[whatwg] On the subtitle format for HTML5

Silvia Pfeiffer silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com
Mon May 24 15:40:55 PDT 2010

2010/5/25 Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage at gmail.com>:
> 2010/5/23 Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com>:
>> I just came across this thread
>> http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?p=1397067 and found it a most
>> interesting read!
>> Particularly the comment of jiifurusu .
>> It seems the subtitling community is developing a replacement format
>> for ASS with advanced features beyond what WebSRT has. Wouldn't that
>> show there is a need for an exchange format with advanced features?
> Not necessarily.  It means that people want certain advanced features.
>  It doesn't mean that those are necessary, or that the people
> developing those advanced features are aware of existing work they can
> build on, like the entire web stack.  We can do a lot with a very
> simple format that covers all the *necessary* use-cases and can be
> easily implemented by simple devices, and then expose extra
> functionality via the web stack's technologies like CSS for the more
> important devices (that is, anything that can implement the web).
> This does presuppose a particular segmentation of device
> needs/priorities, but it's a segmentation that I believe makes the
> most sense for a modern format, given the reality and increasing
> pervasiveness of web-based video.
>> That new format seems to try and cater for high-end needs and lower
>> end needs. If we have to develop a new non-HTML-like format, wouldn't
>> it make sense to coordinate with those guys? In particular if the
>> community that we are trying to build upon by reusing SRT is actually
>> against extending SRT?
> Based on that thread, the main argument that community has against
> extending SRT is that it won't be compatible with current authoring
> tools.  Their advice appears to be to instead adopt a new format being
> created which will also be incompatible with current authoring tools,
> though, so I don't know if I can trust their instincts too much.  ^_^
> (Not saying anything in particular against ASS or AS6, as I haven't
> looked at them in any sort of detail, but they do similarly appear to
> be more complex than we want for the same reasons that everything else
> has been too complex - they build in things that are potentially
> desirable but not necessary, and which can be done through existing
> web-stack technology equally well.)

The complexity argument will similarly be used by the subtitling
community that if we require all of HTML as a format for high-end
subtitling, we are bringing too much complexity into the subtitling

I think we have to be careful not to make a short-sighted decision
right now with what we think is the 80% use case, which in the future
may turn into more of a 40% use case and the high end features -
things such as animations in subtitles, SVG images in subtitles,
hyperlinks in subtitles, transparent overlay images in subtitles, etc
- will be much more common, because the world's technology has moved
on and subtitles are much more common. I look in particular at what is
already possible on YouTube with subtitle-like technology such as
annotations and even the overlay ads. I know that much of this is not
for accessibility, but why would we not think beyond accessibility for
something as important as timed text for video.


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