SVG Editors

A Survey about the Market of native SVG Editors

Keywords: SVG Editors, Editors

Tobias Hauser
Hauser & Wenz
Starnberg
Germany
th@hauser-wenz.de
http://www.hauser-wenz.de/

Biography

Tobias Hauser works as an author, trainer and consultant in the field of web design and web graphics. He is author or co-author of more than three dozen books on various Web topics, including "SVG Unleashed" by Sams Publishing. Tobias lives and works in southern Germany.

Christian Wenz
Hauser & Wenz
Starnberg
Germany
chw@hauser-wenz.de
http://www.hauser-wenz.de/

Biography

Christian Wenz is an author, trainer and consultant with focus on Web technologies. He frequently contributes to IT magazines and speaks at conferences around the globe. Among the over three dozen books he wrote or co-wrote is "SVG Unleashed" by Sams Publishing. Christian lives and works in Munich in southern Germany.


Abstract


Editors are a building block for SVG success. Therefore this talk takes a closer look at the actual editor landscape. To sorts of comparison are relevant. The comparison with the old opponent Macromedia Flash and the comparison beetween different SVG Editors.


Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. Definition
3. Editors for Mobile SVG
4. Amaya
5. EvolGrafiX XStudio 6
6. Jasc WebDraw
7. Sodipodi
8. Conclusion
Footnotes

1. Introduction

When you plan to design a SVG graphic, animation or website, you could take some text editor and start typing. This is acceptable, when the intended graphic consists of only a handful of elements. But not many people can write a Bézier curve this way in a reasonable amount of time.

So the question is: Are there editors that are good enough for designers? From a designer's point of view, Macromedia Flash is a good editor and development environment (but without SVG support), Macromedia FreeHand or Adobe Illustrator are even better for vector graphics.

2. Definition

A native SVG editor is an editor that has the main purpose to produce SVG. It is optimized for SVG functionality and should implement most SVG elements. This definition is the starting point. As a result of our research, we assembled the following list of programs that we would call a native SVG Editor:

This list is far from being complete. Luckily the open source community is so active and the developement cycles are that fast so that a list can never be (even nearly) complete. Some other initatives, e.g. the Eclipse SVG project (http://www.dlsc.com/dlsc/prod_svgplugin.html), could also be interpreted as native editor. In this paper we take a closer look at Amaya, XStudio, WebDraw, and Sodipodi.

3. Editors for Mobile SVG

Some well known SVG editors do not produce SVG but Mobile SVG. The mobile communication market is in a continuos battle. Device producers against software companies, software companies against resellers, anybody against anyone. In this environement it could be very important which technology brings vector graphic on mobile devices. One of the competing technologies is Mobile SVG consisting of SVG Tiny und SVG Basic. For Mobile SVG e.g. the company Bitflash offers an own Editor: Brilliance.

brilliance.png

Figure 1: The Mobile SVG Editor of Bitflash

4. Amaya

Amaya is the web/browser based editor of W3C and could be called a testing vehicle for new standards. He offers a timeline for animation and some basic vector forms. But the usability of Amaya is not good enough for productive usage.

amaya.png

Figure 2: Amaya

5. EvolGrafiX XStudio 6

With XStudio 6 the SVG editor market has a new competitor for Jasc Web Draw. XStudio 6 offers timeline animation, a really good usability, an script editor for ECMAScript clientside scripting and export for SVG Mobile.

xstudio.png

Figure 3: EvolGrafikX XStudio 6

6. Jasc WebDraw

The company Jasc is well known for their image manipulation software Paint Shop Pro. This company started with one of the first native SVG Editors: WebDraw. At the beginning WebDraw had no competitors and offered full feature support for SVG. Nowadays XStudio is the second commercial editor that can be called quite feature-complete. WebDraw has some drawbacks: designers do not like the usability and WebDraw sometimes changes code, e.g. in transformations. Nevertheless WebDraw is a good editor that costs not too much money.

webdraw.png

Figure 4: Jasc WebDraw

7. Sodipodi

Sodipodi is a open source project, hosted at SourceForge.net. The base of Sodipodi is the GTK, the GIMP ToolKit. The GTK was initially developed as cross-plattform kit for the graphical user interface of The GIMP. So Sodipodi looks a lot like the image manipulation program The GIMP. For designers this means that the unusal concept of multiple windows is implemented; on the other hand, Sodipodi offers a good-looking and flexible working environment.

Sodipodi offers a lot of graphical tools from basic forms to eight Bézier tools. At the moment some things of the SVG specification are missing. The most important one is animation support with a timeline. But, of course, this is a comlex feature and not easy to realize, especially in an open source project. Luckily Sodipodi is a work in progress and perhaps this features will be added in the future.

sodipodi.png

Figure 5: Sodipodi

8. Conclusion

With EvolGrafiX XStudio and Jasc Web Draw there are two editors on the market that fit the needs of most designers. WebDraw is a little bit cheaper, EvolGrafiX on the other hand offers more functions and the better usability. Also the open source community is one or two steps behind, projects like Sodipodi give hope for the future. The final question is: are two good editors enough to make SVG a success? Perhaps not, but it's a starting point.

Footnotes

  1. Adobe Illustrator produces SVG but lacks animation and a lot of other features. Illustrator is not part of this survey because it is no native SVG editor.

  2. World Wide Web Consortium

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