Scalable Vector Graphics
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Frequently asked questions

What is SVG?
Who are the members of the W3C SVG Working Group?
What is an open standard and why is it important?
What is SVG's relationship to other W3C standards?
What is the DOM?
When will development on the SVG Specification be complete?
How does SVG relate to VML and PGML?
What is the difference between a vector graphic format such as SVG and raster or bitmap formats such as GIF and JPEG?
What does SVG offer that GIF and JPEG don't?
What are the advantages of an XML-based vector graphics language?
What are the benefits of a text-based vector format for the Web?
Does adopting SVG and XML mean starting from scratch and abandoning HTML and current Web technologies such as CGI and GIFs?
What are Adobe's plans to support SVG?
When will the Adobe SVG Viewer be available for current browsers?
How closely will Adobe's SVG Viewer match the final SVG Specification?
Why is Adobe developing an SVG viewer?
When will Web browsers support SVG as a standard built-in feature?
Will my SVG files and scripts continue to work once SVG is supported as a built-in feature in Web browsers?
When can I expect significant numbers of desktops to have SVG viewing capabilities?
 
Technical FAQ
How can I disable the Zoom-in/Zoom-out features?
Can animated GIFs be incorporated into SVGs?
How do I set up my Web server to deliver pages containing SVG pictures?
Does the Adobe SVG Viewer work with other browsers that support Netscape plug-ins (such as Opera and Amaya)? If it does, how can I install the Adobe SVG Viewer for these browsers?
Why don't JavaScripts in my HTML work with embedded SVG on Internet Explorer for the Mac?
What is the current state of CSS and DOM support?
How do Cascading Style Sheets figure into SVG?

Q.
What is SVG?

A.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) is an open-standard vector graphics language that lets you design Web pages with exciting, high-resolution graphics including such sophisticated elements as gradients, embedded fonts, transparency, animation, and filter effects, using plain text commands.

The Scalable Vector Graphic format is based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) and is being developed by a working group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). For technical information on SVG, see:

W3C SVG technical specifications
W3C SVG overview and press links

Q.
Who are the members of the W3C SVG Working Group?

A.
The SVG Working Group consists of industry leaders such as Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, BitFlash, Corel, HP, IBM, ILOG, INSO, Macromedia, Microsoft, Netscape, OASIS, Open Text, Quark, RAL (CCLRC), Sun, Visio, Xerox, and staff from the W3C.

Q.
What is an open standard and why is that important?

A.
As an open standard, SVG does not belong to any one company, but is a result of cooperation between industry leaders. Because the SVG standard is open to any company or individual that wants to implement it, there are already applications from several companies that support SVG creation, editing, and viewing.

Q.
What is SVG's relationship to other W3C initiatives?

A.
The W3C was founded as an international industry consortium that would lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote evolution and ensure interoperability. To promote consistency and leverage on the Web, the W3C has designed SVG to be compatible with its own efforts (DOM1, DOM2, CSS, XML, XPointer, XSLT, XSL, SMIL, HTML, and XHTML) and other standard technologies (ICC, URI, UNICODE, sRGB, ECMAScript/JavaScript, and Java).

Q.
What is the DOM?

A.
The Document Object Model is a platform and language-neutral interface that allows programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure, and style of documents. The DOM for SVG allows for straightforward and efficient vector graphics animation via scripting. A rich set of event handlers such as onmouseover and onclick can be assigned to any SVG graphical object. Because of its compatibility and leveraging of other Web standards, features like scripting can affect HTML and SVG elements simultaneously within the same Web page.

For more information, see the W3C site.

Q.
When will development on the SVG Specification be complete?

A.
The SVG Specification is likely to become a W3C Recommendation (that is, finalized and approved) near the second half of 2000.

Q.
How does SVG relate to VML and PGML?

A.
Vector Markup Language (VML) and Precision Graphics Markup Language (PGML) were both submitted in 1998 as early proposals for beginning a W3C vector graphics standard. VML and PGML are more similar than they are different, but, in general, VML supports the constructs necessary for office graphics, while PGML was proposed to support richer graphics more suited to the professional design and publishing community.

