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Special report: SVG update

Scalable vector graphics matures — so what is it?

"Yes, raster is faster, but raster is vaster, and vector just seems more corrector" — Professor Dana Tomlin, University of Pennsylvania

Some weeks ago… wait a minute, it was last June! Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself? Anyway, way back then we discussed a new graphics technology called scalable vector graphics, or SVG.

Well, SVG has matured to become a W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Recommendation [www.w3.org/tr/svg/], and members of the SVG community are forging ahead with dreams of world domination dancing in their heads.

Back in February 1999 the W3C proposed SVG as a brilliant way of doing graphics. One of the advantages is that any text in an SVG graphic is searchable. Small wonder then that we've noted that cartographers in particular seem to be getting very interested in SVG as a standard for mapping.

A good example of this drive is an article by Antoine Quint titled Digging Animation on XML.com, in which Quint discusses how a Flash animation can be migrated to SVG — something that should gladden the hearts of all who would prefer to see ubiquitous Flash web presentations disappear without a trace.

Interesting thought: if SVG really becomes dominant, could we see Macromedia dumping its proprietary Flash in favour of the open-standard SVG?

There's an SVG editor from Jasc Software, the firm that makes Paint Shop Pro, called WebDraw that, when we covered it, was in prerelease beta. It is now in full release and worth a serious look.

As you start to work with SVG images, you will need to convert raster images to SVG. There are a few tools out there that attempt to do this tricky task. There are 'fds for SVG' from PADC Lab, University of Tsukuba and CR2V from Christophe Vantighem. This tool seems to give generally terrific results, but at present there seems to be a problem with the downloaded ZIP file being corrupted.

What do you think of SVG? Have a look and send your 'graphic' descriptions, please, to [email protected]

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