Can SVG be a potential replacement for PDF?

Discussion in 'XML' started by Mark, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. Mark

    Mark Guest

    I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.

    Thanks.

    Mark
     
    Mark, Apr 26, 2005
    #1
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  2. Mark

    Aandi Inston Guest

    Mark <> wrote:

    >I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    >performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.


    "fixing"? In what sense were they broke?
    ----------------------------------------
    Aandi Inston http://www.quite.com
    Please support usenet! Post replies and follow-ups, don't e-mail them.
     
    Aandi Inston, Apr 26, 2005
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  3. Hi Mark

    Mark wrote:
    > I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    > performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.


    SVG is a graphic format. How would you pack a multi-page document into
    that ...?

    2cents
    Robert
    --
    /"\ ASCII Ribbon Campaign | MS
    \ / | MVP
    X Against HTML | for
    / \ in e-mail & news | Word
     
    Robert M. Franz (RMF), Apr 26, 2005
    #3
  4. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Robert M. Franz wrote:
    >Mark wrote:


    >> I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    >> performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.


    >SVG is a graphic format. How would you pack a multi-page document into
    >that ...?


    Each page has its own SVG graphic?

    Mark
     
    Mark, Apr 26, 2005
    #4
  5. Mark wrote:
    >>>I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    >>>performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.

    >
    >>SVG is a graphic format. How would you pack a multi-page document into
    >>that ...?

    >
    > Each page has its own SVG graphic?


    That seems impractical at best.

    You really want to replace one PDF file with [enter your favourite whole
    number] SVG files ...?

    Greetinx
    Robert
    --
    /"\ ASCII Ribbon Campaign | MS
    \ / | MVP
    X Against HTML | for
    / \ in e-mail & news | Word
     
    Robert M. Franz (RMF), Apr 26, 2005
    #5
  6. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Robert M. Franz (RMF) wrote:
    >Mark wrote:


    >> Each page has its own SVG graphic?


    >That seems impractical at best.
    >
    >You really want to replace one PDF file with [enter your favourite whole
    >number] SVG files ...?


    So the SVG spec has not included the functionality to have multiple
    SVG graphics within a single SVG file? (Of course, multiple SVG
    graphics can be embedded within an XML document using a schema which
    supports islands of SVG markup.)

    To rephrase, does SVG have the power to be a substitute for PDF on a
    page-by-page basis? For example, could SVG be used to produce IRS
    forms which would look identical to the PDF versions? Or does
    Postscript still have more power than SVG at the exact "fixation" of
    text on a page?

    Mark
     
    Mark, Apr 26, 2005
    #6
  7. Aandi Inston wrote:

    > Mark <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    >>performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.

    >
    >
    > "fixing"? In what sense were they broke?
    >


    Aw c'mon, Aandi. His meaning is clear enough. Fixing in the sense of
    locking (as in fixing a microscopic specimen on a slide, for example).
     
    Dick Margulis, Apr 26, 2005
    #7
  8. Mark

    Ralf Koenig Guest

    Mark wrote:
    > I'm curious to get feedback regarding the potential SVG has in
    > performing the same functionality as PDF for fixing documents.


    "fixing" in the sense of "prepare a self-contained, platform-independent
    stand-alone document including all resources".

    To answer the question in the subject: Yes, but ...

    If you compare the specs, the scope of both of SVG and PDF is pretty
    much equivalent. Both build upon the Adobe graphics model for rendering
    objects: They share stuff like coordinate systems, graphics stack,
    operator names for basic obejcts, set of allowed operators, all this
    low-level stuff.

    PDF is more mature in terms of specification of embedded blobs
    (compression algorithms, fonts, images), but XML (and therefore future
    versions of SVG) is extensible enough to support this as well. SVG would
    be a lot more accessible though with a simpler structure.

    There are relatively good converters between PDF<->SVG, which kind of
    proves their strong relationship.

    The following three are very close to each other conceptually:

    * PostScript :
    * strengths in printing (fonts, halftoning, support of device
    dependent features in PPD, ...)

    * PDF : derived from PostScript with more "web features"

    * multi page documents with navigation
    * much better structure than PostScript
    * better compression algorithms
    * mostly device-independent
    * optional linear organization to improve streaming
    * object tree for page independance
    * support of hyperlinks
    * fillable fields
    * bookmarks
    * scripting with JavaScript
    * document meta data
    * document security model
    * better performance by stuff like xref table, incremental write
    * one-vendor spec with advantages (consistency, reference
    implementation) and disadvantages (dependency, patenting issues, ...)
    * commonly seen as too complex with too many features
    * specializations: PDF/A for archival, PDF/X for printing and
    reliable document exchange in the graphics and publishing industry

    * SVG :
    * XML-based
    * extensible
    * single page documents
    * easy to make simple examples
    * scripting with JavaScript
    * fits XML-based workflows best
    * but: XML with namespaces gets more complex
    * SVG moves towards multiple implementation profiles to support
    embedded applications such as mobile phones, where PDF would be too complex
    * so far Adobe makes the most wide-spread SVG viewer, it's in their
    hand whether they push SVG or PDF. So far, they pushed PDF.

