About Multimedia in HTML...
= Index DOT Html by Brian Wilson =

Justification | Making Content Available To All
Delivering Multimedia In HTML
Related Sites
Main Index | Element Tree | Element Index | HTML Support History
Justification of Multimedia in HTML
One of the biggest factors in the growth of the web has been the integration of multimedia capabilities within HTML documents. Since the early versions of HTML, it has been possible to include references to images in a document that would allow the embedding of the image in-line along with document text content. Later, HTML was extended to allow the embedding of not just static images, but sound, video, and VRML files as well. All of these capabilities now allow for a very rich web surfing experience.

Ensuring Your Content is Conveyed as Intended
To be sure, not all browsers for HTML can support multimedia. Nor can every reader experience all the features that multimedia can provide. This fact must also always be considered in HTML design. As the quantities and types of multimedia capability have grown in HTML, it has become ever more difficult to prevent the persistent slide of content on the web to being primarily multimedia based. Not to say this is a bad thing, but not EVERYONE can experience these capabilities. The reader may have a physical disability that may prevent the full effect from being experienced or the user may only have access to a text-based browser. Authors must always remember that not ALL browsers or readers have the capability to experience the full intended multimedia experience that they try to deliver.

To this end, there are several methods available to help make multimedia content degrade well for browsers that can not support it. The IMG element allows the inclusion of a text string that is only available when an image can not be loaded (whatever the reason.) The OBJECT element also extends this a step further by allowing text representations of an Image Map to be displayed when the Image Map can not be used. These options should ALWAYS be used to ensure that your content is delivered in SOME fashion to all readers.

Delivering Multimedia In HTML
In-line Images, Movies, and VRML Worlds
[ Img ]
This is the grandpa multimedia element. It was the first element introduced to allow multimedia capability within documents. It also has the most extensions of any element (about 20) which allow everything from the embedding of videos and VRML to a range of border, alignment and size properties.
Client Side Image Maps
[ Area, Map ]
This is a method introduced by Spyglass to allow the browser to handle the transit decisions related to using image maps (hyperlinks defined by geometric regions of an image.) This process was previously handled by an external file that contained the geometric hyperlink definitions. The old method required an extra download request, and possibly non-trivial access to a web server. This newer method includes the information inside the HTML page and is generally a faster solution.
Background Sounds
[ BGSound, Sound ]
These elements are analogous to the BACKGROUND attribute to the BODY element. They allow the embedding of a sound that plays while a page is viewed. They are both extensions by different browser vendors that were created at approximately the same time. Neither of these elements will ever make it into an HTML standard now that the OBJECT element can absorb this functionality.
Multimedia Objects
[ Object ]
This is the new element meant to absorb all of the functionality of the many disparate elements designed to include and process other multimedia content within an HTML document. This element is meant to absorb and obsolete the Applet, Area, BGSound, Embed, Img, Map, and Sound elements.

Related Sites
Official References
RFC 1866: The HTML 2.0 specification (plain text)
The web version of the HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866) specification
The HTML 3.2 (Wilbur) recommendation
[Includes the APPLET element and Client Side Image Maps]
The HTML 4.0 Recommendation
[Includes all 2.0, and 3.2 elements plus the OBJECT element]
OBJECT: Object portion of the HTML 4.0 Recommendation.
CSIM: RFC 1980 draft regarding Client-Side Image Maps
Netscape Extensions to HTML 2.0
[IMG: Details the many IMG element extensions created for v1.1]
Netscape Extensions to HTML 3.0
[CSIM: Details Client Side Image Map elements]
Internet Explorer Tag reference
[BGSound: Includes description of BGSound, OBJECT, CSIM and IMG element extensions.]

Other Related Links
Yahoo's list of resources on color in HTML documents
Yahoo's Image Icon link collection
Yahoo's Image Clip-art link collection
Yahoo's Background Image link collection
Yahoo's Animated GIF link collection

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