMIL and talked to end users and webmasters of the innovative way of the new Web Browser IE 7. The developers of Internet Explorer 7 did state that they knew there would be some changes to the new Internet Explorer, but didn’t state what these changes initialed for SMIL users trying to use the new Internet Explorer 7.

SMIL is still going through upgrades and patchwork for versions 2.0 and 2.1 to implement the new Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft is currently working on the next Internet Explorer, but are not saying if it is IE 8 or just an updated version of 7. As seen in the report. Many webmasters that seen Internet Explorer day View had similar problems with the program as SMIL versions 2.0 and 2.1 simply because they were running the Internet Explorer 6 platform on their web sites. As time dealt out Microsoft released a series of updates to help patch the source of I.E. 6 HOTMAIL + TIME to the new work of XHOTMAIL+TIME to make all sites compatible to the new upgrade program, as SMIL has seen.

Will Internet Explorer 8 support SMIL?

As SMIL continues, they will need to integrate their software, and have proposed a new SMIL 3.0 in December of 2006. This new SMIL will be compatible with Internet Explorer 7 for it has its patch for XHOTMAIL+TIME. SMIL needs to enhanced there platforms not only with Microsoft but Firefox, the new version of Netscape, and so on to keep up with modern advances, or these companies. Which will service a new form of faster Internet browser solutions. No True Clarity is set rather, if Microsoft will support SMIL 2.0 and 2.1 in the next release either it be a new version of Microsoft 7, or moved right through to Version Microsoft Explorer 8. As Microsoft leeks out its new development at a Conference “Chris Wilson said “Microsoft intends to create a follow-on version, IE8, within two years of IE7’s release, which came out in October. The priorities Microsoft set for IE7, Wilson said, are the same for IE8: strong security, ease of use and Web development improvements.” All we know is that Internet Explorer 8 will still have XHOTMAIL incorporated into it, and be that of IE 7 user interface, with easy to use buttons and tabs. As well “Wilson told media that security “Will be the key priority. The development team will also focus on ease of use and seek to improve web development with current standards compatibility”. But what ever happens in truth that SMIL needs to upgrade to the new 3.0 version that is still in development from the draft. As Web Browsers keep Focusing on Security and unlimited bandwidth for the Companies like Microsoft that Develop Operating systems like Windows XP, and the New Windows Vista.

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