    Microsoft wants to push SVG with Longhorn, but - as usual - they made
    their own dialect of SVG called WVG (Windows Vector Graphics) with
    extensions.

    It's just that PDF seems to be the best mix with best software support
    currently, which explains the predominance of PDF over SVG. This may
    well change when SVG support esp. in browsers, features and maturity
    improve.

    Ralf
     
    Ralf Koenig, Apr 26, 2005
    #8
  9. Mark

    Guest

    I understand by "fixation" you mean location or position on the page. PDF
    is normally limited by the page resolution you've selected (default 1200
    dpi) but can go higher (not sure of the limit). Remember, the PDF format
    can and often uses a text searchable format, as well as meta-words
    (keywords) and indexing to further apply the use of PDFs. An all graphic
    format could have some of this, special when combined with an additional
    markup or embedded application (xml, html and so on) but I doubt it would
    work as smoothly nor is it likely that 3rd party software would be as
    willing to interface (we like really, really well defined standards). As
    for identical looking documents, you picked a very good example. IRS pdf
    forms typically use a number of fonts, some not so common, to build the form
    and this is where differences may start to occur (size of the dots,
    arrowheads, and serifs on characters are often troublesome). Although these
    differences may be miniscule, it could make some forms non-machine readable,
    such as a the "notorious" Medicare services application CMS-1500 form. I do
    agree however, that you certainly could build a graphic alternative to just
    about any form and pass it for the original, except for text (searchable)
    and embedded information, I am just not sure as to why.

    Larry T.
     
    , Apr 26, 2005
    #9
  10. On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 19:06:42 +0200, Ralf Koenig
    <-chemnitz.de> wrote:

    >Microsoft wants to push SVG with Longhorn, but - as usual - they made
    >their own dialect of SVG called WVG (Windows Vector Graphics) with
    >extensions.


    What else is new :)

    >It's just that PDF seems to be the best mix with best software support
    >currently, which explains the predominance of PDF over SVG. This may
    >well change when SVG support esp. in browsers, features and maturity
    >improve.


    Not forgetting the fact that Adobe's PDF reader handles SVG just fine as
    it is (via a plug in for Acrobat).

    --
    Rex
     
    Jan Roland Eriksson, Apr 26, 2005
    #10
  11. Mark

    Ralf Koenig Guest

    Mark wrote:
    > Robert M. Franz (RMF) wrote:
    >
    >>Mark wrote:

    >
    >
    >>>Each page has its own SVG graphic?

    >
    >
    >>That seems impractical at best.
    >>
    >>You really want to replace one PDF file with [enter your favourite whole
    >>number] SVG files ...?


    Well, put them into a zip-archive, and you have a nice single file
    package. That's what OpenOffice does, or Java archives (jar).

    > So the SVG spec has not included the functionality to have multiple
    > SVG graphics within a single SVG file?


    Well, you can read, look it up in the spec for SVG V1.1 (the current
    "stable" spec).
    http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG/

    SVG V1.2 (draft) includes a model for multi-page documents.
    http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-SVG12-20041027/

    > (Of course, multiple SVG
    > graphics can be embedded within an XML document using a schema which
    > supports islands of SVG markup.)


    That's what the multi-page feature of SVG 1.2 does, essentially.

    > To rephrase, does SVG have the power to be a substitute for PDF on a
    > page-by-page basis?


    Yes.

    > For example, could SVG be used to produce IRS
    > forms which would look identical to the PDF versions?


    Yes, including all the form and scripting stuff when combined with XForms.

    If you are mainly interested in printing: Take a current PDF to
    SVG-converter, and it will convert the PDF to single page SVG files.
    These files will look identical to the PDF version, when using an
    uptodate SVG viewer, on screen and on paper.

    Example converters:
    http://www.pdftron.com/pdf2svg/ - There is also a demo version.
    http://www.pstoedit.net/pstoedit - with SVG plugin
    many more ...

    > Or does
    > Postscript still have more power than SVG at the exact "fixation" of
    > text on a page?


    Theoretically no, as both rendering models allow arbitrary precision in
    placing graphics objects via transformation matrices.

