There has been ongoing debate on discussion board (shogi-l) for years now.
Although the discussion tends to be difficult (like the never ending dillema "which came first, the chicken or the egg") but the point is quite simple. After scanning the post you notice that there are just a few simple requirements to be fulfilled.
I try to collect them here. The standard should let for the following features:
- Storing multiple games in one file.
- Providing game information (type of the game, players, date, event, outcome, ...) in the way that any shogi software could correctly interpret it.
- Allowing to store variants.
- Allowing to store comments in different languages.
- Allowing to embed multimedia contents (board markups, pictures, sounds, movies) in the comments.
By the way, they seem to be easy to implement:
Ad 1) If the single game has concise and well defined description, the games are easily distinguishable/separable. Even if it is not the case, some game separator could be introduced.
Ad 2) The information could be provided in key/value pairs (let's not bother about their form now), for example sente:Sato Yasumitsu or [sente "Sato Yasumitsu"].
We would have to agree on the standard set of tags (sente, gote, event, etc.). The less, the better. The standard, to be flexible and extensible, would state that other tags are allowed but are not given any special meaning. This way if one program needs to add some information that matters only to it, it uses his own tag without any side effects on other programs.
Ad 3) There are many possibilities here. SGF and PSN uses tree-like text data structure for example. I could think of few more solutions but the actual implementation doesn't really matter. Ideally, the structure should be easy for the machines to decode but still easy enough for humans to read it.
Ad 4) For comments we should opt for standard Unicode encoding like UTF-8.
Ad 5) I have some reservations about number 5. It will greatly improve viewing the games with software but it also will make the format less readable by humans.
The most important thing is to make the multimedia comments/markups optional. I imagine not every Shogi game viewer will want the feature (furthermore I believe some target devices, like simple cell-phones, won't be able to use it).
I would split the problem of multimedia comments into two categories:
- markups that don't require embedding additional data (markups for actions that are understand by viewer: drawing arrows, coloring board fields, showing hyper link, etc.)
- markups that require embedding additional data (pictures, sounds, movies, etc.)
And what do you think?