SVG as a presentation format

Raul Casado, Juan Carlos Torres

University of Granada (Spain)


Abstract. The aim of this paper is to discuss about the SVG characteristics that let us create presentations in a single file by using the SVG tags. The idea is analysing the given tags and elements that SVG 1.1 standard have for making presentation. Nowadays the SVG group is working on the SVG 1.2 draft. This draft introduces new tags and upgrade others so they could be used in order to improve the presentation functionalities. So we will analyse those tags and will see what new features they can offer to the presentation tools. Furthermore, we will comment which is the current status of the SVG viewers that support the animation characteristics, easy of using, etc. Finally we will link these ideas to work developed by the authors in the creation of a presentation tool in native SVG format. We will conclude commenting which are the strengthens and weakness that SVG offers for this kind of applications.

It has been proved that it is possible to create presentations using SVG. That is, SVG provides us a tag set enough to define presentations. Moreover, it has elements that allow us to personalise different aspects such as visualisation style, effects and so on. The presentation building by using SVG is not a new concept. Almost from its origins, one of SVG applications was the capability of making animation such as Flash Macromedia do. Actually is quite odd that despite on SVG has got the necessary elements for making presentation, it has not too much impact and currently it is not a serious alternative.

Nowadays, there are different tools that allow to create SVG presentations. All of them use a similar method: they depart from a file written in any other format so it is used as the input of the tool having a SVG presentation as an output. Some tools let us have a single file while others create a SVG file per each presentation slide. We do not know of any other tool that generates presentation in native SVG. Moreover, existing tools have limitations inherited from HTML: the images, for instance, are still being represented through an external link to a file. One of the things that makes the presentation interesting is that they should be easily distributed. The fact of having a document for the presentation in SVG and several other files for the images is a restriction. The user should find a way to pack all the files in a single one in order to distribute it. This adds a level of complexity not desired. This restriction could be overcome by using Base64 for encoding the images inside the SVG document. This solution could be equally applied to all media content. The main inconvenient is that the file size would be increased with the size of the content.

Other restriction that we can find in SVG is printing. It is difficult to print the slides when they are stored in the same document since it is necessary that the user passes one by one the slides and prints them. For this reason the PAGE element is significantly necessary for the printing issue. Although that implies that the printing process has to be carried out by the viewer.

Another critical element is the transitional effects. The 1.2 SVG draft take into account the use of several predefined effects. That can be a restriction to our documents because the user has just the effects that the SVG design has included and the viewer has implemented. Maybe, for making simples presentations it would be a good approach. But if we want something more ambitious it is simply a restriction, as it take us back to the problem of having transitional effects through animations, javascript code and so on.

Currently, the University of Granada is working in the development of a tool that covers all these requirements and gives to SVG an impulse in this field. The educational SVG applications towards the educative community are uncountable and the need to invest in this area becomes clear in order to make SVG more popular.

As a conclusion we can say that although SVG is going through the right way, it is needed an bigger effort to facilitate the use of animations so in applications like presentations we can use SVG as a real alternative.

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