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Learning To SMILe
Use SMIL to quickly build new Web-based multimedia applications.

| Getting The Tools |

Let's start with the basics...what the heck is SMIL, anyway?

SMIL is the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, a language designed to create interactive multimedia presentations using various types of media, including audio, video, images and text. Based on XML, SMIL allows developers to synchronize and coordinate the presentation of different media files, thereby making it possible to easily and quickly create Web-based multimedia offerings.

SMIL includes supported for a wide variety of media types, including RealAudio and RealVideo, MPEG, JPEG, GIF, ASCII, HTML, AVI, WAV and AU formats. It therefore opens the door to a number of interactive Web-based multimedia applications, including interactive online presentations,

There are currently two flavours of SMIL available - SMIL 1.0 and SMIL 2.0. SMIL 1.0 was adopted by the W3C as a formal specification in 1998; this first version included a basic timing model, together with support for element layout and hyperlinks. SMIL 2.0 was formally released in 2001, with support for new animation and content control modules, enhanced layout capabilities, support for XML-based linking formats like XLink and XPointer, and a more sophisticated timing model (this tutorial uses SMIL 2.0).

Over the course of this tutorial, I'm going to show you the basics of creating an SMIL document that uses multiple media types to create a synchronized online presentation, in an attempt to offer you an alternative to the more complex tools currently available.

My tools to accomplish this are pretty basic, and available free of charge: an authoring tool, which can be any text editor, and a player to play back your SMIL presentation. A number of good players are available - take a look at the links at the end of this article for a complete list - but I'd recommend RealNetworks' RealOne player, available for download from http://www.realnetworks.com/. Get yourself a copy, and then flip the page for your first look at an SMIL file.


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