Linked by Christian F.K. Schaller on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 19:25 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Computer graphics have long been dominated by bitmapped images. However, the free software community has taken an innovative lead by adopting scalable graphic formats on its desktops. Inthis article I cover the history and rise of scalable graphics on the desktop from my angle - as a proponent of its use in the GNOME platform. This article mostly focuses on SVG's progress from a GNOME point of view, both because GNOME has progressed the furthest and because I am most knowledgable with GNOME's efforts. I will however mention major landmarks in other projects where appropriate.
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v SVG link wrong
by John Drake on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:07 UTC
Picture this.
by BR on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:18 UTC

Not bad except for the odd 'problem'. Anyway as pretty much mentioned, what's holding SVG back is incomplete implimentations. Even in the closed-source world.

NB!
by earthworm on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:19 UTC

the gnome website is down atm, just for peoples info.

Cool!, very extensive article
by bact' on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:20 UTC

5 stars ;)

thank you for this very good article.

cheers,

v some typos
by pieter on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:21 UTC
What is the gtk theme?
by Anonymous on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:21 UTC

So what is the gtk theme that dom created? (third page) Anyone know?

All these SVG graphics are amazing and beautiful. If you havn't tried the gartoon icon theme. Try it! NOW!
Also the graphics for monkey bubble, gnome's mahjongg, mime sweeper, and lines are also finger-lickin` sweet.

This is really one of the exciting parts of gnome and the linux desktop where OSS is really ahead then both Macos and windows. (btw, the macos 'scalable' icons, arn't really svg type icons, they are just multiple renderings at different sizes, but they are not scalable)

Haven't RTFA yet, will in a minute. The issue of vector graphics keeps coming up though, and as a designer with 7 years solid experience with tools such as Flash, Freehand, Fireworks, Illustrator and ToonBoomStudio, I wanted to weigh in on the conversation. Vector graphics are great up to a point. Once you start adding layers, transparency, gradients, path complexity (i.e. detail) you can get very bogged down. There comes a point when bitmapped artwork is actually more efficient. Any designer will tell you that with vector tools alone, it is much more difficult to create realistic imagery than it is to create such graphics in a program like Photoshop (bitmap). It will be an interesting space to watch, but I wouldn't expect vector graphics to be the "holy grail" of UI features.

Reinventing the wheel... again...
by Ronald on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:27 UTC

What advantages does it have over *existing* Metafile format (WMF, MET, EMF, WPG, CGM and many more...) other than being hyped by XML?

At first I thought SVG that it was a replacement for VRML (or it's multiple offsprings.)

All they're cracked up to be for the purposes mentioned
by DataPath on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:30 UTC

I don't think the idea is to convert the WORLD to SVG. There's very little photorealism in GUI's and their eye candy. I think for most of the applications mentioned in the article - games, themes, icons - that SVG is fantastic.

And really, SVGifying the games for which they showed screenshots makes them look top-notch professional. I've not seen a more beautiful-looking mahjong.

RE: brianimator (IP: ---.den.megapath.net)
by BR on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:33 UTC

"Vector graphics are great up to a point. Once you start adding layers, transparency, gradients, path complexity (i.e. detail) you can get very bogged down. There comes a point when bitmapped artwork is actually more efficient. Any designer will tell you that with vector tools alone, it is much more difficult to create realistic imagery than it is to create such graphics in a program like Photoshop (bitmap)."

Well SVG can embed bitmaps, also an OpenGL based renderer will help with the speed issues.

On vector raphics in desktop
by Luis Alejandro Masanti on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:36 UTC

NeXT computer used Display PostScrpt (SVG was `rpòsed by Adobe based in PS).
Mac OS X uses PostScript to draw in the screen (and printer).

So you can have an idea of what is possible with vector graphics in the desktop.

RE: Ronald (IP: ---.225-202-24.mc.videotron.ca)
by BR on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:38 UTC

Well I guess that depends on how important a free and open standard is to you. The ability to work with other XML standards is also a plus. Also VRML is 3D; SVG is 2D.

RE: BR
by brianimator on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:39 UTC

"Well SVG can embed bitmaps, also an OpenGL based renderer will help with the speed issues."

