February 28, 2021
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RealText and RealPix

  • By John Maxwell Hobbs
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RealNetworks' has recently released the beta test version of its new G2 Player and Server system. G2 stands for Generation 2, and represents a major step forward for the company. With new system, RealNetworks has, for the first time, embraced open standards. The player is based on a plug-in architecture that allows for the relatively simple implementation of new media types without having to download a new version each time a that new protocol is supported. Currently the G2 player is only available for Windows, but RealNetworks has promised versions for Mac and Unix in the future.

Perhaps the most significant advancement is the support of XML. The final release of the G2 player will support SMIL, or Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language the XML extension for the presentation of time-based multimedia recently recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium. RealNetworks has also extended SMIL with two new media types: RealText and RealPix. Both are XML-based declarative document formats and allow sophisticated manipulation of text and image files. Both formats can be used on their own, or incorporated into a SMIL presentation. In addition to the ability to "stream" a preset list of text and images to a player, the G2 system allows the "broadcast" of updated content to connected players as will. This opens up possible applications such as up to the minute news headlines or real-time stock tickers combined with streaming audio and video presentations.


RealText markup is quite similar to HTML and uses many of the same text formatting tags. All contents of a RealText document are contained within the <window> tag and are stored in files with the .rt extension. There are four window types: generic (the default mode), ScrollingNews, TickerTape, Marquee, and TelePrompter. The markup is basically the same for all window types, the main difference is the mode of presentation. For the purpose of this article, we will work with the generic window type, which will allow the use of all the major tags. The G2 authoring guide is available for free from RealNetworks and covers all the window types in depth.

A generic .rt document, markup and all, is not much larger than its text content. For example, to create a presentation that displays a new line of text every 5 seconds looks like this:

The high railings of the Prospects rippled past their gaze.

This is quite simple, and not all that exciting. The use of the <clear/> tag in the next example, clears the window, and allows for a more dynamic presentation of the same text.

The high railings of the Prospects rippled past their gaze.

The <time/> tags allow control over when text appears in a presentation and the duration of its display. This allows for a greater level of control than the use of the <clear/> tag:

The high railings of the Prospects rippled past their gaze.

RealText supports appearance tags as well. Most of the basic HTML tags, like bold, italic, underline, are supported, as well as ordered and unordered lists and preformatted text. The <font/> tag supports font size, face, color, and background color.

Hyperlinks are also supported and can be used to link to another .rt file, launch a Web page in a browser window, execute a "mailto" command, or RealPlayer commands.

The final example incorporates a number of appearance tags and a hyperlink that launches a browser window and opens a Web page related to the text:

The high railings of the Prospects rippled
past their gaze.

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This article was originally published on November 3, 1998

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