More SVG / Flash FUD?

I just finished reading this article on SVG over at, and came across this quote:

Apple used something very close to SVG for their recently released presentation software. Once again, this is further evidence that SVG has the potential to go places that Flash will not.

So, let me get this straight. Apple uses a format that is “very close” to SVG but is not SVG (doesn’t that describe every vector based format that exists?), and this is an indication that SVG will go places that Flash cannot????

Well, if we are talking about presentations, I see tons of Flash based presentations every day. Specifically, static presentations created in Flash, Static presentations with audio created with PowerPoint (and exported with Breeze), Dynamic presentations posted on-line, and real time, collaborative presentations with multiple users, audio / video and screen sharing all with Breeze live.

Couple of other interesting tidbits:

Today Adobe software cannot natively write Flash code because Macromedia is a competitor.

LiveMotion and Illustrator both output Flash files, as well as tons of other tools (that both read and write Flash files).

SVG definitely has its place, but I am constantly amazed by some of the misinformation put out about Flash (especially from a site such as

Thoughts? Comments?

28 Responses to More SVG / Flash FUD?

  1. People like Prescod usually have no in depth knowledge of technologies like Flash. Its actually Macromedias job to sit down together with those guys to clear up those misconceptions rather than to grab irrelevant quotes out of context and bark out loud. The world would actually be such a nice and peaceful place to live if people could sit together and talk. People could actually learn from each other.

  2. Mike Chambers says:

    Claus,Thanks for the input.I guess I was just surprised then that (1) he would write so much about Flash, and (2) would publish such an article with out checking some of the info.mike

  3. JesterXL says:

    Isn’t that what blogs are for? I still keep discussions going with da Aussie boyz I miss, and even you helped teach me some browser stuff today… er, yesterday.

  4. Nav says:

    The new SVG plugin is about 2.85 mb, that’s tons more than the Flash Plugin, and it has just managed support for video. For now at least, SVG is playing catch-up to Flash. Also I believe the general acceptibility of Flash amongst developers is slowly increasing. But it will take a long time before it gains complete acceptibility…

  5. rob says:

    this bothers me very much, too. however, considering the momentum flash has, i don’t think it is much to worry about. it is particularly offensive in this case, being published by but i think flash will prove itself and all this nonsense will prove to be just that as well.

  6. mosquito says:

    i don’t understand why people are amazed that comments like these exist. what happens is that those heavy into OSS and standards will dismiss, or find reasons to dismiss, anything that they aren’t allowed to have the source code. is the article that different from any other company’s promotion of their “product” where they say why their product is better?i wonder if the article would read differently if they visited and looked at TranslateSVG. i also wonder if the OSS community would change their minds about flash if provided a commandline compilier. one thing i’m pretty sure of is that if flash was open sourced they’d love it. it’s just the “nature of the beast” i guess.

  7. John Dowdell says:

    Mike, I think his “Apple” reference may have been to how Keynote native files are in XML format… there is indeed a similarity in structure to SVG (verbose tagged text), but not in semantics (curves vs presentation tags).Claus, I don’t think I have a personal responsibility to insure Paul’s understanding. The reality is out there and easily ascertained, and each person bears responsibility for their own understanding and actions. I read that article last night and just shook my head, but it’s their long-term credibility which is on the line here. One of those “lead a horse to water” things…?.

  8. Pete Hughes says:

    More disinformation stating SVG is so much more than Flash, then lists the ways which amounts to SVG being scalable vector graphics. But it really boils down to their point that an open source Titanic is better than a closed source clipper. At least the iconoclasts railing against M$ have a point, this I can’t understand at all. Why don’t they just join the Republic of Texas and let it _all_ hang out?

  9. Mark Stanton says:

    I’m constantly amazed at how uptight all the MM crew are about SVG. SVG is not some consipiracy cooked up Adobe to kill Flash. SVG is a W3C standard much like HTML.SVG could never kill SWF. SVG and SWF are designed for very different purposes and have very different strengths and weaknesses.I think Flash people should be looking at SVG and start thinking about how they can integrate with it – there are some who have posted comments here who are already doing this. I seriously think there are heaps of possibilities and they would all make Flash a stronger product.Ok the article in question was misleading, misguided and baised but no more so than the opinions expressed in some of the comments above.Stop thinking about plugins and video and start thinking of high end dynamic printing!! I really think SVG should be thought of as an alternative to PDF and PostScript than to Flash. SVG does have little “interaction/multimedia” capabilities but this is not its primary focus.Relax guys – its not trying to kill you.

