W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-svg@w3.org > March 2000

RE: What is wrong with SVG?

From: Liam R. E. Quin <liamquin@interlog.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 19:35:50 -0500 (EST)
To: Jon Ferraiolo <jferraio@Adobe.COM>
cc: Don Park <donpark@docuverse.com>, martind@netfolder.com, "'Elliotte Rusty Harold'" <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>, xml-dev@xml.org, www-svg@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.BSI.3.96r.1000310190514.20082A-100000@shell1.interlog.com>
I think sometimes you have to say things strongly to be heard.

On Thu, 9 Mar 2000, Jon Ferraiolo wrote:
> >The wonderful thing about PostScript is that the same graphics model
> >is used at every level, including within glyphs.  Does this mean
> >we need SVG fonts, adding yet more complexity?
> You apparently didn't notice chapter 20: http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG/fonts.html
> The good news: no need to add more complexity as this particular complexity
> is already in the spec.

I ignored the unhinted SVG fonts:
    SVG fonts contain unhinted font outlines. Because of this, on many
    implementations there will be limitations regarding the quality
    and legibility of text in small font sizes. For increased quality
    and legibility in small font sizes, content creators may want to
    use an alternate font technology, such as fonts that ship with
    operating systems or an alternate web font format.

    "Object-oriented access to the attributes of the 'font' element via
    the SVG DOM is not available."

(So a system using an unmodified DOM API couldn't use these fonts anyway?

The SVG spec then refernces the CSS2 spec (although the list of topics it
references does not include fonts, I'm getting a pretty clear message here).

So we turn to section 15 of CSS2 and eventually discover that there is
in fact no single mandated font format for downloading. Worse, there is
a list of "likely formats" that includes
    TrueDoc PFR (proprietary, closed format)
    TrueType (mostly open, modulo Apple's patents)
    TrueType Open (as for TrueType)
    OpenType (includes Type 1 and TTO fonts with Agfa compression)
    Type 1 (open, good, although not so good for multibyte fonts)
    Speedo (open)
    Intellifont (proprietary, closed format)

Note - an OpenType renderer has to include code from Adobe, Agfa and
Microsoft, or did last time I checked, has that changed?

So an SVG renderer needs software from
Bitstream, Adobe, Agfa, Microsoft, HP (? for Intellifonts),
a Speedo renderer
a Type 1 font renderer
a TrueType renderer (paying royalties to Apple???)

Are all these available for the palm pilot?

Did we lose our minds somewhere?

There are a lot of difficult problems being worked on here.  One of
the biggest is the political problem: W3C is funded by member companies.
Of course, before the W3C existed, those member companies generally
didn't talk to each other at all.

None the less, a minimal spec that didn't require a huge impleemntation
would surely succeed much better than a huge and unwieldy one.

I've been on standards committees, I know how difficult it is, so I
am not belittling the work that has gone into SVG.  And it's solving a
useful problem.  I frankly wish we could just have said, let's embed
some form of editable PostScript instead.  I'd like to see something
like SVG succeed, and not just on Windows and Macintosh computers
with 256M of RAM.

Yes, PFR is in there because Netscape uses it, although since the format
is closed, the tools are too expensive, and the resultant quality is not
high, a very small proportion of web sites use them.

Yes, I know about WEFT -- doesn't work very well yet, says all my Type 1
fonts are broken, but it does seem to be a better step forward, and it
does preserve hinting.  That's especially important for Type 1 fonts.
TrueType fonts are usually autohinted, because it's too difficult and
timeconsuming for most font designers to hint TT fonts, so that in
practice, Type 1 tend to work better on the screen anyway once you get
beyond the excellent Microsoft and Monotype offerings.

And how exactly are the intellectual property rights of the font
designer protected?

Recall that font outlines *are* copyright protected in countries
outside the USA.

Should I take my Adobe Minion or my Emigre Mason Serif and make
unhinted SVG outlines?  What do Robert Slimbach and Jon Barnbrook asay?
What do Adobe's and Emigre's lawyers say?  We know that already,
ask Paul King.

So you can't use existing fonts in SVG format.  What designer with
any selfrespect would created unhinted fonts?

So I conclude that SVG will use a combination of font substitution
in which the font metrics won't fit, and text will overlap graphics,
and very poor quality fonts.

It will be very expensive to implement.

I love it already  :-)

Let's call is the Structured Graphics Monopoly Layer...  seen that
acronym before.


Liam Quin, Barefoot Computing, Toronto;  The barefoot programmer
Ankh on irc.sorcery.net, http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/
co-author, The XML Specification Guide
forthcoming: The Open Source XML Database Toolkit
Received on Friday, 10 March 2000 19:32:21 GMT

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