REVIEW - SVG Programming - The Graphical Web


SVG Programming

The Graphical Web


Kurt Cagle



Apress (2002)




Roger Fretwell


December 2002



SVG stands for Scaleable Vector Graphics. SVG is a language for describing vector graphics based on XML. The language is new, it only became a W3C Recommendation in September 2001 and now we are starting to see the first books on SVG.

This book is an introduction to using SVG. It is targeted at a more computer-literate audience than some other available SVG books.

The book is generally well written, in a style that reads easily, so that it is possible to read through the book, rather than dipping into it to use as a reference. There are some interesting examples and later in the book there are some thought-provoking ideas on how to extend the SVG product. The author also takes into account the realities of working with current SVG viewer implementations when presenting his examples.

The title of the book is interesting in that it might appear to offer more than it does. The author makes the point that it is useful to think of creating SVG in the same terms as creating any other programming script and this is why the book is called 'Programming SVG'. I thought this was an interesting, but ultimately not very useful, concept. There are many aspects of programmatically interacting with SVG that are not covered in the book, especially techniques for server-side manipulation. This may be disappointing if you take the book's title at face value.

The last point leads on to another problem, which is what should be the focus of an introductory book on SVG. The specification for SVG is 600 pages, so any book that attempts to be comprehensive will inevitably end up being shallow. This is the case with this book. It attempts to cover all aspects of the specification, including complex areas like filters and animation, but this means that there is not room to develop more complex examples, or to explore areas like server-side generation.

The graphics in the book were a bit disappointing. I got the impression that the author had expected them to be in colour, as in a number of cases they were rather pointless in black and white.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone starting to learn SVG, who already has a grounding in using XML.Embedded Programming

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.