Google Builds JavaScript SVG Library for IE

From Slashdot, in the making-IE-suck-less department, there’s a project up on Google Code called svgweb that will add SVG support to browsers that don’t have it baked in. Which is the long hand way of saying it fixes Internet Explorer.

A little history. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML standard for describing both fixed and animated 2D vector graphics. SVG has been a W3C standard for 8 years and is supported to some degree by every major web browser except IE. When W3C was looking for a vector graphics standard, Microsoft pushed VML and Adobe and others pused PGML, and W3C combined parts of the two to make SVG (though one could argue it leaned more toward PGML). Microsoft, never one to play well with others, took its ball and went home. Even IE 8 offers no SVG love.

There has been a somewhat neglected Adobe SVG plugin for IE for some time, but as of January 1 this year it is officially unsupported (though you can still download it). But svgweb isn’t a plugin at all - it’s a 60k JavaScript library. An IE user can hit your web site that has some code like so -

<!--[if IE]>
<script type="text/javascript" src="svg.js"></script>
  • and their crashware turd of a browser will support SVG.*

This could have some significant impacts for GIS on the web. SVG allows for scalable, interactive, animated, and searchable graphics, in ways that could otherwise only accomplish with plugins like Flash or Silverlight. You can get a long list of SVG related GIS projects here, but I recommend your first stop be for some good examples.

The ideal solution would be for IE to support SVG, but in lieu of that, this JavaScript library is a great option for developers. It’s still in alpha, but it has a long list of demos and in light testing I haven’t found any issues. Here’s the Google Tech Talk about the svgweb:

You can download svgweb at Google Code.

*No judgment.