    But PDF and/or PS include some more printer-related functions: Alternate
    colorspaces (CMYK, Device-dependent, spot colors ...), rendering intent
    plus a few more. That's why SVG V1.1 is unsuitable for professional
    graphics in print. SVG V1.2 will address some of these issues.

    But in practice, Postscript may achieve better results for other
    reasons, than a better model. Postscript is supported by many advanced
    printers natively and licensed from Adobe. Since Adobe has control over
    every sold Postscript printer, they can achieve a high level of
    compliance to many details.

    So, with Postscript there is less chance for errors. Printer makers
    already started to put PDF renderers into the firmware of their
    printers, e.g. current HP LaserJet models.

    With SVG, there may be a longer pipeline of software (drivers,
    converters, ...) where inconsistencies between different implementations
    could cause differences.

    > Mark


    Ralf
     
    Ralf Koenig, Apr 27, 2005
    #11
  12. Mark

    Guest

    For completeness sake, I'll mention our own commercial PDF to SVG batch
    conversion software, pdf2vector, which is regularly chosen to convert
    forms. It has different options to deal with fonts, which indeed tends
    to be the main hurdle for an accurate conversion.

    My simple take on this subject: SVG conceptually can be able to replace
    PDF, since the core imaging model is indeed very similar. But the
    current specification will need to be expanded with a number of
    document/print-related features to make that happen. And then of course
    there's the whole thing of industry support and application
    infrastructure.

    But to give an example: our software has been implemented to serve
    multi-page financial reports from Oracle Reports (generated as
    PostScript) to the client's Web browser as SVG (using Batik and a Java
    applet for rendering). They chose this over PDF, so that the user's
    workflow would not be disturbed by Acrobat Reader taking over his
    browser window. The pages are a combination of graphics, images and
    text.

    Jeroen Dekker
    --
    Visual Integrity Technologies
    a division of Square One bv
    www.visual-integrity.com
     
    , Apr 27, 2005
    #12
  13. Mark

    paron Guest

    In addition (I don't think this has been mentioned here) SVG is an open
    standard, and PDF is not.

    If I can output SVG from my python script (python has been held back
    from universal domination by crummy text and graphic output, IMO), then
    I can view it or print it in any compliant application, on any
    platform. You have to mumble that word "compliant" REALLY fast, but
    the potential is there.

    For that matter, I can read it and munge it in any XML-aware
    application. I hope Adobe decides to "push" SVG over PDF. It makes
    commercial sense, I think. "Microsoft =>proprietary; Adobe=>open" is
    what they should foster in developer's minds.
     
    paron, Apr 27, 2005
    #13
  14. paron wrote:
    > For that matter, I can read it and munge it in any XML-aware
    > application. I hope Adobe decides to "push" SVG over PDF. It makes
    > commercial sense, I think. "Microsoft =>proprietary; Adobe=>open" is
    > what they should foster in developer's minds.


    With recent purchase of Macromedia by Adobe, I can easily imagine an utopia
    where both Acrobat and Flash natively produce SVG output.

    Berislav
     
    Berislav Lopac, Apr 27, 2005
    #14
  15. Mark

    Aandi Inston Guest

    "paron" <> wrote:

    >In addition (I don't think this has been mentioned here) SVG is an open
    >standard, and PDF is not.


    According to Wikipedia, which is hardly infinitely reliable, but is a
    starting point:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_standard
    "Open standards are publicly available specifications for achieving a
    specific task."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pdf
    "PDF is an open standard"

    There doesn't seem to be much universal agreement as to what "Open
    standard" means. How do YOU define it?
    ----------------------------------------
    Aandi Inston http://www.quite.com
    Please support usenet! Post replies and follow-ups, don't e-mail them.
     
    Aandi Inston, Apr 27, 2005
    #15
  16. Mark

    paron Guest

    I guess I had in mind a standard promoted by a non-commercial body like
    the W3C. Adobe could do whatever they like with the PDF standard, even
    though they publish it. Of course, so could the W3C with SVG, I guess.

    It's certainly possible to make a good argument that PDF is as open and
    stable as SVG, and I don't want to argue with wikipedia -- too many
    people watching it for it to be very far off base.

    Still, I prefer SVG -- what if the MacroMedia deal fell through,
    Microsoft bought Adobe, and radically altered (extinguished)PDF? Or
    some other scenario that can happen to a commercial enterprise that
    can't happen as easily to a non-commercial enterprise?

    Anyway, that's why I'd prefer SVG. Perhaps I'm overly cynical about
    commercial enterprise, maybe not cynical enough about the W3C.
     
    paron, Apr 27, 2005
    #16
  17. Mark

    Ralf Koenig Guest

    paron wrote:
    > In addition (I don't think this has been mentioned here) SVG is an open
    > standard, and PDF is not.


