Mixed emotions: SVG versus FXG

Categories: Adobe Flex Degrafa Standards Thermo

Adobe has released a new vector graphics specification for Flex called FXG (Flash XML Graphics or FleX Graphics, ostensibly), an XML document format that should make interchange of vector artwork between applications and loading/parsing of vector art at compile-time or run-time more seamless. FXG has provisions for creating various primitives, symbols, and text objects, as well as constructs for transforming and applying bitmap effects to vector data. In a manner similar to Degrafa, FXG documents could conceivably be used for more than simple artwork: they could also be used to define vector-based skin elements for user interfaces. Additionally, vastly improved text handling in Flash Player 10 allows for higher-fidelity skewed and rotated text, along with text on a path, meaning exporting from an application like Adobe Illustrator should produce great looking, highly portable documents.

According to the FXG 1.0 specification, an initial effort was made to use the more standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) specification, but the development team found that mapping SVG to Flex classes was going to be more trouble than it was worth in the long run. Mark Anders has a pretty reasonable explanation on this here: http://www.andersblog.com/archives/2008/09/flash_on_the_be.html

I can’t help but ask, though…really? Seeing as Adobe essentially led the charge to ratify the SVG spec as a standard, could it not have been augmented through its built-in extensibility facilities (see SVG Extensions) to accommodate the additions required for Flex? Mark’s explanation is reasonable, to be sure, but it seems like the team gave up on something that could have helped to further cement and promote the use of SVG. A project I’m working on, in particular, would have benefited massively from the ability to use SVG output from Illustrator natively.

Pushing multiple specs that essentially do the same thing only serves to muddy the water, and reminds me of another large software firm, but I digress. Knowing Adobe’s track record, I’m sure there will be good interchange functionality for FXG between various Creative Suite products and applications like Thermo. However, considering SVG already has acceptance as a standard, with a plethora of third-party tools for transforming and working with it, my excitement on the prospects of FXG are mixed at best.

Adobe Thermo Demo at 360|Flex

Categories: ActionScript Adobe AIR Adobe Flex Flash Thermo

Mark Anders from Adobe gave a preview of Thermo and Flash Player 10 at the 360|Flex conference. It’s a good video for designers interested in Flex-based RIA UI development and for Flex programmers interested in what’s on the horizon for designer/developer collaboration.