MuseumMobile Wiki

Media and Technology on the Go

TourML Mini-workhop at MW2011

Notes from the Mini-workshop at MW2011

Presentation by Rob Stein; notes by Nancy Proctor.

Over half of the 50+ attendees have heard about TourML before.

Why a standard? Dealing with change:

  • Ensure that content lives beyond the current technology
  • Segment authoring and presentation
  • Reduce risk of mobile experiments: makes it easier for museums to work with new platforms and start-up companies if they know their mobile content and experiences can survive even if the company/platform does not
  • Potential for content exchange

Goals for TourML

  1. Simplicity: seeking a common vocabulary for tours
  2. 80% Rule: a model that supports most tours out-of-the-box, but not all. The 20% is where vendors and systems can distinguish themselves for innovation and enhancements.
  3. Extensibility: a way to handle future development
  4. Viability: Can it be easily implemented by museums and vendors

TourML: A platform-neutral metadata specification for mobile tours. I.e. can also be used on a kiosk, not just a mobile tour.

The specification is available from

Primary Types

  1. Asset: the media that we use to build our tours. Several Asset types are recognized in the specification: VideoAssets, ImageAssets, WebAssets are just a few. Asset is the only essential requirement for a valid TourML instance/use: it must at a minimum describe the asset(s) in a tour.
  2. Stop: a set of Assets that are meant to be experienced together. May be limited to a single video toplay, or composed of a set of images with audio, text, and more.
  3. Connection: a one-way relationship from one Stop to another. Connections convey how the user moves from one stop to another. The ability to move back and forth between stops is represented with two Connections. Connections are the lines in the graph/map of the tour.

Stop Attributes

  1. ID: a unique identifier for the stop (for computers, not humans, to read).
  2. Code: a code (either numeric or text) written to enable humans to read a unique ID for a stop.
  3. TitleDesc: title description of the stop. There can be different language versions without there being a different stop for each language.
  4. Point: a GML referent to a location for this stop. Location can be points on a floor plan or points on a map. There can never be more than one point for stops; however, a stop may have no points.
  5. AssetReference: unique ID to reference an asset. Enables assets to be reused many times without having to be stored many times.


AssetType: includes copyright tag (AssetRights) with experation date, watermark, credit line, copyright, machine rights

ConnectionType: includes source id and destination id – start and end points for a connection. One-to-many and many-to-many connections are built up as a number of individual connections.

ObjectAssetType: specification line enables connections with other standards, e.g. LIDO, that name collection objects. That info can be passed to AssetSourceType to be dealt with by a different sw system.

Tour Genres: e.g. keypad-driven tour, the “enhanced keypad” model

Behavior Hinting: Part of a Stop

  • Autoplay: e.g. the first stop on the tour is an introductory audio file: should it play automatically, or wait for manual triggering?
  • Usage: A logo used as a button/trigger vs. being used as a logo.
  • Navhints: e.g. Soundtracks and soundbite connections
  • What are the 5 most common behaviors?

Open Issues

  • Multi-tour: supporting multiple tours within one instance/installation
  • Multi-lingual: supporting multi-lingual tours
  • Content updates and versioning: see Boston Museum of Fine Art’s TAP implementation for auto-synching solution to update players with new content
  • Custom presentation scripting: e.g. creating a Ken Burns effect in the tour: is this a type of asset that is a script that describes how images are animated as a single asset? MFA Boston uses web stops to do this now. See Jesse’s presentation on this on Saturday.


  • Shouldn’t assets have a LanguageType too?
  • How does TourML deal with CSS?
  • Are stops meant to be physical stops or can they be informational stops as well? Should be open enough to be both, so you can use it both ways…
  • Can assets be aware of one another, e.g. multiple assets created for different platforms/contexts on the same object?


What happens next?