NETWORKED MULTIMEDIA Information Services Thu, 25 March 1993 04:54 UTC

Received: from by IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa03200; 24 Mar 93 23:54 EST
Received: from CNRI.RESTON.VA.US by IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa03196; 24 Mar 93 23:54 EST
Received: from by CNRI.Reston.VA.US id aa04485; 24 Mar 93 23:54 EST
Via:; Thu, 25 Mar 1993 04:54:14 +0000
Received: from [+JANET.000001500100/FTP.MAIL] by; Thu, 25 Mar 1993 04:52:05 GMT
Received: from by id <> (5.65cVUW/NCL-CMA.1.35 for <>) with SMTP; Wed, 24 Mar 1993 18:37:29 GMT
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 93 18:37:28 GMT
Sender: ietf-archive-request@IETF.CNRI.Reston.VA.US
Subject: NETWORKED MULTIMEDIA Information Services
Message-Id: <>

Some of you may be interested in this. A RARE WG has been set up
for Interactive Multi Media. There are two parts to this mail message.




The survey of distributed multimedia comissioned by RARE, for which
information was solicited recently, has been completed.  The final
survey report is called:

"A Survey of Distributed Multimedia Research, Standards and Products",
First Edition, 25 January 1993. 

The final report contains responses received up to 22 January 1993.  It
is over 150 pages long, and contains information on over 50 research
projects, 40 standards and 35 products. 

By agreement with the chair of the RARE Multimedia Working Group, the
survey report is now available by anonymous ftp.  It may be found on:

in directory


in files:

 mmsurvey.doc         Word for Windows 2 document (binary)
 mmsurvey.doc.Z       Compressed Word for Windows 2 document (binary)          Postscript of document (ascii)        Compressed postscript of document (binary)
 mmsurvey.txt         Text form of document (ascii)
 mmsurvey.txt.Z       Compressed text form of document (binary)

Chris Adie                                   Phone:  +44 31 650 3363
Edinburgh University Computing Service       Fax:    +44 31 662 4809
University Library, George Square            Email:
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ, United Kingdom


Proposal to Undertake a Study for the RARE Multimedia Working Group.


Submitted by: Dr Chris Adie
              Principal Computing Officer
              Edinburgh University Computing Service
              University Library
              George Square
              EH8 9LJ
              United Kingdom

              Phone:  +44 31 650 3363
              Fax:    +44 31 662 4809

Date:         25 February 1993

This document is in response to the call for proposals issued by John
Dyer, convenor of the RARE IMM Working Group, on 18 February 1993. 

The proposed study will examine the possibility of using existing
information server technology (such as Gopher, WAIS or the World Wide
Web) to provide interactive access to compound documents containing
multimedia resources.  In this sense, the work constitutes a feasibility

The main issues which will be addressed by the study are as follows:

* User requirements.  The study will identify the characteristics of
  compound data which make it suitable for network distribution rather
  than distribution on other media.  This will help to identify special
  interest groups who would benefit from the proposed compound document
  remote access capability.  It is extremely important to liase with
  such groupings and to listen to their requirements.  Interest groups
  which will be canvassed include the emerging electronic academic
  publishing community, and research projects with specific requirements. 

[[[ I'm thinking here of issues which would make it appropriate to
publish the information on the network - such as the fact that it
changes frequently, or that it is more readily available; in contrast to
factors which make media-based distribution more appropriate - such as
easier to charge for, easier to prevent information theft, etc. ]]]

* Draft functional specification.  This will start from a model of the
  information server approach, and will describe the important features
  needed to satisfy the user requirements.  It is particularly important
  to identify features not currently available or planned in existing
  information server systems.

[[[ Some of the things to think about are whether we need hyperlinks out
of a non-text node; whether we need synchronisation services (eg a
scrolling subtitle panel for an audio track); what facilities envisaged
in the hypermedia standards are appropriate; what authoring facilities
are needed.  ]]]

* It may be appropriate to select one information server technology for
  further work.  The three main information server systems are all
  capable of handling multimedia data, and some multimedia work is
  already underway on Gopher and WWW.  Selection of a system will be
  based on technical issues, on installed user base, and on suitability
  for extension.  (However, it may be that support for compound
  documents could be added in a way which is independant of underlying
  information server technology, and this possibility will also be examined.)

* Mechanisims for ensuring that only appropriate multimedia objects are
  retrieved will be examined.  Issues of server loading, format conversion
  and transfer time are important here, as well as the question of user
  agent capability.  The effect of this requirement on compound document
  format will be studied.

* The effect of future high-speed networks which may allow guaranteed
  bandwidth and other quality of service parameters appropriate for the
  transfer of isochronous data streams, will be considered.  However, it
  is important that access mechanisims should not rely on such facilities,
  although they may benefit from them.
* The role of compound document standards such as (but not limited to)
  MHEG, ODA, HyTime and MIME will be examined in the context of the
  requirements.  It is possible that one of these can be selected as the basis
  for future work.  One possibility which will be investigated is the
  use of such a format over an information server as just another type of
  data which could be viewed with a suitable browser, in the same way that
  GIF and JPEG files can be viewed today.  However, alternative approaches
  which integrate the compound document more closely with the facilities
  of the underlying information server technology will also be looked at.

* The authoring process is just as important as the retrieval/display
  process.  The role of commercial authoring software and need for
  conversion tools will be examined.

[[[ There are various conversion tools about - eg CERN's Word to SGML
convertor, and there is at least one ODA convertor commercially
available which can convert from several PC wordprocessor formats.  ]]]

* As a result of the foregoing study, it will become apparant whether
  any further design or implementation work is required to provide
  support for compound documents.  Any necessary design/implementation
  tasks will be identified, and the required effort approximately quantified.

The output of the study will be a report addressing the above issues. 
The report will be completed in draft form by the end of April 1993, and
will be presented to the RARE Multimedia Working Group at their meeting
in May in Trondheim, Norway.