Not to be argumentative, believe me, I'm all for vector art - but wouldn't embedding a bitmap kinda defeat the "S" in SVG? And yes, OpenGL can definitely help - In ToonBoom Studio for instance, using selecting OpenGL acceleration in the preferences *greatly* enhances performance.

KDE
by Anonymous on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:43 UTC

IIRC, KDE's crystal icons are developed as SVG and then 'rendered' to a bitmap format for actual use. So you get the best of both worlds.

v Gnome
by billybob on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:46 UTC
Great article
by axiom255 on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:49 UTC

Thanks Christian for a great survey of SVG world!

RE: brianimator
by BR on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 20:57 UTC

Well I think they put that in so it wouldn't be limited. As you pointed out the world is both bitmap (photos) and vector (Flash). Also including a bitmap doesn't have to be limiting. The bitmap could be tileable.

[Anonymous (IP: ---.server.ntli.net)]
Technicall it all ends up as a bit map. Or at least until I can hook my Tektronix scope up.

RE: speed
by dom on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:01 UTC

"Well SVG can embed bitmaps, also an OpenGL based renderer will help with the speed issues."

I'm not sure why so many people think that SVG is slow. It doesn't have to be, even without hardware acceleration. I've done tests of librsvg vs. libpng:

Given a SVG image $s. Transform it into a PNG image $p using librsvg, Batik, or something similar. Run "gdk_pixbuf_new_from_file()" on both $p and $s. This will turn $s and $p into identical RGBA images. Time this operation. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Generally, it is no slower (if not faster!) to render $s than $p. This surprised me and quieted many "Vector graphics are too slow for the desktop" pundits.

Great article
by Another matthew on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:03 UTC

That was a good read. Thanks!

RE: GTK+ svg theme
by dom on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:11 UTC

http://cvs.gnome.org/lxr/source/librsvg/gtk-engine/

The theme *engine* is aptly called "svg". There are currently no GTK+ *themes* that use this engine other than my demo theme. Trust me, you don't want to see it. There's a reason why I don't install it ;)

I'm not an artist, so my test case is just two really ugly gradients. You'd swear that I was colorblind. But this shouldn't stop those of you who are more artistically inclined from making SVG themes using this engine, and filing bugs against things that you think could be done better.

RE: picture this
by dom on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:17 UTC

Incomplete implementations are one concrete reason why SVG isn't catching on as quickly as it could.

Then again, it would be folly to think that Los Angeles-sized sprawling specifications also have something to do with the problem as well. In my opinion, SVG can't decide whether it wants to challenge RGBA, PS/PDF, Flash, all of the above, or something else entirely. It makes it hard when a conforming viewer has to handle the complete DOM spec, CSS, animations, SVG print, and a hundred esoteric little features that no one will ever use.

What we're reaching now is a common ground between SVG renderers and editors. We're reaching equal footing, and we've defined many of the things we think are essential for our users. Because of this, I think that you'll see increased SVG adoption in many areas since the necessary feature set has been "felt out".

Please require proofreading
by Reformist on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:29 UTC

Euginia, please require special contributers to proofread their work prior to submission; I don't want to be a troll, but this article had so many errors in it I couldn't finish it. It looked like it had great content nonetheless.

Re Vector Graphics on the Desktop
by Zoont Foomby on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:33 UTC

Someone pointed out that Vector graphics have been used in a desktop system by both NeXT and Mac OS X. To clarify, wherever else they have been used in the desktop system, I do not believe the icons in either of those systems are vector format images. I know they are bitmaps in OS X, and I know that in NeXT when I create a new Icon it is done with a bitmap editor. Perhaps some of the icons in NeXT are vector format images, but I doubt it.

However, Yellowtab Zeta and the Fat Tracker hack for BeOS which it bases its tracker on do put SVG icons on the desktop. They also put large bitmap icons on the desktop - you can choose either. That was the first place I saw SVG icons, and man are they sweet.

