Since before the iPhone was released, there was speculation that it would support SVG.  After all, WebKit supports SVG, and Safari is based on WebKit, and the iPhone uses Safari.  But alas, the build of Safari that went on the iPhone did not include SVG support… nor, more famously, did the iPhone support Flash or Silverlight. Rats!

Realistically, it doesn’t make a huge impact in the total deployment of SVG on mobile devices.  For all that they are cool, iPhones make up a pretty small margin of mobile devices.  Opera is probably deployed on more devices, and it’s supported SVG for a while.  SVG is used on the BlackBerry, as I understand.  The BitFlash and Ikivo SVG players are deployed on something like half a billion phones, both for content viewing and as the GUI of the device itself.  But… still, having it on the iPhone would be a bit of a coup, and would enable lots of neato Webapps.

And as of yesterday, when I updated the firmware on my iPod Touch, SVG is now supported natively!

Continue reading “iSVG”

Third Time’s the Charm

I’m here in Sydney to attend the SVG Working Group F2F. This marks the third time I’ve done this trip. When I first joined the SVG WG, I flew here for my first face-to-face meeting, and SVG 1.2 Tiny was in the can, no new features, only such changes as required by Last Call comments; this was a bit frustrating for someone who set out to represent authors, since I really felt some new functionality was needed. But it had already been too long between versions, and SVG 1.2 Tiny just needed to be published before new work could be started, so I took one for the team. I was assured that it would be published and done within months.

Well, the best-laid plans… I was here last January again, and the same situation applied. We’d received an avalanche of Last Call comments, from typos to tweaks to time-wasters to trip-wires. It amounted to a sort of Denial of Specification attack. Many of the comments were valid criticisms (though a few of those couldn’t be helped due to legacy or other dependencies), but an equal number were ideological. But all of them had to be dealt with. This had occupied the past year, and looked to occupy the foreseeable future, but we soldiered on. The biggest chunk of work was dealing with errata for SVG 1.1, and with the test suite and implementor feedback (which is the point of “CR”, the Candidate Recommendation stage of becoming a W3C Recommendation). We also split out some functionality into the WebAPI WG, so it could be more generally used by other Web technologies besides SVG. So last year, it looked like one step up and two steps back.

And now another year has passed. In this last year, I came to work for W3C directly, and the SVG WG has two new Chairs, one each from a desktop and a mobile implementor (Opera and BitFlash). SVG 1.1 is better specified, due to errata, and better implemented, due to good, interoperable native implementations in Opera, Safari/WebKit, and Firefox. SVG 1.2 Tiny is widely deployed on mobile phones (more widely than Flash Lite), due to excellent implementation by BitFlash and Ikivo, and has a good test suite that’s still growing (and will keep growing even after it’s published… can’t have too many tests). We’ve cleaned up the SVG 1.2 Tiny spec, and made progress on ancillary specifications. We’ve pared down what needs doing in order to move forward to the next stage on the Recommendation Track. We’ve learned from past mistakes, and we’re working more openly with implementors and the general public.

And we’re talking about new features. We spent a day this F2F planning several small modules for the next year or so that will add capability to SVG, and make it easier to author compelling content in this iPhone age. SVG was a bit ahead of its time (especially as regards uptake in desktop browsers), but with the delays of the past couple of years, competing technologies are pulling ahead. We’ve got an aggressive plan that includes bringing in more direct feedback from designers and developers, and targeted feature additions.

When I joined the Working Group three years ago, SVG was struggling and morale was low. But now we’re really excited by all the recent progress and the momentum behind SVG. This looks like a good year for SVG.

SVG On Acid?

ACID3, that is. Most of you will have heard of the ACID tests put together by the Web Standards Project in order to promote interoperability among browsers. Microsoft recently made a hit in the blogosphere by announcing that the next version of their browser, IE8, passed the ACID2 test, showing their commitment to Web standards.

