Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scalable Vector Graphics

The digital publication of Greek, Roman and Byzantine pottery from Ilion that I'm working on with Billur Tekkök uses the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) standard to store profile drawings of the sherds it catalogs. SVG is an open format that relies on XML to represent curves, shapes and other useful drawing elements in a text-based format.

As a Mac user, I'm pleased that Safari 3, included in the latest version of OS X and in the most recent update to version 10.4, supports SVG. FireFox support has been around for a while, and I understand that Opera, Konqueror and some other browsers can also deal with SVG more-or-less directly. For its part, Internet Explorer can render SVG files using an Adobe plugin.

If you're using an SVG-capable browser, point it to to see a profile drawing of a late 4th/early 5th century AD African Red-Slip Hayes form 71 bowl. [For pictures of a similar piece, try] Depending on how you're viewing this file, you can zoom in on the image and it will retain its nice curves. Perhaps best of all, if you print it, the hard-copy version should be at one-to-one scale relative to the original and also smoothly rendered.

One file that gives you good looking profiles on screen and on paper? I think that's cool.

A technical note: Because not all browsers like SVG, GRBP Ilion currently converts its svg files to jpegs using the Batik SVG Toolkit from the Apache Foundation.

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