Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) has had a troubled history and not really taken off into the mainstream of the world wide web. It's a shame, because properly integrated into a browser, SVG would make rich graphics on the web as accessible as HTML is today and opened up a flow of creativity, interactivity and possibilities to web designers and developers in a way a plugin like flash can’t do.
The biggest stumbling block today is that Microsoft have no support for SVG in their Internet Explorer. Despite Microsoft lacking browser effort in general, they have the biggest market share, which make their support important. SVG is based on VML which is already implemented in Internet Explorer, and their Silverlight proves that they have the talent to do it (not that I doubted that), making the exclusion of SVG a mere political decision to lock us to their technology. This in turn leaves the web developers and average Windows user who they are trying to get as customers suffering.
Adobe contributed much until they released their Adobe SVG Viewer 3. After that they stopped it all together. It’s probably because their implementation were slow, they realized it would be hard to compete with Flash and it would be better to buy Macromedia. Maybe they just realized that the technology would fit best as native support in the browser. Anyhow it was another big company abandoning SVG.
There are some good news as well and SVG seams to be on the uprise. All of Internet Explorers main opponents, Opera, Safari and Firefox has gotten some degree of support. The newest KDE Linux window manager has also good SVG support. A new company called Examotion, has made a new plugin called Renesis. Renesis is multi platform and have focused on speed and looks impressive, but it’s more like a locked in Flash player or Silverlight using SVG.
So back to my headline, the reason I think Apple could be a big contributer to SVG is:
-The open source Webkit, which is the rendering engine behind Safari. it now passes the acid3 test which incorporates some SVG test. Apples seems to be interested in keeping up with the web standards.
-With Apples Offline web app plans for Safari 4 makes it an Adobe AIR competitor without the proprietary flash engine behind it. Combined with the involvement in the Flex like open source SproutCore framework for online web applications, it looks like Apple wants to keep the web open. SVG could be Apples flash and could be an important part of SproutCore future widgets like pay charts and diagrams.
-It is rumored that they are working on resolution independent graphics for Snow Leopard, could it be that they are using the SVG standard? And could this mean that they will push it on the web as well?
I sure hope so, I would love to be able to define vector graphics with filters and gradients native in the standard browser, creating interactive, scaleable designs not possible today.