The Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (HyTime), defined in this International Standard, provides facilities for representing static and dynamic information that is processed and interchanged by hypertext and multimedia applications. HyTime is an application of ISO 8879, the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

HyTime supports the classic bibliographic model of information referencing, whereby it is possible to represent links to anything, anywhere, at any time, in a variety of ways. The extension of this model to the computerized information age, known as "integrated open hypermedia" (IOH), is the field of application of HyTime.

HyTime provides standardized mechanisms for specifying interconnections (hyperlinks) within and between documents and other information objects, and for scheduling multimedia information in time and space.

Without HyTime, such information is typically embedded in the processing instructions of hypermedia "scripts" that govern the rendition of such documents, and is therefore not usable for other forms of processing. When HyTime is used, those properties of the information that are independent of specific processing are available for processing by applications and platforms other than the one on which the information was created.

It is for the application designer and user to decide which properties can be isolated from the scripts in this way. In an ideal world, the sole consideration would be whether the properties are intrinsic to the information, regardless of how it is processed. For example, the title of this clause is intrinsic information; the font that it appears in normally is not.

In the real world, representation strategies will vary from one situation to another and will depend on such other considerations as the expected uses of the information, the flexibility of the scripting language, and performance considerations. For this reason, HyTime is highly modularized so that application designers need use only the facilities for the properties they care to describe in a standardized way.

HyTime's rules for the standardized expression of hypermedia structuring are expressed as an "enabling architecture", consisting of a number of "architectural forms" and their associated semantics. The HyTime standard's formal definition as an architecture conforms to the Architectural Form Definition Requirements in A SGML Extended Facilities of this International Standard.

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