  10. sgd says:

    sounds like a piece socialistic propaganda to me, making the “big business” seem like the bad guy.” They have left so many domains open for SVG because of the inherent limitations of proprietary (in the sense of corporate-controlled) binary formats. It is already clear that SVG will own those markets long before it gets close to replacing Flash and PDF in their core markets…and in fact a close reading of the Flash license would seem to preclude Google from even attempting the project without negotiation with Macromedia. “

  11. hcf says:

    mike,do u mind telling me the name(s) and email(s) of the guy(s) who wrote the FComboBox component in UI Set 1. apparently they need to go back to school and learn how to write code. i wanna send them the fix for their component and hopefully have them rerelease it to the public.the combo box has a major bug when placed in a .swf that is loaded into an mc in another movie.

  12. I’ve been working a lot between the svg and swf formats over the last months, and I think there are some major major misconceptions from both sides.Swf, as many don’t seem to understand, is an open format. That doesn’t get you everything though – for example I’ve spent the last week trying to derive tweens from keyframes, but in fact the info you really need is locked in the fla file. You don’t ‘need’ to use the proprietary fla format to create swfs, but we all know the reality. It is important for some applications to have easy access to all the information you have created yourself.Svg should be what fills that gap – in fact a lot of people will say things like ‘svg is a great container format for different vector technologies’. It really isn’t. There are a number of things gdi or swf can do that you can’t ‘store’ in svg. For example, another thing I struggled with this week, you can’t ‘store’ depth changes in svg. You can change depths of objects with script, but that is a runtime feature. Svg also uses layers and layers of technologies, xml, smil, css, script, xslt, rcc, external refs. Maybe that is cool for rendering, but for storage it is a nightmare. You basically need to write the guts of a web server and a browser to get at your simple vector information. This may be cool, but it is a terrible way to store and transport data! It is also not human readable. It is very hard to parse. It isn’t fixed data over time. It is monolithic to attempt to make a player out of. Svg does give you way more access to the data you create though – although it is getting to be obfuscated in its own soup I’m afraid. Personally I would be more excited if it was much less, maybe just a standardized format to store media and timelines. What happened to the vision?That being said, svg (if you can do it all), is more like what the fla format is. So if you are wanting to program multimedia on the ‘fla’ level, svg is at least closer to what you need than swf. I don’t think either one cuts it though, I would imagine all svg tools work with their own internal ‘fla’ format and export down to svg. For something dynamic server generation though, svg might be about right.As a side note, if I may – I think many technologies start off as something simple and needed, and get popular because of that. Then people designing/making them, ineveitabley programmers, tend to evolve it into a programming ide. But! Using a graphic format/rich text format/cd creator/3D editor/animation tool/music player/chat program/database/etc as a basis for a programming environment always results in a lousier experience than a tool designed for programming – and often overpowers and kills the initial good part of the technology on top of it! Svg is an extreme example, flash to its credit is still a great (though not very evolving 😉 animation tool. Programmers should have less input on the evolution of any technology imo, other than programming IDE’s that is.Well, sorry for the long rant Mike, you are an easy guy to post to : ). Btw, I imagine that made because that was the keynote for the svg/xml conference in Vancouver this week. Maybe that is more alarming : ).Cheers,Robin

  13. Shadow says:

    flash is such a format that there is no possible way that it will be outlived. It is migrating from the “flashy intros” to a fullscale programming language. These days most developers view flash as a tool to develop RIA’s not intros [although they are cool]. At this time its nearly impossible that any technology will be able to go farther than flash has [also considering the amount of people who have flash]. In other words SVG doesn’t stand a chance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    sgd, although your post (and mine) is off topic, I am interested in the fix. Why don’t you post a url so that it could be downloaded? Or perhaps you could just send it to me via email. sblanchard@octigon.comI have experienced the same (I expect) bug as you and have hacked workarounds.

