Stumbling Towards a Graphical Workflow

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. Continue reading “Stumbling Towards a Graphical Workflow”

Platform Games

I attended Google I/O a couple weeks ago, and had a great time.  They really put the “hype” in HyperText Markup Language 5, identifying things like the Geolocation API and some of the WebApps Working Group deliverables as part of “HTML5”.  Not quite accurate, but it was a branding exercise, not a technical one.  Notably absent from the things they rolled into HTML5 during the keynote, though, was SVG… in fact, they seemed to go out of their way to avoid it.

But it’s in there. Continue reading “Platform Games”

Last Day in Tokyo

I wish I kept a more detailed journal… I have chat logs and emails as a quotidian reminder of my doings, but it doesn’t capture all the great conversations and interesting people I meet when traveling.  This short trip to Tokyo, only 10 days or so, was jam-packed with cool folks with cool ideas.  But now I’m jaunting back to Tokyo from the W3C-Keio office, and then to the airport, so no time, no time…

Maybe on the plane I will sketch out my erstwhile meanderings.  The short version: spoke at Web Directions East (and will speak again at Web Directions North) about SVG and Canvas, was blown away by the other presentations there, hung with cool Web community folks (locals and internationals) who I hope to see again, ate good food, wandered the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya and Asakusa and Ebisu, watched mochi being made at a temple festival and ate the results, met with the Japanese chapter of the SVG Interest Group and some Japanese Industrial Standards folks regarding SVG 1.2 Tiny and further on, and collaborated with my awesome and inspiring W3C-Keio teammates.  Had no access to my cash because of a mixup with Visa/RBC.  Stayed in another capsule hotel, in Fujisawa.

And saw Mt. Fuji two clear days in a row, with lovely warm winter weather.  Sayonara, Japan!

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

I’m in Beijing, presenting at the WWW2008 conference.  Last night, we attended a banquet at the Great Hall of the People, which (ironically) is hard for most Chinese people to get into.  On the long bus ride there, I was rather surprised to see a young man driving a trailer-bike with an anarchy flag flying from a pole.

I’d have loved to grab a picture of this, but we were warned that the security wouldn’t let us in with any camera bigger than a mobile phone.  Foolishly, I took them at their word; others brought in SLRs, so it’s clear it wasn’t that serious a matter.  One of my colleagues refused to attend, even though he had a ticket, because he didn’t approve of the security screening; I admire his principles.

The banquet was great, with good food and several performances by singers, dancers, musicians, and even a truncated opera.  Tim Berners-Lee gave the keynote, and he spoke about the size and rate of growth of the Internet, comparing it in size to the number of neurons and connections in the human brain.  He also opined about social networks, urging them to adopt privacy policies that respect the users, with the expectation that that would lead to open systems with open data.  He discussed challenges and opportunities in the standards process, pointing out that the very factors that build cohesion and camaraderie in groups serve as bricks in the wall that divides that group from the larger community.  Finally, when asked to speculate about how the world would change because of the Web, he was quick to point out that the Web was built by people, by the larger community, and that this distributed effort will allow humanity to experiment with new models of economy, of cooperation, of government, and with science itself; that we could “let a thousand flowers bloom”, and pick the best path forward in all our endeavors.

W3C 2.0

I’m here in Banff, Canada for the 2007 W3C AC (Advisory Council) meeting. The AC is essentially the company reps to the W3C. I played a small part in one of the panel discussions yesterday.

It was the last presentation of the 2-day conference, and the theme was Web2.0: what it is, and how the W3C is adapting to and enabling it. I gave an overview of what Web2.0ey things WAF and WebAPI WGs are doing. It went well… I made a short SVG slideshow with some geeky in-jokes, and it got some laughs. It may have been slightly overshadowed, however, by the conversation between 2 of the other panelists: Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the Web) and Tim O’Reilly (a prominent tech publisher who coined the term Web2.0). Tough act to follow.

