This week I have introduced SVG or "Scalable Vector Graphics"
and discussed some of the capabilities that this new standard
will offer. Over the next few weeks I shall detail some of
these features in the Web Design article and tell you how you
can take advantage of them.

For those of you that use IMS applications I thought it may
be useful to tell you how SVG relates to the IMS products and
what you can expect in the future.

IMS stands for Interactive Multimedia System and if you have
had a chance to read some of our technical articles about
IMS, you may have discovered that IMS and SVG are very
similar. This was not deliberate. Neither format was modeled
after the other. But it is also no coincidence that both
systems are very similar since both were designed to solve
similar problems.

The primary difference between IMS and SVG is that SVG is a
public standard that will work in conjunction with the most
popular browsers to display vector based interactive
graphics. IMS on the other hand, is a proprietary interactive
graphic library that works with our Drag and Drop editors.

Are IMS and SVG competitive technologies?

Not in the least. SVG will in fact provide the missing
elements that have hindered the IMS technology from being
used to its full potential.

At its heart, IMS is a 2D (and 3D) vector based animation
library with support for bitmap graphics and Rich Text. Each
IMS graphical element, which we refer to as an Object,
includes a transformation matrix. This transformation is used
to precisely position, scale (and rotate) the Object in the
IMS and Browser windows.

Animation is created with IMS Web Engine by constructing a
vector-based path that another Object can trace. The vector
Object is used to update the animation Object's
transformation matrix so that it will trace the path of the
vector. By combining matrices, it is possible to create
hierarchical paths on top of each other. This is currently
all done within the Javascript file vmmech.js that is posted
to your web site when you publish a DHTML project.

The biggest limitation with this system to date is that there
has been no direct support for vectors within the current
Browsers. Both IMS Web Spinner and IMS Web Engine include
Vector based elements such as Rectangles, Ellipses, Polygons
and Splines (not included to date). Although these elements
work well as animation paths, they need to be converted to
Bitmaps in order to be used as a visible graphic element.
This of course means that they loose all the advantages of
being a vector-based element and end up being a simplistic
way to construct a bitmap.

With the availability of SVG enabled browsers, the IMS v
based technology will become far more powerful, not only as
an animation system but also as a vector based design system.

Where do we go from here?

We have already decided to add some initial SVG capabilities
to the IMS Version 2 release that we are working on. The
first elements will be included in a version 2 Beta sometime
in the near future. This may mean that the version 2 release
will be delayed a little longer than it already has but
hopefully not by much. It will also mean that you should have
the first fully integrated HTML, Dynamic HTML and SVG
authoring product available.

In a future article, I shall discuss some of the specifics of
adding SVG to your IMS web pages.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 2000 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.

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