@Reformist
by Christian Schaller on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:35 UTC

I actually did try to proofread the article and I had someone else go over it too. But when you have gone trough something as many times as I did that article you 'go blind' on it after a while. Not being a native english speaker probably didn't help me either. Sorry that the spelling mistakes turned you off the article ;)

RE: Reinventing the wheel... again...
by Mathrick on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:37 UTC

Few reasons from top of head:
1. It is free (as in beer & speech)
2. It is standarised, by entity we can trust
3. It can be (and is) adopted freely, because choosing SVG isn't tying you to any particular company and its proprietary solution
4. It is XML based, with all goodies that come from that fact
5. It is designed to explicitly take advantage of being XML (using CSS, integration with XForms, possibility of creating compound SVG + anything documents)
6. It's xplatform, with many implementations to choose from

good work
by theorz on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:41 UTC

Thanks to all the svg developers.

Being able to scale the desktop is a big thing for useability. For people like my father it will make a huge difference. He used 800x600 on a 17" monitor, and now uses 1024x768 on a 21" monitor. Anything smaller and he has trouble reading it. This kind of makes lcd monitors useless to him since their native resolutions are way to high for him. I look forward to the day when monitor resolution and window size are not tied together.

On a similar note I wish there was a may to scale webpages better. Like how you can zoom in opera, but done automatically based on you dpi. Right now websites are the prime offenders of not scaling well, and even if the rest of the desktop scales perfectly it could still be ruined by some jackass that thinks -2 is a readable font size.

@Reformist
by Mathrick on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:42 UTC

Man, you're nitpicking. Few typos, and some grammar mistakes - so what? Not everyone out there is native speaker, and honestly it wasn't so painful as to make it impossible to read

I'm Confuded.... From Apple's site:
by brianimator on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:47 UTC

http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/quartzextreme/

"Quartz delivers device-independent and resolution-independent rendering of anti-aliased text, bitmap images and vector graphics."

Kinda clears it all up doesn't it (?)

Anyone here who can truly explain why this is more/less impressive than the solutions coming out?

Whatever the case, we'll all have something similar before MS - that's what really matters!

As a web designer (who works primarily in Illustrator) I concur ... there will always be a place for bitmaps which allow basically limitless freedom of creativity ... but at the same time I have been eagerly watching SVG ever since the Adobe released its browser plugin in 2001.

Unfortunately, it's still the only thing close to a full implementation of SVG. And Illustrator is still the only thing close to a full-featured authoring tool (I know the article is primarily about Gnome, but it might have been mentioned). ;)

SVG could replace HTML *tomorrow* if web browsers only supported it ... and I would step over my own mother to see this happen. No more cutting up pages into images, no more reimplementing design elements as block-level elements, background colors or (ugh) table cells. Web sites in 1/10 the time, easy.

Or as a screen display engine, like Apple's Quartz or Microsoft's Longhorn ... it would mean the end of different monitor sizes or different monitor resolutions. You could set screen text to be a quarter of an inch high and forget it.

Kudos to the Gnome developers for all their hard work, but by focusing on icon sets and 2D office toy games, I think they've completely missed the point. They're putting vector-based shapes where they make the least sense and ignoring the proverbial "killer apps."

I mean, icon sets? I'm sure there's a place for some vector elements here ... but icons are by their definition relatively small ... that's why Apple uses big TIFFs for its icons (big enough so they only get scaled down, not up) even though its overall rendering engine (Quartz) is vector-based. Just like artists embed bitmap pieces into vector-based compositions all the time. But Gnome is doing the opposite, which is completely bass-ackwards ... you completely rob vector shapes of their scability if you embed them in a fixed, bitmapped framework. You're just condemning vector-originated images to a bitmapped Xwindows prison ... at that point you could flatten your precious vectors to 400x400 pixel bitmaps and no one would be able to tell the difference. And in the meantime, you've limited your creativity to what can be created using vector shapes and gradient fills.

And for games? I'm sorry, but think of SVG's inherent artistic limitations ... it's not like people were creating games in PostScript before SVG came on the scene. Pretty much every commercial game out there (i.e. any first-person shooter) has been 3D vector-based for 5 or 10 years, and the game developers of the world aren't exactly clamoring to give up DirectX and move to 2D vectors. OK, maybe just for Mahjongg.

"I'm all for vector art - but wouldn't embedding a bitmap kinda defeat the "S" in SVG?"

