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View SVG in XML docs

Ways that you can interact with scaled vector graphic images in XML documents.


View SVG in XML docs
Ed Tittel

In September, 2001, the W3C released the recommended (or official) version of the specification for Scalable Vector Graphics 1.0. As I write this tip, it's early January, 2002 -- about 5 months later -- and I found myself curious about how SVG is being supported in today's marketplace.

As it happens there are three ways to interact with SVG in the XML space today, as follows:

  • SVG Viewers: Not surprisingly, Adobe's SVG viewer remains the tool of choice for viewing SVG graphics, and now includes support for most versions of Windows (98 and up) and Macintosh (8.6 and up) operating systems. The Adobe tool is used primarily as a plug-in for popular Web browsers, especially Microsoft's Internet Explorer (versions 5.0 and higher) Other notable tools include the Open Source, Java-based Apache Project's Batik 1.1 viewer which also integrates with the Apache Formatting Objects Processor (FOP) as well.
  • SVG capable Web browsers: Numerous projects offer built-in SVG support, including Alex Fritze's SVG-enable Mozilla variant (now on its way into the official Mozilla source tree), the W3C's Amaya, and the X-Smiles project (subtitled "an open xml-browser for exotic devices"). These all provide more integrated ways to view SVG as part of XML online without having to install a separate plug-in to some other Web browser.
  • SVG authoring tools: I'm sorry to say that standard drawing and graphics products appear a little slow in adding support for SVG, but native capable XML editors like XMLSpy (visit for pointers to a 30-day download of version 4.2, which includes SVG support) can do a creditable job of handling and displaying SVG content. Ken Sall has put a good list of other such tools together entitled "SVG Editors/Authoring Tools" in his excellent "SVG Resources" page. There you'll find that Jasc and Corel have SVG add-ons or filters, but that mention of mainline drawing or diagramming tools (e.g. Microsoft's Visio) are still absent from the list.

    Of course, SVG is an XML application -- which is to say that source files are nothing but plain ASCII text -- so intrepid developers can also hack out SVG markup by hand, if they've a mind to do so. But this is labor-intensive enough that I recommend adopting a tool as soon as you get comfortable with SVG's structure and syntax. From there on out, you'll be crafting simple images with the best of them. Happy (mouse) trails to you!

    Have questions, comments, or feedback about this or other XML-related topics? Please e-mail me at care of; I'm always glad to hear from my readers.

    Ed Tittel is a principal at LANWrights, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of LANWrights offers training, writing, and consulting services on Internet, networking, and Web topics (including XML and XHTML), plus various IT certifications (Microsoft, Sun/Java, and Prosoft/CIW).

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