The conference was a lot of fun, as usual, and I got to meet and talk with a lot of technical luminaries, including Dave Raggett, who’s generously letting Chaals and I crash in his hotel room.

SD West

I’ve been out here in Santa Clara, CA, the last couple of days at SD West, a developer conference. There have been a few good classes (I finally met the hyperproductive Elliotte Rusty Harold for the first time), and a couple of great events. David Platt gave a hilarious and insightful talk based on his book, Why Software Sucks, and Google dominated at the geek-themed quiz show, Developer Bowl. 6th Sense was a finalist for the Jolt Awards, which were announced here last night, and I stood in for our marketing guy, since I was going to be here anyway. We didn’t take away the grand prize for our category, but we were one of the runners-up; we got a nice little plexiglass plaque.

I’ll be holding my own class on SVG tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know how well attended it will be… the last day of conferences tends to have a lot of attrition. But it will be fun anyway, and I always enjoy evangelizing SVG. I whipped up a little presentation app in SVG… it uses the powerpoint idiom, but slides around a large canvas between text and interactive examples. I’ve been using SVG slides for a while, but this is a little more interesting… well, interesting to make, I hope it’s interesting to watch. The class will center on workflow using SVG, and I’ll dig into code here and there (this is for developers, after all).

Update:  I’ve put my SVG slideshow up here.

Jiggy With SVG, Eh?

We really had a productive face-to-face meeting of the SVG WG last week. Converging on Raleigh were Chris Lilley of W3C (Scottish, but living in France), Andreas Neumann of ETH (Switzerland), Andrew Shellshear of Canon (Australia), Andrew Emmons of BitFlash (Canada), and Erik Dahlstrom or Opera (Sweden), and Antoine Quint of The (mysterious) Venice Project (France). We locked ourselves in a room and finished up the revised test suite, broke the ground on the errata document.

At one point, our Canadian colleague stated, quite straight-faced, that he was (and I quote) “jiggy with” a resolution on a particular technical point. My jaw dropped. I didn’t know anyone was jiggy with anything anymore… but he went on to claim that it’s a common thing for Canadians to say. Just when you think you know a country, they drop a bombshell like that…

Read on for a brief summary of the proceedings…

Continue reading “Jiggy With SVG, Eh?”

Get An Ointment For That

All this week, 6th Sense Analytics (my employer) is hosting the SVG Working Group’s F2F (face-to-face meeting). Normally, the SVG WG conducts its business via email or twice-weekly “telcons” (voice conferences enhanced by concurrent group chat sessions in IRC). But there’s nothing like sitting around a table, locked in a room together, to get resolutions on issues. Thus, the quarterly F2Fs.

So, a contingent of the SVG WG is gathered here in Raleigh (well, Morrisville), NC. We’ve been hard at work knocking out the long-overdue SVG 1.1 Test Suite (more later), liaisons with other standards groups, and other matters.

For dinner the first night, we went to a pub in Raleigh called Hibernian. Our chair, Chris Lilley, entered us into the pub quiz under the obscure (dare I say geeky?) moniker “SVG++”. When the announcer was introducing the teams by names (most of which involved being drunk), he exclaimed, “SVG-plus-plus…? What is that, a disease? Get an ointment for that!”

If you’re really interested in the gruelling details of the F2F, read on…
Continue reading “Get An Ointment For That”

Speaking at SD West

I just sent in my confirmation letter for my presentation at SD West 2007, a respected technical conference series in Santa Clara, California. I’ll be speaking on (can you guess?) SVG (you got it!) in a talk entitled Scalable Vector Graphics: Shaping Up the Web. The conference will be going on March 19-23, 2007. My company is really working on getting speaking engagements, so I think this may be only one of several that I’ll be doing in 2007. Of course, I will be speaking at –and helping to plan– the SVG Open conference next year as well. I normally give a 101 class introducing SVG there, in addition to a presentation on current projects I’m developing.