SMIL is a markup language that was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to position, play, and schedule multimedia content. SMIL is XML-based meaning it is easily readable by humans and is much, much easier to write than the document markup language, HTML, among many other languages. Due to improvements to the SMIL open standard and its highly cost-efficient nature, SMIL remains a viable option for digital signage content distribution.Digital signage leaders like IAdea, ViewSonic, Advantech, and software providers like SignageLive first offered SMIL compatible devices and player apps as early as 2004. Since that time, few companies chose to adopt and use the SMIL open standard for publishing content because of its lack of compatibility and support in web browsers. Today, major companies like Adobe, Apple, Microsoft still maintain SMIL compatibility for various purposes.
SMIL IN DIGITAL SIGNAGE
So how does SMIL work in digital signage? Everything you need to create stunning experiences for any digital signage hardware through SMIL and signageOS are listed below; let’s take a look.
To create and publish content with SMIL, you need the following items:
- Content (videos, images, .svg files, etc.)
- SMIL file (defines content and screen layout)
- SMIL player app or compatible hardware
The latest versions of SMIL support many media formats and the incorporation of other languages. Early versions of SMIL did not support a wide variety of content types but now there is greater support for different types of content. For example, SMIL 3.0 supports streams whereas earlier versions did not. Additionally, later versions of SMIL also support the usage of SMIL in conjunction with other languages. For example, SMIL + XHTML, or SMIL + JS + SVG, etc.
Creating a SMIL file is much easier than many other languages. Also, there is a standard file format that you must follow which decreases the chances of errors within your file. Below is an overview of the file format basics.
There are three main areas of a SMIL file:
- Define Content Zones or Regions - how you would like your content to be displayed on the screen.
- Define the Content - defining your content simply means input the content type, location, duration, etc.
- Assign Content to Regions - Assigning the content to the regions is as easy as it sounds. Select which content you want to play in each section or sections of the screen.
The SMIL file is complete. Below is a snippet of code that would play two videos in a loop, positioned side-by-side, on a display.
You can easily read that the positioning of the content is defined in the blue color and the location of the content itself is defined in white. The additional code in yellow defines other aspects of the content but for the most part, the snippets in white and blue are what are most important.
Once you have the content layout and content locations defined, next there must be a media player application that can read the SMIL file and produce the output correctly. Generally, this is where support of SMIL comes in.
SMIL Player or Compatible Hardware
If a player application is SMIL compatible then any content that is written in SMIL is readable by that player application. If the player application is compatible with multiple device types then those compatible devices can deploy any SMIL applications.
Early hardware companies manufactured devices that were SMIL compatible out of the box. IAdea, a leading digital signage hardware manufacturer powering experiences and productivity, initially championed the W3C open standard, SMIL, with many IAdea external media players offering SMIL compatibility out of the box. This means that those external media player devices can read and correctly publish any SMIL files.
SMIL & signageOS
signageOS’s core apps now fully support SMIL files so you can create and publish content to any digital signage hardware in a matter of hours or less! All you need to do is:
- Create your SMIL file and upload it to wherever you store your content.
- Provision the digital signage hardware following the signageOS provisioning guides for every digital signage hardware.
- Input the URL of your SMIL file. Note* You can input the URL to many displays remotely through the signageOS Box.
The SMIL file will play seamlessly and as defined within the file. Additionally, because signageOS’s implementation is 100% web-based, the complete remote management capabilities are supported through SMIL! That’s it!
You can do this for any digital signage hardware in a tremendously short amount of time which could save thousands in development and testing costs.
If you're unsure if SMIL supports your desired content, then reach out to us to test your content ideas. signageOS aims to make deploying your content to any digital signage hardware as easy as possible. Through SMIL companies can achieve identical performance at a fraction of the time and cost.