SMIL is dead,.. long live the SMIL

Hello all,

The idea that you can't do in SMIL what you can do with other methods is  
ludicrous. If only <use> in combination with xlink was more widely  
implemented it would be a piece of cake to make SMIL scripts that take  
some SVG object to handle from a library of SVG objects. Unfortunately the  
only browser engine that supported that was Presto, reason why I still use  
that rather than the new dumbed down version of Opera based on webkit. (or  
is it Blink these days?)

Maybe for many developers the mere fact that CSS gets supported is the  
reason why they turn to it, rather than the idea of having smaller code.  
It works cross browser, so yeah... duh. And the CSS advocates of split can  
point to this and say... hey people actually use it! What alternative do  
you have then? Is there anything not related to the creation of corporate  
content and professional use? Well yeah,.. if you have to plan your future  
on it and you read about the destruction of the preferable alternative,  
you have little option but to turn to the unholy mess that CSS has become.

Every time I have to dig through some CSS barf and try to work out where  
it initiates something for some object in a large project I feel dread.  
 From an authoring point of view having everything in a small project or  
single file makes things a lot more readable and understandable than the  
current separation of ALL content and style. Sure, CSS makes sense for  
TEXT, but as pointed out by David, it doesn't make any sense for GRAPHICS  
beyond the charts and diagrams that lard the corporate pages.

 From my authors point of view I will have to state the obvious. CSS being  
basically a flat file DB with parameters is not high level in any regard.  
I hate CSS being turned into the overlord of added options and gadgets  
addressing the shortcomings of HTML in a unified way. I hate the syntax  
and I hate having to work through all those ill constructed, uncommented  
CSS templates that roam the web to change something simple in the  
presentation. Not to speak of having to memorise all the friggin  
abbreviations. Now we get to do our animations in it as well? Oh boy,...  
will I enjoy that.

SVG had the promise to be a self contained format that could have solved  
the needs of the worlds archives and the probable newly build electronic  
archives by offering a wide range of possible uses. Animation being one of  
them, using a really understandable language like SMIL. Okay,.. SVG fonts  
are dead for not being diacritical and no obvious way to ever make them  
so. Scratch that as there are other alternatives, which with some hassle  
can be implemented using CSS and base64  encoding making the information  
unreadable for humans. And no,.. I'm still not quite over that, if it  
could be fixed in Opentype, it could be fixed in SVG2 I would think. It's  
why standards evolve.

Now SMIL gets to bite the dust for similar reasons. It's unloved for  
commercial reasons, that have proven untenable. Silverlight died some time  
ago, Flash is hanging on bravely due to the lack of something that works  
cross browser so we have to put up with it. Kudos for Adobe for screwing  
up the standard and making everyone have to rely on their hideous format.  
Nor did anyone manage to make SMIL operate that smoothly or spend too much  
time on it. Presto does a decent job, but no more than that. And true,  
SMIL has quite a few quirks to get over with and get accustomed to, but  
basically can do anything we do in Flash with lots of script. It is  
actually readable and understandable even for a non programmer, which is  
the main reason for me to be an advocate of it.

Naturally any developer can start a little js project to do whatever you  
would want to do with your code, but the whole point of using high level  
languages like HTML, SVG and SMIL is to open the web to those with the  
skills of turtle graphics programming. I fear that whole point gets  
drowned out in this discussion. I thought part of this whole exercise was  
to get people to enjoy something that was understandable for the majority  
of people rather than the happy few that get to spend their days in books  
and on-line courses to keep up with the latest trends? Or is this just all  
about the money? If so, how about letting the market decide what to do  
with it and maybe give some new upstart a chance to run off with it? Oh,..  
that's why isn't it?


On Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:17:36 +0800, Brian Birtles <>  

> Hi,
> A couple of clarifications.
> On 2015/03/17 7:21, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>  > Microsoft has publicly refused to implement SMIL, and has persisted in
>  > this.
> They've simply requested a unified model for animation. They've  
> indicated they would consider SMIL if such a model existed.
>  > Chrome is dropping native SMIL support and replacing it with
>  > browser-JS that reimplements in with Web Animations.
> We'll possibly do the same in Gecko some day but that's just an  
> implementation detail made possible by the whole extensible Web approach  
> and Web animations model. It doesn't change anything from a developer or  
> spec point of view.
> The main problem with SVG/SMIL animation is that it only animates SVG  
> (except in Firefox). Unless it outgrows that it's never likely to be  
> mainstream.
> Best regards,
> Brian

Received on Tuesday, 17 March 2015 05:56:19 UTC