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SVG.. thoughts?

I decided to take a look at SVG today.. and I must say that it looks pretty darn good.
Can someone tell me why it isnt used more than it is?

Eric DeBois
Monday, December 23, 2002

  I have been researching on using SVG as base for a web based GIS (Geographic Information System) application more than a year ago. The idea was to send the data to the client browser in SVG format where the client would be able to perform simple operations locally w/o hitting the server - like pan/zoom, identify object on map, creation of thematic maps. This is an advantage compared to the approach of converting the map to a jpeg/gif and viewing it on the client as picture.
  At this time, SVG was already a standard, however there was no support in the browsers - IE nedded additional plugin from Adobe, Mozilla (which has built-in support for SVG) was still unusable. Another problem was the lack of support for raster data (a feature I neded badly). Also, the GIS product I was intending to use did not have native support for SVG.
  I think SVG will gain wider acceptance when it is supported by a wider number of clients and server software, when there are more mature SVG editors. The acceptance of web services for transfer of geometric data might also help.

Alexander Chalucov
Monday, December 23, 2002

Sure, SVG is an open standard, but I think it has an uphill battle on TWO fronts: authoring and playback.

How do you create SVG content? It's XML-based, so you could use a text editor or (more likely) write custom apps to convert data to SVG XML. As far as I know, there is no SVG equivalent of Macromedia's Flash authoring tool. Maybe Macromedia could make their authoring tools support both Flash and SVG, but I'm not sure why they would do that from a competitive standpoint.

How many users can display SVG content? Adobe has an SVG browser plugin. They secretly install it whenever you install any other Adobe application: Acrobat Reader, Photoshop, Illustrator. That seems a little sneaky, but I guess they're trying to play catch up with Macromedia's ubiquitous Flash Player (which is installed on more computers than Microsoft Windows).

Monday, December 23, 2002

Yup... SVG content creation tools need to scale up before it gains better acceptance.

btw Adobe doesn't secretly install the SVG viewer... I've lots of Adobe apps and they always give me the choice of installing it or not... =)

Monday, December 23, 2002

There is an SVG component for Mozilla and so far as it goes it works well, though you have to build it yourself.

Its main drawback is that the library it depends on is LGPL/GPL and it doesn't implement everything you want.  If there was an alternate library and someone had time to fill in the gaps it would enable skinning and UI using SVG.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, December 26, 2002

SVG is indeed a powerful graphics format.  The history of its inception may partially explain why we have not heard more about SVG.

In 1998, about a month apart, two different recommendations were sent to W3C from two different camps. One--proffered by Microsoft, Macromedia, Autodesk, HP and others--was  called Vector Markup Language (VML).  The other, recommended by Adobe, Sun, IBM and others, was called Precision Vector Markup Language (PVML).  Both were XML-based markup languages; both permitted the use of CSS as well as DOM. Although similar, these two approaches represent--how shall we phrase it?--different agendas.

The W3C's response was to attempt a synthesis of the two approaches rather than accept one or the other.  The result was Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which is now an official W3C recommendation (version 1.0), and appears destined for acceptance by a number of vendors.  There is already support in the form of SVG graphics software:  WebDraw 1.0 (JASC), Mayura 4.1 (, and RealDraw 3.1 (, as well as export from some Adobe applications.  A few books and web tutorials are also available.

For its part, Microsoft gave ostensible support to the SVG recommendation, but proceeded to implement only VML in Internet Explorer.  Adobe, IBM and Corel developed browser plug-ins for SVG rendering, and some browsers (other than IE) give partial support.  So far, neither Microsoft nor anyone else has made available much help for actually learning VML.  Except for a chapter in the XML Bible (IDG Books), VML has been largely ignored by the publishing establishment--including Microsoft Press.  But hey,  it's only been four years since VML was brought in from the cold...

Since discovering them earlier this year, I have used both VML and SVG formats in developing software for e-learning.  So far this has taken the form of interactive graphics  based on VML and redrawn graphics from the literature using SVG.  VML makes sense here because IE is used exclusively as the tutorial browser.  Because I plan to distribute software on CD-ROM, this choice should not be a problem.

But learning useful ways to program these formats has been a challenge, given the limited help available.  Generally speaking, examination of code from exported graphics has been more helpful than the few tutorials I have seen.

I suggest using Google to find what's available on the web.  It's time-consuming but interesting.  And I'd like to hear about other people's experience with these graphics languages (hey, does anyone remember HPGL?).

Holiday Cheer,
Jim McCarty

Jim McCarty
Friday, December 27, 2002

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