Adobe Systems (ADBE)
said today that it has submitted a proposal to the World Wide Web Consortium
that could result in
better quality Web-based graphics that do not require specialized plug-ins
The Precision Graphics Markup Language (PGML), created in conjunction with
IBM, Netscape Communications, and Sun Microsystems, is used to define Web
page-based images, graphics, and animation, according to Adobe.
on CNET Radio
The PGML spec is being pitched to the W3C as a standard way for handling
vector graphics, which differ from common bitmap graphics formats such as
.GIF and .JPG. Vector graphics are defined as a series of objects, any piece
of which can be manipulated individually. Bitmaps are larger blocks of code
that cannot be segmented.
"The big challenge is getting images down to a reasonable size," said Ted
Simonides, director of Web product marketing at Adobe. With vector graphics,
instead of transmitting a large image, you transmit the description of the
image to a Web browser or printer, which then draws the image. "You don't
have the issue of transmitting the large image itself, " he said.
The specification builds on Adobe's PostScript and portable document format
(PDF) standards, said the company, meaning that few changes will be
necessary to make existing PostScript and PDF applications PGML compliant.
PGML is best suited to graphics such as bar charts, logos, and screen
graphics, like push buttons. Simonides sees PGML coexisting with current
image file formats. "The idea is to support PGML graphics as inline
images, as .GIFs and .JPGs are currently supported in Web browsers."
Simonides said Adobe has worked with Netscape, which plans to support PGML
in a future release of its Navigator Web browser. The company has also held
discussions with Microsoft about adding support to Internet Explorer. "They
are interested in participating, and they have some ideas of their own.
That's why it seemed best to work with the W3C," he said.
Until browser support for PGML materializes, Adobe will most likely issue an
ActiveX or Java component that would function as a browser add-on to support
PGML graphics. No release date for the component has been set.
PGML is compatible with XML (extensible markup language), which was recently
recommended as a standard by the W3C. XML, related to HTML, is a system for
defining, validating, and sharing document formats on the Web. PGML also
works with other specifications for building graphics-intensive Web pages,
including CSS (cascading style sheets) and DOM (document object model).
According to Sun's JavaSoft division, PGML is based on the same imaging
model as the Java 2D application programming interface due with Java
Development Kit 1.2. That means PGML graphics will work on
The PGML specification proposal is in initial draft
The W3C is forming a working group to hammer out the final PGML spec,
Simonides said. If all goes well, the consortium will eventually vote on whether to recommend PGML as an approved standard.