As a result of these and other proposals, the W3C assembled the SVG Working Group. SVG is the culmination of these efforts to fill the need for a standardized vector format that incorporates the best features of both VML and PGML.

Q.
What is the difference between a vector graphic format such as SVG and raster or bitmap formats such as GIF and JPEG?

A.
Raster or bitmap formats such as GIF and JPEG have to include every pixel needed to display a graphic. As a result, GIF and JPEG files tend to be bulky, limited to a single, often low, resolution, and consume large amounts of bandwidth on the Web. Vector graphics, on the other hand, describe an object in terms of lines and curves - SVG vector files are therefore compact and provide print-quality graphics on the Web, in print, or even on resource-constrained handheld devices.

Q.
What does SVG offer that GIF and JPEG don't?

A.
SVG offers a number of important advantages over bitmap or raster formats such as GIF:
•  Zooming. Users can magnify their view of an image without sacrificing sharpness, detail, or clarity.
•  Text stays text. Text in SVG images remains editable and searchable. There are no font limitations and users will always see the image the same way you do.
•  Small file size. SVG files are, on average, smaller than other Web-graphic formats such as JPEG and GIF and are quick to download.
•  Display independence. SVG images are always crisp on screen and print out at the resolution of your printer, whether it's 300 dpi, 600 dpi, or higher. You will never experience ugly "jaggy" bitmaps.
•  Superior color control. SVG offers a palette of 16 million colors, support for ICC color profiles, sRGB, gradients, and masking.
•  Interactivity and intelligence. Since SVG is XML-based, it offers unparalleled dynamic interactivity. SVG images can respond to user actions with highlighting, tool tips, special effects, audio, and animation.

Q.
What are the advantages of an XML-based vector graphics language?

A.
XML offers greater structural control and sophistication than HTML. SVG is entirely XML-based, a fact that offers many advantages to developers and users alike. As Web sites grow more complex, offering more interactivity and visual sophistication, Web designers require languages more powerful than HTML.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) has garnered widespread, enthusiastic support from Web industry leaders and developers alike.

Unlike HTML, XML completely separates content from its presentation. By describing information in terms of structured data types, user applications can process the same XML page as display or data - not just display, as with HTML. For example, an XML-tagged phone number could be dialed on a cell phone, but rendered as an SVG image of the business it belongs to on a neighborhood map depending on the device and application processing the file. This type of flexibility is light-years ahead of HTML.

For more information, see the W3C site.

Q.
What are the benefits of a text-based vector format for the Web?

A.
SVG and XML are entirely text-based, a fact that offers many advantages to developers and users alike:
•  An SVG image is composed of XML-based commands entered as text, which can incorporate JavaScript or XML. It's lean, smart code.
•  As a text-based format, text within SVG images can be indexed by search engines or searched within a browser by users.
•  SVG can also be created on the fly by any scripting language - such as JavaScript, Perl, or Java - with data from any source from a relational database to an ASCII file, an ideal way to create high-quality charts and graphs that update dynamically and allow users to zoom, pan, or even do ad hoc reports.
•  SVG fully supports the DOM (Document Object Model) and therefore is fully scriptable. SVG images or portions of an SVG image can react to clicks and mouse movement, triggering changes to the graphic itself or to other objects on the same page such as HTML text and other graphics.
•  SVG works well across platforms, output resolutions, color spaces, and a range of bandwidths.

Q.
Does adopting SVG and XML mean starting from scratch and abandoning HTML and current Web technologies such as CGI and GIFs?

A.
No. SVG and XML work seamlessly with current Web technologies and will fit right in with HTML, CGI scripts, Java, JavaScript, and raster formats such as GIF and JPEG. Your favorite graphics tools, such as Adobe Illustrator, will let you create scalable vector graphics the same way you create any illustration-type graphic. You won't have to learn new software to make or use an SVG object in your Web design.

Q.
What are Adobe's plans to support SVG?

A.
As an open standard, SVG does not belong to any one company, but Adobe plans to incorporate SVG support throughout its product lines where appropriate. Adobe is also developing an SVG viewer. Adobe expects a wide variety of applications from several companies to support SVG creation, editing, and viewing.