  15. Oops, forgot my personal info in the previous post.

  16. Tom Bray says:

    1. SVG is XML.2. Flash supports XML and has a drawing API.1 + 2 = 3. Flash can support SVG, you just have to write your own libraries or grab the ones at like Macromedia could add native support for SVG with the flick of a wrist. Why wouldn’t they?

  17. OPEN says:

    .AN OPEN standard is always better for everyone, my vote is for Svg..

  18. OPEN says:

    Are any other people in this thread sick of the Macromedia vs. Adobe feud?I use both vendors products and they both go out of there way to write into the software stuff that hurts the other vendor.At the expense of users that just want to get thier job done.Shame on both Macromedia and Adobe..

  19. jd says:

    Hmm… this character calling himself “OPEN” is using the same Steve Jobs email address for the thread over at about product activation.Tip: Facts always help. Opinions carry more weight when you own them, rather than post anonymously, precisely because of such hidden agendas.(Tom, if you’d like to produce SVG curves from the Macromedia Flash authoring tool, then try … it’s a Windows clipboard conversion utility.)

  20. OPEN says:

    John, Steve Jobs email is and not, please check your facts BEFORE posting.

  21. OPEN says:

    Hi John,It’s PR / Marketing 101: If you don’t like the message go after the messenger, divert attention away from the topic. I would have thought better of you, not to mention that it is off Topic for this thread.No one cares who I am, but if your interested I work at a Web Product Development Firm in NYC., my FlashMX Reg number is FLM600-08602-07266-33(XXX you have the last 3 digits), I have one dog, and now that YOU EXPOSED ME how has this changed the facts that:1. In my opinion, AN OPEN standard is better and Svg would take care of 95% of my vector graphic applications.2. I am sick of the Macromedia vs. Adobe feud that makes my job harder.Now please explain my “hidden agenda”. You seem to be the one with the agenda, SELL MORE UNITS.I will not bring up “product activation” because it is off topic for this thread.Cheers,OPEN

