Cover Pages: W3C Multimodal Architecture and Interfaces

[update 2008-11-06 I don’t know how I failed to see that the very first sentence didn’t carry the sense I intended for it.]

A current weakness in the open-document standards arena is the poorly-specified and tacit coupling of format provisions to behavior in various document processing contexts (creation, viewing, editing/manipulation, and various “final-form” renderings and, these days, interactive performance governed by the document, whether slide-show or something more elaborate).

We’ll get to that some day, and the ways that such aspects are layered into specifications and their allowance for application innovation and conformance novelty remain to be discovered.

This Cover Pages Daily Newslink item from 2008-10-21 leads to an account of the W3C Technical Report on Multimodal Architecture and Interfaces Fifth Working Draft.  

I’m putting down an nfoWorks marker because of these intriguing passages in the Newslink:

“The main difference from the previous draft is the addition of the rules and guidelines which will allow modality experts to describe the features, capabilities and APIs for specific modality components in sufficient detail so that the components will be interoperable in implementations of the Multimodal Architecture. … The specification describes a loosely coupled architecture for multimodal user interfaces, which allows for co-resident and distributed implementations, and focuses on the role of markup and scripting, and the use of well defined interfaces between its constituents.”

I am hesitant about the following:

“This framework places very few restrictions on the individual components or on their interactions with each other, but instead focuses on providing a general means for allowing them to communicate with each other, plus basic infrastructure for application control and platform services … At runtime, the MMI architecture features loosely coupled software constituents that may be either co-resident on a device or distributed across a network. In keeping with the loosely-coupled nature of the architecture, the constituents do not share context and communicate only by exchanging events.”

There are some wise words about keeping straight the different design-time and run-time considerations.

I suspect that this is not going to bear directly on realization of the Harmony Principles, but it might provide useful conceptual underpinnings for an account of the behavioral aspects that are at least as important in document-mediated interoperability as the standard document format.

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