    What about:
    http://partners.adobe.com/asn/tech/pdf/specifications.jsp

    What about the free tools (all non-Adobe and non-commercial) at:
    https://rnvs.informatik.tu-chemnitz.de/twiki/bin/view/Main/FreePdfUtilitiesAndLibraries

    Why is SVG more "open" then?

    > If I can output SVG from my python script (python has been held back
    > from universal domination by crummy text and graphic output, IMO), then
    > I can view it or print it in any compliant application, on any
    > platform. You have to mumble that word "compliant" REALLY fast, but
    > the potential is there.


    The following *free* libs ease PDF output from Python:

    ReportLab Toolkit
    http://www.reportlab.org/rl_toolkit.html

    PDFlib lite
    http://www.pdflib.com/products/pdflib/download-source.html

    > For that matter, I can read it and munge it in any XML-aware
    > application.


    You're right here. SVG is much more accessible when reading files.

    > I hope Adobe decides to "push" SVG over PDF. It makes
    > commercial sense, I think.


    I don't think so. Why reinventing everything?

    Why not release an "official" way of expressing PDF in XML such as an
    XML schema with a spec, and free reference implementations of converters
    between PDF 1.6 (and lower) <-> PDF-XML 1.6? Then, all of a sudden, you
    could process (parse, read, generate, modify, write) PDF-XML files with
    your favourite XML tools. And by linking the converters to existing
    programs, current applications could support PDF-XML with little
    modifications.

    Adobe is definitely working on that but they did not release any
    documents or software for the conversion yet - AFAIK. I heard of
    commercial Adobe software to do these conversions, but they are
    big-money solutions.

    It can't be that hard to come up with a reasonable (and standard!) way
    of expressing the semantics of PDF operators and constructs in XML
    syntax, enabling lossless conversion between the two formats. Again, a
    big problem are binary objects so far. What parts of them should be
    accessible via XML elements, what parts should remain in binary form for
    compatibility with exisiting software and for efficiency?

    > "Microsoft =>proprietary; Adobe=>open" is
    > what they should foster in developer's minds.


    That would be far too simple.

    Ralf
     
    Ralf Koenig, Apr 27, 2005
    #17
  18. Mark

    Aandi Inston Guest

    Ralf Koenig <-chemnitz.de> wrote:

    >Why not release an "official" way of expressing PDF in XML


    Here's one:

    < pdf >...contents of PDF 1.6 file in asci85 format ... < /pdf >

    It's hard to see what advantage it would have, except being 20%
    larger, and thereby helping struggling disk space manufacturers.

    If you are talking about an XML mapping of PDF at a lower level, it's
    worth bearing in mind that, in order to produce PDF files of a
    reasonable size, Adobe had to add binary, compressible, streams
    collecting together many objects...

    This would not be an easy sell. "Use new miracle PDF XML! It's just
    like the old PDF, except that very few applications handle it so far,
    and it's several times larger than the original PDF".
    ----------------------------------------
    Aandi Inston http://www.quite.com
    Please support usenet! Post replies and follow-ups, don't e-mail them.
     
    Aandi Inston, Apr 27, 2005
    #18
  19. Mark

    paron Guest

    I'd really like to do input and output on screen and output on paper
    using one technology. SVG just seems like the best bet, if a large
    segment of the industry supports it. I could design specialized GUI
    widgets and output results either to screen or paper, cross-platform,
    without using proprietary formats.

    If only SVG were adopted as a standard for graphic work by a large
    segment of the industry.

    As Berislav says, ". . . utopia . . ."
     
    paron, Apr 27, 2005
    #19
  20. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Aandi Inston wrote:
    >"paron" wrote:


    >> In addition (I don't think this has been mentioned here) SVG is an open
    >> standard, and PDF is not.


    >According to Wikipedia, which is hardly infinitely reliable, but is a
    >starting point:
    >
    >http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_standard
    >"Open standards are publicly available specifications for achieving a
    >specific task."
    >
    >http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pdf
    >"PDF is an open standard"
    >
    >There doesn't seem to be much universal agreement as to what "Open
    >standard" means. How do YOU define it?


    This is true -- there is not a comprehensive and accepted definition
    of "open standard".

    Many people, though, feel that in addition to the standard being
    published and everyone can use it royalty-free, that an "open
    standard" must also be controlled by a consortium of competing
    companies and organizations in their sphere of interest. The PDF
    specification, for example, is not controlled by the "PDF Consortium".
    Rather, it is ultimately controlled by a single corporation: Adobe. On
    the other hand, SVG is essentially controlled by W3C, which comprises
    a large number of corporations and organizations, many of which
    compete with each other.

    Mark
     
    Mark, Apr 27, 2005
    #20
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