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Graphics standard heads to print

The W3C issues a draft of a specification that will take animation and interactive content designed in a Flash alternative and turn it into something a printer can understand.

Vector graphics, accustomed to bouncing across computer screens, may be tamed by a new printing standard.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued the first draft of Scalable Vector Graphics Printing Requirements (SVG Print). The specification will take unprintable animation and interactive content designed in SVG--a standardized alternative to Macromedia's Flash language--and turn it into something a printer can understand.

Vector graphics, while more flexible and speedier than the common bitmaps that form many of the graphics on the Web, pose a special problem for ink on paper.

"Industry and developer feedback has suggested a desire for a form of SVG suited to printing," reads the introduction to the working draft issued this week. "It is...likely that there will be new language features that are specific to printing and can be safely ignored in non-printing environments."

SVG, which is intended to supplant Macromedia's dominant and proprietary Flash animation technology, has been wending its way through the W3C for years in one form or another. The original specification grew out of a quartet of early contenders, including Microsoft's Vector Markup Language (VML), and won its recommendation in September 2001.

Last month, the W3C released a major SVG upgrade tailored for use by cell phones and other small networked devices.