Whatever happened to SVG?

In his .Net rollout speech four years ago, Bill Gates used the memorable phrase universal canvas to describe this concept. At the time, Internet Explorer's support for open XML and Web standards was still advancing. Now, of course, it's back to business as usual at Microsoft. In the realm of graphics, Longhorn's XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) turns inward, reinventing SVG rather than supporting it.

It's tempting to conclude that SVG just plain failed. Yet it keeps popping up on my radar screen lately. Case in point: Lighthammer Software's innovative use of SVG. The company's toolkit creates applications for the manufacturing sector, where dashboard-style visualization of meters and gauges is a key requirement. As Lighthammer's CTO Rick Bullotta showed me in a video demonstration, the toolkit can animate user-supplied drawings of these widgets -- if the drawings are provided in SVG format. Tools that export SVG include Adobe Illustrator and open source vector illustration programs such as Inkscape and Sodipodi. [Full story at InfoWorld.com]

Several folks wrote to say, in effect, "Be patient, these things take time." A couple of years ago, I wouldn't have predicted that Mozilla, in the form of Firefox, would stage the comeback that it has. Today, although Firefox neither enables SVG by default nor includes the most up-to-date code from Mozilla's SVG implementation, it seems plausible that these things will come together over the next year or so. There's also been movement on the Adobe front. The current plug-in is version 3, but last summer, Adobe released an preview of version 6. (Versions 4 and 5 were, evidently, stillborn.)

Among the applications that could ultimately drive mainstream use of SVG, mapping seems most compelling. As a developer, I want to be able to fuse data with maps that work like component libraries. As a user, I want to do more than just view those fusions. I want to select subsets, annotate them, copy and paste them, publish them, and intelligently search them. As more devices produce location data and more applications use that data, these use cases will become more obvious.


Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2004/11/29.html#a1122