Ian Hickson, who wrote the second ACID test, is now working on ACID3. He recently started a contest to get contributions from the community on what features they want tested.

SVG has had a huge surge of popularity in the past few years; it’s now used on Wikipedia and Google Maps, and largely implemented in 3 of the 4 major browsers (it works in Opera, Safari, and Firefox). There are a few inconsistencies between implementations, so we thought ACID3 would be a great chance for a push for SVG interoperability. The SVG Working Group, most notably Erik Dahlstrom of Opera and Invited Expert Cameron McCormack, devised a few tests that we hope will be included in ACID3.

You can read the explanations for the tests, and see the tests themselves, in Erik’s email. Let us know what you think, and if you support the inclusion of SVG in ACID3 (and let Ian Hickson know, too). Maybe by the release of IE8, it will pass ACID3 –and any SVG tests– too.

[originally published on the W3C Questions and Answers blog]

Update (25-01-2008): Just so you know, our efforts paid off.  Hixie accepted our tests, and SVG will be in slots  70-74 (or 75) of the Acid3 test.  I think this will be a great win for interoperability, and nice acknowledgment that SVG is a first-class citizen of Web architecture.  Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the tests and to the conversation, and to Ian Hickson for putting the tests in (and for driving Acid3 in general).

Grafox: An SVG Extension for Firefox

Well, today is my birthday, so I’m giving you all a present. I’m finally releasing my Grafox extension, which extends Firefox’s native SVG functionality. I’ve gotten quite a lot of requests for this, which strikes me as odd, since I haven’t promoted it much at all. I’ll also note that Holger Will also has a Zoom & Pan extension that is quite good.

Grafox adds zoom and pan controls, and support for text-wrapping, editable text, and declarative animation, among other things. And at this stage, it adds them all badly. I’m releasing it now not because it’s stable (in fact, it was more stable a few versions ago), but because it’s unlikely to get stable bit-rotting on my harddrive, and I’ll be more inspired if I have an audience. I’m also releasing it as an open source project, in a sense… anyone can take any piece of it they need, and more importantly, anyone can submit patches or feature requests. I’m hoping that by the time Firefox 3.0 hits the wire, Grafox will be stable and functional.

The permanent home for it will be on my Grafox page. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

I just signed the contract! I’m now officially part of the W3C Team, in the role of staff contact for the SVG, CDF, and WebAPI Working Groups. Basically, I’ll be writing and editing technical specs (and tests and tutorials and sundry other periphiana), promoting the implementation and use of open standards, doing grunt work for group members, aiding in liaisons between groups and organizations, organizing international meetings, and getting people to play nice together. And coding… I think it’s important to eat my own cooking (not literally, though… I’m not much of a cook).

The contract is actually retroactive to June 1st, since I unofficially started on the job while waiting for the paperwork to go through (though I’ve been keeping it relatively quiet, in case things went pear-shaped; I have to thank Chris Lilley for his heroic efforts in making it all work out). The position is funded through the Keio University W3C host office in Japan, and I’m excited about visiting there (and hopefully staying there for a time). For now, I’m working from home or on the road.

I wasn’t really a great fit at 6th Sense (my last job), though I think they’re all good folks, and I wish them well with what is truly an innovative service. Frankly, though, I was more passionately involved in my Standards work, and I don’t think that a start-up like that really has a strong need for a pet standards geek (they’re using standards, but not implementing them). Obviously, sometimes you have to sacrifice some of your passion for quotidian practicalities (I have a mortgage after all), but in this case, I was lucky enough to have a safety net: an open position at W3C, with a job description practically tailored to me. I’ve been actively involved with SVG for years, and as part of the WG for a year and a half; I’ve been in on WebAPI since it’s inception, and even presented at the Compound Documents Workshop where the idea was conceived. The pay is not nearly as good as I was getting before, but I think I will find it more fulfulling. Open standards gives me hope for the future.