No -- any normal illustrator mixes the two all the time ... open up any magazine and look at one of the ads. Or the page layouts for that matter. How does it happen? Photos and hand illustrations are digitized and mixed with type, vector shapes, gradients etc. Or another common technique is to take a bunch of vector-based art and hand-shade it in Photoshop to get realistic shades and tones.

The value of SVG comes from its ability to create the visual framework (a magazine layout, a web page, an application UI) not from drawing the standalone pieces (illustrations, icons) that might be embedded in it.

RE: I'm Confuded.... From Apple's site
by dom on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 21:54 UTC

Quartz uses the PDF drawing model, so much of what you're seeing on screen is really "vector images". This is similar to X11's Cairo (http://www.cairographics.com) rendering engine and also similar to what MSFT is using in their (perenially) upcoming OS, Longhorn.

However, Mac OSX does not use vector-based icons, at least not by default. It ships various versions of its icons at different sizes. Its dock, for example, picks which icon would be "best" for the dock's current size, and then applies a raster scaling operation to resize the icon. The result still looks pretty good, but gernally requires penning N versions of any given icon, all at different sizes.

@JH
by Christian Schaller on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:01 UTC

Um, I am not sure you understand what we are trying to do. The point is that we are not putting SVG's into a fixed bitmapped framework. The idea is that as we progress you will be able to scale all your gui's. I even mention this in the article. So that the toolbars, stock icons, fonts etc. all scale. Which I think is very usefull on things like high resolution displays where sometimes your windows and toolbars can get to small.

SVG vs PNG
by David on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:04 UTC

Ok, no flame fest here please. I just don't know what the differences are. I have seen/used GUIs using both of these before but don't know what the differences are. Enlighten me please.

@JH
by Harbinjer on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:05 UTC

Yeah, I like your ideas JH, you should definitely speak up. This would be really sweet for web pages, and UI's I think. Perhaps even better than XAML. The use for Visual framework could be an amazing speedup for designing UI's and for allowing designers to do this compeletly separate from teh underlying engine code.

Need (faster|more complete) SVG renderers
by Anonymous on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:05 UTC

I think we need to see better SVG renderers though. Mozilla SVG, adobe SVG, batik, and ksvg (KDE) are very good for web SVG content but are utterly unoptimized for displaying the general interface or painting icons.

Meanwhile, librsvg (which gnome uses), is quite fast for painting icons, but isn't complete enough to make any sort of general purpose svg engine.

We need something with the completeness of adobe SVG or batik, the web integration of mozilla svg and ksvg, and the speed of rsvg .

Great to see the interest in graphics
by Tom on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:13 UTC

With microsoft coming out with new graphics in 2006? it is good to see open source people already on the job. Open source has an untested strength that allows those of great talent to express themselves as they wish rather than having to produce a cog for a company or a boss. Programming at the cutting edge is truly both science and ART. I honor those that can do it and prey they continue for it.

I tend to think that Vector graphics make a lot of sense for icon sets. Things like panels, menus, toolbars, etc... often have the ability to adjust their sizes. The Gnome Panel, for example, can be 24px high or 240px high. Sure, you could achieve something similar by creating a huge TIFF and scaling it down. However, I think that is a horribly inelegant solution. Icon scalability is especially important for visually-impaired users who want large, high-resolution images.

No one is going to replace OpenGL or DirectX with SVG, nor should they. Those are 3D rendering engines. SVG is 2D. Quake is a 3D game. Majohng is generally thought of as a 2D game. There is room in the world for both 2D and 3D games. Having the ability to scale the Majohng tileset is an interesting feature. It's not clear that you'd want to write Majohng in OpenGL. It's not a first person shooter...

Finally, if you're interested in something like magazine layout, what you really want is something like XSL-FO controlling the layout of child SVG, TIFF, and text elements. You probably do not want to solely rely on SVG for that. See the Apache XSL-FO project and Batik for more information on the subject.

Of course, this is beside the fact that no published SVG recommendation supports color profiles (like CMYK and ICCM) that are essential for any real publishing or pre-press uses. The SVG draft 1.2 does, but that is a few months away from becoming a bona-fide recommendation and probably years away from widespread adoption and implementation. YMMV.

@Reformist
by Roy Batty on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:14 UTC

If you're going to try and get Eugenia to address spelling mistakes in articles you might have a better chance if you spell her name right.

