Monday, June 19, 2006

SVG everywhere - at last!

A day I had been waiting for a long time finally arrived in late 2005.

The Mozilla group released Firefox 1.5.

Buried in the long list of new features introduced in version 1.5 was one that caught my eye: SVG.

While there is no shortage of ways to do graphics in the world today, there are relatively few that are based on a de jure standard format, are not tied to a particular application or vendor, are cross–platform, can be easily generated and parsed, supports scaleable vector graphics, and can be styled with an external styles document (e.g. CSS).

SVG is that way to do graphics.

Before this year even started, the world's most popular cross-platform web browser supported SVG.

By the end of this year, Safari - the web browser that comes included with the Apple Macintosh - will probably also support SVG. If not this year, then I think surely next year when Leopard (10.5) comes out - Safari will be support SVG.

Some cell phones have browsers that already support SVG. Now that their memory sizes have soared into multiple megabytes, I expect SVG support - at least the Tiny SVG profile - will be supported by most phones within a couple of years.

One of the most exciting things about SVG, other than what is in it, is how it can be mixed in with other XML standard content in the same document. Mixing SVG and XHTML content is kind of a popular thing to do.

Firefox 1.5 supports this already. Hopefully, Safari will follow suit. Apple seems pretty much on the cutting edge of XHTML technology these days. So I expect they will do that right out of the starting gate for SVG.

There are a lot of good free software tools for artists, or technical people, out there. A couple that most people of one type of the other should check out are:
  • Inkscape
  • GraphViz

Inkscape is a freehand drawing tool. Graphviz is a declarative language for creating diagrams by describing them, and it draws them for you.

Some commercial tools support SVG as well. They are not hard to find. That is the great thing about standards. Once you have a standard, there are so many of those.


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