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generic capability

  • To: xml-dev@l...
  • Subject: generic capability
  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@s...>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 08:09:58 -0400

generic capability
Paul Prescod's put up a fascinating piece on SVG that I think is worth
reading even if you don't care about SVG per se:


It's currently attracting the usual "you don't understand about SWF
freedom" remarks from the Flash folks, but there's a piece of the story
that I don't think they can answer, and which changes the way I look at
XML itself.

The world of vector graphics is currently quite fragmented. There are a
variety of competing APIs and vector graphic file formats, some
proprietary, others domain-specific, and many both. If there had been a
dominant one, the Web would have used it and SVG would never have been
invented. This situation is analogous to the environment that existed
before the rise of the Internet Protocol (IP). Before IP became
ubiquitous, companies like Novell, Banyan, Apple, Microsoft and IBM had
their own specialized protocols.

They all had various strengths and weaknesses, and they are all still
used in some capacity today. But IP was so generic that it swept through
like a weed, filling every gap left by the established protocols (e.g.
long distance file transfer) and then gradually replacing them even in
their strongholds (e.g. LAN print servers). Among its strengths, IP was
designed to be the neutral zone between the variety of proprietary
protocols. If you needed to share information across networks using
proprietary protocols, it was much easier for both ends to implement an
IP adapter than for each end-point to implement a dozen different
protocol bridges.

Because IP was not owned by any particular company, each vendor could
implement it without transferring control over its corporate direction
to a competitor. The implications for vector graphics should be obvious. 

Paul goes on to explore SVG's weed-like gap-filling properties, and the
story is pretty compelling.  Take the weak points, then use the benefits
of ubiquity and openness to break down the tougher opponents.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!
http://simonstl.com -- http://monasticxml.org


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