Followup to SVG Is Dead Post

I got an excellent email from RuudSteltenpool offering another perspective regardingthe current state, and future, of SVG. I think this topicdeserves a balanced treatment, as many of the readers here are onlypartially aware of what SVG is or how it applies. With Ruud’spermission, I’ve included the exchange below (this was just casualbanter between us, so manage expectations of perfect grammar andstructure accordingly. The email starts at the newest message,going back through my reply, to Ruud’s originalemail).   

—–Original Message—–
From: Ruud Steltenpool [mailto:svg @]
Sent: September 15, 2005 7:01 PM
To: Dennis Forbes
Subject: RE: SVG is Dead! Story at 11!

Thanks for the reply Dennis, (just call me Ruud) and a very goodday to you too.

Go ahead posting, even though i found some things that could’vebeen written  a tad more elegantly and some typos, i don’tthink it really needs changing.
And here are a few more somewhat loose bits:

The executive summary is very much about money.
SVG is about freedom of creativity…… , [[[[[sidestep example:SVG is a great way for ‘coders’ and ‘clickers’ to cooperate. A’clicker’ just hits “save as SVG” in their own favorite graphicaltool and generates something a coder can easily work with in theirown favorite editor. Some coders can actually think of things thatlook good, but can’t handle a pen/brush/mouse and some areamazingly good at realizing the idea through coding instead]]]]]]…………… which makes SVG a tough sell.
It’s related to that not many people know/understand/believe thatyou can actually make money (some companies are making loads ofmoney actually) with free software. My attempt at grasping it

Nobody really puts a marketing budget behind SVG (yet), causenobody owns it, nobody directly makes money off selling SVG. So nomillions of dollars making sure we all hear about every ‘superduperfantastic major’ product the technology is used in. Perception isindeed important. Many people for example think that anything thatmoves in a website is Flash. Some of those just blindly clicked”Accept” once and are watching SVG instead some of the time. Andwith all major browsers except for IE doing some or a lot of SVGout-of-the-box now or very soon, there will be a lot more peoplethinking Flash while looking at SVG. Things are changing though,for
example: Though many brands are offering phones with SVGpre-installed, only just recently Sony Ericsson was the first todecide to actually mention it to their customers in the descriptionof the many models.

Good thing you mention Google. I’ve used it extensively foranything related to SVG. And in the last year and a half a lot haschanged on the web. First you would find a lot of the ‘SVG isperfect for everything and will change the world tomorrow, startingwith bringing world peace’ kind of articles written years ago.Though these articles are still there they are a minority now. Whati keep finding is articles on a very broad spectrum of subjects,with somewhere between the lines saying SVG.
Sometimes with “(Scalable Vector Graphics)”, but usually nothingmore than those 3 letters, no explanation, nothing. I think thatreally says a lot, it’s used as nothing special, as the natural wayto go.
And more specifically on Google, they used to not index SVG-files:now they do. And the Open Clip Art Library probably gets a lot moretraffic since. On Google Maps: Jim Ley just showed on howto get SVG in Google Maps.
Google might just add SVG, probably silently. Maybe a bit afterMozilla
1.5 final (it’s in beta now), or what about the mobile market, thatis more bandwidth-limited ?

And on raster images being good enough: Often they just are,nothing wrong with that. SVG can and will also be used for thingsthat are just plain annoying, the things we have Flash-blockingextensions for. And of course some of those rasters are alreadybeing created with SVG and if based on browser-sniffing they arepartly replaced with the original vectors not many people willimmediately notice it.

SVG sneaks up on you, no big bang, no explosion, though the hypeyears ago tried to make us believe so.

I’m not so sure of Adobe moving away from SVG. Microsoft willdefinitely try some usurping (don’t forget many, many people useancient versions of Windows, so don’t expect to see things changingfast on that end. Just as with SVG, things just take time), butwill have a hard time, even more when Adobe turns up a plug-in thatdoes SVG+Flash+PDF tomorrow 🙂

As you would like to have this ‘discussion’ appearing on theweb, get yourself some more traffic with posting a link



On Thu, September 15, 2005, Dennis Forbessaid:
A very good day to you Mr. Steltenpool! Thankyou very much for the
– it is very much appreciated.

Firstly, let me say that I love SVG – I think it is anelegant,
extraordinarily powerful, vendor-neutral solution. When I writeabout
my perception of its demise (or continued irrelevance), I don’t doit
out of malice or dislike of SVG, but rather sadness at the waythings
have turned out. I think SVG is one of the most underratedtechnologies out there.

