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W3C recharges graphics group

Standards group reconstitutes its effort to standardize Web graphics with new patent policy and agenda.

The Web's leading standards body renewed its graphics group with an updated patent policy and a busy agenda.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Monday said it had extended the charter for its graphics activity and brought the group up to date with the royalty-free patent policy the consortium adopted last year.

That policy, finalized after a year of controversy, is enforced on W3C working groups as they come up for reauthorization. The main work of the graphics activity, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), is presently unencumbered by royalty-bearing patents, according to the W3C.

SVG, originally proposed to counter the now ubiquitous proprietary vector graphics capabilities of Macromedia Flash, has yet to see widespread market adoption.

The W3C now recommends SVG 1.1 in various iterations for mobile devices including the SVG Mobile Profiles: SVG Basic and SVG Tiny. Versions 1.2, now under development, will attempt to make SVG work better with other W3C technologies.

"The work on SVG will mean that the graphics in Web documents will have a smaller file size, load faster, be more interactive, and be displayable on a wider range of device resolutions from small mobile devices through office computer monitors to high-resolution printers," the W3C wrote in announcing the new charter. "This will be a significant advance in Web functionality."

The working group intends to help Web developers combine SVG with XForms, for example, to put SVG-based graphics or "skins" on Web forms. Another goal is to let developers determine SVG graphics using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language). Those recommendations let a single set of styling instructions apply to multiple Web pages.

Other goals of the working group are to improve printing capabilities and use the DOM (Document Object Model) recommendation to better integrate SVG with Web services and other standard technologies.