A journal that focuses on Flash Platform development, and a little bit about what I am up to on any given day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SVG vs Flash still.

I was in a presentation today on a topic that I haven't heard about much in a little while. The presentation was about SVG Tiny, J2ME and a variety of other emerging standards and technology related to this plaform for mobile content and application development.

We will be experimenting in developing some content on this platform, so as you can imagine (being the Flash advocate I am) that I had many questions to ask, and rose many uncomfortable debates on the Flash player vs SVG in this arena.

Now, many say that SVG and SWF do not really compete, but that is not true in the mobile industry. SVG has much more traction than the Flash Player does currently in most mobile development platforms(according to the presenters).

As a Flash developer, I am actually really excited about getting a chance to play with these different tools, and I am sure our presenters will benefit from the feedback I can give in terms of the experience developing content in contrast to developing content using the Flash Platform.

It seems that there are a few great examples of SVG being used for mobile applications, but from what I can see Flash Lite is also featuring just as many (if not more) great examples already. As the conversation continued we began discussing authoring as one of SVG's main challenges when facing off against Flash. There is a suite of tools I will be using, but I can already tell you that those tools are no where near as fully featured and intuitive as Flash is.

To get a decent application(not animation) off the ground, you have to be familiar with SVG, J2ME, and other APIs that allow them all to talk to each other. This seems to be the biggest issue for developers that I can see. It is cool all of these standard technologies talk to each other, but Flash does it all under one roof. This is definitely something that I see carriers taking into consideration for the specifications they put out to device manufacturers.

It is known that North America doesn't seem to take full advantage of data services over connected devices yet. Obviously the carriers are going to want to ramp that up in the future, and it is really hard to beat a platform that has the development community that Flash has. The major difference is that our designers here could create top notch Flash content for phones, or even Joe Blow that messes around with Flash here and there could easily create Flash Lite content, the same way they do all their other content. SVG does not have that approachability and limits it to developers with specialized skills.

As the conversation came to an end, we really started talking about the future. I put this question to them:

"Now that Macromedia and Adobe are merging, do you think it is likely that the Flash Player could eventually become an SVG player? It already does consume SVG Tiny in Flash lite. And above and beyond that, what if Flash also allows you to export SVG right from the same authoring enviornment? Wouldn't that be a crushing blow to the current SVG compeitors."

This would obviously be a crushing blow, but there is more to the Adobe SVG story here that we discussed that shed a bit of a different light on things.

They surmised that Adobe slowed(stopped) much of it's work on SVG. As the standard started to get around, companies in the print world started to see it as an open-standard(free) alternative for print systems. That would make it a free alternative to PDF which rules that world right now. If that is truly the case, then it makes even more sense why Adobe has turned to Macromedia and Flash rather than go to SVG, because SVG could compromise their cash cow. This was all just talk and guessing. No one can actually confirm this as fact, but it is a good theory.

Anyways, it was a great presentation and conversation, and I am looking forward to blogging about my upcoming venture into content development on the other side.