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   RE: [xml-dev] XML, Rich Internet Apps

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  • To: "[xml-dev]" <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Subject: RE: [xml-dev] XML, Rich Internet Apps
  • From: "Chuck White" <chuck@tumeric.net>
  • Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 16:39:49 -0800
  • Thread-index: AcKTR/ZQvwdHMcl0QPmIwAbWkNQekAABNFcw
  • Thread-topic: [xml-dev] XML, Rich Internet Apps

SVG is nice, but tools need to be made or it will go nowhere. The only tool that I know of with the right "stuff", at least conceptually, is SVG Studio from the German company PCX Software:


I've tried the beta but I think my beta agreement doesn't even let me comment on it, since it hasn't gone public, but you can see by the web site that the concept is right. They're looking into animations, data-driven stuff, the whole thing.  

You have to get this stuff into the hands of graphic designers in order for it to get used widely. The only way to do that is to build a GUI-based program akin to Flash that will *reliably* output SVG. I'm not talking about using Illustrator and then building JavaScript to make it interactive -- designers can't do that, generally. They don't want to see code.

Of course, there is essentially no installed base for SVG, so that's another problem, and most of the early players didn't help matters anyway, they were so badly implemented. But SVG can certainly, in concept, do everything that Flash can, and probably more, since, because it *is* XML, it is going to inherently play better with XML. 

As a graphic designer who has had numerous supervisory roles, I can say that many designers, especially those with print backgrounds, truly detest Flash because the interface for years was so awful (some people love it, of course, but for the life of me I can't say why). Today's version is really the first one that doesn't make me tear my hair out, and I'm awfully comfortable with just about any kind of interface. To carry on the grotesque mischaracterizations, I would compare Flash to McDonalds. Crappy product, but it's everywhere and you always know what you're getting. Someone could make an awful lot of money developing SVG (and XSL-FO for that matter) software designed with graphic designers in mind. If Adobe put in half the effort in SVG technology that Macromedia has put into Flash, SVG would stomp Flash into the ground within two years. Where's Thomas Knoll when we need him?

Flash support for XML is cumbersome and truly nightmarish, and absolutely inaccessible to non-programmers. The DOM support is really infuriating, even though there are some third party workarounds. Macromedia has had to shoehorn XML support into Flash, and I would think they would have to seriously re-architect the product to fix that. 

What Macromedia got right, though, is that at the end of the day, the only thing users care about is, does it work? People on this list may be chagrined to hear it, but many graphic designer folks I know still don't even know what XML is, and don't really care. The only thing they care about is, how do I make my deadline, and will my software output the source file into the output format correctly?

Long ago I thought Java was going to be the ubiquitous dynamic user interface for the web. Until, of course, I tried testing Java applets on different virtual machines. Whoops! No work arounds, there. Then I thought Dynamic HTML would rally us. Well, despite the brave efforts of the Shelley Powers of the world, it was just too darned resource-intensive to build cross-browser apps. 

Flash drives me crazy, but I use it because it is absolutely the only way to create a portable rich interface. I can even do a little XML stuff with it if I'm not feeling too cranky. 

I'm desperate to see a powerful SVG editor built that speaks to designers and animators. But I want something that does more than just draw Bezier curves and do timeline-based object management. I want something that transforms XML documents into SVG (in other words, lets you create data-driven SVG). The real power of XML in publishing seems to me to be the repurposing of documents. Just saying SVG is XML isn't a good justification for using it. I want to repurpose documents so that I can store them as XML and send them out as Flash/SVG, PDF, and HTML. We're not there yet. But it seems like we could be. Of course, who's going to write this software? Not me, certainly.    

Chuck White
Author, Mastering XSLT, Sybex Books
Co-Author, Mastering XML Premium Edition, Sybex Books

-----Original Message-----
From: Danny Ayers [mailto:danny666@virgilio.it] 
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2002 3:23 PM
To: m a r l o n . n e l s o n; pam@empoweringyou.com
Cc: [xml-dev]
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] XML, Rich Internet Apps

> "From what I've seen, there aren't any good competitors for Flash.  What
other products for use on the web do timelines and have multiple layers
for graphics, text, and music?  Does DHTML+SVG really do this?"  
Yes. It can do an awful lot more besides. It hasn't got the years of tool development behind it that other graphic/multimedia formats have, but it's catching up fast. 
Scalable Vector Graphics is a non-proprietary web standard.  It's becoming well-established, with offerings from Adobe & Corel amongst others.  It has its own MIME type. But most significantly :
SVG is XML !!!
You can use your lovely SAX parser and all your familiar DOM tricks. You can transform it with XSLT. You can transform to and from it with XSLT from other XML formats. You can put it in your XML database, push it out using Cocoon or whatever. You can use stuff from other namespaces. You can insert some RDF metadata into it or bung it in a lump of SOAP if you like. Or you can embed it in HTML. It uses CSS. You can use the programming languages you know & love (or loath). Produce/consume it server or client side. Being scalable it's perfect for mobile devices. It's human readable :
<?xml version="1.0" standalone="no"?>
<!DOCTYPE svg PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD SVG 1.0//EN" 
<svg width="300" height="300">
<rect x="80" y="53" width="189" height="52"
Well I like it anyway...
an overview at W3C
SVG Wiki


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