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SVG - amazing, yet not popular?
December 8, 2003 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Why are there almost no SVG links from the Metafilter Community? [more inside]

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) have made possible some amazing interactive web applications: Look at the Tuerlersee Map where you can digitize cross sections and then create profiles of a digital landscape model. You can visualise the Movement of a Glacier as well as map Social Patterns of Vienna from some census data or plot Animated Population Pyramids. And it's all open XML. These are just a few usage cases but instead we play flash friday here all the time.
To enjoy the above links you will need to have the Adobe SVG 3 plugin installed (which does not work on the Windows Version of Mozilla - part of the problem?).
posted by meikel to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
 
so why isn't this on the front page?
/duh
posted by quonsar at 2:24 PM on December 8, 2003


we were waiting for you to tell us all about it as a FPP? (or, what quonsar said) : >
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2003


oh, i see, it's "Ask Metafilter". sorry, i hadn't seen Matt's latest innovation yet.
posted by quonsar at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2003


Miekel, this is a great post for the blue. Please post it there!
posted by anastasiav at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2003


Well, it would be 10% selflink and the rules here seem to be a bit softer, at least today. Also I don't want to post often ;-)
posted by meikel at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2003


So it's partially self-link and you want us to steal it and post it for you? Devious. Very devious.

*cackles like an evil introvert*
posted by The God Complex at 2:58 PM on December 8, 2003


Why are there almost no SVG sites on the web?
posted by mathowie at 4:31 PM on December 8, 2003


"Why are there almost no SVG links"

Here's the reason:

"To view this interactive chart, most users will require a special piece of software, compatible with the emerging SVG graphic format."

People click on the link and they get prompted to save a file they can't open. They may sound lame, but when people click on things they expect cool content. They don't want to have to install a piece a software that they suspect is spyware.

Sad but true. The Net used to be savy users who loved a cool hack. Now the web is your mom. And she's tired of hearing you tell her not to install anymore crap she found online.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:52 PM on December 8, 2003


Part of the problem is that SVG is a thing-that's-a-lot-like-Flash and the differences (SVG is free, non-proprietary, and it's XML and you can write it with a text editor) are less obvious than the similarities. Flash has already grabbed the scalable vector graphics mindshare on the web, and it will be difficult, but not impossible, for SVG to gain ground. How do you get people to use a technology that requires a plugin that few people have over one that almost everyone alreadyhas the plugin for? I think SVG has a lot of potential for generating charts and graphs from databases, but Flash is already doing this.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:19 PM on December 8, 2003


But Metafilter is not your Mum. We are above average tech-savy and early adopter-ish. There are people amongst us discussing (RG-6) cable .. DC power at the LNB ... need a combiner that is DC passive on both ports just to watch telly.
Also we are teaching people to abandon Netscape_4 which took ages (it is still the standard browser in a huge organization I am familiar with) and also tell people how bad Internet Explorer is.
On the other side we have a 2.5 MB Download (SVG plugin) of a well known Software Corporation (Adobe) that most people are familiar with since they have some sort of Acrobat Reader. The SVG_2 plugin came bundled with Acrobat Reader_5. If you have Adobe Reader_6 you can even see interactive SVG content within PDF files. Check out this US Population Map that is embedded in a PDF file (could you do that with Flash?).
Then there are enough people who are willing to download Quicktime_6 if the latest Matrix trailer requires it and even the nice people at Gameneverending have to ask you to install at least Flashplayer 6,079
So why not discuss the merits of a young but emerging technology from a technical or design point of view and leave mass implementation for later.
posted by meikel at 12:51 AM on December 9, 2003


Why are there almost no SVG sites on the web?
Leaving the plugin question apart (see above) two reasons come to mind:
  1. Copyright issues with Map boundaries: SVG is perfect for mapping but a lot of Mapping services still prefer to deliver bitmaps from a server app because that's the easiest way to protect boundary data (should be interesting for the Creative Commons folks among us)
  2. Lack of authoring tools: There is no equivalent to the Flash authoring tool yet. Coding SVG in a texteditor is for geeks only (who in turn lack design skills)
Nevertheless the links above already show the potential and it might be worth while showing you some more. Admittedly SVG sites so far tend to be less sexy: Compare this SVG incarnation of halloween with this Flash version.
posted by meikel at 1:17 AM on December 9, 2003


meikel, don't get me wrong, I've wanted to use SVG in place of flash but like you said there are no authoring tools. Did you see that Adobe abandoned their livemotion tool recently? What does that mean for the future of SVG? Will it languish like SMIL has all these years? (another great open xml format that's gone almost nowhere)
posted by mathowie at 11:03 PM on December 9, 2003


Matt, not to worry I don't get you wrong, the problems with SVG are too obvious. And while Linux and Apache have been successful this is probably not true for something like Ogg. Is there a general rule in this?

I am also curious about Adobe's commitment to SVG. They sent 8 of their people to this years 2nd World Conference for SVG in Vancouver and brought with them a prerelease of their latest plugin. Then when IllustratorCS and the rest of the suite was released I was rather disappointed to see only limited advances in the field of SVG and then the livemotion abandonment. It seems their marketing strategy is to focus everything on PDF and with that they seem to have more ideas of how to make money (eg selling server products for pdf based forms and signatures to the government sector).

Nevertheless especially when it comes to data driven graphics SVG has a lot of advantages and I was just curious if there was a little overlap between the MeFi and the SVG-communities (it seems there isn't).
posted by meikel at 7:00 AM on December 10, 2003


I was just wondering about this yesterday. Seriously! 3 cheers for Ask Metafilter.
posted by Bootcut at 11:07 AM on December 11, 2003


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