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SVG Tony 
Posted by: Tony at 8:23 AM EST on 8/29/2004
File Under: Misc Tech -> Computers

A few months ago I bought CorelDRAW Suite 12 and saw that it could export to the vector graphics format SVG. I did not pay much attention to this because I imagined SVG as a clunky version of Flash. However, at some point I felt inclined to try exporting one of my vector images to SVG and I was very impressed with the results. SVG is "lossless." Flash uses a variety of optimizations for performance and size reasons, and as a result its quality is worse than SVG's.

This is not a bad thing, because in the past, the domain of Flash has required these optimizations. For example, the Flash plugin is 500KB in size. Adobe's SVG plugin is 2.2MB.

In reality, Flash and SVG are incomparable. They have different goals. However, I have a feeling Flash will be devoured by SVG in the future. There are a few things I find notable about SVG.

1. Is XML.
2. Is an open standard.
3. Uses time-based animation.
4. Renders beautifully.

First, it is XML. This means it is readable, like this:

<rect id="pinkRectangle" x="1" y="1" width="12" height="12" fill="pink"/>

And it means it can be used like any other XML language. It can be transformed to and from other XML languages with XSLT, it can be read and written with XML parsers and generators, and it can be dynamically altered via the DOM - Document Object Model (i.e., you can use JavaScript to play with graphics.) Honestly, I do not know much about XML, so I probably do not have a complete grasp on its significance.

Secondly, SVG is an open standard. Because no single company owns it, companies are very likely to cooperate and this has been true so far. If I export a CorelDRAW graphic to SVG, it can be opened in Adobe's Illustrator, etc. There is already a simple open source SVG editor, Sodipodi.

Thirdly, it uses time-based animation. Those familiar with Flash recognize that Flash uses frame-based animation. The advantage of time-based animation can be seen from an example:

<rect id="pinkRectangle" x="1" y="1" width="12" height="12" fill="pink">
    <animate attributeName="width" values="12;200" begin="0s" dur="12s"/>

Very simple. So simple I don't have to explain it. 'dur="12s"' can be changed to 'dur="12.00323s"'. And watch this:

<rect x="1" y="1" width="12" height="12" fill="pink">
    <set attributeName="fill" to="red" begin="mouseover" dur="1s"/>

Settings and animations can be triggered by various events.

Lastly, the graphic quality of SVG is beautiful. Compare the Flash version of one of my comic pages to the SVG version. You will need an SVG viewer. Adobe's is probably the best at the moment.

Another neat thing is you can see SVG graphics' source. On Adobe's plugin, the option is in the right-click menu.

To finish off, I present a simple SVG example. The example's code is in two files, SVGExample.svg, and SVGExample.js. It is very simple. If you have not seen XML before, it might look frightening.

There are three versions of SVG. Full, Basic, and Tiny. Full is what you will find on your computer. Tiny is what you will find on your cellphone.

SVG has a future, and mebelieves it will go beyond the internet and in addition to consuming Flash and PDF, its usefulness will spread throughout the land. You may in the future open up a Maruchan Instant Lunch and be greeted by a holographic 3D version of their mascot, defined in MDSVG (Multi-Dimensional SVG,) floating above the cup and telling you to enjoy your meal.
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