Outside of that, my work schedule and focus has definitely beenin
places other than SVG for the past while, so the truth is that I’mnot
entirely attuned to all of the happenings in the SVG world.Instead
I’ve been watching the “Executive Summary” version of thehappenings
in the SVG world.
E.g. while there are lots of small progressions and improvementsin
the world of SVG, from outside looking in, it is a technologythat
completely stalled. I absolutely believed that SVG shouldhave
EXPLODED into the marketplace years ago, enabling a whole new
generation of dynamic and gorgeous interactive web elements,but
instead here we are today with an SVG use and saturation largelywhere
it was (or declined) three or four years ago. The market isseldom
rational, and it looks like most developers (who are the oneswho
would drive this sort of technology) saw Flash, or evenraster
graphics, as “good enough”. I completely expected the opensource
community to go nuts over SVG, and to embrace and adopt it
pervasively, but instead the SVG fork of Firefox (I’ve been tryingit
on occasion for a couple of years) has been maintained and embracedby
just a couple of people, and many in the open source communitysimply
have a “bah, Flash is good enough” attitude. Now that Adobeis
inevitably going to continue to turn away from SVG, and Microsoftis
going to usurp the vector graphics community with their offerings,I
think the window for SVG to make a bang has passed.

I entirely agree that the flash specification in no way equalsthe
openness of SVG, and the restrictive clauses are onerous, howevermy
point was that it is “good enough” for many developers. Alreadywhen
advocating SVG I’ve been met with retorts that the Macromedia specis
“open” as well.
matters more than reality, and the perception is that Flash is nowan

At this point, the only way I can imagine SVG really making aserious
impact in the marketplace, and to become a general technology, isif
Google adopts it. If Google Maps, for instance, used SVG asthe
underlying technology, it could catapult the technology. That’spretty
speculative, though, and I don’t think Joe WebDev can rely uponthat
when deciding on technical platforms.

BTW: Do you mind if I post your comment to me, and my reply toyou In
fact if you reply to this with corrections and clarifications, Iwill
post the thread from your reply on, giving you the last word.

Thanks and have a very good day

Dennis W. Forbes

—–Original Message—–
From: Ruud Steltenpool [mailto:svg @]
Subject: SVG is Dead! Story at 11!

Dear Dennis,


I read an article on your website with the same title as thise-mail.
I’m not sure what you mean with “Story at 11!” (maybe cause i’m nota
native english speaker), but my best guess is “11 a clock” where 12a
clock means really the end of SVG and my second best guess isthat
it’s some sort of expression meaning that you’re joking.

Cause it is somewhat funny that your article shows up almostexactly
at the same moment as yet another big and important step inspreading
SVG even more. I am typing this in webmail from my MozillaFirefox
with standard native SVG rendering, that was released just daysago.

It sounds like you’re not very aware of how much SVG is beingused in
the world. Some of your remarks are at least inaccurate:

Batik just introduced sXBL implementation (just after yourarticle

Flash is not as ubiquitous as MacroMedia likes to make usbelieve.
I believe it’s on a lot of desktops, and i believe a lot more(than
SVG) BROWSERS are equipped to play Flash through a plug-in, buti
don’t believe these numbers. “Lies, damn lies, statistics” And SVGis
used in lot more
places: big applications using it through Batik or other toolkits,KDE
using it for icong and wallpapers, Inkscape, theOpenClipArtLibrary
and Scribus getting more popular by the day for a reason.

Didn’t you see that the Flash File Format comes with arestricting

And on Adobe, well Kurt Cagle blogged on that very nicely:

The mobile market is huge and compared to SVG, the use of Flashis quite
.. ehm..  Tiny 🙂   Even though MacroMedia might bescreaming all sorts
of things of the roofs (i don’t know if that is a real expressionin
english), i see more and more SVG phones showing up, really inthe
hands of people, and services of for example Vodafone, thebiggest
provider in the world, using the functionality.

Microsoft will indeed keep capturing something for quite awhile, but
someday they have to start indeed capturing hearts, cause peopleare
starting to only spend money on things they fully like (andcombining
with other tools is just too great a feature to miss).

And on the server, there we’ll be running XAML to SVGtransformations.

It’s just the “open” movenment, a big force of cooperation,that
MacroMedia , Microsoft or whatever company cannot stop.They’re
welcome to join though

Anyhow, i hope you’re happy to hear this good news on SVG.Your
article managed to get me away from coding some SVG actually :-)That
will have to wait till tomorrow cause i’m falling asleep.

Maybe see you at SVG Open 2006 I’ll buy you a drink

Ruud Steltenpool
organizer of a well-attended, fruitful and fun SVG Open 2005