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Understanding playlists

Playlists provide a means of organizing different pieces of digital media content into a single user experience. Both client-side playlists and server-side playlists can be used with Windows Media-based content. For example, you can create a playlist using Windows Media Player (called a client-side playlist) composed of your favorite songs, and then shuffle and loop the playlist during playback. If you use a playlist with your Windows Media server (called a server-side playlist), you have the ability to stream multiple pieces of digital media content as you would with a client-side playlist, and you can use additional attributes to further control the behavior of the content. Client-side playlists created by the Player or by Web scripts are saved as Windows Media metafiles with an .asx file name extension. Server-side playlists that are created by content producers, server administrators, or Web page scripts are saved as Windows Media metafiles with a .wsx file name extension.

You can use playlists on a publishing point to accomplish several different goals —for example, to add advertisements, to switch between live and stored streams, or to dynamically respond to a user's demographic information. If you reference your content in a playlist, you can combine different Windows Media files into a single stream.

You can use a combination of server-side playlists and client-side playlists to provide a high degree of connection reliability for your streaming system. The client-side playlist can direct the player to the different Windows Media servers that are streaming the content, and the switch element in the server-side playlist on the Windows Media server can reference alternate content sources for the server. For more information on implementing this type of scenario, see switch element.

Windows Media playlist files are Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents that are based on the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL 2.0) language specification.

By default, playlist files are Windows Media files with .wsx or .asx file name extensions. You can create playlist files by using the Playlist Editor on the Source tab or by using any text editor.

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