I’m working with a professional designer, Michael, on some graphics for my upcoming MIX presentation. I’ve worked with designers before on various projects, some SVG, some traditional Web design, but this is my first time working on an SVG project with someone who never used SVG before, and it’s been an interesting experience, which I thought I’d jot down for anyone interested.
Both of us have been busy with other projects, and since we are in different places (me in Chapel Hill NC, him in Atlanta GA), we have only gotten to touch base a few times. Michael has delivered some first drafts of the graphics, which look lovely, and I decided to dig into the underlying code, confident that I could trim down the file size and thus help browser performance.
My personal graphical editor of choice is Inkscape, which is a fine tool for all its warts (though it’s a little painful on Mac, where it is hosted as an X-11 application); typically, though, I create SVG either programmatically with a script or manually with a text editor (yes, I know that’s crazy… but it can be done). Michael, being a professional designer, uses Adobe Illustrator, and I am keen to have him use the tools he is most comfortable with. Since I want SVG to be used by mainstream designers, I want to understand how their tools work and what their workflow is like.
So, in order to make sure that we can roundtrip the files as seamlessly as possible, while still leveraging the features of SVG, I set about today to establish a workflow with Illustrator, TextMate (my go-to text editor, with a custom SVG code template bundle), Firefox, and its native debugger extension Firebug (with its handy “Inspect Element” context-menu selection). My goal: to make reusable icons out of some of the graphical assets in the larger image, to be referenced by SVG’s <use> element. (more…)