Q.
When will the Adobe SVG Viewer be available for current browsers?

A.
The Adobe® SVG Viewer is available today for Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh. Adobe will update the viewer shortly after the W3C completes the SVG specification.

Q.
How closely will Adobe's SVG viewer match the final SVG Specification?

A.
Adobe intends to support all of the features defined in the final SVG Specification in the Adobe SVG Viewer.

Q.
Why is Adobe developing an SVG viewer?

A.
Because the current generation of popular Web browsers including Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer do not support SVG. The Adobe SVG Viewer will provide immediate access to SVG content on the Web. Separate viewers will continue to be necessary until popular browsers support SVG and XML natively. Adobe plans to make its SVG viewer easily available through Adobe.com and related Adobe products, and to encourage wide distribution via the Internet.

Q.
When will Web browsers support SVG as a standard built-in feature?

A.
The browser vendors have not announced a schedule yet for supporting SVG as a standard built-in feature.

Q.
Will my SVG files and scripts continue to work once SVG is supported as a built-in feature in Web browsers?

A.
Yes, any standard SVG feature that is available in the final version of the Adobe SVG Viewer will work in the same way when supported natively in SVG-compliant browsers.

Q.
When can I expect significant numbers of desktops to have SVG viewing capabilities?

A.
Thanks to the efforts of Adobe and other companies, large numbers of desktops will gain SVG viewing capabilities in mid 2000. Adobe will work closely with other companies and with the Web community to ensure the proliferation of SVG viewing capability happens in "Internet time."

The Adobe SVG Viewer can be downloaded easily and automatically the first time a user goes to a page with SVG content, providing tremendous new capabilities for richer graphics and enhanced interactivity.

Q.
How can I disable the Zoom-in/Zoom-out features?

A.
The current SVG draft spec contains an 'enableZoomAndPanControls' attribute on the <svg> element. This feature is implemented in the current version of the Adobe SVG Viewer.

Q.
Can animated GIFs be incorporated into SVGs?

A.
The current version of the Adobe SVG Viewer has limited support for animated GIFs. They can be viewed, but they will not animate - only the first frame will display.

Q.
How do I set up my Web server to deliver pages containing SVG pictures?

A.
You need to add the SVG mimetype to your server's list of mimetypes. The SVG mimetype is "image/svg-xml." See your server's documentation for instructions on how to add a new mimetype.

Q.
Does the Adobe SVG Viewer work with other browsers that support Netscape plug-ins (such as Opera and Amaya)? If it does, how can I install the Adobe SVG Viewer for these browsers?

A.
Adobe is not committed to supporting the Opera browser at this time. Instead, we are focusing our initial efforts on the most widespread platforms. Our installer does not recognize Opera, Amaya, or other browsers, but you may be able to copy the SVG plug-ins from your Netscape plug-ins folder to the plug-ins folder of a different browser. The relevant files are: NPSVGVw.dll, SVGView.dll, and SVGViewer.zip.

Q.
Why don't JavaScripts in my HTML work with embedded SVG on Internet Explorer for the Mac?

A.
Internet Explorer for the Macintosh does not support JavaScript access to plug-ins, and it does not provide a way for plug-ins to use the browser's JavaScript engine. For this reason, on this particular platform, JavaScript in your HTML cannot access any embedded SVG, and similarly, JavaScript in your SVG files will not execute. If you want to see this problem addressed in a future version of Internet Explorer for the Mac, please contact Microsoft.

Q.
What is the current state of CSS and DOM support?

A.
Most of the CSS properties detailed in the SVG Specification are supported. DOM support will be more complete with subsequent releases.

Q.
How do Cascading Style Sheets figure into SVG?

A.
The Adobe SVG Viewer now supports external as well as inline and embedded style sheets. Adobe Illustrator 9.0 automatically exports SVG images with embedded styles, but you can easily design your SVG to work with external style sheets, just like with HTML (see the example in the CSS lesson).


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Depto. de Física, Universida Técnica Federico Santa María. (c)2000