The Future of SVG and GeoMedia WebMap
Posted by jeffhobbs on March 20, 2008
As many of you are aware, SVG (scalable vector graphics) is currently Intergraph’s preferred way to render vector graphics in a GeoMedia WebMap (GWM) site. There has been a lot of discussion as of late in the comments section reference this post as an example discussing what Intergraph will do now that Adobe (the largest maker of a SVG plug-in) has announced that they will no longer support the SVG Viewer plug-in as of January 1, 2009. Additionally, as far as I know, Adobe is no longer developing the plug-in. I believe this decision was made soon after Adobe completed their purchase of Macromedia and Macromedia’s web technologies (namely Flash, Dreamweaver, and ColdFusion). Well, with Adobe’s decision left Intergraph in a bit of a bind…what to do now that the SVG Viewer has been discontinued??
After talking with a few folks at the GITA booth, I can say that Intergraph looks very close to adopting Microsoft Silverlight as their next vector engine. With the pending release of Silverlight 2.0, Microsoft has come a long way in expanding the flexibility and functionality of Silverlight. In fact, version 1 was very much designed for delivering movies over the web (think Youtube’s use of Flash to serve all of the movies on www.youtube.com). Version 2 is being designed with the idea of building rich internet applications using XAML, .NET, and other technologies. You can take a look at roadmap I found on Silverlight 2.0 here if your curious to see just what Microsoft is planning for this eventual “Flash killer”.
So…what does this means for GMWM users? Well…initially (hopefully before January 1, 2009) it means that we should see Silverlight as a replacement (or addition) to the choices we have for rendering the actual map object window. This probably won’t be a giant enhancement by itself EXCEPT for the cross-browser (think Firefox and Safari) and cross platform support (think Mac and Linux). However down the road, I’m hoping we’ll begin to see a much better overall user experience. This will include more intuitive tools, better user feedback, and an overall much better “web 2.0″ interface. With time, we might even have the flexibility to more easily develop those “web 2.0″ dashboards (the Oakland Explorer demo is very cool) that more and more of us our seeing at conferences and other demonstrations.
Personally, I was hoping Intergraph would adopt Adobe’s Flex technology. In large part because it’s a much more mature technology. Not to mention Flash is really at this point almost ubiquitous with any modern computer and browser. But, Silverlight does look very promising and Microsoft is really coming on strong. In other words…life could be much worse.