  22. Jesse Ezell says:

    Random Stream of Consciousness Follows…The bottom line is that SVG is a superior vector graphics format. However, it is not currently a superior solution for the types of projects flash is used for.The Flash format is “Open” yes, but not in the same way as SVG. SVG is open and easy to write, Flash is open and hard to write. Additionally, the SVG spec is a lot better than the SWF spec. The SWF specs leave a lot out and don’t actually contain all known SWF tags (for example, the “FreeCharacter” tag). Additionally, to create custom Flash content, you have one of two options:1) Get someone else’s Flash SDK (like SWFSource, Ming, etc.)2) Write your own Flash SDKYou can’t just fire up notepad and get to hacking out some content (additionally, you can’t use XSL to create transforms from dynamic data sets with SWF. In fact, XSL support is entirely lacking. However, with SVG you do have support for XSL, which is very nice if you work with XML content on a regular basis). In any case, the Flash format is complex enough that the average developer would be hard pressed to code all the bitshift and bitstream operations by hand, so there is a big barrier to entry in the Flash content tools market. Add to this the fact that Macromedia doesn’t make the (incomplete) spec available for the latest flash format until 1 year after their products have been released, and all competitors are really screwed.So, if you want to work with Flash, the bottom line is you are going to have to use the Macromedia stuff. Since Macromedia isn’t good at creating Developer focused tools (I’m talking VS.NET type stuff), that is a serious problem. (OK, ok, they are coming out with this uber-flash dev tool, but I haven’t seen anything really cool about that yet, so I’m going to remain skeptical).There are rumors of a SVG based UI appearing in the upcoming versions of Windows. If that should happen, Macromedia should really be concerned, because the entire Windows dev camp (ie. 90+% of all developers) will very quickly become familiar with SVG as a tool for creating desktop apps. Developers are great at being lazy, so if they already know SVG, you can bet they are not going to want to relearn the SWF way of doing things.As the line between web apps and desktop apps blurs and more “smart client” apps emerge, SWF becomes even less relevant (SVG would too, if it were not for the fact that it makes a great too for scalable Desktop UIs… something Flash will definately NOT be used for, because it isn’t XML based and doesn’t have industry support outside of Macromedia). However, web pages are here to stay for the forseeable future, so Flash still has a nitch market there. Yes, Macromedia is trying to get on the desktop, but they don’t have a chance in hell unless they seriously reconsider their strategy.So, how could Macromedia play their cards? Well, the desktop market is out (Flash just don’t fit… sorry). If Macromedia want’s to get into the desktop market, they should start by completely scrapping everything they have. Make no mistake about it, VBS and JS are on their way out, and this itself is a big mark against Flash (ESPECIALLY for the desktop developer). So, what about the web market? Well, it is currently WAY to time intensive to create flash apps. Some prepackaged slick UI widgets would be cool, but I’m not about to code entire UIs in Flash (and DHTML will do the trick just fine for the UI… take a look at and preview the new outlook web client or take a look at MSN 8 and see what I am talking about). Full screen flash app performance also sucks (check out lazslo’s very cool RIA app that is flash based to see more about this), but I guess that isn’t a HUGE deal if you assume that the average person’s CPUs / video cards should be upgrade some time in the next few years. But still, Flash currently chokes during XML processing and the screen refresh rate is also really bad. Macromedia is also lacking a good dev tool (again like VS.NET or eclipse). Dreamweaver is OK, but come on, you can’t really use it for hard core code development, so you need a J2EE IDE or VS.NET to write your backend anyway).So… in any case, if I was on Macromedia’s management team, I would be crapping my pants and trying to come up with some other trust besides Flash for the future of my company… as just about everything over there apparently revolves around selling copies of Flash, I doubt they will get it any time soon. Maybe they just want to join Sun on the list of companies that could have been, should have been, but never were…That said, Flash is currently a better web app UI tool than SVG, but DHTML is a much better web UI tool than Flash (unless you are in the 1% of the market that needs slick little animations or prefers apps that look like x-box games over those with usable interfaces).

  23. Cub says:

    Cross-browser/platform support? DHTML fails seems to be a IE/WIN only solution.Flash Player X performance looks to be GREATLY improved in the near future.

  24. jd says:

    1) “open” (whoever you are), Steve Jobs has more than one email account… see resume: you’re claiming you’re him, instead of some anonym who doesn’t like software protection, then it’s easy to say so…. ;-)2) Mark wrote, “I’m constantly amazed at how uptight all the MM crew are about SVG.” No, SVG is fine, it’s the incorrect SWF-bashing that tends to attract attention. Different things.3) Tom wrote of rendering SVG within SWF. Good point. Right now the rendering instructions are handled on a per-document basis… there’s a SWF which contains SVG-rendering instructions. The alternative would be to bake such instructions into the Player, and there hasn’t been significant realworld demand for cutting player distribution with those extra kilobytes. (Even if we did, we’d get hit with the purist charge “there are no pixel filters!” and what-all.) As Claus and others have proven, it’s definitely possible to render much SVG within SWF, but the cost of such rendering has not been imposed on all consumers and all developers.4) Jesse, nice to see you again, I always enjoy wading through your material, but I’m not sure which point is the core one, aside from the “no hope” conclusion… I fear that if I addressed “found an undoc’d tag” then the discussion would shift to “yeah but you can’t write it in Notepad” or whatever. Time may make the most effective argument here.

  25. OPEN says:

    Judge my words not my email address. Again, If you don’t like the message go after the messenger, divert attention away from the topic. I would have thought better of you, not to mention that it is off Topic for this thread.

  26. But OPEN, it isn’t ‘your’ email address he is judging, it is one that is meant to look like Steve Job’s. He isn’t talking to you either, he is talking to the word OPEN in all caps.If you don’t even value your opinion enough to sign your own name to it, then how are we supposed to value it? A nice second step would be to show why you think your opinion is valuable. This isn’t a poll or an election, and even if it was you’ld need ID before your vote would count.

  27. carlco says:

    whats SVG?:)

  28. Max says:

    Very useful information indeed . Thanks