Teletext develops own language

Teletext has made a quantum leap to a state-of-the-art XML-based system, developed in-house.

After running on a back-end based on Apple IIe hardware and with all its data stored on ROM chips, Teletext has made a quantum leap ahead to a state-of-the-art XML-based system, developed in-house.

The new system will be married with the TVNZ content management system, Vignette, and will allow data input from a web browser instead of a dedicated green screen system, says technical manager Corin Moss.

"XML is important because it allows us to work with Vignette, which is Solaris based, and with our NT systems. Basically we've had to write our own language which is a Teletext version of HTML."

Developing the system in-house kept costs down. Moss worked with developers Artisan to produce STTML, simple teletext markup language.

"It allows us to describe how a Teletext page will look in a user-friendly markup language."

Meshing that with the Vignette system will allow the Teletext department to do something it's not done before - market the product.

"We're getting the back end sorted out, now comes the big push with TVNZ sales people actively marketing the product. It's got huge reach and with this boosted reliability and ease of use it can be a really effective product."

Teletext estimates it has 1.2 million households in its potential audience. There are no figures on usage or demographics about the readers, but as Moss says, when it fails the phone logs go crazy with callers.

"It's only then you find out just what an audience it has got."

However don't expect the look of Teletext pages to change dramatically any time soon - TV requirements mean there are only 8 colours available to Teletext and those blocky drawings will be around for a while to come.

"We are hoping to replace the pixilated letters with real letters but apart from that it will stay looking exactly the same."

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