A matter of trust (or lack thereof)

by Antoine Quint

Related link: http://www.svg.org/blogs/graouts/archives/001361.html

Macromedia, cornered by the mobile industry quite decided to stick to standards, finally decides to make a magic PR turn-around, and get with the SVG program. But you wouldn't think they'd give in without a dirty fight...

Macromedia's Mobile and Devices product manager, Troy Evans, writes about the Flash Lite / SVG Tiny relationship, full with inaccuracies and blatant lies, a sorry state of affairs... Here's a transcript of a journal entry of mine trying to set the record straight:

I am not going to comment on the pure marketing sides of this article, although there are a few things in there that made me raise my eyebrows. It's really when it gets technical that I feel the need to speak out.

Troy Evans writes "In doing so, handsets can now support the basic needs of vector graphics as defined in the SVG-T profile, as well as the richer interactive multimedia feature set Flash Lite 1.1 provides".

While he is right in pointing out that technically SVGT 1.1 does not offer a feature range as wide as Flash Lite, lack of programmatic (ie, through scripting an API) interactivity being the major difference, he is a little undermining when saying that SVGT only serves "the basic needs of vector graphics". SVGT 1.1 supports 99% of the declarative animation features found in SVG Full. This goes beyond simple vector graphics.

Troy Evans then touches briefly (brief as Macromedia's research of SVG I imagine) about differences between SVGT and Flash Lite: "SVG-T supports within its profile vector graphics, images, and text, but lacks the ability to add interactivity or audio without the use of additional auxiliary technologies such as JavaScript."

Huh? As I said above, SVGT 1.1 does not allow for programmatic interactivity, but through the animation features available, a fair amount of declarative interactivity can be achieved in SVGT 1.1. You can change object's colors, positions, geometrics and the likes in reposnse to mouse events. For a quick idea of what can be done today using SVGT 1.1 and its declarative interactivity features, you can go through the Beatware Mobile Designer (an excellent mobile SVG authoring tool) virtual tour. What we have there are things like buttons remotely triggering animations, buttons with animated rollover behaviors, navigation bars and popup menus. Not bad for a language that according to Macromedia "lacks the ability to add interactivity". Point taken for the lack of audio in SVGT 1.1 though, this is only in SVGT 1.2.

So Troy Evans is on a roll, but he doesn't stop there! "However, one of the problems with the SVG-T format is the many optional features that are inherent in the specification. So while our player conforms to the SVG-T standard, other implementations from other vendors may differ, causing differences in supported features across handsets and vendor implementations."

Ok, the number one requirement for SVG Tiny was, and still is, no optional parts. There isn't a single feature in SVG Tiny that is optional. Troy may be confusing SVG Basic and SVG Tiny here. I really can't believe a company like Macromedia can say something like "we're number one when it comes to SVG Tiny conformance", where no one I know have been able to independently test their implementation. And of course we all know the tremendous history Macromedia has with regards to SVG, trying to undermine it since its very creation years ago. So, would anyone take Troy's word and believe that Macromedia's SVG Tiny implementation is more compliant than, say, BitFlash's or ZOOMON's, two companies involved in the standardization process at W3C for years who also have a number of shipping mobile phones on the market today with their implementation built-in? This is preposterous.

The fact is SVG Tiny is truly a specification with excellent interoperability. Ask a major carrier like Vodafone what they think about the level of SVGT interoperability. They're making SVG Tiny one of the foundation technologies in their Vodafone live! client. Can you really believe that world's largest carrier would commit to a technology without appropriate insurance that it is reliable? It's only their flagship product after all...

It is becoming clearer every day, and we have evidence from the mobile phone market, that Flash Lite is getting its ass whooped by SVGT 1.1, even though SVGT 1.1 doesn't have all of its features and doesn't even have a multi-million dollar company pouring marketing resources into making it a success. And it's only getting worse as SVGT 1.2 is getting closer and closer and should be a recommendation within six months. Feature-wise SVGT 1.2 goes beyond Flash Lite's offerings, and with support from platforms like J2ME (through JSR-226) and Symbian (through Series 60 SE), you bet integration issues are pretty much figured out. And remember, SVGT is a standard, approved by W3C and 3GPP. No matter what play on words and rewrite of definitions Macromedia folks can come up with, Flash Lite is not standard.

In the end, Macromedia is only showing the world their ignorance of SVG, which doesn't come as a big surprise considering their lack of SVG support, ever. As a friend of mine says: "you need to trust a company if you are putting their product into millions of devices. Macromedia show they are not worthy of that trust". Realize!

Are Macromedia desperate enough to spread malignant lies? Or are they simply misinformed?


2005-05-07 10:31:15
Eyes wide OPEN, and Poker Players w/Shades
Do Macromedia's future 1.1 FlashLite deployments all require SVG-T as mandatory component of the FlashLite spec?

Is SVG-T supported in any "Macromedia" authoring tools?

Can you find any articles supporting the value of SVG-T at Macromedia's website?

Lots of important questions here to help understand the market dynamics . . .

Now let's look at the facts . . .

1)Macromedia stands the potential to make lots of money on FlashLite as a monopoly owner of a proprietary standard.

2)SVG-T competes with FlashLite directly. Macromedia may try to disagree here but the realities are they are both vector formats with interactivity that can and do offer very similar functionality. Bottomline is they are competitive. If they weren't competitive do you think Macromedia would be so diligent responding to svg-t posts. Also important to note SVG is an "open" standard and thus can't be monopolized by a single entity for profit.

I encourage all to draw your own conclusions when Macromedia makes posts & PR statements about SVG and to be discerning on their real intentions.

And remember that old saying . . .
"Don't be fooled by the man behind the curtain"