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The MMS Format

Last Thursday we presented you an except of Flat Rock newest research on “Publishing of Multimedia Messages Directly from the Phone to the Website” by Assistant Professor PhD eng. Nikolay Raychev, a senior PHP developer at Flat Rock Technology. Today, we offer you another part of the research focused on the MMS Format.

If you send an MMS message with the help of a simple web form and it includes a text and an image, first the text will be displayed and then the image.

What will happen if you want to show first the image and then the text or if you want the text to show as an inscription under the image on the same page and not on a separate page?

The system shows the objects in the order they were presented and you do not need to use a text object, a text in file or to attach this file as an image.

If you want full control, you have to create your own SMIL and to include it as one of the objects (use the extension of the file .SMIL).

If SMIL is not turned on, the system automatically generates some simple SMILs, which present one object on page in the order the objects were attached.

So, what is SMIL exactly?

SMIL is a presentation of a language that is used to configure how an MMS message is shown. It resembles the way the HTML is a presentation of a language that is used to configure the way information is presented on a webpage.

However, while HTML is a very powerful and flexible formatting language, SMIL is very simplified. MMS SMIL, which is a subset of Basic SMIL, which is a subset of SMIL, is even narrower.

SMIL is like a simple language for presenting of a slideshow. SMIL organizes slides and pages for the presentation of an MMS message. It is similar to PowerPoint but again, much more limited.

What is an MMS message?

The MMS message is very similar to the email message. It is like an email system but designed for mobile phone networks.

Like the email message, the MMS message has a header, which includes information such as “To”, “From” and “Subject”.

The content of the MMS message is the accumulation of one or more multimedia objects, such as texts, images, video and audio. The MMS message can contain other objects as well, for example, address cards (vCards), calendars (vCal), Java applications, etc. as long as the mobile phone of the client supports MMS.

When you think about an email message, you think about a text object with none or some attached files. In the more modern email, the message can be HTML formatted so that the multimedia objects are automatically shown when the message is opened.

Similarly to the HTML in the email, the MMS messages should always have a SMIL part for presentation, which will determine how the message is displayed. (If a SMIL presentation is not included in the MMS message, many MMS system operators will automatically generate SMIL and will add it to the message before it reaches the other party).

When there is formatting in the MMS message, SMIL becomes one of the objects in the MMS message and thus the message has three objects. Each object is a file (e.g. PNG, JPEG, GIF).

One of the main conceptual differences between the SMIL and HTML is that with SMIL formatting there is no inline text. If a text has to be included into a SMIL presentation, a reference to an object in a separate text/file is sent.

Another difference you have to take into account is the relatively small screens of most devices that will receive MMS messages.

Also, bear in mind that a SMIL presentation should not include more than one object in a page, a text or an image.

In general, every page that is formatted with SMIL can have two regions at most, one region for the image and another for the text. In the image region there can be an image or a video. In the text region, there can be only one text object. An audio file can be played with the opening of the message.

With the full version of SMIL, a text and a background can be created but the MMS SMIL does not include these features.

You can download the full article for free and test the demo! For more information about the research project you can contact Flat Rock.

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