Das Blog der Visualisierung

Data-Driven Everywhere

In a post over at blogstats I was discussing how some of our interactive visualizations don't work under every circumstance and how it is handy to have them with you on your mobile phone. But it is no secret to even a mildly addicted web user, that a lot of times it is Internet Explorer that hinders progress. However critizising Microsoft and their web offerings might be a nice pastime for some, going the non-Internet-Explorer route usually means excluding half of your customers.

This website advocates the use of open standards for data driven graphics, namely SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and it is this technology that is not at all supported in Internet Explorer. Adobe provided a – reasonable at the time (2001) – plugin that got end of lifed in January 2009, leaving a significant questionmark for content providers who used the SVG format.

Just in time for its world conference SVGopen 2009, good news is coming in form of a JavaScript library called SVG Web, that allows SVG to be rendered using the Flash plugin. While this is not a panacea, the Flash plugin has 95-97% market share (it is a necessary requirement for watching youtube!) and thus a viable option to go. It is exactly those video capabilities of Flash that might cause it to be blocked in some office environments, but still.

One of the huge advantages of SVG Web is its ability to run almost unmodified standard complient SVG markup. This hasn't been done before. JavaScript libraries like dojo.gfx, Raphaël or JSXGraph adapt some elements of the SVG language and everything has to be constructed in JavaScript. In addition those libraries render VML on Internet Explorer, which has the advantage of giving vector graphics to even the barest Internet Explorer installation (no plugins required at all), but performance is far from bearable for more advanced graphics. SVG Web is backed by Google who is kind of giving Microsoft the finger here.

The SVG Web Toolkit is currently in its alpha stages but is already running well enough to adapt an animated populaton pyramid to it, as is showcased on this site. The election atlas is also making good progress in running on Internet Explorer via the Flash plugin and will hopefully be released on this site soon.

Labels: en, flash, ie, populationpyramid, statistics, svg, svgopen, svgweb