Apologies. SVG 1.1 has ICC color profile support. Yet another thing to implement ;)

RE: JH
by brianimator on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:29 UTC

"I'm all for vector art - but wouldn't embedding a bitmap kinda defeat the "S" in SVG?"

No -- any normal illustrator mixes the two all the time ... open up any magazine and look at one of the ads. Or the page layouts for that matter. How does it happen? Photos and hand illustrations are digitized and mixed with type, vector shapes, gradients etc. Or another common technique is to take a bunch of vector-based art and hand-shade it in Photoshop to get realistic shades and tones.


Forgive me, but - Duh! I guess that makes me a "normal" illustrator. The "S" in SVG stands for Scalable. The bitmaps in the work get chunky when scaled up, negating the benefit of scalability.

drool
by Blegh on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:36 UTC

>> "Another alternative would be to use one of the existing SVG icons themes in GNOME 2.8"

Oooh yeah, Gartoon please!

Corrections
by Torsten Rahn on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 22:55 UTC

There are some points in this article which I'd like to correct:

"SVG movement continues as the W3C released its SVG 1.1 recommendation Jan 14, 2003. This was timed well as the KDE project wished to further incorporate SVG in its desktop with its Crystal SVG icon theme by Everaldo Coelho."

We started work on converting Crystal to CrystalSVG in May/June 2002. At that point of time we aimed for using SVG in our default icon theme as soon as possible (ideally by KDE 3.1). Although we had the SVG-icon engine working right in time for KDE 3.1 we considered the risk too high to ship an SVG icon engine which wasn't very thoroughly tested and which would eventually create slowdowns and crashes (like those experienced in Nautilus) for some users in our _default_ theme. That's why we enabled the bitmap engine only and shipped KDE 3.1 with bitmap icons instead. More than 150 icons of these were rendered using ksvgtopng in various sizes from SVG's. SUSE 8.1 was the first distribution to use these bitmap icons rendered from SVG sources. Actually a few dozen SVGz's made their way into kdelibs by that time (and were at least shipped in the KDE3.1 source tarballs IIRC).

> In fact, most of the theme is still not available as SVGs

and as this theme is the _default_ theme (and therefore requires the highest number of icons in use) this comes to no surprise. I still have to see a Gnome SVG theme which covers all possible default icons either ... In addition KDE makes more use of icons than Gnome does.
Unfortunately Everaldo created quite a lot of icons in Illustrator using some stuff in AI that doesn't export well to SVG so there is still some work to be done to convert those remaining ones.

> These traits make KSVG the perfect tool to provide
> SVG rendering for KDE's web browser, Konqueror, but
> not so good for on-demand rendering of SVG icon themes.

While I didn't check the performance claims (KSVG has got various aims in addition to performance) I'd just like to mention that for rendering icons KDE doesn't use the full blown KSVG but a subset of KSVG which is optimized for icons (you don't need text in icons e.g. -- actually you even must not use text in icons at all).

And of course you forgot as well to mention that KDE 3.2 is the first desktop ever released which uses SVGs at least partially in its default theme ;-)

Greetings,
Torsten Rahn


cairo
by w_Tarchalski on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 23:00 UTC

<quote>Dom Lachowicz has also made a SVG-based GTK+ theme engine</quote>

OK,
but what about cairo-gtk-engine

which one is to be included?

RE: Vector Graphics - are they all they're cracked up to be?
by wendigo on Tue 23rd Mar 2004 23:41 UTC

No one is going to replace OpenGL or DirectX with SVG, nor should they. Those are 3D rendering engines. SVG is 2D. Quake is a 3D game. Majohng is generally thought of as a 2D game. There is room in the world for both 2D and 3D games. Having the ability to scale the Majohng tileset is an interesting feature. It's not clear that you'd want to write Majohng in OpenGL. It's not a first person shooter...

Are you kidding? Gnome Majohng in OpenGl would be a killer application, just check http://www.kyodai.com/
Now that's a killer Majohng 3D game, although is written for Windoew using directX. If only the gnome game were like that.

