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Frequently Asked Questions


What is SVG?

SVG stands for 'Scalable Vector Graphics'. SVG is a standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is the consortium that develops all standards used for web pages on the internet.

SVG is a language that allows an author to represent line art, images, text in a layout for display.

Huh, I don't get it - what's vector graphics?

Vector graphics is the ability to represent a picture by describing the objects (items) that make it up. For example, a circle, a rectangle colored red, etc.

The important thing about vector graphics is that it is a description, so if you have a small screen or a big screen it looks the same and is completely clear. An image from a digital camera for example will get fuzzy as it gets bigger, scalable vector graphics are sharp at any size.

Hey isn't that like that Flash thing I heard about?

Yes and no. Flash is a vector based format too, but there are differences between the formats.

What makes SVG different?

SVG is an open standard that anyone is allowed to build. It has some really nice animation capabilities that are time-based which means you can do things like cartoons in SVG, amongst many other things.

Flash is a proprietary vector format which means that only one company is allowed to control and build the technology which restricts what you are allowed to do with it.

SVG time based animation can in a lot of cases result in more compact file sizes than the 'frame-based' animation in Flash so less download time is possible.

Well if this SVG thing is so good, why haven't I heard of it? I've heard of Flash.

Like all great technologies, the greatest ones are the ones you never know are there.

When was the last time you realised your digital TV ran on MPEG, or your audio was encoded with Dolby? Not often, since the best technologies are seamless and don't need promotion.

You've heard of Flash because one company advertises it to promote it, that's why. It's also quite widespread on the desktop but not as popular on phones.

SVG is the quiet achiever.

If you own a 3G phone, SVG powers MMS messaging (those cute animations people send you at Christmas time), heck there are 750 million phones already sold that have SVG in them that can do just that.

If you own a Blackberry, guess what? Your cute little icons and user display are all done in SVG and you didn't even notice. But of course if you have a Nokia mobile phone then of course... you guessed it, the icons and display use SVG.

Microsoft Visio, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw and many others all import and export SVG - it's like the de facto interchangeable graphics standard, and yet you never even knew it existed!

Hang on, if this is so cool and supposed to be for the web, why don't I see web pages using it?

Well the Firefox and Opera web browsers can display SVG on a web page easily. Unfortunately Internet Explorer hasn't had any significant development for many years now and has fallen behind emerging web standards. It is possible to download plugins to display SVG in Internet Explorer but most sites don't want to force a user to load a plugin just to view content.

So I should just use Flash then, since it's standard in all web browsers?

Hold on - Flash had its place in early web development, but I bet you didn't know that the company that developed it actually paid for every copy that shipped in the early web browsers, that's how it got its market share. It's still a plugin, it's just more widespread at present.

But Flash works well enough, why not use it?

You're missing the point. Flash has had its day - it uses vectors but isn't resizable. SVG can be resized to any display size. This is its big advantage. Even Microsoft have seen the advantages of truly scalable vector graphics by announcing Silverlight, but again that's controlled by one company.

OK you've convinced me that SVG is better, then why use Vidualize?

Vidualize is one of a number of SVG engines available. But it does more than the others. Vidualize adds XHTML layout integrated with the SVG engine to give 'mini-web' display capability on any device.

What the heck is XHTML, I've heard of HTML?

XHTML is a stricter format of HTML which is what most web pages are authored in today. XHTML enforces some formatting rules that allow easier interchange of the web page data files between all sorts of programming tools using a great technology called XML. The 'X' in XHTML stands for XML, in most other ways there isn't much difference between HTML and XHTML.

So what you're saying is that I can display a web page with nice line art using Vidualize, why don't I just use Firefox or Opera?

Vidualize lets you customize your application to look like anything you like. It doesn't have to look like a web browser. You can embed it in a strange shape or custom application without adding all the baggage of a full-blown web browser.

Also Vidualize is small, really small, so small in fact you'll wonder how it could possibly work with the size it has.

If you want to display SVG and maybe some XHTML on a small device like a phone, it's highly likely you won't have the storage space to put a full web-browser on it. Vidualize is small enough to fit.

And we've got video!

SVG 1.2 Tiny builds in the capability to show video as well as play audio - no desktop browser has that capability yet. If you want to show state of the art graphics and animation mixed in with videos and XHTML, Vidualize is the only engine capable of doing it for you.

What do you mean by 'small memory footprint'?

You know how people keep wanting you to buy more memory for your PC, that's because programs keep getting bigger and bigger.

Vidualize is so small, we've heard our competitors say "that isn't the size of the executable is it?". No joke. Vidualize not only provides greater integration and capability for mixing SVG and XHTML in a single display engine, but it does so with a program size that is smaller than competitors SVG engines alone!

Well, that sounds nice but is it fast?

You haven't experienced fast until you've experienced Vidualize.

We've benchmarked Vidualize against all known competing implementations and it beats all if them for speed of display (rendering).

What do I care about render speed, I've got a fast machine and I can wait a bit?

Speed is important - you may think the speed may not make much difference on your latest PC but you will see the difference is more than a small speedup. Besides, you want silky-smooth animation even on a huge display, don't you?

What's more important is in the mobile area. The faster the display engine, the less CPU power it uses and so the longer your battery life - simple!

Also on limited CPU devices like set-top boxes, speed is important to get the display updated fast enough to keep up with the video that's being shown.

OK, you've convinced me, but what's this unified rendering model and SVG fonts thing all about?

SVG in isolation displays graphics. One of its coolest features is the ability to describe the shapes of letters for displayed text. That's known as SVG fonts. It lets a designer create cool customized letters for their display graphic and use them just like you'd use a font in a word processor.

CSS is the language that allows an author to specify which font is used in display of text. When XHTML content is shown on a screen, CSS is often used to select which font applies to different parts of the content.

Normally XHTML content can only use fonts that are available on the users computer.

The developers of Vidualize realized that the SVG fonts should be made available for general use and built a display engine that allows the XHTML to 'find' the fonts described by the SVG font mechanism.

This flexibility is achieved via the magic of CSS which incorporates sophisticated font matching techniques that allow us to select SVG fonts for use within XHTML text display. The result is that it's possible for a designer to embed all textual letters in a design and download the entire document for repeatable display anywhere. This sets the Vidualize engine apart from any other offering.

OK, sounds interesting, where can I get a hold of Vidualize?

Vidualize is available for limited OEM preview at this time. Please use the contact email to request contact by a sales representative.

Evaluation kits are available free of charge to approved OEM licensees.