Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)


Brief description

The end of 1999 witnessed to a new, promising standard in web graphics called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). This standard offers the possibility of equipping web sites with vector graphics. This holds a great promise for cartographers, who, for the first time in web history, will be in a position as to comply with maximum graphical demands.  The development of this standard within concerned industries suggests, that mass application of this technology is to be expected soon.

SVG is an accepted W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standard, which is in a constant state of development. SVG 1.0 was launched on 2 August 2000. It is a standardized XML language for describing 2D graphics via vector graphics, text and raster graphics. Graphical formats, as we know them from graphics software, can be defined by CSS, in order to confer standard appearance to a group of graphical objects. This way the appearance of several similar objects may also be modified effectively. With format compatibility, SVG files can simply be integrated in existing web projects. Integration of SVG into existing DOM means SVG elements can be controlled and modified by the usual JavaScript/Java interfaces.

With regard to interactivity, SVG proposes a rich variety of events (such as reception of user events, like mouse-over, on-click, on-keypress, etc.). Those can be used in the very same manner known from traditional HTML elements. Every element may be animated via "key frames" in its expressions (like colour, form, transparency, position etc.). Related syntax conforms to SMIL.

The SVG standard is developed and supported by all major graphics and software companies and organizations, that are web relevant: Adobe, Apple, AutoDesk, Bit-Flash, Corel, HP, IBM, ILOG, Inso, Kodak, Macromedia, Microsoft, Netscape, Oasis, Open Text, Oxford University, Quark, RAL, Sun-Microsystems, W3C und Xerox. As for the future, this circumstance will guarantee a broad support regarding import and export filters, as well as converter and viewer development. Given that SVG is a very well documented, open XML standard, one may just as easily generate and convert one’s own scripts or programs. SVG is also supported by GIS software companies and shall therefore, due to its application in web projects, attain significance as a general graphics exchange format. Next to Adobe Illustrator and PDF, SVG is one of the few well-documented ASCII graphics formats. As compared to the first two, it definitely offers more possibilities. As of now, for viewing SVG documents, the client still needs a plugin (by Adobe), which the user must install. In future versions of WWW browsers, however, SVG interpreters will be standard.

Vectors are "scalable", this would seem apparent for a cartographer. According to W3C, however, the SVG designation not only concedes the ability of vector images to adjust to circumstances - e.g. when printed, it does not need to conform strictly to monitor display - but a distinct page adaptation occurs, too. This is not the case with other plugins. Neither is it possible to reprint pages built upon the conventional raster/layer method, after modification by JavaScript, in another condition than the one originally loaded.

To download the plug-in, please visit the SVG area at

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