Repeat of question
by DFergATL on Wed 24th Mar 2004 00:21 UTC

Could someone please, please answer the qestion. What is the difference between SVG and PNG?????? Or if that is just too lowly of a qestion to be asking, at least point to someplace that I can find out.

UI and 'realistics'
by bact' on Wed 24th Mar 2004 00:47 UTC

few comment

GUI and 'realistic'
by bact' on Wed 24th Mar 2004 00:54 UTC

few comments mentioned about it is difficult to make vector-based graphics looks realistic, and i agree with that argument.

but, imho, i don't think any GUI component (widgets or whatsoever) needs to be that realistic.

people recognize symbol faster than its real photo.
as good icon should not has too much detail.
just look at traffic/street signs.

so i think vector-based graphic is good (enough) for GUI.
(for games, it just depends on which type of game.)

RE: DFergATL
by BR on Wed 24th Mar 2004 00:56 UTC

[PNG]
http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/

[SVG]
http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/

Basically PNG is a binary description of an image, while SVG is a textual description of an image.

RE: PNG vs SVG
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:12 UTC

Basically PNG is a binary description of an image, while SVG is a textual description of an image.

Or PNG is a rastorized image (color this pixel 0x3e2321, color this pixel 0x83a30c, etc, etc for every pixel in the image), where as SVG describes the image using XML tags; ie: <circle cx="100" cy="100" r="50" style="stoke:green;stroke-width:3" />
That's a circle, centered at (100,100) with a radius of 50, and it's green with a 3 pixel border.

@DFergATL
by zerblat on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:13 UTC

SVG is a format for vector graphics. PNG is a format for raster graphics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raster_graphics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_graphics

umm..
by obelix on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:22 UTC

so why did they have an svg implementation before the completion of acceptance of the standards for svg specification version 1.0?


Really, honestly, beos in the future will do a better svg than gnome. Gnome is very slow. Kde is less so, but no matter. It's bound to bust someone's bubble and I know people can't handle a pardigm shift.

v yeah yeah I know...
by obelix on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:23 UTC
@JH
by zerblat on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:23 UTC

SVG would be great for web graphics, not so good for complete web pages. You would lose a lot of the semantics and structure that (X)HTML offers. Writing a web page by hand in SVG would really suck -- kind of like coding PostScript by hand. SVG is for (vector) graphics, not for text documents.

Re Question in page scaling with Opera
by Piers on Wed 24th Mar 2004 01:39 UTC

Why bother page scaling when you can set your default font size in Preferences. I run my resolution at 1280 x 1024 with my minimum Opera Font setting at 14pt. Enough for me but those who need bigger can try higher font settings. This then makes pages readable and keeps images at 100% scaling (-:

Vectors and scalability
by -=StephenB=- on Wed 24th Mar 2004 02:11 UTC

While vectors do scale very well, there *is* a limit to how well they scale visually. Most of the times I've created a reasonably complex drawing in Illustrator and scaled it a significant amount, I've had to make at least a few small adjustments to make it look right (most often changing the stroke, and the leading if there's text involved). Perhaps this is just a problem with Illustrator and there are vector apps capable of proportionationally scaling the stroke as well. But there are probably still some cases when it makes more sense to make raster versions at different sizes.

To: Everyone
by DFergATL on Wed 24th Mar 2004 03:25 UTC

For those that took the time to respond to my question.

Thanks! Learned something new.

RE: -=StephenB=- (IP: ---.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com)
by BR on Wed 24th Mar 2004 03:35 UTC

I'm wondering why hinting isn't being used? Works for fonts when dome right.

...
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Mar 2004 04:00 UTC

SVG graphics combined with GNOME desktop icons its cool, specially because every single icon can be resized independent from the other, for example, my trash can icon its bigger than the others, and its good, but it wouln't look good rendered in PNG just with SVG.

uhm
by circuit_breaker on Wed 24th Mar 2004 04:26 UTC

am i the only one reminded of RIP? (remote imaging protocol)

sigh. ;)

@Christian, @zerblat
by JH on Wed 24th Mar 2004 06:17 UTC

Um, I am not sure you understand what we are trying to do. The point is that we are not putting SVG's into a fixed bitmapped framework. The idea is that as we progress you will be able to scale all your gui's. I even mention this in the article. So that the toolbars, stock icons, fonts etc. all scale. Which I think is very usefull on things like high resolution displays where sometimes your windows and toolbars can get to small.