But I’m not a believer in open standards because I’m an employee of W3C; I’m an employee of W3C because I’m a believer in open standards. I feel strongly that they are the only thing that allows the Web to flourish, and I have grave misgivings about proprietary formats (like Flash and Silverlight). This is an opportunity for me to devote myself to keeping the Web open and to move it forward. The W3C has had a bit of a rough couple of years, PR-wise, with criticism of its methodology, but I think that it is the best hope we have for a free Web. I’m honored to be a part of it.

Climbing the Alps

I’ve spent the last week here in Zurich, Switzerland, for an SVG F2F. I’m staying with Andreas Neumann (GIS PhD student, SVG pioneer, and organizer of the SVG Open conference series) and his wife J. (also a cartographer); they’ve been gracious hosts to Erik Dahlstrom and me, providing room and board in their spacious and elegant apartment nestled in a small village outside of Zurich. The weather has been nice, and several times we dined out on their patio, including Friday night when they had the whole Working Group over for dinner. The view is of the Alps is lovely, though Andreas says it’s even better when the sky is clear… they can see higher peaks further away. Yesterday, the four of us took a gloriously scenic train ride down to Lucano, on the shores of Lake Lugano in the Italian part of Switzerland. We hiked up a small mountain and had lunch at a restaurant at the peak. It was somewhat cloudy and rained a bit while we were eating (good timing), but the view was still lovely, and we all had a good time.

Speaking of climbing the Alps, the SVG F2F was a lot like that. We have all been channeling the bulk of our energies for the last several weeks (and to a lesser extent, months) toward preparing for the SVG Tiny 1.2 Test Fest. It’s been like climbing a mountain, with long tedious preparation before the event, culminating in a burst of exertion. Concentrating on the testing, we didn’t have the opportunity to cover as wide a variety of issues as we have in past F2Fs, though we did spend Friday afternoon discussing administrivia, some unresolved issues with the microDOM, and the other specs we’re working on, including Print and Filters.

Read on past the fold if you care for a little more detail about the technical stuff…
Continue reading “Climbing the Alps”


Though it’s Friday back home, it’s Saturday here in Sydney, and it’s been a a long week of meetings. Or meeting, I should say… the first SVG WG F2F of 2007, and my reunion of sorts. I first joined the SVG WG last January, and my first meeting was in Sydney. The winter (read: summer) Sydney meeting, hosted by Canon, has become a tradition. I sure can’t complain. As usual for a face-to-face, we’ve been sequestered in a hotel room all day, though with a beautiful view of Manly Beach right out the sliding doors. At night, we go out for dinner, then back to work, and to sleep. Read on for a day-to-day account of my trip thus far…

Continue reading “Time-Travelogue”

SVG Logo!

Whew!  Many many months ago, we decided to do a contest to come up with a logo for SVG.  We wanted something iconic that people could use on their Web sites to show that they were using SVG, and for companies to put on their packaging and promotional material.  Little did I know what a huge undertaking this would turn out to be!

I basically ended up running the contest myself: wrangling sponsors, trying to get official W3C sanction, building the site, setting up the rules (amid conflicting opinions by the aforementioned sponsors), hand-editing all those entries that were not-quite-right (thanks, Inkscape… it’s a good drawing tool, but the code output is lousy), and generally reaping the results of my hubris.  And all of this was on top of my programming work, standards work, travel, and attempt to have a real life.  (Okay, I did have some help along the way, and obviously the judging was by a panel.)  We had setbacks… hundreds of entries by one person alone due to my foolishly allowing unlimited entries on a piece of bad advice; a cancelled SVG conference where the winner was to be announced; slipping deadlines (due to just not having the brain cycles to spare), and some impromptu international copyright legal hoop-jumping to make sure that the winning logo could be distributed and used for free.

But in the end, I think it was worth it.

I really like the new logo (and most of the finalists, too), and I think it will help “brand” SVG, so that even if normal people don’t know what SVG is, they will come to associate the logo with dynamic, interactive graphics.

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?”