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1 Introduction

Vector graphics has attractions as a media for the delivery of 2D graphics on the Internet. Especially in terms of scalability (which enables precise rendering at multiple resolutions and screen size) and precision for material such as, line diagrams and cartographics (Mong and Brailsford, 2003).

Macromedia's Flash (a proprietary format) is the primary means of delivering interactive vector graphics over the Internet (Neumann and Winter, 2001). It is a binary format and is normally viewed over the Internet using a plugin from within a browser. It is capable of a high degree of Interactivity. Flash was introduced in 1996 and developers have access to considerable assistance in the form of forums and textbooks.

In 1998 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) considered there was a requirement for an open standard, text based, markup language for the display of 2D vector graphics, it was decided that this would be an Extensible Markup Language (XML) namespace called Scalable vector Graphics (SVG) (World Wide Web Consortium, (1), 2003). SVG, like Flash is currently viewed using a plugin. However the open standard nature of SVG means that there are a number of plugins, which render an SVG image, but they do so with degrees of efficacy. However the W3C intend that SVG should be natively rendered from within a (X)HTML/CSS browser.

This project aims to research and critically examine the technology of SVG and compare it with Flash. Furthermore, prototypes in both Flash and SVG will be developed and subjected to evaluation. This research, development and evaluation will seek to answer the following questions.

1. Does SVG have sufficient advantages over Flash; with respect to bandwidth, client side rendering, usability of interactive features and other key attributes which research may elicit to enable it to become the primary means of vector graphic delivery on the Internet?

2. What key developments are required to facilitate wider use of SVG?

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