23 June 2014
We have waited 15 years for SVG to become mainstream, easy to use and useful. It's here now. It's great. And it's probably going to become indispensible in education content.
We have waited 15 years for SVG to become mainstream, easy to use and useful. It's here now. It's great. And it's probably going to become indispensible in education content in many ways beyond just illustrations.
We have been working SVG very hard on our mission to create better, useful interactive learning tools. Sadly the ePub3 specification explicitly "forbids" the use of SMIL animation in SVG (and a lot of other useful SVG features). However we have decided to bravely walk where no man has walked before and worked hard to make SVG interactivity an easy, good and useful thing.
SAPPs are relatively easy to create, maintain and customize but do require some techno-artistic skills. Open source or proprietary SVG editing systems can be used to create the illustration components which are then assembled together in the SVG container. Of course we use Inkscape.
We have to provide a warning here. If you are using Internet Explorer any-number leave immediately. These SAPP demos will only partially work because of the abysmal SVG support in IE. Everything from here on down is irrelevant for Microsoft Internet Explorer afficiandos.
The downloads are different to the online versions in that they have width (1366px) and height (768px) settings.
In particular these proprietary or technology approaches introduce a number of business problems for education publishers who need or want to address multiple markets that need localization (L10N) or internationalization (I18N).
We are discussing the potential of using SVG image content where images need to be manipulated in a variety of ways to support interactive learning experiences; where a publisher is providing alternative learning frameworks for different learning processes; and they need a lot of content to create rich learning experiences.
SVG allows very sophisticated content to be easily produced in a highly reusable manner. Of course the artistic talent required to produce the work doesn't change. But with a little thinking it is possible to create highly extensible and reusable artwork components that can go a long way. For example in the Rohit picture the hair, body, eyes, and cloth items are all independent paths z-ordered over each other. The clothes can easily be changed to reflect different cultural dress, as can any accompanying text.
The production advantages with SVG artwork is that it is open, available and easy to create, modify and maintain. It's obviously not going to work for an LMS if IE 8 (or anything) is your browser of choice. But every other browser and standards-based reading systems supports these features.
Colour the picture is of course just one SAPP. There are dozens of other interactive options that can be imagined and built.
Obviously we are not saying SAPPs should be used exclusively or are the answer to everything. But they certainly are a real option and have their place when used in the right place at the right time. Mobility and ease of use are strong points and they address aspects of the speed and cost issues for publishers who are converting print Primary or Secondary level textbooks to digital resources. With an SVG Application approach it is possible to introduce engaging learning interactivity where otherwise it would have been impossible or too expensive.
However a little cheat with links to a JQuery (or other) package is not a cumbersome overhead in many circumstances that can bring even more interactivity options.
Posted by Richard Pipe