I understand this is where you are going and definitely support it! My point was that all this fiddling over icon sets is distracting from this goal. I think OS X got it right by not worrying about vectorizing all the icons and focusing on the core things like screen drawing, window compositing etc. I mean, how big is an icon going to get? Say huge, 4 inches wide, then say you want it to look crisp on a 1200 dpi printer at that size -- that's about a 300 lpi dot screen, so you need 4 times 300 = a 1200x1200 pixel icon. Of course today's reality is a 1x1 inch icon at 96dpi screen res is fine, so that 1200x1200 pixel icon has a long life ahead of it before it'll ever need to be scaled up! My other point is that pushing artists to use only SVG vector shapes cuts out all sorts of creative techniques (hand illustration, photography) that could be used to create interesting icons. A 1200x1200 pixel PNG is a blank canvas ... the SVG spec is like limiting you to a set of really good cookie cutters.

Plus there's this fallacy about infinite scalability ... just because something is vector-based doesn't mean it can, should or ever will be used at *any* size. Say you wanted a picture of an airplane half a centimeter high ... you could just type one using a dingbat font. But if you wanted one for a poster, obviously the dingbat wouldn't look good at all, it would have no detail, dimension or modeling whatsoever -- it would just look like a blown-up dingbat. Or if you took a detailed picture of an airplane (like a photo) and shrunk it to half a centimeter, it would just look like a tiny blob. Graphic designers make things the right size with the right amount of detail for the job.

An icon is an icon, not a mural ... a 1200x1200 pixel icon is just as sharp and "scalable" in the 1-2 inch range at 96dpi screen res as a vector-drawn icon.

Good job with the article, got me thinking.

Zerblat, I agree coding a web page in SVG by hand would suck! Kind of reminds me of writing POV-Ray code like 10 years ago, before there were any GUI tools. But the whole beauty of SVG is that it's XML-based, so it isn't separate from the XML -- you can take an SVG export for Illustrator or Sodipodi or whatever and immediately use it as a layout template, i.e. XSLT or with a scripting language like PHP ... there are sites and especially intranet apps doing this already with Flash -- of course with all the obvious downsides like extra (proprietary) server software you need to generate the Flash dynamically, binary file format that doesn't degrade to text/isn't repurposeable, closed spec vs. open standard etc.

Re: Re Question in page scaling with Opera
by theorz on Wed 24th Mar 2004 06:19 UTC

The problem with just setting the font size is that it breaks the layout on poorly designed sites.

I also like having the images scaled. For small changes it does look ugly, but when I crank the resolution and scale to 150%-200% the scaling artifacts are much harder to see since the pixels are so small. It all comes down to personal taste, and I prefer a slightly distorted image that is big enough to see over a perfect but tiny image.

My problem with SVG icons
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Mar 2004 09:03 UTC

My problem with SVG icons is that they're cartoonish. I still haven't seen an SVG icon set that is detailed (and preety) as Tiggert's set, or even standard Windows icons. This seems to be a problem with all SVG images that I've seen, not just icons.

Does SVG allow gradients, and other tricks people can use when creating bitmaps?
If so, is this a simple choice of style, or lack of attention to detail in the artists?

People with practical experience with both standards - can you create an SVG image with the same detail as a PNG one? If not, what does SVG lack?

RE: speed
by Jakub Steiner on Wed 24th Mar 2004 09:43 UTC

"Generally, it is no slower (if not faster!) to render $s than $p. This surprised me and quieted many "Vector graphics are too slow for the desktop" pundits."

The issue here is no matter what you have on the image a bitmap of 48x48 pixels will take pretty much the same time to render. For vectors it really depends on the complexity of the artwork.

And once you start using stuff like the new filters and alpha masks and aim for realistic looking icons (something close to Industrial's folder) you start seeing SVG requiring a lot more time.

It's important to choose your media depending on the artwork. You wouldn't want to start using jpegs for your lineart just because they work so well for photos...

RE: My problem with SVG icons
by Jakub Steiner on Wed 24th Mar 2004 09:58 UTC

"My problem with SVG icons is that they're cartoonish. I still haven't seen an SVG icon set that is detailed (and preety) as Tiggert's set, or even standard Windows icons."

That is simply because the vector media is used properly. Cartoonish styled icons are ideal for SVG implementation.

Yes you could do detailed icons in vector to save on doing the icon in multiple sizes like we do in gnome-icon-theme. But then you're better off rendering those icons into bitmaps because they will take less time to render.

Eventually the speed hit will become smaller comapred to the advantage of having to do a single icon instead of doing it in multiple sizes. You may start seeing more complex vector icons in future.

A crazy idea (?)
by Anonymous on Wed 24th Mar 2004 14:41 UTC

Just took a run at Sodipodi, initially looks easy to use and promising. Is there a similar tool for font creation? Would an SVG based font system be a big waste of time or lead to a very easy path for folks to get involved in creating decent fonts?

Looking forward to SVG support in Mozilla
by Ed on Wed 24th Mar 2004 15:47 UTC

We are in the middle of developing web-based intranet applications and are using Gecko-based Mozilla as the client because it has *the* best DOM and CSS support among all viable browser engines (Gecko, KHTML, Opera, IE).

We have also decided to SVG in our web application. Unfortunately, we currently have not been very successful using Adobe's buggy SVG plugin on Linux, and so we are waiting impatiently for good native SVG support in Mozilla. I hope the developers can provide this soon!

RE: Looking forward to SVG support in Mozilla
by Tobias on Wed 24th Mar 2004 15:55 UTC

If you just need static SVG you can test the librsvg Mozilla PlugIn.
http://librsvg.sourceforge.net/

what about inkscape ? the fork of sopipodi.
by alex on Wed 24th Mar 2004 17:31 UTC

http://www.inkscape.org/ another excellent svg editor.

Vector desktop has been done
by Caleb Shay on Wed 24th Mar 2004 17:41 UTC

IRIX has had vector based icons for years.

<blatant plug>
However, if you don't have an SGI you can still get a Gnome iconset of the IRIX icons from

http://www.webninja.com/files/Iris-0.4.tar.bz2

You can see a screenshot of some of the icons here

http://www.webninja.com/files/fti2svg.png

And you can get the perl script that turns IRIX .fti icons into .svg files here

http://www.webninja.com/files/fti2svg.pl
</blatant plug>

Another advantage
by Guy on Wed 24th Mar 2004 19:40 UTC

SVG (and vector in general) compresses very well compared to bitmap images. It is perfect for the desktop, where drawing things such as icons, borders, etc are all implicitly vector. When will we see a DisplaySVG engine where the tree can be manipulated through the W3C DOM API?

Nice article!
by Metin Amiroff on Wed 24th Mar 2004 20:36 UTC

Congrats to the author. And with this article I discovered two great sites:

http://zeus.qballcow.nl/ and http://www.users.monornet.hu/linux/

The second site has the gtk the best themes I have ever seen!
Check that out immediately people!

RE: My problem with SVG icons
by Tackat on Wed 24th Mar 2004 20:37 UTC

> My problem with SVG icons is that they're cartoonish.
> I still haven't seen an SVG icon set that is detailed
> (and preety) as [...] standard Windows icons.

I'm pretty sure that many of the icons for Windows XP (maybe even all of them) were made with a vector drawing tool.

RE: Vector desktop has been done
by MaX on Wed 24th Mar 2004 20:55 UTC

What lizenze have the IRIX icons?

Ad: svgl
by stephane conversy on Wed 24th Mar 2004 21:39 UTC

Hi,

may I point the author to another implentation of SVG, based on opengl ?
ok, I'm the author of svgl, it sounds a bit like a free ad, and, yes, it is one.

http://www.tls.cena.fr/~conversy/research/svgl

works on macosx, linux and used to work on win32...

stéphane

SVG Icon Examples
by James Deering on Wed 24th Mar 2004 22:33 UTC


For thos interested in seeing examples of SVG and an interesting way of displaying and creating them fou UI development visit:

http://www.deerring.com

Sincerely;

James

RE: James Deering
by BR on Wed 24th Mar 2004 23:05 UTC

That's good, James. We need more like that, to prove to people that SVG is a technology worth pursuing.